Travel 5 minutes 01 June 2024

Paris in Summer: 14 Must-Sees to Live Like a Local

In July and August, Paris is transformed into a seaside resort. Terraces, beaches, and swimming on the banks of the Seine... Open-air swimming pools, music festivals, and cinemas... For a successful weekend or extended stay in the City of Light, follow The MICHELIN Guide's recommendations!

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Residents and tourists alike agree: summer is the ideal time to explore the French capital in the fresh air, strolling from dawn 'til dusk, enjoying the city's many parks and gardens. Without further ado, discover 14 must-do experiences to enjoy Paris and the Greater Paris area in fine weather and to really live like a Parisian!

Image Credit: Patrick Minero / Unsplash
Image Credit: Patrick Minero / Unsplash

1. Rediscover Paris by the Water

Enjoy the fine weather by taking a stroll through a less touristy corner of Paris, along the Canal de l'Ourcq and Canal Saint-Denis, or around the Bassin de la Villette. Every summer, from July to September, Paris Plages organizes sports activities and supervised swimming in this area. That's right, it's now possible to swim at certain points along the Seine. You can also take advantage of free deckchairs, cool off under equally free water misters, or play a game of pétanque! For summer 2024, Paris Plages is also taking over the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement. L'Été du Canal, another not-to-be-missed Parisian summer event, generally kicks off around July 6, and runs until the last week of August. On the program? Floating concerts, short cruises, street art, and an open-air cinema.

2. Celebrate 'La Fête de la Musique' All Night Long

Every June 21, on the day of the summer solstice (the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere), Paris celebrates music for a whole night. Amateur and professional musicians, young talents, and established artists all take to the streets, parks, and museums to offer free concerts to passers-by. Under the Louvre pyramid, in the Jardin du Luxembourg, at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme, at the Eglise Saint-Eustache... you'll find someone playing! All musical styles are featured, from classical to electro, brass bands to popular choirs. Please note that although admission is free, reservations are sometimes required for certain events. The program changes every year; for more information, visit fetedelamusique.culture.gouv.fr/en.

Jardin du Luxembourg © Rafael_Wiedenmeier/iStock
Jardin du Luxembourg © Rafael_Wiedenmeier/iStock


3. Show Your Support for the LGBTQI+ Community

The Paris 'Marche des Fiertés' (or Pride March) usually takes place at the end of June. This festive yet committed gathering aims to give visibility to the local LGBTQI+ community. Dances, floats, and costumes can all be spotted across Paris in this gigantic parade of color and music. Since 1981, this open-air event (one of the biggest in the capital, along with the Paris Marathon) has attracted huge crowds from the Paris region, as well as from the provinces and abroad. At the end of the march, a major free concert featuring a host of internationally renowned artists takes place, usually at Place de la Bastille or Place de la République (depending on the route).

Image Credit: Mathias Reding / Unsplash
Image Credit: Mathias Reding / Unsplash

4. Relax on One of the Capital's 3,000 Terraces

From rooftops overlooking the city to verdant courtyards hidden from view and street noise, in Paris some restaurant terraces are real treasures, perfect for sharing with friends. One hidden and intimate terrace, discreetly tucked away, belongs to Apicius, located in the heart of a sumptuous 18th Century mansion with the air of a small palace. For great views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, head for Monsieur Bleu in the Palais de Tokyo; and let's not forget the impressive terrace of MICHELIN-Starred Le Tout-Paris, a brasserie perched on the seventh floor of the Three Key Cheval Blanc hotel.

Le Tout-Paris (Cheval Blanc Paris) © Edouard François
Le Tout-Paris (Cheval Blanc Paris) © Edouard François

5. Swim in the Most Beautiful Open-Air Pool in Paris

A luxury hotel, Molitor Paris has taken over the eponymous former swimming pool, a legendary venue from the 1920s to the 1980s. Tastefully renovated by architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, the outdoor pool now boasts additional floors, a rooftop terrace overlooking the city, a Clarins spa, and a restaurant. Beneath the ultra-contemporary varnish, Molitor's Art Deco heritage has been preserved, notably the old studded portholes and 1940s furniture. Access to the pool, naturally, is included in the room rate.

 © Molitor Paris
© Molitor Paris

6. Party Away at Outdoor Music Festivals

Every summer, major music festivals return to the capital and its outskirts, to the delight of tourists and Parisians alike. Among them is 'Rock en Seine', which is held in the immense Parc de Saint-Cloud and is three days dedicated to rock. Opera lovers will be delighted with the 'Opéra en plein air' festival, which takes over several venues in Paris and the Greater Paris area; these include the Domaine de Sceaux, the Château de Vincennes, the Hôtel National des Invalides, and the Domaine National de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. At the Château de Versailles, classical music reigns supreme. Every Saturday evening from June 8 to September 21 2024, 'Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes' will bring the estate's fountains and pools to life. As night falls, enjoy a magical spectacle combining pyrotechnics and luminous water displays. This year, four additional evenings have been added to the schedule: Friday June 28, Sunday July 14, Thursday August 15 (the 'Nocturnes de Feu'), and Saturday September 21 (the 'Nocturnes Electro'). Finally, in September, don't miss the 'Jazz à la Villette' festival.

Image Credit: Hugo Herrera / Unsplash
Image Credit: Hugo Herrera / Unsplash

7. Marvel at the Fête Nationale Fireworks Display

Celebrated throughout France, July 14 commemorates the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution, symbolizing the end of absolute monarchy. In Paris, the events begins on the evening of July 13: in every district, popular balls are held inside fire stations. On the morning of the 14th, early risers can admire the military parade down the Champs-Elysées, with the Patrouille de France flying overhead. In the evening, don't miss the magnificent fireworks display at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, followed by a grand concert.

Image Credit: Grégoire Quemener / Unsplash
Image Credit: Grégoire Quemener / Unsplash

8. Go Bargain Hunting in the Open Air, From Books to Antiques

The return of fine weather means taking any opportunity for an outdoor stroll. The City of Paris regularly publishes a list of the city's best flea markets, but for lovers of antiques and vintage design the best place to go is the Puces de Saint-Ouen. It's the world's largest antiques and second-hand goods market, with no fewer than 11 different individual markets, and over 2,000 stands and stores spread over 7 hectares. Furniture, bronzes, lighting, tableware, jewelry, books, and archaeological pieces can all be found in the alleyways of this bohemian market born in 1885. Alternatively, sit on the terrace of a café and listen to a gypsy jazz concert. Another typically Parisian curiosity is the 'bouquinistes' on the quays of the Seine. Anchored on the right bank, from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre, and on the left bank, from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire, these booksellers sell vintage and second-hand books.

Image Credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash
Image Credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash

9. Experience an Outdoor Cinema

Many of the large Parisian parks offer cinema screenings under the stars for all or part of the summer, such as at the popular, family-friendly 'Festival de cinéma en plein air de La Villette'. For a more cutting-edge option, go for 'Festival Silhouette' in the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau-Rouge. There's also 'La Chaise et l'Ecran' in the 11th arrondissement, and 'Toile sous les étoiles' at the Château de Vincennes.

© Luca Tosti / Festival Silhouette
© Luca Tosti / Festival Silhouette

10. Rent a Boat On the Bassin de la Villette

With Marin d'Eau Douce, you can rent a boat without a license to cruise at your own pace. With friends, with family, or as a couple, taking the helm of your own boat is a wonderful way to unwind in the summer sunshine.

© Marin d'Eau Douce
© Marin d'Eau Douce

11. Taste the Best Ice Creams and Sorbets in Paris

Just a stone's throw from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica (at 16, place des Abbesses), Une Glace à Paris has had the brilliant idea of offering outdoor deckchairs. Here you can enjoy delicious sorbets and ice creams crafted by Emmanuel Ryon (Meilleur Ouvrier de France Glacier and World Pastry Champion) and Olivier Ménard. You can also take your cool treats away and explore the nearby streets of Montmartre. Another option, on Ile Saint Louis, is Berthillon, an institution that has reigned supreme since the 1950s. Its recipes are guaranteed to be free from colorants and preservatives, with a selection of over 90 flavors in total and around 40 of them available on the à la carte every day. Marron glacé, blackcurrant, mango, roasted pineapple with basil... whatever you choose, we're sure it will be delicious!

Raspberry 'snow granita' © Jade Genin
Raspberry 'snow granita' © Jade Genin

In summer, Jade Genin (daughter of the famous Parisian chocolatier Jacques Genin) offers an ice cream collection with two headliners: 'snow granitas' and ice creams. Her finely grated granitas have the texture of snow and are inspired by Japanese 'kakigoris', minus the syrups. Entirely plant-based, with no flavoring or additives of any kind, and no white sugar, they appeal to taste purists. As for the ice creams, they are made without turbines, using only premium ingredients like Tahitian vanilla and Bronte pistachio. The result? Intense flavors and an ultra-creamy texture! Visit their boutique at 33 avenue de l'Opéra, in the 2nd arrondissement.

12. Visit Paris's Best Museums for Free

Usually held at the beginning of July, the Nuit des Musées is a popular summer highlight in Paris. Admission to museums is free all night long, providing an opportunity to take advantage of special exhibitions, workshops and activities designed especially for the event. You can also sign up for a variety of guided tours.

Image Credit: The Free Birds / Unsplash
Image Credit: The Free Birds / Unsplash

13. Admire the 'Nuit aux Invalides' Sound and Light Show

From the first week of July to the last week of August, head for Les Invalides. Built in the 17th century, it's one of the most visited monuments in Paris and is famous for housing Napoleon's tomb. Every summer at nightfall, its courtyard hosts a splendid sound and light show with a variety of themes. Tickets can be booked online here: lanuitauxinvalides.fr/en.

© La Nuit aux Invalides
© La Nuit aux Invalides

14. Go Window Shopping to Take Advantage of the Sales

From the beginning of July to the end of August, the summer sales take place in Paris. You'll usually find discounts ranging from 30% to 70% off the original price; but by the end of August, some items can be up to 80% off. If you want to take advantage of your trip to Paris to raid the luxury brands, then Galeries Lafayette or Printemps (next to the Opéra Garnier) are well worth a visit for their beauty and rooftop views over Paris!

The garden at Cheval Blanc Paris © Yann Deret
The garden at Cheval Blanc Paris © Yann Deret

Hero Image: © jptinoco/iStock

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