13 Things to Do in Paris this February

(c) Jenny Hughes

1. La Chandeleur (February 2)

February 2: La Chandeleur, the crêpe holiday, the time of year when you can stuff your face without feeling guilty. If you don’t want to make crêpes, we’d recommend Breizh Café for a restaurant setting and Crêpe à Ding for a crêperie-in-the-wall experience. (And if you’re like most people and you don’t know what Chandeleur is and why the French eat crêpes for it, here’s our explanation of the holiday.)

2. Chinese New Year (February 4 – 17)

This year, Chinese New Year will ring in the Year of the Pig on February 5. Several celebrations will occur in Paris around the date, one in the 3rd arrondissement (February 4-10) and one in the 13th arrondissement (February 4-17). In the 3rd arrondissement celebrations, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, music and martial arts have been planned plus a parade on Sunday, February 10, at 2pm on Place de la République. In the 13th arrondissement, home to Paris’s Chinatown, there will be exhibitions, conferences, shows, an opera and other ceremonies including the famous festive parade, held this year on Sunday, February 17, starting at 1:30pm.

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3. Smell the flowers at A Thousand and One Orchids (February 14 – March 11)

Back for its seventh edition, the Mille & une orchidées (A Thousand and One Orchids) exhibit in the Grandes Serres of the Jardin des Plantes will bring some warmth and bright colors into your cold winter life. Some 92,000 specimens of orchids, many of which are usually kept in the Arboretum de Chèvreloup near Versailles, will be on display. This is an opportunity to wander among the flowers, admire the rare breeds, and purchase your own from a pop-up orchid shop. Tickets are 7€  full price and 5€ reduced price and can be purchased on site. — Jardin des Plantes, 75005 Paris

4. Shop les soldes (until February 12)

Every year, twice a year, France holds massive sales called les soldes. Legally this is the only time of year that stores can have sales to deplete their old stock and discounts can go as deep as 70% off the original price tag. Though les soldes started on January 2, the discounts are small then, maybe 20% or 30% off. Go now, in the last two weeks until it ends on February 12, and you’ll find discounts of 50%, 60%, and 70% off. Hit up the major department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps for the purchases you never thought you could afford.

5. Do something for Valentine’s Day (February 14) 

Whether you like it or not — which likely depends on whether you’re single or coupled up — Paris is the city of love. If you are en couple for Valentine’s Day, enjoy it. Do a romantic dinner at Buvette or Le Train Bleu, or go solo and treat yourself to an excellent seafood lunch at L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer where you can sit at the counter undisturbed with a glass of wine and listen to the bartenders banter. En couple, avoid the major monuments and try a walk by the Seine. You’ll see a lot of the city’s highlights and avoid a crush of people. Singles: go thrift shopping, treat yourself to tea, hit up a museum — it’s your day.

6. Experience DAU (until February 17)

DAU has captivated Paris. Part cinema, part installation art, part experiment, and still in the works, DAU is a project meant to immerse the, uh, experiencer in a created Soviet Union-era world that 400 normal people lived in for two years, cut off from the modern world. Buy tickets (called visas) here.

7. Support women artists at Artistes à la Une, Togeth’her (February 19 – 27)

In the Monnaie de Paris, an exhibit is paying homage to inspirational women. Thirty-three contemporary artists, men and women from around the world, were asked to create a Vogue Paris magazine cover featuring a portrait of a woman they consider iconic and inspiring. Thirty-one women, all of whom effected change in their respective fields, are depicting in these moving and unique portrayals. Among the women portrayed are Michelle Obama, Frida Kahlo, and Indira Gandhi. After the exhibit, the auction house Christie’s will sell the artwork on behalf of the NATO Women France committee.

8. See Chicago 

How do you say, “he had it comin’” in French? There’s been a recent trend of putting American musicals on stage in Paris. Singin’ in the Rain was a huge hit in 2017, and Chicago is the star of 2018 (and now 2019). Get yourself tickets to see the production that’s been included on top-ten lists of shows to see in Paris.

9. Surround yourself in Van Gogh, Starry Night (February 22 – December 3)

New to the roster of immersive exhibitions at the Atelier des Lumières in Paris, Van Gogh, Starry Night exhibit takes visitors on a journey through Vincent Van Gogh’s prolific life and his sojourns in France and the Netherlands. Many of the impressionist painter’s most famous landscapes, portraits, and still lives are on display for viewing in this 360-degree space. Buy tickets in advance online here— 38 rue Saint Maur, 75011 Paris

10. Get dressed up and go to Il Primo Omicidio (until February 23)

Paris can’t only be about walking 20,000 steps from neighborhood to neighborhood. Every traveler should have at least one night out where they treat themselves. We’d recommend a night out at the opera, in this case Il Primo Omicidio at Le Palais Garnier. It tells the story of Cain and Abel and provides an impressive meditation on death and “the first homicide,” all in a venue that is nothing short of glorious and gorgeous. Buy tickets here. — Palais Garnier, Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris

11. Six Nations Tournament (February 23)

Surprise, rugby is more popular in Europe than you thought! This month is the annual Six Nations Tournament, between the teams of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. Each team will play every other team for a total of 15 games in cities in each country. On February 23, France will play Ireland in the Stade de France near Paris. Buy tickets to the game here.

12. International Agriculture Show (February 23 – March 3)

If you’re interested in farming and local food in France (or just want to go see some farm animals), you’ll want to see the annual Salon international de l’agriculture. The expo will feature livestock, fruits and vegetables, culinary expositions (be sure to visit the culinary products section), agricultural experts, and more. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door; the full price is 14€ but there are discounts available for very young children, kids, students, and disabled visitors. — Paris Expo Porte de Versailles- 1 Place de la Porte de Versailles, 75015 Paris

13. View the Cubism exhibit at Centre Pompidou (until February 25)

In gallery one of the Centre Pompidou, Paris’s museum of modern art, you’ll find an impressive cubist exhibit, created in partnership with the Musée Picasso in Paris. Some 300 works by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Marcel Duchamp and other legends present a fresh look at Cubism (1907-1917), one of the founding movements of modern art. Buy tickets online now because the exhibit will only be around until February 25.