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Street theatre in Paris

Catch acrobats and performance artists in the open air

© Johanna Prevet

These festivals overturn the traditonal idea of theatre as being confined to gilt-edged stages and expensive red velvet seats. Make room in your diary instead for these cheap or free performances in the streets, from a huge range of unusual, energetic talents.

Le Printemps des Rues

Those in the know rub their hands with glee when Le Printemps des Rues comes around again. This counterpoint to the mainstream theatre world has been going for more than fifteen years, and is quite out of the ordinary. Over three days, fifteen companies put on over 40 shows in the 10th arrondissment: on the Quai de Jemmapes, in the Jardin Villemen and in front of Hôpital Saint-Louis. Storytelling, guided walks, installations and dancing are also included, all for free, making springtime in Paris an excellent time for theatre...

Parade(s)

Head to Nanterre for three lively days at the first ever Ile-de-France festival of circus and street theatre – Parade(s) has been opening up the streets, parks, squares and avenues of Nanterre for more than 20 years. Every spring (around the end of May or beginning of June), forty or so groups put up inventive temporary stages in public spaces, playing creatively with the props provided by the urban landscape. Clowns, acrobats, dancers, puppets and music make up over a hundred free shows for all ages – guaranteed to please...

Onze Bouge festival

At the beginning of June, the 11th arrondissement isn't just about all the little bars and boutiques lining its streets – for a few days, the quartier becomes an open forum for free theatre. The Maison des Métallos, the Théâtre Dezajet and the Palais des Glaces, among others, open their doors and offer their red velvet seats to the 17th edition of the Onze Bouge festival. There’s balloon juggling by Benjamin Beneventi, a cinema screening of Hannibal at the town hall, comedy and contemporary dance – all in all around twenty free shows and lots of surprises, from an initiative that seeks to democratise live performance...

Scènes d'Eté

Love tango or Indian dance? Want to go around the world for the price of a Metro ticket? On weekends between July 7 and August 25, Scènes d'Eté offers dozens of free workshops (and some paying ones) inspired by cultures from around the world. There's tarantella from Italy, tango from Argentina and even isicathamiya – Zulu a cappella. As well as music, dance and singing, there are craft workshops where you can make kites and papier-mâché masks.There are also a dozen or so concerts (choral, percussion, electric guitar) and an orchestral stroll that starts at the Fontaine aux Lions...

Quartier d'Eté festival

Global in outlook, ambitious in scope, citywide and often free, the Quartier d'Eté festival offers a fantastic summer programme of dance, theatre, concerts and circus. Previous years have seen open-air films, gypsy music, ballet by Merce Cunningham, and an opera composed for the occasion by Youssou N'Dour...

By: Flora Hudson

Village de Cirque

Eight companies, three shows and nearly forty performances make the Porte Dorée a very busy place to be in October. Every year for nearly 10 years, the 2R2C street circus cooperative has performed for Parisians on the grass and in their big top at Reuilly. Shows are cheap, plus there are free concerts, jugglers and performers everywhere – even a bar serving brunch...

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