Top 10 Unmissable Foundations in Paris

One of my favorite things about Paris is how much of an effort is made to celebrate art. Between the museums and galleries, street artists and exhibitions — there is always something to explore.

Foundations for the arts have spread through the city of lights like wildfire in recent years. There seems to be a new concept popping up every month with some sort of artistic preservation plan in place to continue the legacy of a certain art form.

In Paris, almost everything counts as art. Whether its architecture, fashion, painting, cinema, theatre etc it is not unlikely that a foundation has been put in place to promote the works and address the issues that these art forms face in society.

Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé – by Arthur Weidmann – Wikimedia Commons

The thing about these foundations is that they are not like the very identifiable Parisian attractions that you’ve come into familiarity with.

Walking past the Louvre you’ll know exactly what it is; the giant glass pyramids tend to give it away. The Centre Pompidou would be high on your radar as well due to its well known exterior. But the foundations of Paris remain well hidden around the city — most require word of mouth to even know they exist.

For your convenience, here are the top 10 unmissable foundations around Paris that you can explore most days of the week!

1. Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé in Paris

73 Avenue des Gobelins

Back in 1869 a renowned artist named Renzo Piano designed a building in Montparnasse, Paris. At the time, this district was booming with artists from all over Europe who had fled to Paris to be part of the sexual and bohemian revolutions taking place.

Today this same building is the home of the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé. This foundation was set up in 1990 with the intention of preserving the legacy of the earliest cinematic works in the world.

Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé – by Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé – Sourced from their website

Visitors to the center will enjoy watching screenings of the earliest known black and white, silent films still in existence. The experience is combined with a performance of a live pianist for the duration of the film.

Inside the foundation you can also explore an extensive collection of old movie making gear and production equipment. They have some of the oldest filmmaking cameras preserved here.

The foundation is quiet, it’s not unusual to be the only attendee in the cinema if you go during the week. Check their website in advance to see what the screening of the day is.

2. Kadist Art Foundation in Paris

21 Rue des Trois Frères

Heading over to another very artistic part of Paris; Montmartre is the old town at the top of the hill, crowned by the Sacre Coeur Basilica.

In addition to the arts, you’ll find exceptional shopping locations in this neighborhood as well as many delectable cafes to dine in as the free guided walking tours go by at all hours. Montmartre is endless avenues of enjoyment.

Kadist Art Foundation – by Kadist Art Foundation – Sourced from their website

The Kadist Art Foundation exists to offer a think-tank haven for artists and curators to use to create new projects. They provide research periods for artists to make use of their building facilities from which to launch their new works.

The goal is to keep art creation in Paris alive and flowing. Attendees of the residency are encouraged to explore the more pressing socio and economic issues that battle the world today.

There are usually past works up for display within the foundation. Your support is greatly enocugared and the Kadist center welcomes visitors or contributors from around the world.

3. Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris

8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi

The Louis Vuitton Foundation was started back in 2006 when the LV group purchased this iconic building situated on the grounds of the Bois de Boulogne. This is the biggest park in Paris with a surface area of almost double that of Central Park in New York City.

The actual foundation is situated near the north-most point of the park. You’ll recognize it by the unusual architecture that make up the mirror sail panels that wrap around the building.

Louis Vuitton Foundation – by Louis Vuitton Foundation – Sourced from their website

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is known as one of the leading artistic centers in Paris. It is home to an array of works displayed across both permanent and temporary exhibits. In many ways the LVF is a hybrid museum cum art foundation.

Within the space there are terraces, auditoriums as well as a cafe where you can enjoy a snack mid visit. I recommend buying your admission tickets online before heading through to the foundation, the lines of sporadic visitors coming in from the park can get long.

4. Rivoli in Paris

59 Rue de Rivoli

Artists are notoriously broke. In the early centuries in Paris it was not uncommon to find them squatting in abandoned buildings around the city; creating works to make ends meet. This is how Rivoli came to be.

The building housed squatting artists for a long time until eventually the election of a certain Parisian mayor saw to it that the space be taken over by the city. It was then that Rivoli became the official artists collective that it is today.

Inside 30 studios that house 20 permanent artists and 10 temporary residencies. There are exhibit spaces filled with works to be explored during the week. There is also a concert hall inside the main area that hosts performances depending on a fixed schedule.

Rivoli Paris – by Rivoli – Sourced from their website

The best part about the Rivoli foundation is that the space is entirely free to visit and explore. As your contribution, should you see a work you enjoy and are in a position to purchase please do so!

The foundation is small and doesn’t take much time to work through. The space lies in the centre of Paris on the bustling Rue de Rivoli. Staying on this road you’ll pass a multitude of museums, retail stores and restaurants in which to enjoy the rest of your afternoon.

5. Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent in Paris

5 Avenue Marceau

Foundations aren’t always about promoting the creation of new works, sometimes they exist solely to tell the tales of work gone by. The Yves Saint Laurent Foundation exists to do just this.

On the Left Bank of Paris not far from the Museum of Modern Art, this foundation houses the works and stories of fashion pioneer Yves Saint Laurent; you’ll probably recognize the name by his famous logo ‘YSL’.

Yves Saint Laurent – by Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent – Sourced from their website

Yves Saint Laurent is seen as somewhat of a god when it comes to the Paris fashion industry. At this foundation you’ll be able to dive deep into the world of luxury fashion and explore everything from the first sketches made by the artists to his finest creations in the flesh.

Since the foundation is situated in one of the trendier parts of town, many visitors to the YSL foundation like to dress for the occasion. They are open to the public every day of the week aside from Mondays.

6. Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain Paris

261 Boulevard Raspail

In the 14th arrondissement on Paris’ Right Bank is the very well known Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain; known simply as the Cartier Foundation to most of the city.

This district is one of the greener ones around Paris. The foundation is nestled beneath thick foliage and fig trees that surround the perimeter. Even the foundation itself has a number of gardens and terraces once inside for visitors to enjoy.

Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain – by Rui Ornelas – Wikimedia Commons

The foundation is dedicated to the life and work of the French jewelry mogul Cartier. This is not all you’ll find inside, however. The foundation also invites exhibits from global names in the jewelry arts to join the space.

The building is another very large part of what makes this foundation so popular. It is the architectural work of renowned artist Jean Nouvel. The word “airy” is often used when describing the space — it’s hard to tell where the outside stops and inside starts with this establishment due to the elements of nature that it incorporates.

Keep on this road but head south and you’ll come to the Catacombs of Paris! Another very “airy” place to explore… for different reasons.

7. Lafayette Anticipation in Paris

9 Rue du Plâtre

The Lafayette Anticipation was set up just recently in 2017 by the iconic Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette. The space itself was designed by a Dutch designer and sits in the heart of Le Marais, just a short walk from the Picasso Museum (Read more about Discover walking tours).

This is a space that encourages tourists, locals and artists alike to come together in the name of design. The rooftop of the building boasts beautiful views of the Paris skyline and inside you’ll dine at the latest Wild and the Moon location.

Lafayette Anticipation – by Lafayette Anticipation – Sourced from their website

The space holds exhibitions and performances from an array of artistic genres. The department store themselves are well known for hosting shows and exhibits in store whenever possible, so it is only natural that a foundation such as this would eventually follow.

The foundation closes its doors on Tuesdays each week, so plan for visit for any other day!

8. Fondation d’entreprise Ricard in Paris

12 Rue Boissy d’Anglas

What good is a foundation if the youth are neglected representation? This is much of the motivation behind the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard in the Madeleine area of Paris. It’s a short walk from the Place de la Concorde.

The foundation organized eight exhibitions per year all in the name of young, up and coming French artists. The themes of painting, installations, fashion and video are celebrated and artists in these categories have a change to display their work.

Fondation d’entreprise Ricard – by Fondation d’entreprise Ricard – Sourced from their website

Throughout the year there are also a variety of lectures held within the space where young artists can take advantage of the resources being offered to them.

You’ll have to check the exhibition schedule on their website to find exact dates for exhibit here. This is a great place to show support for the young artists slowly emerging on the Parisian art scene.

9. Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris

8-10 Square du Dr Blanche

You’ll find this foundation in a quite part of town just south of the 16th arrondissement. The foundation is a celebration and preservation space for the work of legendary architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret known as Le Corbusier.

Fondation Le Corbusier – by Fondation Le Corbusier – Sourced from their website

Within the foundation you’ll find Maison La Roche, a museum that is run directly by the foundation using the work of the architect. Le Corbusier’s work spans four continents and eleven countries; it was only natural that a space solely dedicated to it would eventually come to be.

The museum is open everyday except for Sundays.

10. Foundation EDF in Paris

6 Rue Récamier

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés area is a fun place to explore on the Right Bank of Paris. There is as much to see as there is to do, and the Foundation EDF forms part of this.

The foundation puts a spotlight on societies and how we transform in terms of conservation and sustainable development. Works from the fields of artists, architects, museum curators and art historians are brought together in this space for processing and display.

The Foundation EDF is a kind of by the people, for the people kind of place. For this reason entry is free and all are welcome to attend.

Foundation EDF – by Foundation EDF – Sourced from their website

A short walk south from the foundation is a little Parisian cafe called Au Sauvignon. The street seating is beyond charming and its nice to enjoy a tea or glass of wine here just after visiting EDF.

Art preservation is alive and well in the city of Paris. You don’t need to brave the queues of the Louvre or the metro to the 13th arrondissement just to enjoy it.

Making time to participate in any of these foundations will be a notable talking point of your Parisian trip for years to come. I love getting into conversation with fellow attendees about their experiences; since the collections and exhibits rotate so often, there is always new information to learn.

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