As crowds flock to Paris in summer, the city transforms into a bustling haven for tourists.
Some would say that it is by this time that Paris becomes very un-Parisian, with the city slowing down its pace to welcome in sunny days, longer nights, and lots of fun festivals and special events.
But summer in Paris is a must-try experience and one that you shouldn’t miss at least once in your lifetime!
Let’s go through 20 enjoyable activities you can look forward to in Paris for summer.
What images does the word summer evoke to you? For most it’s a stretch of sandy beach, colorful parasols, and people lazing on deck chairs catching rays of warm sunshine. And while a lot of Parisians would go in droves to the coast to enjoy the beach when the summer months roll in, those that are in the city can also enjoy their very own beach just along the Seine.
Each year from mid-July up to mid-August, artificial beaches are installed along the banks of the Seine and the Bassin de la Villette. You can catch plenty of fun beach activities here including water sports, beach volleyball, mini-golf, kayaking, and so much more.
La fête nationale or Bastille Day is a huge thing for the French, and when July 14 rolls in each year, the national holiday is commemorated with lots of joyous fanfare across the country. From morning until evening, the day is packed to the brim with activities such as the Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées followed by more festivities in the evening, and capped with a spectacular fireworks display.
The night before Bastille Day, you can already get into a festive mood by enjoying the parties across town. From bars and clubs and yes, even fire stations—take your pick!
Summer is also synonymous to music festivals, and in Paris, there won’t be any shortage of that! Regardless of which music genre you are a fan of, there’s bound to be a perfect one for you—and most of it are free!
Do you love movies? Experience a different kind of cinema viewing with the different open air cinemas in Paris during summer. Pick one below (or pick all!).
The Tréteaux Nomades at the Arènes de Montmartre (Image source)
Soak up on both the beauty of Parisian outdoors and culture through open air theaters. Each year, tourists and Parisians are treated to the Paris Quartier d’été which happens from July to August. Here, you’ll see plays performed by street theaters, dance shows, and musical performances, and yes, even the circus, happening in public places parks, monuments, or avenues. And most of the shows are free!
Another wonderful choice is the Open-Air Theater at the Shakespeare Garden in Bois de Boulogne. From May up to September or October, you can catch various classic plays including those from Shakespeare. You can have a little picnic at the Jardin Shakespeare and enjoy a cozy day out while enjoying your favorite plays!
A third option is the Tréteaux Nomades, a travelling festival which comes to the Arènes de Montmartre every end of summer. The festival brings with them popular plays, poetry, music, burlesque theater, and so much more more!
Another popular thing to do on summer is to have a picnic in one of the many breathtaking parks of Paris. There are so many to choose from. But if you want to push it a little bit above the bar, then why not try riding a hot air balloon, too? You can do that at the Parc André Citroën.
Looking to paint the town red? Paris has lots to offer for a party animal like you! Take your pick from:
Imagine yourself on a boat drifting down the Seine or in the network of canals. The majestic city and its famous spots sprawled out before you as you cruise lazily, Parisian wind blowing on your face. Ahhh. What could be more delightful? The warm days of summer would be perfect for a boat tour.
Stretch those legs and burn off last night’s hefty dinner by going on a walking tour! Paris has so many places and histories waiting for you. You can check out this compiled guide for the best walking tours in Paris.
If you’re craving a traditional fair, head over to the Jardin des Tuileries for traditional rides and games like carousels, ghost trains, bump cars, ring throwing, shooting gallery, wall of mirrors, trampolines, and so much more! All summer, kids (and big grownup kids, too!) can enjoy a traditional fair while munching on fair favorites like cotton candy, toffee apples, and ice cream.
For a fun activity that both adults and kids would enjoy, head over the Albert-Kahn museum and gardens in Boulogne-Billancourt. The museum is home to the “most important early color photograph collection in the world” while the gardens have three distinct themes called “scenes”: French, English and Japanese.
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Visit one (or two or as many as you can!) of the péniches or houseboats at the quays of Seine and the canals de l’Ourcq and Saint Martin. You can visit floating bookshops, restaurants, cinemas, and you can even party aboard the boat/clubs! Check out the list of top péniches here.
What is summer without ice cream? Bland, that’s for sure! Try out some of the best from Paris’ well-loved ice cream shops such as Berthillon, Amorino, Chacun ses Gouts, and many more!
Paris is many things to many people, but chocolate lovers will have the time of their lives because of the many delightful chocolate shops sprinkled all over the city. For a list of where to get some of the most heavenly chocolates, check out this article from Talk in French.
Welcome the cyclists as they arrive at the finishing line in the heart of Paris. After a gruelling three weeks and over 3,500 kilometers, the 21st and final stage of the race is a sprint along the beautiful Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
Summer is the perfect time to bask in the wonderful panoramas of Paris. But where can you go for the most amazing views? Check out 20 places here.
Whether you’re looking for the next food adventure, searching for food to take on your picnic, buying presents, or you simply want to take a stroll, outdoor markets are amazing. You can check here for a list of food markets sorted out per arrondissement.
Do you love sculptures? If you do, you’d appreciate the Musée de la Sculpture en Plein Air, an open-air sculpture exhibit along the Seine. You would also enjoy the garden of Musée Rodin which is just a few steps from Les Invalides. Here in the lovely 3-hectare gardens, you can see amazing masterpieces such as the famous “Gates of Hell” and “The Thinker”. The garden ticket only costs 2 euros!
Another must-visit is the sculpture-filled gardens of Musée Zadkine. The museum and gardens was the home and workshop of the Russian cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine and you can see the varied works tucked in the garden’s greens.
For those who are travelling with kids, this is the activity your entire family (especially the kiddos) would truly enjoy. On Wednesdays of June to September every year, the Parc Floral hosts Les Pestacles Festival where kids 2 years and above (and the whole family) can enjoy music, street arts, circus shows, dance, opera, and lots more.
There are plenty of activities to choose from so the kids—and the parents, too—won’t have any trouble finding the perfect activity to enjoy.
When you are feeling the intense summer heat and the overflowing crowds of Paris, head over to the outskirts of the city, at the Parc Nautique de l’Île de Monsieur in Sèvres. This place was once an island, but is now an ecological park spanning 7.5 hectares.
There are plenty of surprises to uncover here including a relaxing lush greenery, unusual aquatic plants, and a lake where you can hire kayaks, canoes, and sail boats. There is also a peaceful “Grande Prairie” sunbathing area, beehives, and a small café, among many other interesting discoveries.
So there you go with 20 different things you can do in Paris during summer. But wait—here are a couple more tips:
P.S. Can you add more to this list by leaving a comment below? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Merci!
Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +