Nuit Blanche — White Night — All Night Paris Art Festival

Nuit Blanche  or  White Night is an all night festival of the arts that was inaugurated about 25 years ago and is celebrated in Paris around the first of October. Art installations and performance pieces are set up all over the city with dozens of sites.  It is estimated that over 2.5 million people participated this year.

We arrived in Paris by Easyjet from Pisa on Saturday evening of Nuit Blanche and although beat from a long day of standing in lines and travel wanted to be sure to get a taste of it.  Easyjet flying is like early Southwest but being herded about and waiting in lines is a small price to pay for tickets that cost about 10% of what major carriers charge for the one way trip.      After dinner at our old favorite, ‘Le Petit Canon’, a small restaurant near the apartment in Batignolles, ( headed out to see a couple of nearby Nuit Blanche sites.   There were two at Square Batignolles; the square is our favorite Paris park (   The first site was at Sainte Marie de Batignolles the neighborhood church and we joined the line to get in.

Unfortunately my snapshot did not capture the elusive installation.  It was both underwhelming and intriguing.  In the center of the sanctuary  an enormous ‘O’ made of video tape hung suspended on air current provided by half a dozen large fans; it was swaying gently but maintaining its shape with no attachments or supports.  The ‘O’ was about 15-20 feet across. It was surrounded by people with that ‘is that all there is?’ look on their faces. 

Local provided snacks and water to grateful participants, many of whom were halfway through an all nighter.

The management of the event was quite impressive. There were small booklets listing all the sites and each section of the city — we were in the Batignolles-Pigalle sector of the Nuit Blanche encompassing the 17th and 18th — had displays with maps of the sites.

After the church  it was on to the park itself. Square Batignolles was dedicated to a celebration of ‘heroes.’  So we got in the long line which moved quickly to see what that was about.

The heroes celebration presented characters representing heroes and who were available to pose in front of light screens or who just roamed the park interacting with each other and participants. At the entry of the park Superman and Santa Claus were posing with participants in front of a blue light screen; the crush was so enormous that we just moved on.   Here is an astronaut just emerging from the dark to greet participants; he will shortly be surrounded.

An eclectic group.  I am thinking ‘Jolly Green Giant’ on the left but maybe it is Pan or Robin Hood or some French hero unknown to me.   He is oddly arrayed here with assorted religious icons.

And what could be a better Christmas card than the girls and their Lord and Savior?

I don’t remember the STOS episode with Spock and the Grim Reaper, but here they are. 

I am thinking Green Hornet here but my personal favorite is the character to the left of him; it looks like a plant, but it is a character who moved about posing with the other characters. 

There were some conventional comic book heroes, but I am still going with the plant.

In addition to the usual crepe and glacee kiosk in the park, there was a sausage barbeque set up to feed the hungry throngs.

Heroed out, we left the park and decided to take in one more site — a series of projection installations along Rue du Rome.

This building became the screen for a varied series of projections.  My favorite was the colored amoeba like effects.  There were also a series based on photos and films that were fun to watch.

Further down the street was a more political display beginning with fireworks and bombs, morphing here to a tropical setting and then moving into photos of war.

To participate further meant a long walk or metro ride to get over to Montmartre or into the center, so since it was after midnight and we were beat, we headed home.   A poster on Trip Advisor, Kerouac2,  posted a great blog on Nuit Blanche that includes pictures of some of the more interesting displays including an installation of thousands of black butterflies and everyone’s favorite ‘Purple Rain.’   Purple rain provided participants with umbrellas for a walk in a torrential downpour of purple rain in a courtyard; I am assuming that the purple is from lighting and not colored water.  You can see this and more in this blog:

The picture below is from kerouac2’s great blog. We wish we could have partied all night but it was fun to catch up with what we missed with someone who did.


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