Paris’ iconic attractions — the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower — steal the spotlight from the city’s other offerings. But don’t miss this year’s new crop of tourist draws: You’ve got a rotating roster of plays, concerts, exhibitions as well as bobo (bohemian-bourgeois; the city’s own version of hipster) neighborhoods popping up. Here are six of the hottest Paris spots to visit in 2014.
1. The reopened Musée Picasso Paris. The revamped Picasso museum will debut in June after being closed for five years. Although the public space has tripled in size (thanks to the administrative offices moving to another building), the museum will still be housed in the charming former Hôtel Salé, a mansion located in the city’s Haut-Marais district. You’ll be able to see the world’s largest collection of the famous painter’s works in new galleries and an overall more spacious setting.
2. Bill Viola at the Grand Palais. Trailblazing U.S. video artist Bill Viola, whose soul-stirring Tristan’s Ascension was shown last year in Norway, will have his first Paris retrospective this year. Expect to see around 20 of his pieces, dating from 1975 to the present. A combination of installations and moving paintings, the works will focus on Viola’s major themes of life, death and transfiguration. Don’t miss The Reflecting Pool, a meditation on life’s stages and renewal. March 5 to July 28.
3. “Vincent Van Gogh/The Man Suicided by Society” at Musée d’Orsay. The city’s well-known museum will play host to a new exhibition that comprises some 30 works (drawings, letters, paintings) by Vincent van Gogh as seen through Antonin Artaud, a revered art critic. Artaud suggested that the genius Dutch painter was driven to commit suicide because 19th-century society wasn’t ready to face the truths that Van Gogh espoused. March 11 to July 6.
4. Monumenta 2014 at the Grand Palais. After a year’s break, the annual Monumenta is back at the Grand Palais. Arguably a top event in every culture enthusiast’s diary, Monumenta invites contemporary artists to take over the massive glass-enclosed space of the Grand Palais Nave. This year, Russian artist duo (and husband and wife) Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will offer an installation that questions our individual and collective ideals. Ilya’s work usually speaks of post-Stalinist Russia but also of the universal human condition. May 10 to June 22.
5. Renovated hotels. The Peninsula Paris was originally supposed to unveil its new look in 2013, but has since been delayed until August 2014. When the Beaux-Arts structure reopens, expect top-notch technology such as bedside tablets, as well as an 18,000-square-foot spa. Another luxe property reopening to mark on your calendar is Ritz Paris, which is slated to start welcoming guests in late 2014 after a full-fledged renovation. With interior designer Thierry W. Despont at the helm of the project, much of the historic charm will remain intact (including the beloved Bar Hemingway). But you’ll see the addition of a new kitchen for the Ritz Escoffier cooking school, among other things.
6. An up-and-coming neighborhood. The Picasso museum’s exciting debut will undoubtedly give the Haut-Marais area some cultural cred. But the neighborhood has quickly become a foodie and art haven in recent years on its own. Another establishment to add to the hip Haut-Marais’ directory is the Carreau du Temple, which will reopen in the spring. A magnificent 19th-century glass and iron building, the Carreau will host a plethora of cultural events, from art exhibitions and plays to tai chi and dance classes.
Photo Courtesy of Béatrice Hatala – Musée Picasso