Your Essential Nuit Blanche 2012 Survival Guide

Tomorrow night will mark the 11th Nuit Blanche in Paris. Nuit Blanche is the name of the, now annual, event when art installations and exhibitions are set up across Paris, they’re all free and it runs all night.

I’ve seen a few Nuit Blanche in my time here so feel adequately qualified to offer up some valuable advice and general survival tips: what to bring, what to wear and how to avoid the rubbish, but not the ridiculous (those are my favourites).

Firstly some tips:

  • Ladies – wear flat shoes. Your night will mostly be a mix of standing around, walking around and standing in queues. Comfy footwear is essential!
  • If there’s a massive queue for something, don’t bother, it will not be worth it. The biggest queue I encountered on a Nuit Blanche ended up leading into a Church which was “showcasing” sculptures made of some old wooden chairs. They did not resemble anything other than… some old wooden chairs . Needless to say it didn’t get me going, art-wise.
  • One (or more) for the road – police are a lot more lax about the, “no drinking alcohol in the streets”, rule so stock up on a few aperos for your arty wanderings
  • Don’t OD on art! Whichever route you take, look up a few bars nearby for some refueling (more booze), art rests and, for the ladies, loo breaks (alfresco can get complicated)
  • First-timers/les débutants – definitely check out the centre of Paris. For the full Nuit Blanche experience you need to head towards St Michel and Chatelet, don’t be put off by the crowds. One of my favourite Nuit Blanche art moments was actually in Les Halles (the underground shopping centre). There was a graffiti artist suspended on wires spray painting a giant canvas hung from the ceiling, whilst below a small orchestra played classical music. It was strange, but kind of cool at the same time. I like to think it sums up the spirit of Nuit Blanche, stumbling across strange but cool art stuff.
  • Old timers – if Nuit Blanche is old hat to you and you’re sick of the crowds around the centre, then why not try a Nuit Blanche-light? Check out the online guide ( and see what’s in your area or within a 3-arrondissement radius. That means you can see a few of the less crowded options and still end up in your favourite local watering hole.

Quoi de neuf en 2012? – What’s new in 2012?

Nuit Blanche 2012 is centred along the Seine and the website suggests four different routes to divide it up. Only the very courageous will actually try to make it all the way from one end of the Seine to the other. My advice, select a few things that you definitely want to see and then just follow the Seine. There’s no point being too organised about a Nuit Blanche, especially when you’re with a group of people. To avoid arguments it’s nicer just to pick a direction and see what you come across.

A new element this year includes some of the taller buildings of the city, that are usually closed to the public, allowing people in to get a full Paris panorama view during Nuit Blanche! The highest one is the 24th floor of the Jussieu Tower in the Jussieu university site. I’m also looking forward to climbing up one of the “book towers” at Bibliothèque François Mitterand.

Other than that, here’s a few highlights I’ll be checking out:


2 bis avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, Paris 8, M° Opera

More street theatre than street art, I’m not 100% sure what they’re offering, but it sounds like a 5 minute therapy session in the street! It’s definitely original, I wonder if they’ll have a sofa to lie on?



Square Edouard-VII | Paris 9e

“Felice Varini présente une intervention in situ dans le bâtiment du Carré Edouard-VII. Après avoir sondé le lieu en relevant son architecture, ses matériaux, son histoire et sa fonction, il définit trois points de vue autour desquels ses œuvres prennent forme.”

I love this square, the architecture is beautiful, so I’m very curious to see an installation that incorporates the surroundings.



Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris 5e, M° Saint-Michel

“Quand la nature reprend ses droits, cela donne naissance à ce jardin suspendu à mi-hauteur entre le fleuve et la rue sous le pont Saint-Michel, sorte de contrefaçon de petithavre de paix végétal au cœur de la ville.”

A garden suspended in mid-air? Awesome!


Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe | Paris 4e
M° Pont-Marie

« Oh my ghosts ! » invite le public à jouer les chasseurs de fantômes tout en faisant du lèche-vitrine rue du Pont Louis-Philippe. Grâce à l’imagerie de synthèse, un rétro-éclairage révèle telle une radiographie le squelette de ces spectres.

Mixing window shopping with ghost-hunting – sort of a “Ghostbusters go shopping” vibe. I’m dubious, but intrigued!



Port de la Gare, Paris 13e, M° Quai de la Gare / Bibliothèque

“Installé à quai, le projet « [Re]Action » combine vidéo, musique, danse, performance et architecture. Dans la cale, quatre artistes contemporains proposent une série de performances scéniques interactives où l’art se mêle à la musique.”

Always good to find a musical installation for when you’re getting a bit tired of weird sculptures and modern art, plus Batofar and the quais de Bercy are a great place for having a drink.

So, go prepared and enjoy Paris in all its arty quirkiness! Vive la Nuit Blanche!

For more info go to the official site:


One comment

  1. Really interesting post – had no idea about this event in Paris. It sounds brilliant and I wish I was there to experience it. Have fun.

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