Last night was Nuit Blanche, an annual dawn 'til dusk arts and culture festival in Paris in its twelfth year. The evening was balmy, the forecasted rain didn't come and the streets were heaving with Parisians and tourists following the map of free art, music and theatre events and performances scattered across museums, art galleries, unused venues, public spaces, parks and squares all over the city.
Wandering along the Seine during the day we saw sound systems, screens and tents being set up before everything kicked off at 7pm and went on until 7am. Inspired by St Petersburg's 'White Nights' festival in the summer, where the Russian sun never sets and so entertainment runs round the clock, each year the organisers invite different artistic directors to take over quarters of the city and commission hundreds of works of art, for one night only. I can't believe it's been going for over a decade and it hasn't been brought to London yet.
My favourite event was Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Installation, which flooded the Place de la République with artificial fog, filled with children playing hide and seek, kissing couples and friends running around behaving like big kids. The Japanese artist has taken her fog sculpture to major cities all over the world. It was great and took me back to the fantastic opening night of Antony Gormley's Blind Light cloud chamber, part of his first major exhibition in London, in which he filled a glass cube with fog, forcing everyone to feel their way around the space, feeling lost, bumping into strangers, all embarrassed smiles and awkward giggles. Such fun.
There was so much to see last night, I didn't see half of what I wanted to and I'll be coming back soon. If contemporary art is your thing, or you like unique experiences, I'd recommend making a special trip to Paris for it next year.