This year Paris is celebrating the anniversaries of several of its monuments and historical figures with some exceptional events. Spotlight on the not-to-miss festivities that make 2019 a memorable year.
The 75th anniversary celebration of the D-Day landings at the Musée de la Libération; the centenary of the consecration of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica; the 45th anniversary of the reopening of the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord with Peter Brook as artistic director: in 2019, a number of anniversaries will be fêted in style, each one offering an opportunity to celebrate some of Paris’s emblematic places. Here are the 10 key dates.
Eiffel Tower: France’s ‘Iron Lady’ turns 130
Inaugurated on 31 March 1889 at the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), the Eiffel Tower is celebrating its 130th anniversary with a treasure hunt on the theme ‘Eiffel Tower: The Secret Files’. Led by actors featuring in the musical La Tour de 300 mètres (The 300-metre Tower), this immersive adventure game kicked off on 30 March, and is being proposed to visitors all year long. For this anniversary, the Eiffel Tower is also putting on a sound and light show. This spectacle by the famous scenographer Bruno Seillier is visible from the Trocadero gardens and the Iena bridge on 15, 16 and 17 May 2019 from 10pm to midnight.
The Louvre Pyramid is 30 years old …
A collaborative installation by visual artist JR (and 400 volunteers!) in the main courtyard (Cour Napoléon) in March; a major concert by the Orchestre de Paris for the Fête de la musique; an exhibition devoted to the œuvre of Pierre Soulages at the end of the year, and more: one event flows seamlessly into the next at the Louvre Pyramid in 2019 in a worthy tribute to the architect Ieoh Ming Pei’s masterpiece, inaugurated on 29 March 1989 by the then French President François Mitterrand.
… and so is the Parc Astérix
The favourite amusement park of the indomitable Gauls has surprises and new attractions in store for its 30th anniversary celebrations. The highlights include ‘Attention Menhir!’, an immersive attraction for all the family and a 4D animation film screened in the brand-new 300-seat Studios Idéfix, plus some new characters from the iconic comic book series for visitors to bump into inside the park.
500 years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci’s works live on
A double celebration for Leonardo de Vinci this year! The Louvre – home to the inscrutable Mona Lisa – is paying homage to the Italian master with an unprecedented exhibition of his work. Can’t wait until it opens this autumn? Then head to the Domaine de Chantilly to see another exhibition devoted to a lesser-known but equally enigmatic version of the lady: The Nude Mona Lisa. A chance, perhaps, to finally learn the secrets of the model who inspired and revealed the genius of da Vinci.
350 years of the Opéra de Paris: Star-studded celebrations
The celebrations got underway with an inaugural gala on 30 December last year, and continue at the Palais Garnier throughout 2019. The exhibition titled ‘Un air d’Italie - L’Opéra de Paris de Louis XIV à la Révolution’ (A certain air of Italy. The Paris Opera from Louis VIX to the Revolution) organized with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France retraces a large chunk of the Paris Opera’s history from Louis XIV’s reign all the way to the French Revolution. The Paris Opera is also going off-site to celebrate its anniversary, with the ‘Edgar Degas à l’Opéra’ exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay at the end of the year. The highlight of the festivities was of course the Opera’s 350th anniversary gala on 8 May.
Tutankhamun: the centenary of a discovery of treasures
This is the event of the year at La Grande Halle de la Villette. ‘Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh’ is making a six-month stopover in Paris before moving on to other world capitals. This travelling exhibition commemorating the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb unveils dazzling Ancient Egyptian artefacts, some of which have never before left their native land. A unique and unmissable opportunity to learn about the history of this fascinating civilization before the exhibition returns to its permanent home at Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum.
50 years on: One small step for mankind, one giant exhibition for Paris
Half a century after Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon, an exhibition named for the astral body reveals all its secrets. Our dreams, our fascination with and exploration of it, the art inspired by it – ‘La Lune’ (The Moon) reviews how we relate to the only place beyond Earth that humans have visited to date. The exhibition – a moment suspended in time – features works by Man Ray, Joan Mirò and Auguste Rodin.
5 years since the renovation of the Paris Zoo
Reopened in April 2014, the Paris Zoo has programmed festive events throughout the year to mark the occasion. A special anniversary weekend plus an Easter egg hunt in April, an exploration of some areas of the globe with a programme of ‘wildlife encounters’ during all the school holidays, and more: the zoo is going all out to make a visit with the family an unforgettable event on this anniversary year. The Paris Zoo is introducing five new species in 2019: the same number as the candles it is blowing out this year. Welcome Australian fur seals, coatis, meerkats, single-celled amoebae and bamboo sharks!
100 years of shows at the Théâtre Mogador
Initially called Palace Théâtre when it was inaugurated in 1919 (in the presence of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt), the Théâtre Mogador remains a legendary venue. In a tribute to the decade in which it was opened, the theatre at number 25 of the eponymous street is raising the curtain on a production of ‘Chicago’, the musical combining a cabaret show and jazz music. In Autumn 2019 the curtains will go up on ‘Ghost’, another legendary musical. A unique opportunity to take your place in one of the theatre’s 1,600 plush seats.
More information about musicals
Double anniversary for the Hilton Paris Opéra
Built in 1889 as the Grand Hôtel Terminus, the Hilton Paris Opera is blowing out its 130th birthday candle in 2019, while the Hilton Group celebrates its centenary this year. An old-fashioned tea-time; an ‘1889’ cocktail specially concocted for the occasion; events in the legendary Grand Salon, a symbol of the Belle Epoque and many new things and surprises are on the programme throughout the year, with the high point in May, the month of the two anniversaries.