The most beautiful exhibitions to discover in France in 2023

For culture lovers, France is not limited to Paris. It is full of masterpieces and artistic pieces to look at in museums. Big names like Picasso or Yves Klein, abstract or figurative paintings, landscapes, there is something for everyone. From the Hauts-de-France to the Côte d'Azur, via Lyon, Occitania and Provence, embark on a tour of France's exhibitions to be discovered in 2023 to cultivate yourself and escape during your next stay in France.

Dalí and Gaudí at the Bassins des Lumières, in Bordeaux

*From February 3, 2023 to January 7, 2024

In 2023, two sacred monsters of art history are invited to the former Bordeaux submarine base with monumental projections of the greatest works of Dalí and Gaudí. The immersive exhibition "Dalí, the endless enigma" reveals the most beautiful paintings of the master of surrealism such as The Persistence of Memory in the Face of Mae West, Atomic Leda or The Temptation of Saint Anthony.
The second installation plunges visitors into the rediscovery of the iconoclastic achievements of the architect Gaudí, such as the Parc Güell or the Sagrada Família, sources of inspiration for Salvador Dalí.

Visit the Bassins des Lumières, in Bordeaux (External link)

"Picasso 1969-1972: the end of the beginning" at the Picasso Museum in Antibes

*From April 8 to June 25, 2023

Of the 23 volumes of the Picasso catalog published by Christian Zervos, 13 are devoted to the last 20 years. This production accelerated again after 1968, between 1969 and 1972. At the age of 90, Picasso reaffirmed that painting is first and foremost a matter of desire, and delivered a lesson in enthusiasm and invention. The exuberance in his latest paintings is expressed by bright colors, and most often by large formats, testifies to the extraordinary creative power of the artist in his old age, and his often underestimated talents as a colorist that will remind the public of the exhibitions of 1970 and 1973. He then revisited the gallery of his familiar characters, the toreros, the musketeers, and painted, with a young man's frenzy and in extreme urgency, pictures that seemed to take shape before our eyes, as if to invite painting to other adventures: the end of the beginning.

To celebrate Picasso's work, 12 exhibitions are planned in Paris and throughout France in several museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the Collection Lambert in Avignon, in Provence, the Musée Goya in Castres, in Occitania, and the Musée de la Céramique in Vallauris, on the Côte d'Azur, where the artist stayed.

Visit the Picasso Museum in Antibes, on the French Riviera (External link)

"Landscapes" at Louvre-Lens

*From March 29 to July 24, 2023

What is a landscape in painting? The Louvre-Lens Museum in Hauts-de-France attempts to answer this question through works and objects, such as teaching manuals written by artists or utensils used in the studio or outdoors. The public follows step by step the realization of an artistic landscape, starting from the sketch while comparing the different points of view in nature.

Visit the Louvre-Lens museum, in Hauts-de-France (External link)

"Immortal" at the Montpellier Contemporary Art Center (MO.CO.)

*From March 11 to June 4, 2023

In the spring of 2023, the Montpellier Contemporary Art Center (MO.CO.) in Occitania will focus on young French figurative painting in an exhibition entitled "Immortal". The public will meet French artists on the two sites of the museum. The MO.CO will deal with the 1970s characterized by the presence of the human figure. The MO.CO. Panacea evokes the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, a period during which paintings (historical, portrait, landscape, still life...) underwent a profound transformation.

Visit the art center MO.CO. in Montpellier, in Occitania (External link)

"We the rivers" at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon

*Until August 27, 2023

Cradle of civilizations, rivers have allowed the development of human activities in the four corners of the planet by fertilizing the soil necessary for agriculture. Located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône, the (aptly named) Musée des Confluences in Lyon invites its visitors to stroll along an imaginary river. As the water flows, the public gradually discovers the mysteries of these fascinating rivers: from the source of the rivers to the colors of the confluences and the force of the current, helped by an immersive scenography, aquatic animals, mythological characters, works of art and documentary films. At a time of climate change, the exhibition "We the rivers" allows us to reflect on the preservation of the environment of these fertile areas, such as estuaries and deltas also subject to geopolitical conflicts that arise.

Visit the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (External link)

"Chagall and I" at the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice

Until January 8, 2024

In 2023, the Marc Chagall National Museum celebrates the 50th anniversary of its creation in Nice, on the Côte d'Azur, and marks the occasion with a long-running anniversary exhibition, full of joy and color. In the House imagined by Marc Chagall to host his cycle of the Biblical Message and inaugurated by the artist himself on July 7, 1973 will follow, over the months, personalities of today (artists, writers, dancers, musicians, choreographers, perfumers ...) to dialogue with the work of the painter of "surreality". The exhibition "Chagall and I" offers a contemporary and fascinating reading of the master's paintings with many surprises and a special anniversary weekend on July 7, 8 and 9, 2023.

Visit the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice, on the French Riviera (External link)

"Hyper-Sensitive" at the Nantes Museum of Art

From April 7 to September 3, 2023

As the only French public collection to preserve a sculpture by the American artist Duane Hanson, the Musée d'arts de Nantes explores in its major exhibition 2023, the very human and sensitive character of hyperrealist sculpture. This art form, rarely exhibited in France since its birth in the United States in the 1960s, finds a magnificent setting in the luminous patio of the Musée d'arts de Nantes. Some forty works - men, women, everyday objects - in bronze, stoneware, resin or silicone, represented with meticulous attention to detail (postures, wrinkles, skin texture...) by 11 international sculptors create a striking illusion. A discovery as much as an experience!

Visit the Nantes Museum of Art, in the Pays de la Loire region (External link)

"From Vermeer to Van Gogh" at the Carrières des Lumières in Baux-de-Provence

Until December 31, 2023

To approach the genius of the Dutch masters of painting through a digital creation, a true immersion in nature and the subjects that inspired them, this is what the long program of the Carrières des Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence, in Provence, proposes throughout 2023. From Vermeer to Van Gogh via Rembrandt, Hendrick Avercamp or Jan Steen, the exhibition projects visitors into a fascinating world of color and chiaroscuro. Painting light and its atmosphere is the main theme of the exhibition in the extraordinary quarries of Baux-de-Provence. Direct or subdued, cold or sunny, it reveals the facades, the intimacy of the homes, invites introspection or contemplation and it's magical!

Visit Les Carrières des Lumières in Baux-de-Provence (External link)

Irving Penn at the Franciscaines de Deauville

Until May 28, 2023

The entire collection of Irving Penn's photographs at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris is on display for the first time. And what more beautiful place than the Franciscaines, in Deauville, Normandy, to admire the work of one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, a major figure in Vogue magazine for over 60 years? Between the cloister, the chapel and the large refectory, in the serenity of the former Franciscan convent, superbly transformed, more than 100 original prints reveal an incomparable universe in the field of fashion, portraits (Colette, Cocteau, Picasso...) and still life, playing with commissions with virtuosity and humor.

Visit Les Franciscaines, in Deauville, Normandy (External link)

"The inner island" at the Villa Carmignac, on the island of Porquerolles

From April 23 to November 5, 2023

On the Mediterranean island of Porquerolles, a small paradise on the Côte d'Azur, a stone's throw from the Giens peninsula, the Fondation Carmignac is interested in the inner island. Like a mise en abime of the Villa Carmignac, this exhibition space like no other, a large house surrounded by vineyards and olive trees where one walks barefoot with the Mediterranean as a horizon, the exhibition explores one of the essential drivers of creation: the distancing of reality to reveal an interiority. More than 80 works by some fifty artists as well as productions, draw the dotted contours of an inner island whose gaps visitors will fill in their own ways.

Visit the Villa Carmignac in Porquerolles, on the French Riviera (External link)

"Living Memory" at the Musée de la Romanité in Nîmes

From April 21 to December 31, 2023

For the first time since its inauguration in June 2018, the Musée de la Romanité in Nîmes, Occitanie, is exploring the link between antiquity and the present world. For this archaeology museum with its daring architecture and scenography, it is an opportunity to highlight its archaeological collections linking contemporary and digital together. Carte blanche was given to the artist Olivier Laric to show that the works are more alive than ever, especially in a world marked by the digital revolution and the use of the Internet which finds a new place, a new value and a new function. Instructive as well as comforting.

Visit the Romanesque Museum in Nîmes, in Occitania (External link)

"C'est pas du gâteau" at the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin in Dijon

Until 30 April 2023

A new tourist attraction in the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, Dijon's Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin unveils the secrets of French pastry with its first temporary exhibition entitled "C'est pas du gâteau". Under the patronage of Pierre Hermé, the exhibition begins with a world tour of desserts before delving into the history of pastries for which France is famous for. Of course, their creators, with macaroons at the forefront, Galette des rois, Christmas logs, gingerbread, a local speciality, you will exalt your senses before being initiated into virtual baking. A mouth-watering visit to all gourmets and lovers of the French and Burgundian art of living!

Visit the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin in Dijon, Burgundy (External link)

"Popular costumes and haute couture" at the Mucem in Marseille

From July 12 to November 6, 2023

Since Paul Poiret, the great French couturier and perfumer of the 20th century, fashion designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix and Jean-Paul Gaultier have never ceased to be interested in the forms and imaginary world of regional and traditional costumes. Through an exhibition full of colors and materials, rich in history and customs, the Mucem in Marseille, Provence highlights the correspondences, borrowings and creative processes deployed by the designers. The textile collections of the Mucem as well as loans from numerous French and foreign museums (Palais Galliera, Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, Musée de Quimper, Musée Yves Saint Laurent - Paris, Musée de la Mode de Marseille, Musée Municipal de Bucarest) truly serve as a framework.

Visit the Mucem in Marseille, in Provence (External link)

Exhibitions not to be missed in Paris in 2023

Manet and Degas at the Musée d'Orsay, Basquiat and Warhol at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Matisse at the Musée de l'Orangerie, Mucha at the Grand Palais Immersif without forgetting Picasso whose work is celebrated at the Musée National Picasso as well as in other Parisian museums, 50 years after his death. The list of must-see exhibitions to discover in Paris in 2023 is long! Discover our selection.