Paris in the summer is a completely different feeling to any other season in the city, or summer in any other city for that matter. Many Parisians go on holiday in July and August, leaving you to enjoy the city like a local- but without as many locals! Seeking shade and the ever-elusive air conditioning (still not popular in France) during the day, and strolling the streets on warm evenings with a breeze ruffling your hair, looking for a seat on a terrace for a glass of rosé and some quality people watching- there’s really nothing quite like it.
Summer weather in Paris tends to be better- warmer temperatures and clearer skies- than the rest of the year, so Parisians take to the streets, pausing every so often in the shade or to have a drink. While we love the idea of whiling away the day in a park, under the shade of a tree, with a good book, we know that you may want to take in more of the city than that, so here are our top tips for what to do in Paris in the summer:
Relax on a terrace or in a hidden garden. While terrace season technically lasts all year long in Paris thanks to heat lamps, warm evenings and late sunsets encourage Parisians to choose outdoor seating over indoor and linger over their drinks for as long as possible. While the best people-watching will always be found on the sidewalk outside your everyday brasserie or bistrot, we sometimes prefer something more secluded- the inner courtyards of the Musée de la Vie Romantique and Hotel Particulier Montmartre are two lovely green options. For a killer view, we love the rooftop bar at the beautiful Hotel des Arts et Metiers, or the brand-new restaurant Perruche on top of the Printemps department store.
Visit a museum. On the truly sweltering days when you just want to escape the sun, duck into one of Paris’s many museums- but consider avoiding the bigger museums, which will get quite busy or many of the older ones housed in maisons particulieres as it can get quite warm inside. Our top picks are the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries gardens, to sit in front of Monet’s masterpieces and pretend you’re in his garden at Giverny; Musée Jacquemart-André (which housed the Mary Cassat exhibit), both for the collections and for lunch or tea in their lovely restaurant; and the Baccarat Museum, whose restaurant we also recommend, but whose exquisite collection simply can’t be missed.
Shop at a brocante. You’ve no doubt heard of some of the big brocante markets, such as the Puces de Saint-Ouen, but there are many weekend brocantes that pop up all over the city that are more than worth checking out. This website gives you all of the daily brocantes around the city and their addresses- the key words to look for are brocante and antiquities. Some of our favourite spots where brocantes are held include the Place Saint Sulpice in the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighbourhood, the Village Saint Paul south of the Marais, and the quais next to the Pont Alexandre III. And of course every weekend the Marché at the Porte de Vanves is always worthwhile.
Take an evening stroll along the Seine. Since the city decided to close the highway that used to run along the river, there are significantly more places to walk (or bike, or even rollerblade!). Walk along the Berges de Seine on the Left Bank to see the beautiful Pont Alexandre III and pause for a glass of wine at Rosa Bonheur sur Seine or Faust, or head to the Right Bank to walk all the way from the Pont de Sully to the Pont des Arts, grabbing a bite to eat at one of the little pop-up restaurants whose tables spill onto the formerly busy roadway during the summertime. The breeze off of the river will keep you cool, and the views- well, need we say more?
Dance by the river! Just one of the activities that are part of the Paris Plage, are the afternoon and evening dancing. No need to be an expert, anyone can join in, and there are even teachers there to help you with an unfamiliar dance. Head over to the Pont Neuf, any Sunday in August from 3-5pm, and the other days of the week from 5-8pm
What is your favorite thing to do in Paris in the summer? Tell us in the comments below!