Best May Events in Paris

2017 Exhibits, Festivals, and More

Women's singles champion 2015 Serena Williams (USA) with tennis legend Martina Navratilova at Roland Garros in Paris.
••• Women's singles champion 2015 Serena Williams (USA) with tennis legend Martina Navratilova at Roland Garros in Paris. Dan Istitene/Getty Images Sport

If you're planning to visit Paris in May, check out this guide to the best events in Paris in May 2017, including exhibits, shows and performances, trade fairs, and festivals. If you need even more inspiration, check out these photos of Pairs in springtime.

Lock in a good deal on flights and hotels early by consulting sites like ​TripAdvisor.

Festivals and Seasonal Events

  • May 20th: Museum Night-- As part of the global Museum Night event, Paris museums will open their doors free of charge to visitors until 1 am. Special events and illuminations await in many of Paris' major museums.
  • May 22nd-June 11th: The 2017 French Open at Roland Garros-- Tennis fans should not miss one of France's most exciting and important tournaments. Tennis greats like Steffi Graf made their debuts at Roland Garros, and the French Open continues to host some of the world's unforgettable matches. Procuring tickets, however, can be quite a feat, so try to snag much-coveted spots at the matches several months ahead.
  • Through May: Foire du Trone (Annual Fair)
    Parents and kids can look forward to the annual Paris fair (Foire du Trône), which runs through the end of the month and delivers all the traditional fun of a county fair, with Ferris wheels, roller coasters, and cotton candy included.
  • May 11th-22nd: Saint-Germain-des-Prés Jazz Festival
    The city's most famous annual jazz festival will take the St. Germain neighborhood by storm for the 11th year running this month. Enthusiasts of the genre should reserve a day or two for this popular event.
    Metro: St. Germain des Prés
  • May 19th-22nd: Artists' Open House in Belleville Galleries-- This annual event provides an exceptional opportunity to get to know some of Paris' contemporary artists and their work, as well as getting a glimpse of Parisian life from the inside. Over 200 artists living and working in the edgy, urbanite Belleville neighborhood open their doors to show off their work and spaces every day from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

    ​Arts and Exhibits Highlights

    Retrospective: Eli Lotar at the Jeu de Paume - Not many North Americans/English-speakers are familiar with the remarkable oeuvre of Franco-Romanian photographer and filmmaker Eli Lotar-- but they should be. This retrospective at the Jeu de Paume National Galleries gives visitors a fascinating look at Lotar's singular perspectives on the world during the interwar period and his tremendous influence on artistic movements such as modernism. 

    Vermeer at the Louvre Museum - Whether you're a dedicated fan of the Dutch golden-age painter responsible for such masterpieces as "The Girl With A Pearl Earring", or are curious to see his work in person for the first time, this massive, much-awaited exhibit dedicated both to Vermeer and fellow Dutch masters at the Musee du Louvre is highly recommended. 

    The French Spirit: Countercultures in France, 1969-1989 - Recently, an exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on the spirit of the 1960s drew huge audiences; now it's Paris' turn to stage an exciting retrospective on French countercultures from the late 1960s to the late 1980s.

    From painting and multimedia installations to rock music, posters and photography, the myriad countercultural movements that sprung out of the May 1968 student rebellion-- and that were fed and informed by similar movements in Berkeley, London and New York-- are on display in several fascinating rooms. The show at the Maison Rouge exhibition space is all the more recommended because the coveted institution is soon set to close, sadly. Go enjoy it while you still can. Read more about contemporary art museums in Paris.

    For a more comprehensive list of exhibits and shows on in Paris this month, including listings at smaller galleries around town, you might want to visit Paris Art Selection.