France may have the world’s most impressive historical museums, but it also has its edgy, modern side, with contemporary cultural centres popping up all around the country. From Le Havre’s Tetris-shaped creative space to Bordeaux’s submarine base-turned-gallery, here is a list of places not to miss.
An extraordinary arts house in Nantes
Le lieu unique is definitely one of a kind! Housed in a renovated biscuit factory in Nantes city centre, this contemporary arts and music venue blurs the line between art, theatre, dance, music and literature with a variety of events all year long. There’s also an on-site restaurant, hammam and bookstore.
Le Lieu Unique - Nantes - 2 Rue de la Biscuiterie
Montpellier's digital-age cultural centre
Opened in 2013, La Panacée is a contemporary cultural centre specialising in visual arts, digital technology and modern writing. It’s an experimental space where visitors are invited to comment, critique and start a conversation with the artists. La Panacée also has an online platform where digital creators can display their work.
La Panacée (in french) - Montpellier - 14 Rue de l'École de Pharmacie
Le Havre's multicoloured museum
One look at this venue and it’s obvious why it’s called Le Tetris: brightly coloured containers are artistically stacked on top of each other in a real-life version of the video game. Inside, the building is home to two concert halls, studios for musicians and an exhibition space. Check the website to see what’s on when you’re in town.
Le Tetris (in french) - Le Havre - 33 rue du 329e RI
Yvon Lambert's personal collection in Avignon
Created by gallerist Yvon Lambert, this museum permanently displays over 350 artworks from his personal collection in a beautiful 18th century mansion. Three temporary exhibitions are also held throughout year where a chosen artist is given free reign of the space to transform it however they want.
Collection Lambert - Avignon - 5 Rue Violette
International art in Mulhouse
La Kunsthalle is located in Mulhouse, a town in eastern France. This 700m2 gallery hosts 4-5 temporary themed exhibitions every year and regularly shows international emerging artists from nearby Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
La Kunsthalle (in french) - Mulhouse - 16 Rue de la Fonderie
Original urban art in Nancy
A tongue-in-cheek nod to the famous Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Nancy’s version is a touch more experimental. Part workspace, part gallery, the CCGP does things its own way with quirky urban exhibitions, pop-up markets and club nights.
Facebook (in french) - Nancy - 115 Rue Gabriel Mouilleron
Art in a WWII bunker in Bordeaux
Once a German military base for U-boat submarine fleets during WWII, La Base Sous-Marine has since been converted into a unique ‘underground’ cultural venue hidden inside an enormous concrete bunker. A work of art in itself, La Base Sous-Marine also has exhibitions, concerts, opera, theatre and dance activities all year long.
**NOTE: La Base Sous-Marine is closed for renovations until March 2018.
Facebook (in french) - Bordeaux - Boulevard Alfred Daney