Who said that “summer” must necessarily rhyme with “beach and coconut trees”?
This year, choose to innovate and spend an urban summer in Paris. When the days lengthen, the city has a different face and offers to its inhabitants, but also to its many visitors, a wide range of fun, cultural and leisure activities that will fit every taste and every budget. For the summertime, change course and let yourself be led to spend the greatest summer in the City of Light.
Discover Paris in the Summer
It is of course during the sunny days that it will be the most pleasant time to visit the city and to admire the most beautiful buildings of the capital. You will have many options to enjoy the city at its best days thanks to the multitude of tours offered.
So, what better than a cruise on the Seine to enjoy a small breeze while discovering the oldest and most prestigious buildings of the capital? It is in fact initially around the Seine that the medieval city of Paris began to organize and it is on its shores that you can truly immerse yourself in its eclectic architecture (mixing historic buildings in the center and buildings more contemporary at the ends of the river).
So enjoy the Paris launches (pier at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, station Bir Hakeim on the underground line 6, station Trocadéro on the undergrounds lines 6 and 9) or the tourist river boat (pier at the level of the Grand Palais, station Alma Marceau on the underground line 9, RER C: station Pont de l’Alma) which will offer you a wide selection of cruises (with dinner, champagne tasting or a cruise on the mysteries of Paris).
For about an hour, you can also have the pleasure of listening to a guide, who will tell you the noteworthy monuments. Photographers will be on board to take pictures, alone or with your relatives.
For those who do not want to be satisfied with the banks of the Seine, buses offer rides just as pleasant to discover the mythical districts of the capital. Although these tours do not allow you to truly know Paris as your pocket, we may advise you the Open Tour with 4 bus routes and more than 50 stops in the capital; as well as buses with opened roofs to the outside, you can buy a pass for 1, 2 or 3 days and take the Bus Open Tour as you please.
Have you seen a monument that seems interesting to you? Get off the bus and go visit it. After your tour you can take an Open Tour bus again and continue your visit in the city. Audio guides are also available to explain to you the history of the streets and of the boroughs that you will discover.
To add a retro and very Frenchy touché, have a look on the website four wheels under one umbrella to rent a convertible two-horse car with driver. In this mythical French car, the driver will make you discover the most beautiful landscapes of Paris and will even propose you to get behind the wheel at the end of your journey! The price of these trips can be quite high (up to 100 euros per person for a 3-hour trip) but generally the quality of these excursions is worth the effort.
Nevertheless, for these trips in a car as driver or not, we advise you to avoid the rush hours. Of course, the small size of cars will allow you to sneak in and out of buses and other vehicles, but the ride will surely be less pleasant.
However, we recommend this means of transport only to the most seasoned and accustomed cyclists who are used to handling a two-wheeled vehicle in the city because the Parisian traffic, including during summer, can be dangerous.
Parks and Picnics in Paris
It is when Paris changes to summertime that it is the most pleasant to discover or rediscover the parks of the capital. Indeed, the city does not lack green spaces and we have selected for you some which are particularly pleasant during beautiful days.
Let’s start with the popular Monceau Park (underground line 2, stop Monceau) extending in the 17th and the 8th arrondissement. Surrounded by sumptuous private mansions, this green space is without a doubt the most privileged of the capital. Established in the 18th century, it overflows with buildings ranging from the Egyptian pyramid to the Venetian bridge. Then, it has been transformed into an English garden (thus more asymmetrical), a look that still remains.
The Parisians frequent the park a lot during the summer but, even on busy days, it is quite extensive so that you can find a place in the shade or in the sun without any problem. Peaceful and shady, it is the ideal place for a moment of relaxation, a picnic among friends, or even, for the sportsmen, a jog in the shadows of the trees.
The helium balloon Eutelsat, which rises in the middle of the park, will take you 150 meters above ground and will offer stunning views of the capital. You will also be able to admire the many exotic plants that inhabit the flora of this garden that is very Parisian.
More childish, the Jardin d’Acclimatation in Neuilly sur Seine (line 1 of the underground: stop Sablons) and its retro atmosphere will surely appeal to you. Founded in 1860, this site results from the meeting of an urban planning project (the one of Haussmann) and a scientific ambition (the one of Saint Hilaire, who wanted to create a zoological park). Nowadays, the zoological vocation has somewhat disappeared since there is only a small zoo, but other activities will be available to you: you can rent a remote-controlled boat and practice in the pond or enjoy the mini fairground with children. You will also have the opportunity to try mini golf in this park with a slightly kitschy atmosphere that will appeal to the inner child. However, be careful, as the entrance is paying (about 5 euros), the same for each attraction (2.70 euros).
For nature lovers who hate to remain motionless, we suggest you go for a ride on the Coulée Verte or “Planted Promenade” overlooking the Arts Viaduct of the Daumesnil avenue and following the former aerial railway lines that used to link Bastille to Vincennes and who made its last trip in 1969. The 5 kilometres of wooded lane that replaced the rails were unveiled in 1988. Lined with many trees and lush vegetation that brims over the surrounding walls, it is the ideal walk to take a deep breath of fresh air in the very heart of the capital by bike, by rollerblade, by skateboard or even on foot.
If you have decided to think on a big scale, we recommend you make the trip to Versailles (RER C: station Château de Versailles) to admire the Castle but especially its gardens, very pleasant in summer. Given the abundance and total absence of shade in the gardens, we advise you to go there in the morning to avoid sunstroke! Basically, Versailles was a very extensive park where the court and the whole of French high society strolled regularly. When Louis XIV decided to build his castle there, he undertook to redesign the park, which he transformed into French gardens, very tidy and symmetrical.
In summer, you can enjoy the many fountains, wooded paths and the many sculptures that decorate the gardens of the often-called Sun King. It’s also at that time that you can attend the Great Musical Waters show in the Château de Versailles, a show that pays tribute to the ideal route gardens according to Louis XIV or attend the night show of Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, a show that highlights the many fountain gardens to make them shine like a star.
Summer Season and Music Festivals
During the summer season, Paris is alive with music thanks to the numerous festivals and other street performances that settle down, for a season only, in the streets of the capital. There will be something for all tastes and audiences!
Let yourself be charmed by the many street musicians who inaugurate every year the beginning of the summer season at the summer solstice, which is also the Music Festival in France. No year makes an exception to the rule and the Parisian population meets again every year in the hustle and bustle of the capital for a drink on the terrace or simply to stroll and to attend the numerous over-playful concerts, given by amateur or professional musicians on the sidewalk, or mini-festivals that last all day, as on the Place Denfert-Rochereau, where you canfind the most fashionable artists of the moment every June 21st.
Each year, the Ministry of Culture uploads the program of this day like no other so that you can choose where to go depending on the kind of music you want to hear. We advise you, however, to have a preference for the nonchalance and to stroll in the streets of Paris, and there is nothing better than this to make great encounters and beautiful musical discoveries!
On exceptional days, exceptional mobilization: thus, 6 subway lines are opened all night from 21st to 22th June, including some of the main stations remain opened to allow night owls to return home.
More information here.
As every year for 6 years, for jazz lovers, the date is set to Defense Jazz Festival.
Based in the Defense square (line 1 of the underground: station Esplanade de la Défense, RER A: station La Défense), the festival usually extends an entire week, from the very end of June (29th June to July 6th for the year 2014). The free concerts take place in the evening during the weekend and in the middle of the day (usually around midday) during the week to allow the many Parisians who work in the towers of La Défense to enjoy a musical lunch break. Right from the beginning, the tone is set with a very jazzy program that nevertheless diversifies with some artists more soul and “world music.” The atmosphere is relaxed and festive, even during lunch break!
Closer to the centre of Paris, you will find young artists in pop, rock or electro style with the Festival Soir d’Eté that will take place for a week in early July on the place of Republique (lines 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11 of the underground: station Republic) in the heart of the 3rd Parisian arrondissement.
Undoubtedly, the eclectic program will allow you to discover new artists that thrill the international crowd. The open-air concerts are all free and take place every day at 8pm. Soir d’Eté, this very popular festival that existed for 17 years, is very popular in Paris; if you want to be on the ground floor to see your favorite artists, we recommend you get there early!
For the most dyed-in-the-wool festival-goers, there are also many more important festivals that usually take place in the suburbs near the capital.
Nonetheless, these outdoor festivals are paying but you will be able to camp on site (you were told that it was for the most dyed-in-the-wool!). If you are not sensitive either to the dust or to the oppressive heat, go to Longchamp racecourse (line 10 of the underground: station Porte d’Auteuil), transformed for the occasion into a campsite/giant concert hall every year during the last weekend of June for Solidays.
The numerous scenes give way to a very varied program which has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to the biggest musical festivals of the world. But, it’s not just about music at Solidays. Launched in 1999, the theme of the festival is prevention and the fight against AIDS. The benefits generated by this event are all donated to associations fighting against AIDS. Many stands put at the disposal of the festival goers make them aware of the disease and do real prevention work, especially among the young people who frequent this festival assiduously. Other activities are also offered to festival-goers, such as bungee jumping and art exhibitions, and they can also discover the cooking of different countries thanks to the numerous stands present on the racecourse.
At the end of the summer, you can enjoy the more rock program of the festival Rock En Seine, which takes place every year during the last weekend of August in the national domain of Saint Cloud (line 10 of the underground: station Pont de Saint Cloud ). You will also be able to camp on the spot. This time again: three days of celebration, entertainment, culture and, above all, music. So let yourself be tempted by the biggest names of international rock that will parade on the big stage of the festival, or discover the new ones who will try to make a name on the more modest stages.
The prices for the two festivals range from 29 euros for the one-day pass to the Solidays (39 euros for the 3-day pass and 15 euros more for the camping) and up to 119 euros for the 3-day Rock en Seine pass.
For the Nostalgic of the Beach
As you will have understood, summer activities are not lacking in Paris, but for the most nostalgic we offer you a selection of activities that smell good. The hot sand will help you to be ready for the beach or to do without it this year!
Organized since 2002 by the city of Paris, this summer operation is very popular in the eyes of the Parisians in lack of fine sand. Considering the growing success of Paris Plage, the capital now transforms every year the Seine’s banks for the biggest pleasure of young and elder.
Between mid-July and mid-August, on the banks Georges Pompidou and around the Bassin de la Villette, one would almost believe it: warm sand, deck chair, summer brouhaha, singing gulls … The beach settles in Paris in the middle of the summer to allow all those who do not go on holiday to enjoy all the same a moment of relaxation in the capital. In addition to the tons of sand poured on the cobblestones, the city also organizes many activities that would make the most beautiful seaside resorts green with envy.
With family or friends, you can enjoy sports activities (initiation to tai chi, rowing, kayaking, and other aquatic activities …), cultural (temporary art exhibitions are often installed on the banks of the Seine between the deck chairs and a mini-library is available to the holiday-makers of the day) or simply basking in the sun on the numerous ottomans and other deck chairs installed on the sand while savouring an ice cream or a cold drink, sold in the numerous stalls on the beach. A “ludoplage” is organized for the children, as well as a track of electric kart in the basin of the Villette.
Thanks to the different facilities put in place to connect the different Parisian beaches, you will also be able to simply recharge your batteries by walking, shoes in hand, in the warm sand installed on the banks for the occasion. The two sites of Paris beach are indeed in the most beautiful districts of Paris, and from the banks you will have views of the buildings of the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame. At the Bassin de la Villette, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful shady canals, where it is particularly pleasant to stroll in the summer. All activities are free and open to all, which explains the crowd, especially during the weekends. We advise you to go there rather during the week and to prefer the morning or the evening in order to avoid a fight for a place on a deck chair.
Voie George Pompidou, Paris 2nd and 4th.
Lines 1 and 7 of the underground: stations Pont Neuf or Châtelet or lines 4 of the underground: station Cité.
Open from 9am to midnight.
Basin of the Villette, Paris 19th.
Lines 2 and 5 of the underground: station Stalingrad (M2) or station Laumière (M5)
Open from 9am to midnight.
For an atmosphere less lazy and more festive, go to the beach Glazart for an extraordinary musical festival in the heart of the Parisian summer.
A stone’s throw from the Porte de la Villette, the former bus station has been transformed into a concert hall and club some fifteen years ago. When the sunny days show up, the atmosphere of the establishment changes completely and the Glazart turns into a huge musical beach. Specializing in contemporary electronic music, this temple of the multidisciplinary approach of the music keeps this very festive atmosphere, but this time you can enjoy the music while lounging on deckchairs installed on the sand that covers the entire Glazart.
Placed under the label of the relaxation, this XXL event takes place from mid-June to mid-August in the 19th district of the capital. You will be able to enjoy free concerts, techno/house days, afterworks, showcases, puce rock music and other animations that will be organized throughout the summer without interruption. You can also have a drink in the LaPlage pub or eat a snack while enjoying the many food trucks at Glazart.
The eclectic program that is rather particular will undoubtedly appeal to electronic music lovers but will also allow the uninitiated to discover new French and international artists.
7-15 avenue Porte de la Villette, Paris 19th.
Lines 7 or 3b of the underground: station Porte de la Villette.
Open every day from mid-June to mid-September.
The Temple of Surf Culture in Paris: WAIT
Located in the trendy 3rd arrondissement, the shop Wait offers a special atmosphere entirely dedicated to the world of surfing. Curious or surfing lovers, cast a glance at this shop-flat. The origin of this convivial concept will please you for sure: a crazy bet between two fans, create a surf shop in the heart of the capital where it is rather concrete that reigns supreme. Successful bet for this elegant shop with a warm concept.
For lovers of board sports, here you will find all the necessary equipment for your next stay on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean: wax, leash, suits and even very beautiful boards.
The shop that smells good like California offers products for surfers but, more generally, products in relation to the beach and fine sand. Thus, you will find a wide range of men’s ready-to-wear only but also a wide range of unisex accessories such as sunglasses (with wooden frames) and other decorative items such as candles or plants.
A trendy and eclectic shop that will delight the initiated as well as the uninitiated to the world of surfing and will especially please the nostalgic of the beach!
Advice, best plans, great places; I will help you in your search for trips, activities, hotels and restaurants. Whether it’s for a walk, a weekend, an afternoon or merely to find a trendy place to eat, I can give you all the pointers you need for your endeavor. Just follow the guide!