Paris Insider: Top 5 free events in May

Courtesy Ateliers Artistes Belleville

The only thing better than visiting Paris is being able to enjoy free events in Paris. Here's a round-up of activities for the lovely month of May.

Jazz Festival in Saint-Germain-des-Prés (May 10-25).The 9th edition of this left bank festival includes some high-priced concerts but also more than 20 free performances. The opening day promises to be especially good, with the free Jazz au Feminin outdoor series from 1:30-7:30 p.m. (Place Saint-Germain-des Prés, 6th arrondissment).

Open Studios in Belleville (May 15-18). The melting-pot neighborhood of Belleville has the highest concentration of working artists in Paris...or so we're told. They’re usually hidden away, working behind closed doors of their low-rent ateliers. For four days in May, however, 250 artists will open their studio doors for the 20th annual Portes Ouvertes festival. Maps and other information to guide your ramble are available at two meeting points: the Galeries de AAB (32 rue de la Mare, 20th arrondissement) and the CFDT (2 boulevard de la Villette, 19th arrondissement). An online program with details is English is available at

Nuits de Musée Festival (May 16). Party at the Louvre, dude. It's time for the annual ‘Museum Nights’ festival in Paris and other cities all across Europe. Pretty much every museum in town stay open late (most until midnight but some until 1am) and offer free admission for these night visits to their permanent collections. Check the program here because a good number of them are also hosting free concerts, light shows, dance performances, tastings and other side show events.

David Lebovitz Living the Sweet Life in Paris (May 19) Nearly 30,000 Americans tune into this pastry chef’s blog each month for sweet recipes and sardonic stories about life among the French. Fans will have a chance to meet David in person when he introduces his new memoir at the English bookshop WH Smith (248 rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement). The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m., and reservations can be made by sending an email to

Festival Villette Sonique (May 27-31). Like the Jazz Festival in Saint-Germain, Villette Sonique is a combination of pricey concerts and free events. The weekend of May 30-31 will see the Parc de la Villette filled with fans of experimental music and their friends who are just along for the picnic. Five bands play on each afternoon beginning at 3:30 p.m. Entry is free, and you’re welcome to bring food and drinks into the park. Hit the Monop’ next to the Porte de Pantin Métro stop (line 5) to pick up snacks and a chilly bottle of rosé.


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