You may have heard that Paris is a bit of a no-mans-land during the summer months, when all the Parisians head off to the South of France at the same time, leaving the city empty except for the ones who weren’t able to get time off work (mostly interns) and confused tourists wondering where all the locals are.
There might be some truth in this but, personally, Paris in the summer is my favorite time. It’s calmer, beautiful in the sunshine, and the mairie (town hall) puts on lots of events for those of us left behind. Here are a few examples of the fun you can have in Paris during the summer.
You thought the only thing missing in Paris was the beach, right? Wrong! The annual Paris plages (July 18 – August 20) brings the sand to the Seine, with deckchairs, music, free books to read, water fountains, ice-creams and a pool for the kids. The road by the river is closed off completely, making it perfect for renting a bike with family and friends for a leisurely tour in the sun, stopping off for a sorbet or to cool down under the water mist fountain.
Paris Quartier d’Été
For those culture vultures among you, the Paris arts festival Paris quartier d’été is a must. From mid-July to early August (check the site for exact times) they set up events all around the city. From contemporary dance to puppet shows and caberet, the organisers – who founded it in 1990 – pride themselves on “le croisement des cultures et des êtres” literally translated as the “crossing of cultures and beings” or, less romantically, “where culture meets the people”. Locations vary from museums and gardens to disused factories and street corners.
One of the most exciting events in Paris is Bastille Day. Celebrated every year on July 14, this 24-hour party celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison/fortress in 1789, representing the uprising of modern France.
The military parade is spectacular, starting at the Arc de Triomphe, descending the Champs Elysées and marching down into central Paris. Get there early to grab a good spot, it’s definitely worth it. The kids will love the music, the horses and the different army services, while the older children among you will appreciate the history behind this special day, celebrated by everyone in France. The evening fireworks are amazing too.
Paris Jazz Festival
Held in the stunning Parc Floral in the Bois de Vicennes on Paris’ eastern border, the Paris Jazz Festival is taking place this year from June 8 to July 28. If it’s music, atmosphere and beautiful surroundings that interest you, this has to go on your to-do list. The festival itself is free, but you have to pay entry to the park, which is a mere 5,50 € (adult) or 2,75 € (7 to 25). Under 7s go free.
Roland Garros (The French Open)
For the sports-mad, get yourselves to the French Tennis Open which is held at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris’ 16th arrondissement from May 26 to June 9. Tickets are snapped up pretty quickly, so check the website for tournament times. If you don’t get lucky, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There’s a giant projection screen set up right outside the Hôtel de Ville in central Paris, so bring a picnic and join in the festivities. If you want to make friends, shout out your support for French player Tsonga.
Fête de la Musique
The Fête de la Musique is my favorite summer event in Paris. Get some sleep the night before, because this is the evening when you will want to be up beyond the early hours. On June 21, Paris transforms into a music-filled paradise. Every corner road has a different band, and street parties carry on until the next day. If you don’t fancy hip-hop, keep walking and you’ll come across come a violin quartet, reggae, or even traditional Armenian folk singing before you can say “vive la musique!”. It’s also a great way to discover the city on foot.