The underground bunker next to the Centre Pompidou, set up in 1969 by the avant-garde composer Pierre Boulez to create electronic microtonal music for the new century, is looking less redundant nowadays with a full programme of courses and conferences. Not many concerts take place in the building itself, but IRCAM sponsors concerts with a modernist theme across the city. See the website for concert venues, and details of courses.
Originally founded as the Théâtre Molière, this place is centuries old, where once revolutionaries came to perform their plays. In the 1990s, the 17th-century room was redesigned as a centre for poetry. The programme mixes the works of classical French masters (Victor Hugo, Julio Cortazar, Guillaume Apollinaire), less popular but also outstanding contemporary poets (Christophe Manon) and talented actors (Philippe Caubère, Anaïs de Courson). A multidisciplinary venue that promotes creativity and doesn’t shy away from debate.
The Belgian cultural centre has been a part of the Parisian scene since 1979, with an eclectic programme of fine arts, live shows, film screenings, conferences and more. More often showing contemporary artists like the draughtsman Roland Breucker or the photographer Sophie Langohr, it sometimes also shows distinguished names (Evelyne Axell, Antoine Mortier). There are two annual dance festivals it’s worth keeping an eye out for: ‘On y Danse’ in February, and ‘Théatre et Compagnies’ in October. There are also five themes film festivals a year – all great ways of filling the enormous 1000 square metre space.
An embarrassment of cultural choice at the CCS, established in 1985: dance, concerts, reading, film screenings, theatre, exhibitions and more, all ‘made in Switzerland’. In the very heart of the Marais, it promotes Swiss culture and fosters links with French artists, holding a huge variety of exhibitions in its 280 square metre gallery space.
A springboard for new talent, the Blancs Manteaux offer an eclectic programme of comedy sketches, stand-up, duos and burlesque, promoting a different newly-discovered act every month in its two intimate, distinctively decorated auditoriums, which allow you to get really close to the acts. There are two deals on offer that are particularly worth checking out – the two-shows-in-one-evening, and the dinner-and-a-show, run with local restaurants.
A stone’s throw from the Centre Pompidou, MK2 offers a high quality programme of films in the heart of the city. Among other roles, it often works with the Pompidou to show contemporary artists’ works and festival selections – for example the Cinéma du Réel, which brings a fantastic selection of international documentaries to Paris every spring.
Halfway through the 19th century, the café and music venue Folies Mayer opened among numerous other theatres on the Boulevard du Temple – at the time, also known as the Boulevard du Crime, the scene of murder and intrigues almost evey night. None of this stopped the Folies Mayer from surviving and becoming a theatre in 1854, taken over a few years later by Virginie Dézajet, with operettas and standup on the stage of what was now the Folies-Dézajet. Though the Dézajet was the only theatre to escape Haussman’s demolitions, it didn’t escape closure at the end of the 1930s...