Paris in May

Fun Events & Things to Do

Paris Events for May 2020

Festivals, Mother's Day, Concerts, Shows

Paris Events in May celebrate Mother's Day, music, and fun as flowers fill the city during this gorgeous late-spring month! 

Enjoy 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 enjoy 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.

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. 

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.  (More about May's many holidays)

If you're visiting Paris in May, get ready to enjoy warm weather and have fun!

Jazz Festival at Saint Germain des Prés in Paris - 2019

Sunset Sunside Jazz Club - Saint Germain des Pres Jazz Festival Venue
Sunset Sunside Jazz Club - One of the Saint Germain des Pres Jazz Festival Venues

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 16 - 27, 2019
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

Mother's Day in Paris 2019

Madonna and child statue in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Mother's Day (La Fête de Mère) takes place on Sunday, May 26.  Traditional French Mother's Day celebrations involve flowers, food, and perhaps an outing - anything from a picnic in a park to a river cruise to a day trip.

Flowers are easy.  Florists in every Paris neighborhood offer lovely choices ranging from simple pots of blooming bulbs to lavish bouquets.

Mother's Day brunch, lunch, or dinner in a restaurant takes more planning, as they'll be packed.  Make reservations in advance, or if you're visiting and not sure where to go, ask your hotel concierge for help.

More about how to celebrate Mother's Day in Paris

May Concerts in Paris - 2020

Ornate ceiling at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Pari
Ornate ceiling at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris
Photo courtesy of Fred Romero

Find Paris concerts for other months

La Nuit des Musées (Night at the Museums) - 2019

The Louvre and Pyramid at night from the Richelieu Passage
The Louvre and Pyramid at night from the Richelieu Passage

2019 La Nuit des Musées Date:  May 18

On the 3rd Saturday in May, 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 late into the evening.  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. 

Paris Museum Shows - Top Events during May 2019

Inside the Louvre Museum under the glass pyramid
Inside the Louvre Museum under the glass pyramid

Archaeology Goes Graphic

@ Louvre Museum, through July 1, 2019 - In the Louvre's Petite Galerie in the Richelieu Wing, this exhibition explores the unlikely relationship between archaeology and comic book illustrations (known as the "ninth art" in France).  Included with general admission of 15€; free admission when you have a Paris Museum Pass  
Location:  Place du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli (1st arr) .  Nearest Metro: Palais Royal/Musee du Louvre, Pyramides

Van Gogh, The Starry Night

@ Atelier des Lumières - Through Dec 31, 2019 - Immersive digital exhibition of Van Gogh's masterpieces accompanied by original music.  Tickets are 14.50€ at the door and online; purchase online to go to front of entrance queue (L'Atelier website); includes 3 current immersive exhibits
Where:  38 Rue Saint Maur, 11th arrondissement
Metro:  Rue Saint-Maur

Eat Lunch Nearby:  Café du Coin, 8 Rue Camille Desmoulins, 11th arr; reservations recommended (+33 01 48 04 82 46)

Museum in Works(s)

@ Centre Pompidou, through Dec 30, 2019 - The new presentation of Contemporary Collections on the 4th floor features large installations from the late '60s including works by Dubuffet, Bruce Nauman, Guy Cointets, Louise Bourgeois, Mike Kelley, and more.  Included with general admission of 14€; free admission when you have a Paris Museum Pass; closed on Tuesdays.  
Location:  Place Georges Pompidou (4th arr) - Rue Beaubourg between Rue Rambuteau and Rue Saint-Merri.  Nearest Metros: Rambuteau

Tutankhamon: the Treasures of the Pharoah

@ Grande Halle de la Villette - Through September 15, 2019 - This traveling blockbuster exhibition makes its first stop in Paris with a collection of 150 exceptional masterpieces, many never shown outside of Egypt before and not likely to again.  Tickets are 22€ for adults and 18€ for children; purchase online in advance is highly recommended (Tutankhamon website)
Where:  211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 19th arrondissement
Metro: Porte de Pantin or Porte de La Villette

Franz Marc and August Macke, 1909-1914  - 2019

@ Musée de l'Orangerie, March 6 - June 17, 2019 - This exhibition brings together two major figures from the hedonist, colorful, and seductive side of German Expressionism and explores the influence of French artists such as Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin as well as the Fauvism movement on their work during this pre-World War I period.  Tickets 9€; free admission when you have a Paris Museum Pass 
Location:  Jardin des Tuileries, 1st arr.  Nearest Metro : Concorde

Yves Saint Laurent: New Show

@ Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Through December 31, 2019 - This new presentation of the museum's permanent collection features trend-setting designs in the famous fashion designer's 16th arrondissement former haute couture workshop. Tickets 10€; open Tuesday - Sunday 11am-6pm (until 9pm on Fridays).
Location:  5 Avenue Marceau, 16 arr 
Nearest Metro:
 Alma Marceau
More info:

Paris Museum and Attractions Passes

Get free admission and skip-the-line access to 60+ museums in and near Paris when you have a Paris Museum Pass for 2, 4, or 6 days.  More info

Paris Foire du Trone - Throne Fair

Fun things to do and see at the Paris Throne Fair
Fun things to do and see at the Paris Throne Fair

Visit Paris's huge Foire du Trône, and you'll become part of a tradition stretching back to 857 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, carnival rides, stuffed animals, fries, and beer rule as the fair attracts an estimated 5 million visitors during its 2-month spring season.  Fireworks take place in the evening of the last Saturday - May 25th this year.

When:  Through May 26, noon to midnight (1pm on Saturdays and the eves of public holidays)
Where: Bois de Vincennes, 12th arrondissement (Look for the fair on your right after you pass through the entrance near the Porte Dorée metro station)
Metro:  Porte Dorée
Admission:   Free - plus reasonable prices for food, drinks, rides, etc

May Holidays in Paris (and France)

Fun things to do and see at the Paris Throne Fair
Muguets decorate a special nut-crusted praline displayed in the window of famous Parisian chocolatier Foucher on Avenue de l'Opera

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.

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.

May 8 - Victory in Europe Day - Celebrates the surrender of the Nazis in Reims, France in 1945.  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).

More Fun Things to Do & See in Paris in May

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