Paris in the Summer

Some people will try to dissuade you from visiting Paris in the dead of summer, arguing – not without reason – that temperatures can be hellish, making walks along the Seine fairly unpleasant, as the sun beats down, creating a suffocating blanket of heat. But don’t believe what you hear! While it’s true that Paris’s temperatures can skyrocket in summertime, all you have to do is duck into a museum for an air-conditioned break. Better yet, punctuate your visits with lengthy stops at sidewalk cafés to enjoy a cool drink. If you decide not to visit Paris in the summer, you’ll be giving up on a lovely and unique atmosphere in the City of Light.

What to Do in Paris during Summer?

In summertime, Paris changes; the entire city heaves a giant sigh, and the stress of the rest of the year seems to float away. This metamorphosis can easily be attributed to the chirping birds, the sun and the summer temperatures, which tempt women in their shortest skirts out onto the sidewalk cafés for an evening glass of rosé with friends. But have you noticed that there’s something missing, aside from jackets and scarves? Where are all the Parisians?!

Listen closely: as you walk down Paris’s summertime streets, you’ll hear every language in the world except for French. The Parisians are no longer elbowing their way onto the metro and grumbling as they walk by, but they certainly haven’t all gone on vacation at once. …So where are they?

You’ll find hundreds of them at Paris Plage, or Paris Beach. Although Paris is far from a seaside town, ever since 2002 Paris has been home to beaches – manmade, of course – along the banks of the Seine, turning them into a beachside resort. Nothing is missing to create the illusion: sand, chaise lounges, even palm trees! From the end of July until the end of August, you’d think you were at the seaside instead of in the city. Paris Plage sets up along the Right Bank of the Seine and near La Villette. This event has become a favorite amongst Parisians, who want a moment of reprieve from the constant movement of the city. You can participate in all sorts of activities at Paris Plage, such as a game of pétanque (bocce), or a pedal boat excursion, or even learn tai chi!

Like the locals, you can also participate in the summer neighborhood festival. This festival has celebrated Paris’s various neighborhoods since 1992, both in the city center and in the outskirts. If you’re staying in Paris from mid-July to mid-August, you can take advantage of both the free shows and paid concerts that have been specially conceived for the festival. Some take place indoors, while others turn the impressive Parisian exteriors into a stage. Young fresh talent of the performing arts converges with those who are already established as they put on shows, devoted to music, dance and theater. The seductive spectacles feature an eclectic program that changes each year.

Enjoying a Summer in Paris

From the end of July to the end of August, if you take a walk to la Villette during nightfall, you can take advantage of the free Festival de Cinema en Plein Air, or outdoor film festival. Set down your blanket, lounge chair, blow up mattress or pillow on the grass, and sit back and enjoy the show!
You’ll also find Parisians at the heart of the numerous parks and open green spaces in the city. As soon as the temperatures start rising, visiting parks like the Buttes-Chaumont or Montsouris is a failsafe way to meet locals. Take a seat on the grass for a picnic or just soak up the rays. You’ll even see those who aren’t too shy to bear it all in a swimsuit! It’s easy to forget where you are after just a few minutes of basking in the sunshine.

Of course, you’ll also find city-dwellers quenching their thirst at an outdoor café terrace under the shade of an umbrella (or in direct sunlight, for those looking to tan!) If you don’t like lazing in the sun, and you’d rather take advantage of the weather for a stroll, there are some lovely walks you can take in the summer. The splendid Père Lachaise cemetery, for example, is a bit blustery in winter, but in the summertime, the shade of its many trees and its tranquility are perfection! A jaunt on a Vélib – one of Paris’s rentable bikes – could take you up the banks of the Seine, and the breeze that blows off the river is awfully refreshing!

And, last but not least of Paris’s summer attractions: the July sales! Throughout July, every store and boutique has giant sales that bring fashion lovers running to their doors!

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