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Five of the best exhibitions in Paris this summer

Paris is a city for art lovers, and also for people who just enjoy looking at a pretty painting. Every second street is full of galleries and museums. But where to begin? Here's our pick of some of the more interesting expos in Paris at the moment.

Five of the best exhibitions in Paris this summer
Tutankhamun's treasures at La Villette in Paris. Photo:AFP.

The Obvious One: Tutankhamun, The Treasure of the Pharaoh, Grande Halle de la Villette, until September 15th.

Everyone loves a bit of King Tut’s golden opulence. This exhibition features more than 150 objects from the Boy Pharaoh’s tomb, many of which have never been taken out of Egypt before. And it is a brief and unique opportunity to see them, as they will be returning to Egypt for the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in 2022. Tutankhamun was a Pharaoh in the 14th century, he is thought to have died at the age of just 18. His tomb was discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter and the world has been obsessed with it ever since.

The Interactive One: Coup de Foudre, Fondation EDF, Until October 20th.

This is likely to be the most fun you will have at a serious art exhibition in a very long time. Artists Fabrice Hyber and Nathalie Talec have deconstructed the traditional formal gallery space and replaced it with a playground, but one that asks very real questions. You can dress up in a skeleton or a wedding dress and dance like nobody’s watching. You can sit on the wrong side of a deconstructed rocking chair and land on the floor with an impressively loud crash (or keep your dignity, it's up to you). You can pull the strings of a giant puppet. You can write on the walls. You can stand in a black room in the middle of a lightning storm. You can laugh out loud – and you will. Your senses will be challenged, they will be electrified.

The One with a Garden: Georges Dorignac, Musée de Montmartre, Until September 8th.

When the summer sun finally arrives in Paris and you need to escape the sweltering streets and the pushing hordes of tourists, one of the best places to hide out is in a museum. And an even better place is a museum with a garden. The museum in Montmartre boasts not one but three special gardens dedicated to Renoir, as the impressionist artist actually lived there for two years in the 1870s. There’s even a café. If the sun gets too much, you can stroll inside to see an impressive exhibition of work by Georges Dorignac. Dorignac arrived in Montmartre in 1901 and quickly became part of its more cosmopolitan elements, his influences ranging from Modigliani to Seurat. For this show running, the museum is presenting many works which have never been shown in public before.

The Quirky One: Gilbert and George, Louis Vuitton Foundation, until August 26th

There Were Two Young Men is a retrospective of the work of the Anglo Italian art duo Gilbert and George, looking back at their 50-year long artistic collaboration. Dominated by a giant sculpture, the exhibition also features other pieces of the couple's highly distinctive works. It is located in the stunning Louis Vuitton Foundation, buried in the Bois de Boulogne, which is worth a visit just to look at the building. Find out more and book in advance here.

The One Everyone is Waiting For: Leonardo da Vinci, The Louvre, October 24th – February 24th 2020.

Without question the most hotly anticipated exhibition in recent years is this tribute to the Florentine master on the 500th anniversary of his death. Artist, scientist, philosopher, inventor… da Vinci was a true polymath and this exhibition aims to encapsulate the man in all his elements as the Louvre’s researchers have spent the last decade studying his life. Da Vinci died in France, which explains why so many of his key paintings are here. And the Louvre has five of the best, including St John the Baptist and that little known portrait of a woman who may or may not be smiling, Mona Lisa. These paintings will be joined by many of their siblings for what promises to be an unmissable show. Book early.    

Did we miss your personal favourite? Tell us your recommendations by emailing The Local.

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Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE