This year’s unmissable exhibitions in France

Jeff Koons at Mucem in Marseille, Giacometti at the Fondation Maeght on the Riviera, Cézanne at Les Carrières de Lumières in Provence, Arcimboldo at the Centre Pompidou-Metz and Picasso at the Louvre-Lens; the amazing diversity of major exhibitions scheduled in France this year promise not only sunshine and colour, but also light and poetry!

The top exhibitions to catch in Paris

From Napoleon Bonaparte, who died 200 years ago this year, to the celebration of Henri Cartier-Bresson for the reopening of the Musée Carnavalet, from Rodin to Picasso whose work graces two magical venues in the capital, and from the gentle pleasures of Botticelli to the exuberant extravagance of Dali... This year sees exceptional retrospectives rub shoulders with the unmissable masterpieces in Paris. The emphasis is clearly on painting and photography, but there’s also the striking originality and sensory impact of street art with Bansky, and the beauty of the natural world at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. View our selection!

'Sur le Fil: L'art tissu des collections de Daniel Cordier et des Abattoirs', Toulouse Abattoirs

Until 22 August 2021

Pleated, stretched, woven, embroidered, painted, cut... At the Abattoirs de Toulouse, we're interested in fabric from every angle! A large part of the works on display (External link) are taken from the collection of Daniel Cordier, who donated 550 works to the Musée National d'Art Moderne-Centre Pompidou, which were then deposited at the Abattoirs. These works, of international provenance, are presented alongside those of contemporary artists.

Abattoirs de Toulouse (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions

'Gustav Klimt: Gold and Colours', Bassins de Lumières, Bordeaux

Until 28 August (at night)

The shimmering colours of the canvases of the greatest master of Viennese symbolic painting have found a home at the Bassins de Lumières in Bordeaux, a place full of reflections that further sublimates their singular beauty. Through the magic of around 100 video projectors and thousands of digitised images, Gustav Klimt's paintings, including the famous 'Kiss', are set against the monumental architecture of the submarine base. Enchanting shimmers, unexpected perspectives and an evocative soundtrack bring the portraits and landscapes of the Golden period to life.

Bassins de Lumières (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions

'Boire avec les Dieux' ('Drinking with the Gods'), Cité du Vin, Bordeaux

Until 29 August 2021

Some 50 ancient works (including some exceptional loans from the Louvre Museum and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens), as well as three monumental creations specially designed by street artists, can be savoured at the Cité du Vin with this summer exhibition. Along a path punctuated by audio-visual tech, 'Drinking with the Gods' seeks to reveal the close links established by Greco-Roman civilisation between wine, the gods and men. Discover the many faces of Dionysus, the main god of wine, and the wealth of rituals associated with him.

Cité du Vin (External link)

We advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates (which may change in response to health protection measures).

'She-Bam Pow POP Wizz! The Amazons of Pop', MAMAC, Nice

Until 29 August 2021

To mark the 30th anniversary of the museum, this exhibition honours the Amazons of the pop movement - paper or real - who shook up the second half of the 20th century. She-Bam Pow POP Wizz! is the first exhibition on this scale to trace the open history of a generation of European and North American women who have made such an audacious and flamboyant contribution to a perhaps lesser-known facet of international Pop Art. They include Franco-American Niki de Saint Phalle.

MAMAC Nice (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions

'The Roman Emperor: a Mortal among the Gods', Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes

Until 19 September 2021

In collaboration with the Louvre, the Musée de la Romanité is taking you back 2,000 years to the time of the imperial cult established in the 1st century BC. In ancient Rome, the emperor was the link between men and the gods. With a tour of 150 works, go behind the scenes and learn about the rites of this cult, which gave the emperor the status of mortal among the gods.

Musée de la Romanité (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

"Salammbô: Fury! Passion! Elephants!" at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen

Until 19 September 2021 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen
From 20 October 2021 to 7 February 2022 at Mucem

This year, Normandy celebrates the bicentenary of local author Gustave Flaubert with a full year of Flaubert 21 commemoratives events. The Salammbô: Fury! Passion! Elephants! Exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen is based on the eponymous novel of 1862. A key event of these celebrations, it plunges visitors into the extravagant, fantastic and excessive world of the book. After Flaubert's birthplace of Rouen, the exhibition will relocate to Mucem in Marseille.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen (External link)
Mucem (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Cosmogonies, Zinsou', Mo.Co., Montpellier

Until 10 October 2021

For the first time, Mo.Co. Hôtel des Collections (External link) is welcoming works from the Fondation Zinsou collection in Cotonou, Benin. 'Cosmogonies' presents almost 110 works (sculptures, photographs, paintings and installations) by 37 African artists of different generations. The main theme of this exhibition are paintings by Cyprien Tokoudagba (1939-2012), in which figures and symbols, reality and the supernatural, everyday life and legends draw fascinating cosmogonies, mixing magic and realism.

MoCo (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'The Imaginary Sea', Villa Carmignac, Île de Porquerolles

Until 17 October 2021

For its fourth season, Villa Carmignac (External link) is going into aquatic mode. The magnificent volumes of this magical place off the coast of Hyères are transformed into an underwater natural history museum that questions the interactions between our civilisation and the underwater world. 'La Mer Imaginaire', which can be visited barefoot, draws its inspiration from the architecture of the place - the submerged spaces under the villa and its water ceiling - as well as from the works in the collection: Bruce Nauman's fountain of a hundred fish, Miquel Barceló's underwater fresco or Jeff Koons' lobster perched on a chair. It's a pleasure to dive in!

Fondation Carmignac (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Jeff Koons', MuCEM, Marseille

Until 18 October 2021

Colour, humour and provocation... Jeff Koons' reputation is well established. The artist who likes to divert everyday objects to question the idea of a work of art will present some of his most famous works from the Pinault Collection at the MuCEM. Sculptures, such as 'Balloon Dog' and 'Lobster', and paintings such as 'Backyard' and 'Dutch Couple', will be displayed on the large seaside stage of the MuCEM. Alongside a selection of objects from the museum's Pop Art collections, the encounter promises to be explosive, symbolic and poetic.

Mucem (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Côté Jardin: from Monet to Bonnard', Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny

Until 1 November 2021

Although the theme of the garden has already been dealt with in numerous exhibitions, the Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny offers a new angle in a unique display, full of emotion. The exhibition endeavours to reveal the sensitivity of the Impressionist and Nabis painters to the gardens they represent. It also compares the approaches of Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, and of Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. A peaceful artistic visit, especially when extended by a stroll in the beautiful museum garden.

Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Philippe de Gobert: Du Merveilleux en Architecture au Conte Photographique', MuMa, Le Havre

Until 7 November 2021

The architecture and the particular atmosphere of the city of Le Havre, partly rebuilt by the architect Auguste Perret after the Second World War, inspired Belgian photographer Philippe de Gobert. Using models of the buildings erected in the centre of the city and at the entrance to the port, he presents a sort of photographic tale at the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art, retracing the history of the beautiful renaissance of Le Havre with great freedom and poetry.

MuMa (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'The Giacometti: A Family of Creators', Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Côte d'Azur)

Until 14 November 2021

Even if they're thin, one Giacometti can still hide another! On the Côte d'Azur in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the Maeght Foundation is putting on this unique exhibition focused on Alberto Giacometti, best known for his emblematic sculptures. The show will explore the work of his father Giovanni and his cousin Augusto, both painters, but also of his two brothers, Diego, the younger, a sculptor and designer, and Bruno, the younger, an architect. An original panorama of a top-class artistic dynasty.

Maeght Foundation (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Opposite Arcimboldo', Centre Pompidou-Metz

Until 22 November 2021

The Italian master of 'bizarre inventions', adored in his time, long discredited by art historians and then celebrated by the Surrealists, is taking up residence in the great Nave of the Centre Pompidou-Metz. This will appeal to anyone who enjoys the whimsical, resolutely modern works that merge man with the plant and animal kingdoms, exploring illusion and anamorphosis. Despite his detractors, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) is a true popular icon. The exhibition, conceived as a stroll through an 'Arcimboldan' collage, paints a portrait of him through the works and eyes of other artists such as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Annette Messager.

Centre Pompidou-Metz (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Giorgio Griffa: Wonders of the Unknown', LaM Lille

Until 28 November 2021

With nearly 100 works, paintings and drawings, most of which have never or rarely been exhibited, the LaM is inviting visitors to (re)discover a major figure of the Italian art scene, still little shown in France. Canvas, touch and colour is the fundamental triptych of Giorgio Griffa, an artist now in his eighties who was close to Arte Povera in his early days. He lets his hand go on large free canvases laid on the floor, using simple gestures to invent, repeat and reiterate subtle variations of signs and colours: a poetic pictorial language.

Musée LaM (External link)

Dates are subject to change due to the pandemic. Please check the museum website.

1898, Matisse in Corsica, a Wonderful Land at the Musée de la Corse in Corte

From 24 July to 30 December 2021

Ah, the blue sky, the orange roof tiles, the Mediterranean Sea and Corsica... The majestic landscapes discovered by Henri Matisse during his visit to the island in 1898. This initiatory journey proved prolific, with the artist producing around fifty paintings in just six months. This period marks a break with his past and the beginning of a new way of painting, free from classical rules and tacit acceptance of academic teaching.
Hosted by the Collectivité de Corse, this exhibition brings modern painting to the island; a segment of art history conspicuously absent from its public collections. Be sure not to miss the painting entitled La mer en Corse, le Scoud.
Musée de la Corse (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Cézanne: The Master of Provence', Carrières de Lumières, Les Baux-de-Provence

Until 2 January 2022

It's like being there! At the foot of Mount Sainte Victoire near Aix-en-Provence, among the card players, in front of a plate full of apples... At the Carrières de Lumières, 'Cézanne: The Master of Provence' offers a sumptuous immersive journey to the heart of some of the major works by the Aix artist, following the theme of Provencal nature. Digital and sensory, the experience can be extended with 'Kandinsky: An Odyssey of the Abstract', showing at the same time.

Carrières de Lumières (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

Monet, Renoir, and Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean at Bassins de Lumières in Bordeaux

Until 2 January 2022

Bassins de Lumières in Bordeaux invites us to journey from impressionism to modern art in the South of France. Through some 500 works, this digital exhibition explores the links between artistic creativity and Mediterranean shores, transitioning from one movement to the next: Impressionism with Monet and Renoir, Pointillism with Signac and Cross, and Fauvism with Camoin, Derain and Vlaminck. And, of course, one of the greatest colourists of modern art: Marc Chagall.

Bassins de Lumières (External link)

  • Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.*

Antoine de Saint Exupéry, A Little Prince among Men at L'Envol des Pionniers in Toulouse

Until 2 January 2022

Hosted jointly in Lyon (his home city) and Toulouse (the historic birthplace of airmail), the annual flagship exhibition at L'Envol des Pionniers retraces the life of France's most famous writer/aviator: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince. From the the winged bicycle of his childhood to his tragic death in the Mediterranean at the controls of the legendary P38, the exhibition invites visitors to learn more about the life of this courageous and profoundly humanist man, who became a legend in spite of himself.

L'Envol des Pionniers (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

"The Lady and the Unicorn" at Les Abattoirs de Toulouse

From 30 October 2021 to 16 January 2022

The famous medieval wall hanging - a masterpiece normally on permanent exhibition the Musée Cluny (the French National Museum of the Middle Ages) - is making the trip to Toulouse! During renovation work to its Parisian home, all six tapestries will be shown at Les Abattoirs, Musée - Frac Occitanie Toulouse as part of an exceptional exhibition that will put this famous work in the company of pieces by contemporary artists to spark a dialogue with the potential to create a new temporal perspective. During this exhibition, the most high profile of all works in the Les Abattoirs collection - Picasso's theatre backdrop La Dépouille du Minotaure en costume d'Arlequin (The Remains of the Minotaur in Harlequin's Costume) created in 1936 for Romain Rolland's Quatorze-Juillet is also on show.

Les Abattoirs (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'La Terre en Héritage, du Néolithique à Nous', Musée des Confluences, Lyon

Until 30 January 2022

This is a hot topic right now - and the beautiful Musée des Confluences intends to teach us more. By unfolding time to identify the key moments in history when environmental changes of unprecedented magnitude began, the 'Earth as a Heritage' exhibition takes us back to the Neolithic period. It's up to us to understand the beginnings of our exploitation of nature and how our relationship with living beings was changed. Educational and fascinating.

Musée des Confluences (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'Les Louvre de Pablo Picasso', Louvre-Lens, Lens

13 October 2021 to 31 January 2022

As the Louvre is a fundamental place for understanding the work of Pablo Picasso and since the museum occupied a special place in the painter's imagination, this exhibition promises to be a real gem. The Louvre-Lens looks at the dialogue that Picasso's work has established with the Paris Louvre's collections, and at the links that, since the 1930s, the world's largest museum has been keen to forge with the artist and his work.

Louvre-Lens (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.

'À La Mode: The Art of Appearing in the 18th Century', Musée d'Arts, Nantes

26 November 2021 to 6 March 2022

Fashion was born in the 18th century at the same time as new trades and a specialised press. The French style, worn by both the aristocracy and the urban upper middle class, became established in all the courts and cities of Europe. For the first time, the confrontation of pictorial works with 18th-century costumes will allow us to explore a new staging of the body, between social demands and the whims of taste. For this eventful exhibition, in partnership with the Palais Galliera, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, the Musée d'Arts de Nantes will present nearly 200 18th-century objects from the greatest textile and fine arts museums in France and Europe.

Musée d'arts de Nantes (External link)

Given the current health protection measures, we advise you to check venue websites for exhibition dates and entry conditions.