Paris Events in May celebrate Mother's Day, music, and fun as flowers fill the city during this gorgeous late-spring month!
Hear top musicians at the Saint Germain des Prés Jazz Festival, visit the huge Foire du Trône festival that's been entertaining Parisians since medieval times, and attend concerts at Sainte Chapelle and other top venues.
Join Parisians across the city in celebrating art and culture at Night in the Museums on one special Saturday evening in May, and see the latest museum shows throughout the month. Fans of street art will flock to the Printemps des Rues Festival.
May starts with a public holiday - Fête du Travail or Labor Day, always on May 1st. When this national holiday falls during the week, as it does this year, you can expect most museums, stores, and many restaurants to be closed as everyone enjoys a day of leisure. A huge parade and rallies take place, usually at Place de Bastille, to mark this important ocasion.
Parisians usually celebrate Mother's Day on the last Sunday of May - the perfect time to do something special to honor your mom, yourself, or another important mom-like person in your life. But some years are exceptions, and 2023 is one of those years when the “Fête des Mères” takes place on the first Sunday in June - so check our June events calendar for more details.
If you're visiting Paris in May, get ready to enjoy warm weather and have fun!
Top photo: Children sailing wooden boats on the pool in Luxembourg Garden, (c) Paris Discovery Guide
Paris Discovery Guide is a reader-supported publication. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost for you. Learn more
May Concerts in Paris - 2023
- Taylor Swift - La Defense Arena - May 9, 10, 11
May 1 Holidays in Paris (and France) 2023
If you're visiting Paris during May, be aware of the many official and observed (unofficial) holidays taking place this month. On official holidays, you should expect many places including stores and restaurants to be closed. The most significant holiday is May 1.
May 1 - Fête du Travail (International Workers Day - ie, Labor Day) - Except for essential services such as hospitals and public transportation (which will operate on a slower holiday schedule), most places including museums, stores, and restaurants will be closed as this is the one day of the year when employers legally must give all workers a paid day off.
May 1 is also May Day (totally unrelated to Labor Day), a celebration of spring and love dating to the ancient Celtic people in western Europe. In Paris, the Renaissance custom of giving Lily of the Valley (called Muguet in French) flowers to friends and loved ones continues to be popular, and you'll see the beautiful sprays of white flowers in all the florist shops and sometimes even decorating candies (see above photo) and cakes.
Jazz Festival at Saint Germain des Prés in Paris 2023
Immerse yourself in jazz during the Saint Germain des Prés Jazz Festival when talented musicians perform in unique theaters, clubs, and historic spaces in the Paris neighborhoods where jazz first blossomed almost a century ago. With multiple concerts and venues to choose from each evening, plus conferences and conversations, exhibits and Champagne, you'll get to celebrate the best of Paris jazz.
When: May 10 - 17
Where: Odeon Theatre, Cluny Museum Frigidarium, Sunset-Sunside Jazz Club, Sorbonne, plus more clubs and cool venues in the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 14th arrondissements
Admission: Many performances and other events are free; some concerts require tickets but prices are reasonable
More Information & Complete Schedule: Saint Germain des Prés Jazz Festival website
French Bread Festival - Fête du Pain - 2023
The Fête du Pain (French Bread Festival) takes place in Paris from Saturday May 13 to Sunday May 21 on the plaza in front of Notre Dame Cathedral.
You can see traditional bakehouses, ovens, and of course baguettes, and learn about the art, science, and rules of making these favorite treats at this celebration that takes place each year around May 16, the day that honors Saint-Honoré, patron saint of millers, flour merchants, bakers, and pastry chefs. And in case you're wondering: yes, you can enjoy tastings and samples.
The event is free, so stop by, or check the details on the sponsoring organization's website.
Want to learn how to make French baguettes and croissants? Take this class in a Paris bakery!
La Nuit des Musées (Night at the Museums) - 2023
La Nuit des Musées Date: Saturday, May 13
La Nuit des Musées is a magical evening when most museums in Paris, the rest of France, and 30 or so other European countries open their doors to visitors for free and stay open until very late into the evening. Look for guided tours, workshops, special screnings, tasting, live shows, and other special events.
Whether you're visiting a new-to-you museum or making a return visit to an old favorite, join Parisians at the Louvre, Musée de l'Orangerie, Musée du Quai Branly, Musée de l'Armée, Centre Pompidou, and about 80 other museums across the city in this celebration of art and culture. You can find all venues once they're officially announced, usually a few weeks before the event on the Cultural Ministry's website by entering "nuit des musees" in the search block.
Paris Museum Shows - Top Events during May
Manet/Degas @ Orsay Museum
An exploration of the differences and even conflicts in their depictions of modernity in their works created between the 1860s and 1880s.
Dates: March 28 - July 23, 2023
Musée d'Orsay Tickets: 16€ adults. Book a reserved-access ticket for skip-the-line access, or use your Paris Museum Pass for free entry
Location: 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, Paris 7; Metro: Pont de l'Alma; Invalides
Matisse: Cahiers d'Art - At the Turn of the 1930s @ Musee de l'Orangerie
A rare exhibition of Matisse's work during the 1930s, influenced by this trip to Tahiti, as depicted in the avant-garde publication Cahiers d'Art next to works by contemporaries Georges Braque, Juan Miro, Vassily Candinsky, Mondrian, and others.
Dates: Now through May 29
Tickets: 12.50€. Get your Musée de l'Orangerie at the door or online (includes permanent collections and special exhibitions), save with a combo ticket to Musée de l'Orangerie and the Orsay Museum, or use your Paris Museum Pass for free entry
Location: Tuileries Garden (southwest corner), 75001; Metro: Concorde, Assemblée Nationale
Musical Fountains & Musical Gardens Shows @ Versailles
@ Palace of Versailles, through October 31, 2023 - Watch the beautiful gardens and fountains at Versailles come alive! Shows (fountains or gardens) vary based on the day of the week when you visit, but both are magical!
- From Paris: Versailles Sunset Bike Tour with Musical Fountains & Fireworks Show
- From Paris: Skip-the-Line Versailles Palace Tour by Train, Plus Musical Fountains/Gardens Show (on days when offered)
Prefer to travel to Versailles and explore on your own? Get a Versailles Palace & Gardens "Passport" Ticket that includes the shows on days when they are available.
More Ways to See Versailles:
Paris Museum and Attractions Passes
Paris Foire du Trone - Throne Fair 2023
Visit Paris's huge Foire du Trone, and you'll become part of a tradition and cultural event stretching back to 957 when 15-year old King Lothair established the first Fun Fair, once a festive market featuring gingerbread as a top seller and acrobats and gambling to entertain the crowds. Today, roughly 350 attractions including carnival rides, stuffed animals, fries, and beer rule as the fair attracts an estimated 5 million visitors for the shared goal of having fun during its 2-month spring season. Especially if you're staying in the Marais, getting to the fair takes less than 10 minutes on the Metro's Line 8.
When: Through May 29, 12 noon to 11pm (1pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and nights before public holidays)
Where: Bois de Vincennes on the Reuilly Lawn (Pelouse de Reuilly), 12th arrondissement (Look for the fair on your right soon after you pass through the entrance near the Porte Dorée metro station, or just follow the crowds)
Metro: Porte Dorée; once you enter the park, take the path that veers to the right, and in 3-5 minutes, you'll see (or hear) the fun fair
Admission: Free - plus reasonable prices for food, drinks, rides, etc
More information: Faire du Trone website
Spring Street Festival (Le Printemps des Rues) - 2023
The Printemps des Rues Festival celebrates emerging artists and performers each spring with events centered around the Saint-Martin canal and other locations in the 10th, 18th, and 19th arrondissement.
Look for lots of innovative music, dance, comedy, theater, and art.
The festival takes place on May 27-28. Check the Festival website for specific events, times, and places. All performances are free.
Victory in Europe Day in Paris 2023
Victory in Europe Day (le Jour de la Victoire en Europe) on May 8 celebrates the surrender of the Nazis in East Berlin on May 8, 1945, a day after their surrender in Reims, France, and almost 9 months after the Liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944.
The event is always celebrated on May 8 and is a public holiday, which means banks, most businesses including stores and restaurants, and all schools will be closed, public transportation will run on a holiday schedule, and most bakeries and supermarkets will close early (if they're open at all).
In Paris, official ceremonies take place at the Arc de Triomphe with the French President and other officials laying wreathes on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During some years, a parade marches down Champs Elysees, but so far, no announcements about that occurring this year.
Paris Beer Festival - 2023
Although wine usually overshadows beer as the beverage of choice in Paris, rising stars among local craft brewers may change your loyalties once you explore what's on offer. There's no better way to do that than stopping by the Paris Beer Festival and savoring the lineups on tap.
The first three days of the festival focus on events hosted by bars, gastro pubs, and breweries located mostly in the Marais, Canal Saint-Martin, and other eastern arrondissement neighborhoods. The last two days take place in Ground Control, a former rail depot repurposed as a popular theater, food, music venue, and community space with restaurants, food trucks, outdoor seating, and shops behind Gare de Lyon train station in the 12th arrondissement, where you'll have the chance to do a lot more sampling of brews from 50+ microbreweries.
When: May 8-14
Where: Days 1-5, various locations; Days 5 & 7: Ground Control, 81 Rue de Charolais, Paris 12
Tickets (Sat & Sun only): 6-8€; e-payment only
More information: Event website
Want to visit Ground Control at other times? It's open Wednesday through Sunday (see their website for hours and events)
More Fun Things to Do & See in Paris in May
Want to Save on Your Paris Hotel?
- Booking.com: Need last minute reservations? Check out Today Deals on their website
- Trip Advisor: Use their Best Value Deals & save BIG on your Paris hotel
- Priceline: Find the lowest prices on Paris hotels with their Express Deals