10 things to see and do in Paris in summer

Paris takes advantage of the arrival of good weather to offer a lot of events in its streets. Summer is also the time when important events take place in the country such as the celebration of the 14th of July and the Tour de France.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

12 min read

10 things to see and do in Paris in summer

Paris from the Air | ©Marishalaugh

During the summer, Paris adds to its many attractions a series of activities that take advantage of the good weather to enjoy the street. For visitors, this is a great time of year, as traditionally many Parisians leave the city for the vacations and the atmosphere tends to be more relaxed.

Summer temperatures in Paris invite you to enjoy the city's parks and stretch the day well into the evening. The French capital helps to extend the days with an extensive cultural program in which outdoor events predominate.

1. Relax on the beach during the Paris Plages

Paris Plages| ©ParisInfo
Paris Plages| ©ParisInfo

I'm sure that when you planned your summer getaway to Paris you didn't expect to have the opportunity to go to the beach. You almost certainly planned a trip to Versailles from Paris to enjoy the summer sun, but the French capital offers much more.

For the past few years, the city council has been holding the so-called Paris Plages, an event that lasts during the months of July and August to take advantage of the good weather.

During these dates, Paris takes advantage of the river dikes to create real river beaches, including sand. The areas where it is celebrated are filled with Parisians who plant their umbrellas and deckchairs among the palm trees.

The Paris Plages are not only to enjoy a day at the beach in the city, but also numerous activities for adults and children. You can find everything from children's workshops to food stalls, canoe rides, board games and exhibitions.

Practical information

  • Where it is held: Paris Plagues takes place in several different areas. The first is the Parc Rives de Seine, from the Pont des Arts to the Pont de Sully, on the right bank of the river. From here you will have views of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Musée d'Orsay or the Louvre. Another area worth visiting (especially if you like swimming) is the bassin de la Villette, located on the quai de Loire on the canal de l'Ourcq. Finally, the Trocadero gardens have been added to the venues of this event.
  • Opening hours: the beaches of the Parc Rives de Seine are open every day between 10 am and 6:30 pm, while those of the bassin de la Villette can be used between 10 am and 10 pm on weekdays or between 10 am and midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

Book a guided tour of Paris

2. La Fête des Tuileries (Tuileries Fair)

Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner
Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner

One of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, the Tuileries, dresses up in summer for the enjoyment of children and many adults. If you are in the city during these dates, I advise you to take a tour of the fair that is installed there.

During the two warmer months, the gardens host a fair in which you can find about 60 attractions, from ghost trains to a palace of mirrors, through merry-go-rounds designed in the style of the early twentieth century and activities such as shooting with carbine.

If you go to Paris with children they can also participate in games like duck fishing, jump on trampolines, make their first steps with climbing or slide down the big slide.

I assure you that, even if you do not go with children, you will enjoy the walk along the main avenue. You can let yourself go and indulge in some ice cream, Parisian crepes, cotton candy or a hot sandwich.

This return to childhood can be completed if you dare to have a little picnic in the gardens. Possibly, there can't be a more relaxing experience in the French capital. To enhance that feeling, the organizers have decided that the fair will not have any piped music.

Practical information

  • Hours: the fair opens its doors at 11:00 am and does not close the attractions until 11:45 pm (weekdays) or 0:45 am (Fridays, Saturdays and holiday eves).
  • Prices: you don't have to pay anything to enter the fair, but you will have to pay the cost of each attraction.

Book a guided tour of Paris

3. "L'été du Canal" (Summer of the Canal),

Summer on the Canal| ©Pascal POGGI
Summer on the Canal| ©Pascal POGGI

The Canal de l'Ourcq area also celebrates the arrival of summer with activities for everyone. If you come along, you can enjoy some workshops, sail on small cruises, attend concerts and many other events, such as open-air cinema or street art.

For quite a few years now, the bassin de la Villette (Pond of La Villette) has been gaining prominence in the city's summers. Located in the 19th arrondissement of the city, this former river trading center has become one of the liveliest areas of Paris when the good weather approaches.

Among the most popular activities are the boat trips that take place on weekends in July and August. Some of these small cruises, 10 kilometers long, offer different themes so that everyone can choose the one that most appeals to them.

Practical information

  • When it takes place: it usually starts around July 6 and lasts until the last week of August.
  • Price: admission to the fair is free, although the activities do have to be paid for.

Book a guided tour of Paris

4. Night of the museums

Facade of the Musée de Nuit| ©Lonni Besançon
Facade of the Musée de Nuit| ©Lonni Besançon

Usually held in early July, the Night of the Museums is an extraordinary opportunity to visit the best museums in Paris.

Not only the entrance is free throughout the night, but there are also various special exhibitions, workshops and animations of all kinds. In recent years, also took center stage some digital formats as innovative as interesting.

During that night you can sign up for various types of guided tours with a different perspective to those you can hire during the day. You can also enjoy musical performances near the museums.

Buy your ticket to the best museums in Paris

5. Celebration of July 14th

14th of July Parade| ©DR
14th of July Parade| ©DR

The highlight of the Parisian summer (and of the whole country) is the celebration on July 14 of the French national holiday. On that day, the capital develops an intense festive and cultural program to commemorate the famous storming of the Bastille that started the French Revolution.

If you have the good fortune to be in Paris on that date you must go to the Champs Elysees to watch the lavish military parade that runs through it. Don't forget to look up to see what I could describe as an authentic aerial ballet.

Few things are as spectacular as the breathtaking fireworks display at the foot of the Eiffel Tower itself at night while a special concert plays. Ideally, it would be best viewed from the lawn of the Champs de Mars, but the fires are visible from much of the city.

Outside the Champs Elysées is also celebrated on July 14. Throughout the day, an impressive number of events are held at various locations. Also noteworthy is the Louvre Museum's initiative to allow access to its permanent collections free of charge.

A July 14 on the Seine

As I have pointed out, there are many points in Paris from which to watch the fireworks on July 14, but few offer an experience as spectacular as doing it from a boat.

On that day there are often special Seine cruises that, in addition to offering dinner in an atmosphere charged with romanticism, allow you to admire the spectacle of the fires from a different point of view. Really, if you can do it, it is one of the activities you should not miss.

Book your cruise on the Seine

6. Take advantage of the summer sales to buy

Taking advantage of the sales| ©Polina Tankilevitch
Taking advantage of the sales| ©Polina Tankilevitch

It is well known that Paris is one of those cities in which resisting the shop windows is more complicated, especially luxury brand products that are found in the most spectacular shopping galleries.

Only the prices, quite high, makes visitors to the city do not return with a large number of bags full of products, but this drawback can be greatly reduced if you travel in summer.

From early July until late August are developed in Paris the so-called "soldes", the summer sales. During these dates you can find discounts ranging from 30% to 70% of the original price. In addition, these discounts tend to increase over time and can reach up to 80% at the end of August.

If you want to take advantage of your trip to Paris to look for luxury brands, I recommend that you approach the Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, two places that, in itself, is worth visiting for its beauty, especially at Christmas in Paris. In both malls you will find clothes and fashion accessories at a much more affordable price.

Another trick to get more out of these sales is to go to the outlets. The most striking is La Vallée Village, which specializes in luxury brands.

7. Tour de France

Tour de France| ©Marco Bertorello
Tour de France| ©Marco Bertorello

One of the big days of the Parisian summer is the end of the Tour de France. The world's most important cycling stage race always ends its route in July (the day varies depending on the year) in an incomparable setting: the Champs Elysées.

Cycling enthusiasts or simply those who want to enjoy the color of this event can be located on a section of the route. Normally, the peloton goes from the Concorde to the Tuileries, passing through the aforementioned Champs Elysees.

That day, in addition, all of Paris dresses up to welcome the cyclists, with music playing in many of its corners.

If you want to imitate a little of these hard-working cyclists, although not on the same day, you can hire one of the most fun tours of the city of Paris, which runs through its streets by bicycle.

Book your bike tour in Paris

8. La Nuit aux Invalides (The Night of the Invalides)

Invalides National Palace| ©Daniel Vorndran
Invalides National Palace| ©Daniel Vorndran

One of the most interesting activities you can do at night in Paris if you have traveled in summer is to go to see the sound and light show called the Invalides Night.

The venue is the National Palace of the Invalides, a complex built in the seventeenth century to accommodate the French soldiers after they laid down their arms. This palace is one of the most visited attractions in Paris, both for its undeniable architectural value and for housing the tomb of Napoleon.

The courtyard of the palace hosts every summer a wonderful sound and light show with different themes depending on the season. The church du Dôme, located in the same complex, is also frequently illuminated with candles.

Practical information

  • Dates: from the first week of July to the last week of August, from Tuesday to Saturday. During July, the show starts at 22:30, while in August it starts half an hour earlier.
  • Price: there are different prices, from 5 € to 25 € approximately.

9. Music and film festivals all over the city

Open Air Festival| ©Villete
Open Air Festival| ©Villete

The large number of festivals held in Paris throughout the summer makes it almost impossible to choose one in particular. If you check the agenda in advance, I assure you that you will find one that you like no matter the date. Here are the most interesting ones:

  • European Festival of Young Talents perfect for classical music lovers. Throughout the summer these concerts are held in the Marais district by the most promising young musicians.
  • Paris Jazz Festival the fabulous gardens of Parc Floral are the venue every summer for the most important jazz festival in the city.
  • Opera en Plein if your thing is the lyric you can not miss any of the concerts held between June and September. This festival does not have a single venue, as you can find performances in various places in Ile-de-France.
  • Open-aircinema: although the offer is wide, I recommend in particular the Silhouette festival (short films). The screenings take place in various locations in the 19th arrondissement, including its parks.

10. Enjoy the terraces of Paris

Le Perchoir terrace| ©Marïka V
Le Perchoir terrace| ©Marïka V

Although some terraces can be visited at other times of the year, including winter in Paris, no time is better than summer evenings.

In addition to the fixed terraces, the city is full of temporary venues, such as the so-called rooftop bars. Here you can enjoy the good weather with an incomparable view of the city, almost as if you were contemplating the view from the Eiffel Tower.

On these outdoor terraces you can also have a drink and relax from the long days of sightseeing in Paris:

  • Le Perchoir opens every summer on the terrace of one of the most central department stores in the capital, the BHV Marais. The only problem is its success, which makes it difficult to find a place.
  • Gare d'Austerlitz: this train station also has a great summer terrace where to spend the evening and which is very easy to reach by metro.
  • La Javelle right on the banks of the Seine, next to the André Citroën park. There are usually live performances and nearby there is an interesting offer of food truck to eat something.
  • Le Jardin Municipal located in the inner courtyard of the bank Credit Municipal de Paris, in the Marais district.

Temperature in Paris in summer

Sun in Summer| ©David Brooks
Sun in Summer| ©David Brooks

As it happens during the rest of the year, Paris temperatures in summer can give some surprises. Thus, many days are marked by a rather cold breeze or even rain.

However, the trend during this season is the heat. Highs usually range from 24º to 30º, although in recent years there have been several heat waves with increasing frequency that have resulted in temperatures of up to 40º.

When night falls the temperature cools down a bit and stays at about 15º, which invites you to go out and enjoy the terraces and the nightlife.

It is in the monthof August in Paris when the highest temperatures of the year are reached, which together with the high humidity can cause some short-lived storms. My advice is to always check the weather forecast before scheduling your daily tour.

The tourist influx in Paris in summer

Tourists at the Eiffel Tower| ©David Brooks
Tourists at the Eiffel Tower| ©David Brooks

It's no secret that the peak season in Paris occurs in the summer months. This translates into a huge influx of visitors, as we must not forget that the French capital is the second city in the world that receives more tourists each year.

This huge influx translates into increased queues to enter the main tourist attractions, so it becomes more important to purchase tickets that allow not having to wait in places like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre Museum.

Another aspect to consider is that Parisians tend to go on vacation in the month of August. The city then seems to be left in the hands of tourists, which produces a rather curious sensation.

Buy your ticket for the Eiffel Tower

Prices in Paris in summer

Money| ©cottonbro
Money| ©cottonbro

The prices of flights, hotels and other places visited by tourists increase a lot during the summer. To try to save money (without missing out on anything) you can always apply some little tricks, such as looking for restaurants a bit far away from the most important tourist attractions.

You can also change one day the restaurants for the city parks and have a nice picnic in one of them.

Booking flights and hotels well in advance usually leads to lower prices, so start looking as soon as you know you are going to make the trip.

Getting the Paris Pass, the city's most popular tourist card, can also be a good way to save money. With it in your hands you will have significant discounts to enter many Paris attractions, such as the Arc de Triomphe and several of the best museums in Paris.

Since a few years ago, the Paris Pass has stopped including a pass for the Paris Metro, so it might also be a good idea to get one of those that mean savings on every trip.