Whether you're in the mood for some excellent brunches or prefer a quiet museum visit, both fit into this spring month that brings Paris' green period to an end.
The city of light always has plenty to offer throughout the year, but May is a month packed with fun, art and spectacle. La foire du Trone, May Day or the Bread Festival are just some of the many unique events this month. Let's get started!
1. Take a day trip to the Loire Valley
With everything in bloom and summer in Paris on its way, there is perhaps no better time to enjoy the Loire Valley without the crowds than in May. Remember that spring in Paris doesn't last forever, and taking in the beauty of the Loire Valley in May is not the same as doing so in the height of summer, let alone if you go to Paris in winter.
Best known for its world-famous abundance of French châteaux, all the châteaux are actually open, while there are still far fewer tourists than in the real high season.
If you decide to book a trip to the Loire Châteaux, you will see the three most popular Renaissance châteaux on the banks of the Loire River: Chenonceau, Chambord and Amboise, as well as visiting the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci.
2. Enjoy the May Day festivities from a cruise on the Seine River
May Day is a very special day in Paris when the Parc de Pelouse de Reuilly is completely illuminated by fireworks. The fountains are not left out either and take part in this day with water shows. Without a doubt, the park is one of the best places to be at night in Paris. In addition, and given the proximity of the park to the Seine, you can take the opportunity to enjoy this celebration from one of the Seine river cruises.
Here is a list of all the options:
- Seine River Cruise, From £14.
- Cruise on the Seine River and the Saint Martin Canal in Paris, From £20.
- Seine River Cruise with French crepe, From £20.
- SeineRiver evening cruise with music and aperitif, From £26.
- Seine river cruise with gourmet dinner, From £41.
- Seine river cruise with lunch and live music, From £65.
Today, La Fête du Travail is a public holiday, which means that almost everything is closed. In France, one of the most beautiful traditions that takes place on 1 May is the gift of lily of the valley flowers, known as 'muguet' in French. This tradition dates back to Celtic times where giving these flowers signified that summer in Paris is just around the corner.
3. Visit the Arc de Triomphe on the Fête de la Victoire
During this World War II Victory Day ceremony, the President of France lays flowers at the Arc de Triomphe to honour the liberation of France.
It was on 7 May 1945 that the Nazis officially surrendered to the Allies, and the final battle took place on 8 May, marking the end of World War II.
Although celebrated for decades, it was in 1981 that President Francois Mitterrand declared Victory Day a French bank holidays. So don't forget to book your tickets for the Arc de Triomphe if your trip falls on May 8th and bring a sprig of flowers to symbolise peace.
4. Take a tour of the pastry shops in Paris to coincide with the Bread Festival
The festival is located in the Paris of Notre Dame, there are live demonstrations, sampling stations and the opportunity to buy award-winning bread throughout the duration of the festival.
Held annually during the first weekend in May, the Paris Bread Festival celebrates all things baguette, croissant and French bread.
If there's one thing Paris' neighbourhoods are known for in the morning, it's the beautiful smell of homemade bread, so imagine what it's like to wander the streets in the middle of the bread festival ! You can also take the opportunity to take a tour of Paris's patisseries and celebrate the day in the sweetest way possible.
5. Enjoy the music at the Paris Jazz Festival
Stylish boutiques, historic cafés and world-famous hotels: Saint Germain des Prés is known for many things, but most of all for its annual jazz festival.
The annual event is usually held in mid-May and you can enjoy performances by jazz legends at the Odéon - Théâtre de l'Europe, for more information on prices and opening times visit the event's official website. It's definitely one of the May events you shouldn't miss. And if you love jazz music, regardless of whether you're only in Paris for the day, you should consider it.
Some of the concerts are free to enjoy, so be sure to visit the event's website for more information.
6. Go for a Night of Museums in Paris
The night in Paris is very special and if you have the chance to be in the City of Light during the Night of the Museums, you will be amazed. On this day, the best Parisian museums open their doors for free. The event takes place on 18 May and involves many of the most famous cultural centres.
If you love art and are looking for an inspiring evening stroll through some of the most interesting museums in Paris, don't hesitate to visit the event's website to keep up to date.
Also, here are some options if you want to keep them in mind:
- Musée d'Orsay in Paris, From £18.
- Louvre Museum, From £20.
- Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris, From £13.
- Picasso Museum in Paris, From £15.
- Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris, From £14.
- Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris, From £15.
- Rodin Museum in Paris, From £15.
- Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac Museum in Paris, From £11.
- Grevin Wax Museum in Paris, From £26.
- Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, From £15.
- Musée des Illusions in Paris, From £18.
7. Don't miss the Foire du Trone
At the Foire du Trone you can enjoy a range of circus attractions from the more sedate to the more energetic, from the car rides to the more eye-catching Ferris wheels and rollercoasters. Admission is completely free; however, there is a charge of between €2 and €10 to ride the rides.
The Throne Fair takes place between April and May, so if you missed the opening in April, you shouldn't miss the peak of the event, where you can enjoy the 350 rides and attractions spread over more than 10 hectares.
La Foire du Trône is undoubtedly the oldest fair in France. Its history dates back to the time of Lotario, in 957, but it was not until 1805 that a small amusement park appeared, which has been gaining fame until it became the fair we know today. It takes place in the Pelouse de Reuilly (Vincennes Forest) from midday to midnight. If you go by metro I recommend line 8, and if you go by tram I recommend line T3.
8. Spice up your trip with the Taste of Paris
The Grand Palais will be transformed into a showcase for the finest restaurants and artisanal food producers for four days of gourmet food tastings, cooking shows and meetings with France's top chefs. The event usually falls in mid-May.
You will be able to sample exclusive dishes in small portions and served by young and emerging chefs as well as Michelin-starred chefs in restaurants under the iconic glass dome of the Grand Palais.
Celebrity chefs such as Anne-Sophie Pic, Frederic Anton, Gregory Marchand and Kei Kobayashi will be present at the Theatre des Chefs to give masterclasses and special workshops. For more information, check out the event's website for more information!
9. Take a Stroll through the Paris Street Art Festival
This annual festival celebrates the art of street performance along the Canal Saint Martin and throughout the 10th arrondissement. The wonderful performances and festive atmosphere make this a fantastic way to spend the day. If you're in Paris at the end of May, be sure to make a detour to check out this event! Also, if you're travelling to Paris with children, don't forget to bring them with you to this event.
This free festival features street performers of all kinds: clowns, circus acts, magicians, puppet shows, music, theatre and more. Near the canal there are several places to eat, including Parisian creperies.
The energy of the open event is also transmitted to the 18th and 19th arrondissements especially near the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, an area where the Parisian tourist buses also pass. In any case, if you want more information , I recommend you to visit the event's website.
10. Moments of peace at the Yoga Paris festival
The Yoga Festival Paris is an annual event and one of the largest of its kind in France. For four days, visitors can meet experts in yoga and similar disciplines.
In addition, they will have access to ninety free yoga classes offered in three studios! Conferences focusing on self-care and nutrition are also on the agenda. There are also healing workshops and yoga masterclasses.
The programme is a blast and takes place at the Porte de la Villette Convention Centre.
Paris weather in May
Summer is finally on the horizon, the days are getting longer and the weather is finally getting warmer. Average temperatures in the French capital for the month of May fluctuate between 11 and 19 degrees Celsius, which means that while the temperature is pleasant, it is not warm enough to walk around in summer clothes.
Like the rest of the spring, rain showers are always likely, so be sure to bring your umbrellas!
What to wear in Paris in May
In warmer temperatures it's best not to bring thick jackets or coats. Optimise your space! While temperatures can reach 20 degrees Celsius, nights remain cool, so it's imperative to bring a warmer jacket so you don't stay cooped up in your accommodation at night watching TV. Skirts with tights, t-shirts with thin cardigans and comfortable flat shoes are some of the most common outfits for this month of the year in Paris.
Other things to do in Paris in May
You can't visit Paris during spring and not enjoy a Parisian picnic or two (or three!). And when it comes to Paris in May, there's no shortage of good weather to make the most of the late spring flowers and grassy green plains.
While many people claim that Paris lacks parks compared to other European cities such as London, you'll find that's not entirely accurate!
Paris in May
While it's true that May is not the busiest month in Paris as it's in the winter, it's no different when compared to the summer months in Paris, when the crowds are at their peak. So, if you like to enjoy good weather without the crowds, May is definitely a good option to enjoy all the must-see and must-do things to do in Paris.