10 things to see and do in Paris in summer

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

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

11 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 make the most of the good weather to enjoy the streets. It's a great time for visitors, as traditionally many Parisians leave the city for the holidays and the atmosphere tends to be more relaxed.

The summer temperatures in Paris invite you to enjoy the city's parks and extend the day well into the evening. The French capital helps to extend the days with an extensive cultural programme with a predominance of open-air events.

1. Relax on the beach during the Paris Plages

Paris Plages| ©ParisInfo
Paris Plages| ©ParisInfo

When you planned your summer getaway to Paris, you probably 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 so much more.

For the past few years, the city council has been holding the Paris Plages, an event that lasts throughout July and August to make the most of the good weather.

During these dates, Paris takes advantage of the river embankments to create real river beaches, sand and all. The areas where they are held are full of Parisians who set up their parasols and deckchairs among the palm trees.

The Paris Plages are not just about enjoying a day at the beach in the heart of the city, but also about a wide range of activities for adults and children. You can find everything from children's workshops to food stalls, canoe trips, board games and exhibitions.

Practical information

  • Where: 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'll have views of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Musée d'Orsay and 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 from 10 am to 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 the little ones and many adults. If you are in the city during these dates, I recommend you take a stroll around the fair that takes place there.

During the two hottest months, the gardens host a fair where you can find some 60 attractions, from ghost trains to a palace of mirrors, including merry-go-rounds designed in the style of the early 20th century and activities such as carbine shooting.

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

I assure you that, even if you don't 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, candyfloss or a hot sandwich.

This return to childhood can be completed with a little picnic in the gardens. There could hardly be a more relaxing experience in the French capital. To enhance this feeling, the organisers have decided that the fair will not have any piped music.

Practical information

  • Opening hours: the fair opens at 11:00 and does not close until 23:45 (weekdays) or 0:45 (Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of public holidays).
  • 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 on 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, go on small cruises, attend concerts and many other events, such as open-air cinema or street art.

For several years now, the Bassin de la Villette (Villette Pond) has been gaining in importance in the city's summers. Located in the city's 19th arrondissement, this former river trading centre 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 kilometres 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 6 July and runs until the last week of August.
  • Price: admission to the fair is free, although there is a charge for the activities.

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 at the beginning of July, the Night of the Museums is an extraordinary opportunity to visit the best museums in Paris.

Not only is admission free throughout the night, but there are also special exhibitions, workshops and entertainment of all kinds. In recent years, a number of new and interesting digital formats have also taken centre stage. In recent years, some new and interesting digital formats have also taken centre stage.

During the evening, you can sign up for various types of guided tours with a different perspective to those you can book during the day. You can also enjoy musical performances in the vicinity of the museums.

Buy your ticket to the best museums in Paris

5. Celebrate the 14th of July

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

The highlight of the Parisian summer (and of the whole country) is the 14th July celebration of the French bank holidays. On this day, the capital has an intense festive and cultural programme to commemorate the famous storming of the Bastille that started the French Revolution.

If you are lucky enough to be in Paris on this date, you must go to the Champs Elysées to watch the lavish military parade that runs along the Champs Elysées. Don't forget to look up to see what I would describe as an 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 you'd like to see it from the lawn of the Champs de Mars, but the fireworks are visible from much of the city.

Outside the Champs Elysées is also celebrated on 14 July. An impressive number of events are held at various locations throughout the day. The Louvre Museum has also taken the initiative of allowing access to its permanent collections free of charge.

A 14th July on the Seine

As I said, there are many places in Paris from which to watch the fireworks on 14 July, but few offer as spectacular an experience as from a boat.

On this day there are often special Seine cruises which, as well as offering dinner in a romantic setting, allow you to admire the fireworks display from a different point of view. Really, if you can do it, it's one of the activities you shouldn't miss.

Book your cruise on the Seine

6. Make the most 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 where it is difficult to resist window shopping, especially for the luxury brands found in the most spectacular shopping arcades.

The high prices alone mean that visitors to the city do not return with a large number of bags full of goods, but this inconvenience can be greatly reduced if you travel in summer.

From the beginning of July until the end of August, the so-called "soldes", the summer sales, take place in Paris. During this period you can find discounts ranging from 30% to 70% of the original price. Moreover, 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 you visit the Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, two places that are worth visiting for their beauty, especially at Christmas in Paris. In both shopping centres you will find clothes and fashion accessories at a much more affordable price.

Another trick to get the most out of these sales is to go to the outlets. The most striking is La Vallée Village, which specialises 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 colourful event can take in the sights along the route. Normally, the peloton goes from Concorde to the Tuileries, passing through the aforementioned Champs Elysées.

On this day, the whole of Paris dresses up to welcome the cyclists, with music playing in many of its corners.

If you want to imitate the cyclists, although not on the same day, you can book one of the most fun tours of the city of Paris, which takes you through the streets on a bicycle.

Book your bike tour of 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 things to do at night in Paris if you have travelled in summer is to go and see the sound and light show called the Nuit aux Invalides.

The venue is the National Palace of Invalides, a complex built in the 17th century to house 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 Napoleon's tomb.

The courtyard of the palace hosts a wonderful sound and light show every summer with different themes depending on the season. The church du Dôme, located in the same complex, is also frequently lit up 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 approximately €25.

9. Music and film festivals all over the city

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

The sheer number of festivals taking place in Paris throughout the summer makes it almost impossible to choose just one. If you check the calendar in advance, you're bound to find one you like no matter what 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 for the city's most important jazz festival every summer.
  • Opera en Plein if opera is your thing, don't miss one of the concerts held between June and September. This festival does not have a single venue, as you can find performances in different places in Ile-de-France.
  • Open-aircinema: although there is a wide range of films on offer, I particularly recommend 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 gazing at the Eiffel Tower.

On these open-air 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 that it is so successful that it is difficult to find a place.
  • Gare d'Austerlitz: this train station also has a great summer terrace where you can spend the evening and which is easy to get to by metro.
  • La Javelle right on the banks of the Seine, next to the Parc André Citroën. There are often live performances and nearby there is an interesting food truck for a bite to eat.
  • Le Jardin Municipal is located in the inner courtyard of the Credit Municipal de Paris bank in the Marais district.

Temperature in Paris in summer

Sunshine in Summer| ©David Brooks
Sunshine in Summer| ©David Brooks

As with the rest of the year, Paris temperatures in summer can be a bit of a surprise. Thus, many days are marked by a rather chilly breeze or even rain.

However, the tendency during this season is for it to be hot. Highs usually range from 24º to 30º, although in recent years there have been several heatwaves with increasing frequency, causing temperatures to reach 40º.

When night falls the temperature cools down a little and stays at around 15°C, which invites you to go out and enjoy the terraces and the nightlife.

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

Summer tourist crowds in Paris

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

It is 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 the most tourists every year.

This huge influx translates into an increase in queues to get into the main tourist attractions, making it more important to buy tickets to avoid having to wait at places like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre museum.

Another aspect to take into account is that Parisians tend to go on holiday in the month of August. The city then seems to be in the hands of tourists, which makes for 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 try a few little tricks, such as looking for restaurants a bit further away from the main tourist attractions.

You can also swap restaurants for city parks one day 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're going to make the trip.

Getting your hands on 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'll get substantial discounts on entry to many Paris attractions, such as the Arc de Triomphe and some of Paris' best museums.

For a few years now, the Paris Pass has no longer included a pass for the Paris Metro, so it might also be a good idea to get one of the ones that save on every trip.