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.
1.Enjoy a Seine-side beach at Paris Plages
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.
2. Celebrate Bastille Day
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!
3. Get into festival mode
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!
- For fans of electronic music, there’s The Peacock Society Festival in the Parc Floral de Paris in early July, the Les Siestes électroniques at the Musée du Quai Branly throughout the month of July, and the Fnac Live Festival at the Hôtel de Ville square.
- Those who prefer classical music would enjoy the Classique au Vert festival at the Parc Floral in August.
- Of course, rock fans will have a lot to look forward to with the annual three-day rock music festival, Rock en Seine, which is held just outside Paris, in the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.
- Jazz fans need not feel left out as there’s the Paris Jazz Festival also happening at the Parc Floral from mid-June until the end of July. Not only that, there’s also the Jazz à la Villette festival at the the Parc de la Villette in late August to mid September for some late-summer jazz and world music.
- And finally, there’s the Fête de la musique or the Paris Street Music Festival, one of the most popular musical events in Paris. Happening every June 21st, during World Music Day, hundreds of musicians gather on the streets, cafes, and bars of Paris to give free performances on different kinds of music from rock, jazz, hip-hop, world music, electronic music, and so much more.
4. Watch movies outdoors
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 Cinéma en Plein Air festival from end-July to end-August at Parc de la Villette allows you to relax on the park’s green lawn while soaking up on French and international films. Catch new releases, cult films, as well as short films and enjoy the atmosphere with hundreds of other film lovers like yourself. The best part? It’s totally free.
- Cinema by moonlight sounds blissfully exciting, don’t you think? That’s exactly what the Cinéma au Clair de Lune festival promises. Hosted by the Forum des Images, films are shown in parks, parks, gardens and squares of Paris. Catch the Cinéma au Clair de Lune festival from the end of July up to the middle of August in different parks and gardens of the city.
- Are you into short films? Then the Festival Silhouette would be just what you’d want to see. Taking place from end-August to early September in the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau-Rouge in the 19th arrondissement, the Festival Silhouette screens more than a hundred extraordinary short films. And yup, it’s also free.
5. Enjoy shows from an open air theater
The Tréteaux Nomades at the Arènes de Montmartre (Image source: France 3)
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!
6. Picnic at the park? Or even better---a hot air balloon ride!
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.
7. Have an all-nighter in awesome Parisian nightclubs
Looking to paint the town red? Paris has lots to offer for a party animal like you! Take your pick from:
- the young and trendy bars of the Oberkampf district
- the lively dive bars and music venues of Bastille
- the ultra-chic and swanky spots at Place Vendome/St. Honoré
- the thriving LGBT nightclubs at the Marais
- the less-touristy bars of Belleville, Ménilmontant and Gambetta
- the very touristy clubs at Champs-Elysées
- the hip bars, seedy clubs, and cabarets of Pigalle
- the more artsy clubs and bars of Montmartre, and
- the mix of bars at St. Germain-des-Prés district which is frequented by regulars and tourists alike.
8. Go on a romantic boat tour of the Seine and Canals
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.
9. Go on a walking 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.
10. Visit the Fête Foraine des Tuileries
Image via Parisinfo.com | ©-OTCP-Marc-Bertrand
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.
11. Wander the different “scenes” in time at Albert Kahn’s museum and gardens
12. Get floating in one of the Paris péniches
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.
13. Stave off the heat with ice cream
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!
14. Have a sweet summer with Parisian chocolates
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.
15. Join the crowds to watch the finish of the Tour de France
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.
16. Sit back and enjoy a good view
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.
17. Visit the outdoor markets
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.
18. Enjoy outdoor art
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.
19. Enjoy Les Pestacles Festival with the whole family
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.
20. Cool down in a cool water park
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:
- The weather in Paris can be quite unpredictable. Sudden rains can ruin your best-laid outdoor plans while a spike in temperature can be dangerous for older guests and young children. So make sure to plan properly and get constant weather updates. Also, always bring lots of water to keep you hydrated during long walks, and wear layered clothing to make it easier to remove--or add--as the weather and temperature changes during the day.
- Don’t leave for Paris without your copy of the best French phrasebook available in the market. It has all the phrases you’ll need for all kinds of travel scenarios and includes a menu reader and pronunciation guide---both phonetic and audio! Click the photo below to know more about it.
P.S. Can you add more to this list by leaving a comment below? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Merci!