There are many things the city is known for, and one of them is art. And the city for sure loves it. 

Every year in early October, there is a night called “Nuit Blanche”, meaning white night. I would rather call it a sleepless night. It is an annual event in which many museums are open all night and open to public, often for free. Metro line 1 runs all night to carry people and around every museum are crowds and crowds of people at restaurants and near street food vendors. 

I started my Nuit Blanche a bit late around midnight. Yet when I got off at Metro 1 station Hotel de Ville, the city was bursting with energy and light I have yet seen in Paris. 

There were food vendors everywhere, occupying every possible space in the square. There were sausages, sandwiches, and some other food I could not even name. The smokes coming out from each cart warmed up the night and satisfied customers hurriedly yet excitedly hastened their ways to museums nearby. 

I started my museum night with Centre Georges Pompidou, a contemporary arts museum at the center of the Paris. It is known for its exhibitions and its modern architectural structures, but it is also known for its view of Paris from its patio, which was my aim for the night. 

The pictures unfortunately came out a bit blurry, but the view was beautiful, beautiful enough to forget how cold the night was. The Eiffel Tower was sparkling at a distance, and the distance was filled with lights and sounds of crowded squares. And yet, standing at the edge of the patio, everything seemed so far away, as if I were standing at a border of another world. The fact that I was standing at the center of Paris felt like a very surreal fairy tale.  

After the museum, I briefly dropped by a nearby church that was hosting a contemporary dance exhibition titled “Children of Light.” Series of alternating lights in blue, pink, green, and purple dominated the church and all sounds became subordinate to the light and all that different light revealed.  

It was an interesting interplay of colored lights throughout the church with a couple of dancers at the center with very abstract style of dance.  

My last stop for the night was Musee de l’Orangerie, a museum in Tuileries Garden known for Monet’s waterlilies. There, at the oval room where Monet’s waterlilies surround the guests, the museum held music concerts for free. The tickets were supposed to be picked up in advance at the site, but I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to do so, and ended up standing outside for about an hour for an extra, no-show seat. I eventually made it in for 4am show, and it was a string quartet piece by Claude Debussy. 

The night was absolutely magical. The weather was cold, the lines were long, streets were crowded, and yet the city’s love for arts kept me going throughout the night, making even the long night bus right back home enjoyable. 

Nuit Blanche is when the city of Paris truly comes to its life.  

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017: