The must-see exhibitions in France in 2021

This year we're heading back to France's great museums and letting ourselves be moved by artworks again. The beautiful exhibitions planned in France in 2022 promise novelty, light and poetry. Here's our selection.

Yves Saint-Laurent at six Paris museums

Until 15 May 2022

It promises to be quite an event: the sprawling exhibition in six iconic Parisian museums will celebrate the exceptional work of Yves Saint-Laurent, on the 60th anniversary of the designer's first fashion show. The Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, the Musée d'Art Moderne, the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée National Picasso and the Musée Yves Saint-Laurent are joining forces to highlight the designer's relationship with French art and public collections. A spellbinding journey through the fashion capital in the footsteps of one of the world's greatest designers.

Vivian Maier at Quimper's Fine Arts Museum and the Pont-Aven Museum

Until 29 May 2022

A focus on photographs that might never have seen the light of day: this is the promise of this joint exhibition between two Breton museums. It features nearly 250 photographs by Vivian Maier, an American nanny who became a legend in street photography. In Pont-Aven, the public will be able to admire Maier's self-portraits, the embodiment of her desperate quest for identity in "Vivian Maier and her double", while in Quimper, the visitor will be taken from New York to Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Yves Klein, L'Infini Bleu" at the Carrières des Lumières in Baux-de-Provence

Until 2 January 2023

An immersive dive into the infinite blue sky of the Mediterranean, from which Yves Klein, a major artist of the 20th century, drew inspiration for his emblematic monochromes. Considered as an immaterial and spiritual shield, the sky is a central element of Klein's work who, in a context of space conquest and nuclear armament, shares with his contemporaries a new idealism around freedom. Dive into the blue without hesitation... both digital and sensory, the experience can be extended with "Venice, the Serenissima", a journey through the city of Venice, on at the same time at the Carrières des Lumières.

"The Mona Lisa, immersive exhibition" at Palais de la Bourse in Marseille

Until 21 August 2022

This year, the Mona Lisa has been virtually transported to the Palais de la Bourse in Marseille in a new sensory exhibition presented by the Grand Palais Immersif in collaboration with the Louvre. Within an interactive digital device, the public will travel through six thematic areas revealing the historical events that marked the destiny of the Mona Lisa and the genius of her creator, Leonardo da Vinci. An immersive dive to try to unravel the mystery of the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile, as close as possible to the painting.

"Monet / Rothko" at the Impressionism Museum in Giverny

Until 3 July 2022

For the reopening of the Musée des Impressionnismes de Giverny, a special dialogue has been formed between the works of Claude Monet and Mark Rothko in this mirror exhibition. The intersection of their work highlights striking and unexpected convergences in their works and experiments: Impressionist for one, Expressionist for the other. Combine the exhibition with a visit to Monet's gardens this spring.

"Gaudi" at the Musée d'Orsay

From 12 April until 17 July 2022

Following the MNAC in Barcelona, the Gaudí exhibition is now in Paris at the Musée d'Orsay. A true tribute to Catalan modernist architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), the exhibition details his entire career through an impressive collection of over 650 objects, works of art, documents, plans and photos. A unique chance to understand the creative process of the architect who established the Art Nouveau movement in Catalonia, in the midst of social and political upheaval.

"Picasso: L'Effervescence des Formes" at the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux

From 15 April until 28 August 2022

What place do wine and spirits have in the work of Pablo Picasso? Through an ensemble of 80 works lent in part by the Picasso Museums of Paris and Barcelona, this summer exhibition explores the artist's work in an original way: representations of cafés and drinkers, variations on the glass and the bottle during the Cubist period... Picasso intoxication guaranteed at the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux!

"Raoul Dufy" at Hotel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence

From 5 May until 18 September 2022

In the majestic architectural setting of the Hôtel de Caumont, a tribute will be paid to the abundant work of the painter Raoul Dufy with a retrospective combining watercolours, paintings, drawings and ceramics. From Impressionism to Cubism and Fauvism, the fine line and genre scenes of this master of colour seduce with their simplicity. The event explores the artist's many facets and creative periods, with particular emphasis on Dufy's close links with the work of Cezanne from 1908 to 1914.

"Fernand Léger: Life with a Vengeance" at the Musée Soulages in Rodez

From 11 June until 6 November 2022

"Seize life with both hands" is the motto that Fernand Léger, a Cubist painter, assigned to his artistic experience, and which is reflected in his modern work inspired by Braque and Picasso. Thanks to loans of works from the Centre Pompidou and the Fernand Léger National Museum in Biot, the exhibition will trace a path that invites visitors to discover themes dear to Léger: the modern city, the world of work, leisure activities and the relationship he had with Soulages.

"Mimèsis" at the Centre Pompidou in Metz

From 11 June 2022 to 16 January 2023

"Art imitates nature" said Aristotle - and what more recurrent theme in art than nature? This summer, the Centre Pompidou-Metz invites us to consider design as a true mimetic of life and nature, through the ideas of the great designers of modernity in France, Scandinavian countries and Japan. From Alvar Aalto to Sori Yanagi and French designers Charlotte Perriand and Serge Mouille, discover the influence of nature and biomimicry on design through iconic objects of modernism.

"Hieroglyphics" at the Louvre-Lens

From 28 September 2022 until 16 January 2023

To mark the 200th anniversary of hieroglyphics first being deciphered, the Louvre-Lens is organising a major exhibition dedicated to one of the most fascinating scripts of Egyptian civilisation. The first Egyptian texts came down to us more than five millennia ago (3100 BC) and they were not deciphered until 1822, by French scholar Jean-François Champollion. The exhibition is a great way to build on a visit to the Egyptian wing of the Paris Louvre and celebrate the 10th anniversary of its little sister in Lens.