Nuit Blanche 2011

Last Saturday, 1st October, was one of those moments when I wanted to shout to high heavens, “I’d like to live in Paris!!!!!!…(echo…..echo..)…”

“You ARE in Paris, how close to it do you want?”

“But I live in the suburbs,  40mins by train to the center. It would be nice to be in the middle of the action where I can stay up, wander around from dusk till dawn like what everybody is doing tonight at the Nuit Blanche! Too bad, I can only stay till 12am!  Last train to home goes just after midnight.”

“Well, if Nuit Blance is an “all-night event”, who says you have to go home tonight?  You can definitely stay up all night , be a cultural night owl, join the thousands of people prowling the streets hopping from one art and cultural event to another.  It’s awesome!  Just go home when your train resumes at 5am tomorrow.”

“Gee,  that’s a good idea! I should have thought about that!”


Nuit Blanche.

It is French for “White Night”. It’s that exciting dusk-till-dawn event where the center of the city is transformed into an open art gallery.   It’s like a “watch-till-you-drop” art prowl where contemporary works of art, cultural performances,  thought provoking films, intriguing exhibitions are presented in courtyards of heritage buildings, inside churches, museums, schools, metro underground, public squares, gardens, even in swimming pools!

First launched in 2002, it has become an annual celebration where art and culture reign, with free entrance to more than a hundred venues and is best experienced by ambling. 

Starting at 7pm lasting till about 7am the next day, you follow the cultural trail and as the evening grows, you find yourself inching alongside a jampacked crowd.  The atmosphere is festive and convivial, it’s  New Year’s day without the champagne and fireworks!  

Now let us start the cultural trail:


In the Hotel de Ville (City Hall), a short but highly poetic film was shown about African migrants huddling themselves in dingies or boats sailing into the small island of Lampedusa in Sicily.  While a few souls made it to safety, the doomed ones drowned into the ocean depths.


The crowd watching in the courtyard of the Hotel de Ville.


He performs on the piano while she poetizes and redefines Space by drawing with a blue ink…..
Credit Municipal de Paris at 55, rue des Francs-Bourgeois.


The crowd in the courtyard of the 18th century building of CMP (above).

This is the same spot where the oldest financial institution in the country was founded. Called in those days as “Ma Tante” (literally means “My Aunt”), it acted as a “pawnshop” where people in need of money pawned their valuable items such as carpets, musical instrument, jewelry, glassware, sculpture and in return, received 50% – 70% of the market value of these objects.


Definitely the most popular event that night is “Purple Rain”.  
I took this from across the road through my raised up tripod but still not clear enough.  About a thousand or more people were queueing up here  and I am not kidding! 
Hotel d’Albret, 32 rue des Francs-Bourgeois


This is the “Purple Rain” photo taken from the City Hall’s website.  The artist tried to create an artificial rain and invited the visitor to walk around with an umbrella to experience the colourful environment.

I am really glad I brought my tripod even if I was just using a point-and-shoot.  It gave me a high vantage point photographing the crowd!

This is the crowd just outside Hotel d’Albret, no space even to drop a pin!


A futuristic sculpture which portrays the artistic effect of combining plastic art, dance, music and video, displayed at the medieval Monastery of Billettes, 24 rue des Archives.


The church of Notre-Dame des Blancs-Manteaux packed with people wanting to watch and listen to the concert of the 150-member choir composed of students from the National Conservatory of Music and joined by young singers who are physically or mentally handicapped.


A sculpture in blocks comprising of freestanding arches of different heights, bent to the limit of rapture and collapse.  This artwork gives different effects of scale and proportion depending on the angle of view.  It effectively illustrates what sculpture and architecture is all about. 
Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris (Historic Library of the City of Paris
24, rue Pavée.

Saw this thick crowd of muscular men in rue des Archives. Just men! I wonder if they are queueing up for an audition!

One can also spend the whole night just sitting inside his car, unmoving, in the streets of Paris.  That’s what happens when you choose to drive rather than walk during the Nuit Blanche. 

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2 thoughts on “Nuit Blanche 2011”

  1. That was amazing. I lived in Paris for 10 years and have never attended “Nuit Blanche.” I am not surprised though. Paris is a very creative, dynamic city. The event was well attended too and what perfect weather for it! What a great night. Too bad some unfortunate souls had to go back to the suburbs afterwards 😉 Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Hi Veronique,
    Art and cultural events are half the reason why Paris is my favorite city! And as a festival-phile, it satisfies all what I “need” and “want” to enjoy living! Imagine how boring life would be if you cannot have these ….. and to have them for free is doubly amazing!

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