How to Meet the Real Artists Who Are Working in Paris
By Ruby Boukabou
Paris is one of the best places in the world to lose yourself in the works of of the greatest artists who have ever lived. From Michelangelo to Picasso, Renoir to Dali. With over a hundred museums, you can ooh and aaaah all across the City of Lights for weeks or even months on end.
But what about today’s artists? Where are they, what are they working on and how can you meet them? Read on.
Portes Ouvertes Festivals: Open Door Studios
The ports ouvertes (open door) festivals in Paris’ north east are a fabulous way to meet artists, see where they work (and in some cases live) and purchase original artworks for generally extremely reasonable prices.
You can find a map online, grab one in the local area at a café or just follow the stream of art lovers from studio to studio. You’ll discovering cute backstreets, private courtyards and many fascinating artists.
Portes Ouvertes Belleville, Every May in Paris
There are over 120 studios and over 250 artists in funky/gritty/cross-cultural Belleville. Lofts, warehouses and kitchens have been converted into studios and if you’ll lucky you’ll even find a small recital in a backyard to enjoy a glass of something cold at the end of your tour (otherwise there are many poplar bars and cafés in the area to hang out at after).
Belleville is also a great spot to check out the street art and you can occasionally come across the artists in action (check out rue Dénoyer). ateliers-artistes-belleville.fr
Portes Ouvertes Ménilmontant, Late September
Just down the boulevard from Belleville is the vibrant Ménilmontant (a great place for concerts in bars, couscous and affordable restaurants).
At their open door festival you’ll meet painters, photographers and sculptors in converted churches, cobbled stoned alleyways, under private grapevines and in hidden houses. www.artotal.com/orga/Ateliers-Artistes-
Les Ateliers du Pere Lachaise Associes, in May and December
Montreuil in October
Montreuil is just outside of central Paris but still accessible by metro. There’s many artists living and working here thanks to cheaper rents and they have created a lovely village vibe. Meet potters, painters, street artists, multi media artists and more at Albatros Studios (http://www.espacealbatros.fr/. ) and at the many other spots on the map. website
Montmartre Aux Artistes in October
189 rue Ordener, 75018
After discovering beautiful Montmartre, the cradle of impressionism and modern art, visit Montmartre aux Artistes, a complex of artist studios and homes. During their open door festival you can chat to the artists and sometimes even get invited for a tea or a glass of wine (or why not bring something to offer them and share).
It’s intimate and charming. Artists include painter Monique Journod (Prix de Rome), painter/engraver Médéric Bottin, photographer Vincent Dufrêne and painter/calligrapher Luc Lynski. montmartre-aux-artistes.org
Les Frigos in Late May
19 rue des Frigos, 75013
This cool converted refrigerator depot in now home and studio to many artists and has exhibitions, concerts and events that you can attend. Meet the painters, sculptors, photographers, potters, architects and costume makers. les-frigos.com
Le Carreau du Temple
2 rue Perrée, 75003
+33 (0)1 83 81 93 30
This cultural center in a former clothes market hosts many cultural events. Head to the bar area to mingle with the painters and art dealers hanging around for the various fairs, and expos. www.carreaudutemple.eu
Point Ephem, 200 Quai de Valmy, 75010
+33 (0)1 40 34 02 48
A funky arts & entertainment centre on the Canal Saint-Martin, Point Éphémère has residency programs, exhibitions as well as rehearsal spaces, concerts, screenings (street art documentaries and more) and a café/bar with a relaxed urban vibe. www.pointephemere.org
Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Beaux-Arts
14 rue Bonaparte, 75006
+33 (0) 1 47 03 50 00
Brush shoulders with the next generation of French artistes at the National Fine Arts school by attending an exhibition, conference, seminar or attending an art documentary. www.ensba.fr
59 Rivoli Artists Studio
59 Rivoli 75001. Open to the public on Tuesdays– Sunday 1–8 p.m.
A celebration of art in the centre of Paris, the 59 Rivoli artists’ squat/studio is bold and colorful with five floors full of artists in the midst of creation. Wander about, meet the artists, buy some work and stay for the spontaneous parties and concerts. Once a squat, the artists Kalex, Gaspard, and Bruno (comically calling themselves ‘the KGB’) got good press and the promise from candidate Bertrand Delanoë that if elected, he would make 59 a legal art squat and gallery.
It happened, and in 2005 the city bought 59 Rivoli and, after renovations, reopened to the artists and the public with a lease renewable every three years. In return for the cheap rent, the artists offer the City of Paris a vibrant location in central Paris. If you love someone’s work, now is the moment to find out more about the process and the artist and shout yourself an authentic, signed, souvenir or buy a perfect Paris present! www.59rivoli.org
Ruby Boukabou is a freelance writer and entertainer often based between Paris, France and Sydney, Australia. She is author of The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris, The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris (White Owl Books) Sense in the City, Paris (Pilot Media) and 48 Paris (National Geographic). Ruby is also a tap dancer and cabaret performer. www.rubytv.net
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