Nuit Blanche

Last night was La Nuit Blanche in Paris, a night of performance, art and random wandering through the city until 4 o’clock the following morning. The organisers should have considered calling it La Nuit Grise as there was steady rain until about 11.30pm which literally put a bit of a dampener on everything. It wasn’t too bad – it could have been worse.

I didn’t get to this annual event last year as Tom and I had a plane to Portugal to catch early the following morning, so I was determined to experience the spectacle this year. It has a similar concept to La Fête de la Musique – there are exhibitions, performances and extended opening hours at various buildings throughout the city, starting from 7pm and finishing at around 4am on Sunday. It was mainly focused around the centre of the city and so I headed out with a fellow Australian resident, Chris, to discover what the night had in store for us.

It was a mixed-bag quality-wise which surprised me greatly. I always expect everything in Paris to be AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL and yet it seems that there are just as many budget and time restrictions here as there are in Perth. The best events of the evening were the simplest – we headed to St Eustache, a beautiful old church near Les Halles. There was a concert featuring various organists playing spooky and “DER NER NER!” style music in a darkened church. It was very atmospheric.

The headquarters of the French Boulangerie society was open and there were bakers busily preparing fresh bread and croissants to hand out to hungry (or just greedy like me) passersby. Everyone received a bag with three warm bakery treats. So good.

Nuit Blanche

Mmmm… delicious baked goods.

Another highlight was at Le Cité des Arts, another artists’ residency in Paris. You walked through a dark room with a single red lamp streaming light down a passage way. After a few seconds of entering you soon realised that the other people in the room that you first thought were just fellow visitors were in fact standing facing the walls making eery humming sounds. The result was a fantastic cacophony of sound reverberating around the room. It made you feel unsettled but also mystified at the same time. Such a simple concept yet it really struck you.

My favourite moment was in the courtyard of the National Archives – surrounded by the beautiful old building in the middle of the Marais, were four bubble machines. Thousands of bubbles were pumped into the air creating such a magical scene. There was soft music playing in the background and you felt like you were floating through space or just reliving life as a kid again. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces and were overwhelmed by the beauty of the bubbles. It was just wonderful.

Nuit Blanche

I wanted to sing and dance and pretend I was in a musical.

Probably the most disappointing event we saw was at Notre Dame. They projected a documentary onto the main front wall inside the cathedral, so while this could have been absolutely wonderful, it was long, it had sound that you could barely hear and it was a pretty ordinary documentary to start with. We didn’t stay to watch. Considering the huge potential that space has, some simple projections of images or shapes or colours or interesting lights would have been so much more effective. It was nice being inside Notre Dame in the pitch black, however it just highlighted even further how disappointing the documentary was.

Chris and I returned to the Récollets just after midnight, not really fulfilling the ‘stay out until the early morning’ concept. It was a good night but it didn’t quite live up to the high expectations that I had of La Nuit Blanche. Maybe it was the rain.

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