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Making your summer in Paris trip one that you won’t soon forget takes a little forethought.
What you hear is probably true. Paris in the summer is crowded with a lot of tourists. Many smaller restaurants and boutiques are closed for most of August. And, if your summer in Paris includes a heatwave (“canicule” as it is called in French) you’ll need to find shady spots to keep cool.
But summer in Paris is marvellous and lively. The city is in full bloom, the Seine sparkles, terraces and rooftop patios beckon, and it is the perfect time to flâner or roam about aimlessly observing life.
Here are my top tips for how to enjoy summertime in Paris.
Summer In Paris: Planning Tips
Book In Advance
Summer in Paris is the peak season with lots of tourists. Book your hotels well in advance and be sure to choose one with air conditioning. You’ll be glad you did when the heatwave hits.
Paris in the summer sees its top attractions very busy. With a specific entry time or skip-the-line ticket, you can avoid long waits in line. You’ll definitely want to book in advance for:
A Seine Cruise: this one-hour illumination tour is super popular
The Louvre: Get your timed entrance ticket here
The Musee d’Orsay: Find your 1-day reserved access here
The Arc de Triomphe: Book your skip-the-line rooftop tickets
Paris In The Summer: The Holidays
Bastille Day on July 14
Assumption Day on August 15
A Paris Summer: How To Get Around
The Metro is always a quick way to get around Paris. This guide will have you using the metro like a pro. The metro can be crowded and hot in the summer so you may want to try renting a bicycle at one of the Velib stations.
Paris buses are a great way to get from Point A to B and see the city at the same time. Note that if you are using the metro and a bus on the same journey, you have to pay twice.
Taxis and Uber are always an option in Paris.
And my favourite way to travel in Paris is on foot.
Paris In The Summertime: Avoid The Scams
Scammers and pickpockets are alive and well during a Paris summer. Make sure you have a cross-body bag that zips up, wear your backpack on the front in crowded spots and read this detailed article on 9 specific scams to watch out for. It never ceases to amaze me that the bracelet scammers at Sacré Coeur are out in full force every time I pass by.
Summer In Paris: 19 Best Things To Do
1. Attend A Music Festival
Summer in Paris is not complete without attending a music festival. On the summer solstice each year in June, La Fête de la Musique sees Paris come alive with music on the longest day of the year. Find music in the streets, in museums, churches and concert halls. Paris is in full party mode for the Fête de la Musique. What a way to welcome summer in Paris.
Pro Travel Tip: La Fête de la Musique takes place in all of France. I once even celebrated in Aix-en-Provence.
For jazz lovers, the Summer Jazz Festival at Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes runs from June 28 to September 6, 2023. The concerts during the daytime are free and do not require a reservation.
Look for more music festivals happening during the summer in Paris right here.
2. Watch A Film At The Open Air Cinema At La Villette
Relax on the sprawling lawns at the Parc de la Villette and as dusk falls the screenings begin. It’s been a Paris summer tradition for twenty years. With a wide selection of French and international films, it is a fun and unique way to enjoy Paris in the summer.
The theme this year for the free festival is Dance and it runs from July 19 to August 20, 2023. Here is the schedule for 2023.
3. Summer In Paris: Partake In Paris Plages
This year in 2023, summer in Paris celebrates its 21st year with Paris Plages. Look for deckchairs and palm trees along the quays of the river Seine and temporary artificial beaches.
At the Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement, the summery Paris fun continues with swimming, paddleboats, kayaks, deckchairs and beaches. The three swimming pools and two paddling pools are the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day in Paris.
Paris Plages runs from July 8 to September 3, 2023. Along the Banks of the Seine, Paris Plages is open daily from 10 am to 6:30 pm. At the Bassin de la Villette, the beach is open from 10 am to 10 pm and on weekends from 10 am to midnight.
Find more detailed information here.
4. Bastille Day Festivities
Did someone say fireworks, parades and festivities? This is Bastille Day in Paris which always takes place on July 14. It was on the afternoon of July 14 in 1789 that revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison which symbolized the tyranny of the monarchy. This was the beginning of the French Revolution.
In France, you’ll hear people referring to this national holiday as La Fête Nationale (French National Day) or Le Quatorze Juillet (July 14th).
The day starts with a military ceremony including an impressive flyover and a huge parade down the Champs Elysées. Listen to music in the bandstands, attend a Firemen’s Ball (Bals des Pompiers), and find the perfect viewpoint for the incredible Eiffel Tower fireworks. If you plan to see the fireworks from the Champ de Mars, arrive early in the day to secure a spot.
5. Summer In Paris: Shop The Summer Sales
Summer in Paris is made all the sweeter by the phenomenal deals to be found during the summer sales known as “les soldes.”
By law, sales are allowed twice yearly in January and July. In my experience, there are pre-sales before the real sales begin. But look out! Once the real sales begin, the reductions are significant and the shoppers are out! Ohhh…it’s fun to look for great deals.
Summer Soldes in Paris 2024: June 26 to July 23, 2024
6. Find An Exhibition At An Air-Conditioned Museum
Summer in Paris is a great time to visit museums and see some of the special exhibitions that are on. If it’s a hot day, take some respite in an air-conditioned museum. Pick up your copy of L’Officiel des Spectacles which comes out every Wednesday and see what appeals to you.
Visits to the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre are always a good idea. But don’t forget that Paris has around 130 museums. There is literally something for everyone. Here is my guide to 19 Paris museums that are well worth visiting.
7. Sip A “Verre” On A Rooftop Terrace
Summertime in Paris sees rooftops come alive! Rooftop terraces are the rage in Paris right now and there are plenty to choose from. The great appeal in Paris is the view, of course. Here are a few rooftops to start with:
Le Perchoir Marias with its panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine
The Terrass Hotel in Montmartre with its view of the Eiffel Tower
The Peninsula Rooftop Bar with its panoramic views including the Eiffel Tower
The Hôtel Rochechouart Rooftop Bar with its 360˚ view of Paris including Sacré Coeur
8. Paris In The Summertime: Relax By Canal Saint-Martin
I love sitting by Canal Saint-Martin on a bench or swinging my legs over the edge. It’s a buzzing locale with lots of Parisians enjoying their summer in Paris right here. Here is everything to do by Canal Saint-Martin.
9. Summer In Paris: Flâner in Style
The best way to enjoy Paris is to walk. Morning, noon and night! Embrace the Parisian way to flâner, which is to amble, saunter and observe your surroundings. Here are some tips on how best to flâner in Paris.
Toss on your coolest clothes and comfortable walking shoes and head out early in the day to one of these Parisian neighbourhoods for walking. Here are a few suggestions:
- le Marais – Place des Vosges, gorgeous mansions, shopping…
- Ile Saint-Louis – oldest village in Paris…
- Montmartre – Sacré Coeur, staircases and oozing charm…
- the 7th arrondissement – Eiffel Tower & views, La Grande Epicierie…
- Canal Saint-Martin – iron bridges, boutiques, wine by the canal
- the 14th arrondissement – the Tower, iconic cafés…
- les Buttes aux Cailles – plenty of street art, the village feel…
- the 16th arrondissement – on the trail of art nouveau…
When sauntering in Paris in the summer, go early!
10. Enjoy A Seine Picnic Like A Real Parisian
Summer in Paris just has to include a picnic by the Seine. Some of my preferred spots are on Ile Saint-Louis or facing Ile Saint-Louis from the 5th arrondissement where you have a view of Notre Dame.
I also love the tip of Ile de la Cité where the large willow is perched.
If you want to picnic with a view of the Eiffel Tower, start at the Pont Royal which connects rue du Bac and the Louvre, and wander along the right bank until you find just the right spot.
You could also start at Pont Alexandre III, which is closer to the Eiffel Tower, and stroll until the perfect picnic spot is found.
11. Have A Drink On A Péniche (Barge)
It feels extra summery in Paris when sitting on a barge in the Seine. I love an evening stroll along the Seine quays and then stopping for an oven-fired pizza and a drink on a péniche. It’s a fun way to spend a summer evening in Paris. There are plenty of péniches in the 7th and 13th arrondissements to choose from.
Just across from the François-Mitterand Library in the 13th sitting in the Seine are an array of péniches. Or, walk along the quays of the 7th close to Pont Alexandre III. My favourite is the Rosa Bonheur.
12. Paris In The Summertime: Relax In A Shady Park
Summer in Paris will definitely include some hot days. Head to Paris’s parks to relax. Sit by a fountain, under the shade of a tall tree or lay out a blanket and read.
13. Summer In Paris: Take A Walking Tour
A walking tour is ideal for Paris in the summer. I would recommend taking a morning tour when the temperatures are cooler.
Here are some highly recommended walking tours:
- I curated this list of 7 unique walking tours of Paris
- this walking tour of Montmartre is popular
- and try this walking food tour of Le Marais
14. A Paris Summer: Plan A Day Trip
Summer in Paris, when the temperature soars, is the perfect time for a day trip. Escape the heat and head to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, to the fabulous beaches of Deauville and Trouville, or to this medieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here are some of my favourite day trips to take from Paris.
15. Paris In The Summertime: Visit A Microbrewery
Paris and wine. They’re the perfect match. And, a summer in Paris has to involve at least one Apérol spritz.
But did you know that Paris also has its fair share of craft breweries? Microbreweries keep popping up! Head to Maison BAPBAP in the 11th arrondissement and don’t miss the Paname Brewing Co. It has the perfect location perched over La Villette in the 19th arrondissement. All the artisanal beers are brewed on-site. Sit on the terrace and sip a cold and frosty beer! Ah, summer in Paris!
16. Savour The Best Ice Cream In Paris
Summer in Paris calls for ice cream. Here are some of my favourites:
Amorino Parisians love their Amorino gelato which is served in a cone in an elegant rose shape.
Grom I first went to Grom because of their gluten-free cones. The Italian gelato is to die for. There are several locations in Paris.
Glace Bachir – 58 rue Rambuteau. If you are visiting the Georges Pompidou Centre, Glace Bachir is the perfect side trip! I went to see what all the fuss was about and have returned several times.
Berthillon – the famous family-run ice cream business of Berthillon never disappoints. On Ile Saint-Louis you’ll find the iconic storefront which has been selling ice cream since 1954. Grab a cone and sit by the Seine. It’s the perfect addition to a summer day in Paris.
17. Summer In Paris: Get On The Water
Paris in the summertime means finding the water!
The Seine: Getting on the Seine involves taking a cruise. Choose from a variety of cruises including evening cruises, apéro cruises and dinner cruises.
Canal Saint-Martin: Take a cruise along the Seine and Canal Saint-Martin.
Bassin de la Villette: Rent an electric boat at Marin d’Eau Douce
Bois de Boulogne: Rent a rowboat and lazily row on the lake in Bois de Boulogne. Head to “Services des Bateaux du Bois de Boulogne” to find the rental service. Bring a picnic! Leave time to visit the beautiful Parc de Bagatelle nearby.
Bois de Vincennes: Head out to eastern Paris to the lovely Bois de Vincennes. Search for “Location de Barques du Lac Daumesnil” on google maps, rent your boat and enjoy your summer in Paris day!
18. Tango By the Seine
Paris in the summertime just has to include a little outdoor dancing. Make your way to the Jardin de Tino-Rossi by the Seine River and look for the three amphitheatres where the dancing is happening. Most nights there is tango, rock and salsa dancing. I love the tango. Bring a bottle of wine, sit back, and watch the dancing as the boats pass by on the Seine.
Love tango? Feel free to join in. Here are all the details about tango dancing by the Seine in Paris.
19. Relax At Bassin d’Arsenal
Just where the Canal Saint-Martin and the Seine meet is a lovely oasis in Paris. Pause for an apéro overlooking the boats at Le Grand Bleu Paris and soak up the Paris in the summertime vibe. Wander down towards the Seine and watch boats navigating the first lock into Canal Saint-Martin.
I hope these tips help you plan the best summer in Paris trip.
Until next time,
More Paris Info…
Gastronomy In Paris:
There are also plenty of café suggestions for the Marais area in this post: Tips from a Local.
Looking for a traditional French meal at an affordable price? Here is your guide to the Paris Bouillon restaurants.
Vegetarian or Vegan in Paris? Here are some great restaurant recommendations.
Travelling to Paris alone? This article on navigating Paris alone is full of tips and tricks for the solo traveller.
This page has all my articles on Paris that will help you plan out your trip, including day trips from Paris. I hope you subscribed to my newsletter to get my free download – An Amazing 2-day Itinerary in Paris.
If you are going further afield in France, make sure to check out my page on France.