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Unmissable Cultural Activities in Paris this August

21 July 2015

Hotel de Vigny Offers a Guide to What's on in Paris

Alongside the well-trodden paths to the Mona Lisa and Moulin Rouge, Paris also boasts a whole host of intriguing exhibitions and events; from an exploration into the Italian decorative arts, to a 21st century light show in 17th century fountains. Feel enlightened, inspired, and ultimately wanting more this August by experiencing something a little out of the ordinary. 

Dolce Vita? From the Liberty to Italian Design (1900-1940)

Musée d’Orsay

Until 13th September 2015

A mention of La Dolce Vita aka ‘the sweet life’, and visions of Anita Ekberg dancing in the Trevi fountain may come to mind. Or perhaps you get a broader picture of Fellini's cinematic vision; a divisive, starry-eyed, world that springs up from the ruins and poverty of post-war Italy with optimism and a new found wealth... before finding conflict with mass consumerism, cultural changes and modern morality.

However, the latest exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay asks if this advancement into modernity and euphoric exploration into the Italian identity started well before the fifties... and if so, what inspired it, and how did it feed into the movements that followed?

To explore this idea, the renowned museum is offering the chance to discover the many diverse and innovative Italian art movements that began or flourished between 1900 and 1940. The chronological display begins with the Liberty style, the Italian interpretation of fashionable Art Nouveau designs, showcasing Eugenio Quarti’s pearl encrusted furniture and vases adorned with peacock feathers by Galileo Chini.

In contrast, with industrialisation having begun in the north of the country, pieces by the avant-garde Futurists sought to capture the movement and energy in modern life using bright colours, traits of neo-impressionism and cubism. The work depicted youth, technology and violence... and incorporated every medium of art.

Modern classicist works by the Novecento Italiano movement are succeeded by those by the Rationalists, who sought inspiration from the likes of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius to create avant-garde designs such as the conical Bilia Lamp, topped with a sphere. Offering a thought-provoking experience that explores an early 20th century search for a modern Italian aesthetic, this extensive exhibition is simply unmissable for any art lover or Italophile this summer.

The Fountains Night Show

Château de Versailles

Until 19th September 2015

Located just over 30 minutes from the centre of Paris, the Palace of Versailles boasts an almost 2,000 acre garden filled with tree lined groves, expansive pools and an orangery. By day, the grounds of Marie Antoinette’s hamlet are perfect for a picnic, while the scattered Anish Kapoor artworks provide a contemporary contrast to the grand, gold leafed sculptures at the Latona fountain. However, opt to visit on a Saturday evening and the area is completely transformed. Water cascading over tiered millstones at the open-air Ballroom resembles molten lava, an atmospheric green haze swirls around the Proserpina statue in the Colonnade thanks to lasers, while arches and spirals of water glow in neon colours… and all set to a classical soundtrack. Only available to see during the summer months, this stunning display of light effects form part of Palace’s Fountains Night Show.

Alongside the chance to explore the beautifully-lit gardens, the event leads up to the grand finale; 15 minutes of synchronised shooting flames and fireworks that form glittering reflections over the 1,670 metre Grand Canal backdrop. While the sounds of the Musica Antiqua Köln orchestra fill the air, pyrotechnic production company Groupe F choreograph the display, which, considering the fact they’ve previously lit up the Eiffel Tower, London Eye and Taipei 101, should surely impress. The UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to an array of restaurants and vendors, which offer the chance to sample local cuisine and make a toast to the night ahead... and with tickets for a pre-show ball in the 17th century Hall of Mirrors also available, summer evening entertainment doesn’t come more exciting or mesmerising than this. 

Whether you delve into French history during a night out or explore the fascinating world of Italian art history by day, Paris is the perfect destination for a cultural experience that’s a little outside the box the summer.

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