Dabbling in Jet Lag
The best time to visit Paris is in the summer. It’s the official moment when the city awakens from its woeful winter slumber. The gardens are in full bloom, ready to welcome picnic-goers and nature lovers. Terraces are open and the borders of the Seine are full of locals sipping ice-cold beer while musicians and artists entertain onlookers. To say that Paris is alive in the summer would be an understatement. In fact, it’s been reported that some 11 million people visit Paris between the months of June and August alone. And while such a number might be deterring, it’s still my favorite time of the year.
So, what’s the best way to visit Paris in the summer?
After having lived in Paris as an expat, I know how to beat the heat, escape the crowds, and truly enjoy this magnificent city. And, to help you plan your trip, I’ve put together my favorite things to see and do in Paris this summer. It covers some of the main sites to help you get acquainted with the city as well as some hidden gems.
Table of Contents
- Best Things to Do in Paris in Summer Guide
- How to Get Around Paris in the Summer
- Why I Love Paris in Summer
Best Things to Do in Paris in Summer Guide
1. Wander Down the Most Beautiful Streets in Paris
I’m always on the lookout for undiscovered gems, especially in well-known cities like Paris. And, after years of exploring, I’ve found some of the most beautiful streets in Paris. Here you will find hanging gardens, colorful doorways, and solitude. If you are looking to get off-the-beaten-path, these streets are for you!
So, here are the most beautiful streets in Paris:
- Rue des Thermopyles
- Cité Bauer
- Villa Seurat
- Villa d’Alésai
- Rue du Moulin Vert
Closest Metro Station: Alésia (Line 4)
2. Explore the Open-air Street Art Gallery on Boulevard 13
Since its debut in 2009, the Boulevard Paris 13 open-air street art gallery has been attracting major urban artists from around the world. In fact, it offers one of the most impressive collections of street art in the city. Here you’ll see gigantic hand-painted murals on the sides of apartment complexes, buildings, and metro stations. And, as the name suggests, you can find this free open-air gallery in the 13th arrondissement. It’s not only a great outdoor activity to do in Paris, but it’s also away from the crowds. For a map detailing the location and description of each piece of artwork, click here.
Closest Metro Station: Nationale (Line 6)
3. Eat Aligot at L’Auberge Aveyronnaise
Aligot is a fondue-like dish that hails from the Aveyron department of France. It consists of cheese blended with mashed potatoes and a hint of garlic. It’s a mouthwatering indulgence that is an absolute must. And the best place to find this delicious dish in Paris is at L’Auberge Aveyronnaise. Not only is the food delicious here, but the ambiance in the restaurant is welcoming and friendly. It’s like you’re eating with friends and family. If you are hanging out near Bercy, you should stop by for lunch or dinner. You won’t regret it!
Address: 40 Rue Gabriel Lamé, 75012 Paris
Closest Metro Station: Bercy (Lines 6 and 14)
4. Visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica
Located in the heart of the highest district in Paris is the second most visited monument, the Sacré-Cœur. While it might seem like an average basilica, the Sacré-Cœur has both political and cultural significance. In 1870, after Napoleon’s army was defeated, the capital was overtaken. These unfortunate events were seen as punishment from God. So, to save the city, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica was constructed.
Entrance to the church is free, but there is a small fee to visit the dome and the crypt. I, personally, would recommend going at night. It’s less crowded and the views are spectacular.
Closest Metro Station: Anvers (Line 2)
5. Meander around Bercy Village
Looking for a break from the chaos? Then, Bercy Village is for you! It’s located in the 12th arrondissement, far from the main tourist attractions. Here you will find gardens, parks, and a fantastic outdoor shopping space with a range of boutiques and cafés. And, if you looking to escape the heat, it has an air-conditioned movie theater.
It’s the Champs-Elysée minus the big-name brands, expensive prices, and crowds. Shop until you drop or enjoy a cold beer on one of the many terraces.
Closest Metro Station: Bercy (Lines 6 and 14) or Cour Saint-Émilion (Line 14)
6. Visit the Louvre
It’s true that there is no shortage of museums in Paris. They are all It’s true that there is no shortage of museums in Paris. They are all spectacular and full of magnificent works of art. And, while it might be cliché, my favorite is the Louvre. Yes, it’s crowded and, yes, the lines are long. But it’s worth it! The Louvre is not only the largest art museum in the world, but it also houses one of the most iconic paintings – the Mona Lisa. Other masterpieces on display include Venus de Milo, inscriptions from the 2nd century, and relics from ancient civilizations. Tickets cost €17 and can be purchased online here.
- There are a lot of websites like GetYourGuide that claim to have deals for attractions like the Louvre. This is not an official ticket, use the museum website.
- The Louvre, along with many other museums in Paris, is free on the first Sunday of the month. For more information, check out free museums and monuments in Paris.
Closest Metro Station: There are several entry points depending on your ticket type. For detailed directions, visit the Louvre’s website: here.
7. Go Swimming at Aquaboulevard
Summers in Paris can be stifling! And what better way to escape the heat than by going for a swim? Aquaboulevard is an indoor-outdoor water park full of water slides, waterfalls, and wave pools. There’s even a wave box, where you can practice your surfing skills! And, for those looking for something quieter, they have a separate adult section. The water is a perfect 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit), and, with the sandy beaches, you’ll forget you’re in the capital of France!
Useful Tip: They have strict rules on attire. Carefully read their website so you are not forced to buy an overpriced swimsuit at the door!
Closest Metro Station: Balad (Line 8)
8. Picnic at Bois de Vincennes
When I need a breath of fresh air and want to escape the city, I go picnicking in Bois de Vincennes. This park is my personal sanctuary. It’s full of walking paths, biking trails, and gardens. Bois de Vincennes is also home to Parc Floral de Paris, Château Vincennes, the largest Buddha in Europe! If you are looking to spend a day away from the city center, then this is the place for you.
Closest Metro Stations:
Bois de Vincennes: Porte Dorée (Line 8)
Parc Floral de Paris and Château Vincennes: Château Vincennes (Line 1)
9. Experience a Beach-Like Atmosphere at Le Glaz’art
Le Glaz’art is a bar and concert venue in the 19th arrondissement. In the summer, the outdoor area is transformed into a sandy beach with lounge chairs. It’s the perfect place to relax, have a drink, and enjoy some good music. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest times, while Sunday afternoon is the quietest.
Closest Metro Station: Porte de la Villette (Line 7, Exit 4)
10. Spend a Day in Strasbourg
At the foot of the Vosges mountains, lies the every-quaint Strasbourg. Here you’ll find narrow cobblestoned streets dotted with cute half-timbered houses, hearty Alsatian food, and a city steeped in history. Not only that but its Notre Dame Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece that rivals the one in Paris. In fact, it towers over the entire region! So, why not step off-the-beaten-path and take a day trip to Strasbourg? Ideally, you would need three days in Strasbourg to experience all it has to offer. But one day will allow you to see the highlights and get a feel for this wonderful Alsacian village.
Getting there: Trains run regularly from Gare de l’Est and take two hours.
Closest Metro Station: Gare de L’Est (Lines 4, 5, and 7)
11. Take a Stroll in Parc de la Villette
Parc de la Villette was created to be a social environment. So, this is not your typical park. And, because its design focuses on enhancing the social experience, there is a mix of everything. From gardens and playgrounds to modern architecture and theaters, Parc de la Villette has it all!
There are also a variety of events that are held here throughout the year. For a complete list of activities visit La Villette.
Closest Metro Station: La Courneuve (Line 7)
12. Tour the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is a historic monument honoring all those who died for France in the Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars. And, beneath its vault, lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1. For an unencumbered view of this magnificent structure, visit early in the morning. The afternoon crowds from the Champs-Elysees can be suffocating. Tickets start at €13 and can be purchased online, here, or at the door.
Closest Metro Station: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (RER A) or George V (Line 1)
13. Dine at Il Capriccio
Saying that there are a lot of restaurants in Paris is an understatement. The streets are lined with so many options, it’s impossible to know which one to choose. And they all claim to be the ‘best.’ But, after living in Paris for three years, there’s only one restaurant that can claim this title – Il Capriccio. This Italian eatery is divine. The food bursts with flavor and, when paired with a glass of red wine, it’s to die for. Given how good this place is, you would expect to pay a lot, but that’s not the case. You won’t pay more than €15 for a three-course meal!
Address: 116 Boulevard de Charonne, 75020 Paris
Closest Metro Station: Alexandre Dumas (Line 2)
Useful Tip: If you’re considering moving abroad to France, this area around Il Capriccio is one of the best for expats.
14. Walk along La Coulée Verte
If you are looking for an escape from the busy and overcrowded streets, then check out La Coulée Verte. This 4.5-kilometer walkway was constructed from an old railway line that was decommissioned in 1969. It, now, sits above the 12th arrondissement offering beautiful views of the streets below. Even more impressive are the lush green gardens full of colorful flowers. It’s like an escape from the city without ever leaving!
Closest Metro Station: Gare de Lyon (Lines 1 and 14)
15. Go Zip-Lining at Accrocamp Adventure Park
If you are looking for the ultimate adventure, then Accrocamp Adventure Park is for you. There are rope bridges, climbing walls, and zip lines intertwined among the treetops. There is even a mini-bungee jump! On a hot summer day, it’s the perfect way to escape the heat while pretending to be Tarzan.
Even though Accrocamp Adventure Park is on the edge of Paris, it’s easily accessible. And I can’t recommend it enough!
Address: Parc Forestier de la Mare Adam – Route des Huit Bouteilles, 92370 Chaville
Closest Metro Station: Chaville – Vélizy (RER C)
Useful Tip: Paris’ transport system can be complicated for first-time visitors. See the section on Paris transportation below for more information.
16. Get Lost in the Père Lachaise Cemetery
As the largest and most visited cemetery in Paris, Père Lachaise is a must-see. Its cobblestone walkways are lined with intricately designed tombstones and mausoleums. And while it is a place of mourning, the sheer beauty can’t go unnoticed. There are several notable literary figures and artists buried here, including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and, of course, Edith Piaf.
Useful Tip: Remember that this is a cemetery. Please be respectful of those who are there to grieve.
Address: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris
Closest Metro Station: Père Lachaise (Line 2) or Gambetta (Line 3)
17. Enjoy the Views from the Montparnasse Tower
The best 360-panoramic view of Paris is, without a doubt, from the observation deck at the Montparnasse Tower. Built in the late-1900s on the old Montparnasse station, this tower has primarily served as a business center. And, until 2011, it was the tallest building in France, standing at 210 meters (689 ft). From the observation deck on the top floor, you can clearly see the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré-Cœur, and the Cathedral de Notre Dame. Tickets start at €15 for adults, and while it might seem expensive, you won’t get views like this anywhere else.
Address: 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris
Closest Metro Station: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe (Lines 4, 6, 12, and 13)
18. Discover Paris’ Abandoned Railway
La Petite Ceinture is a circular railway that was built in the mid-1800s. However, when Paris opened its metro system, the number of people using this passenger service dropped. And, in 1934, it was officially closed. Today, sections of the railway have been turned into walkways decorated with beautiful gardens. There are many access points, but the peaceful section is in the 15th arrondissement. This 1.5 kilometer (0.93 mile) stretch contains a vast array of flora and fauna that are indigenous to the area. It’s a wild garden that has been purposefully grown without human interference. It’s a magical setting that makes you feel like you’re in a scene from Frances Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden!
Address: 108 Rue Olivier de Serres, 75015 Paris
Closest Metro Station: Porte de Versailles (Line 12)
19. Visit the Eiffel Tower at Sunrise
Since its debut in 1889 at the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower has become a cultural icon of France. It’s even the most-visited paid monument in the world. So, it’s safe to say that the Eiffel Tower is a must-see in Paris.
The next question is: where is the best place to see the Iron Lady? My favorite spot to see the Eiffel Tower is at Trocadero at sunrise. Here you will have a perfect view and the entire place yourself.
Closest Metro Station: Trocadero (Line 6)
How to Get Around Paris in the Summer
The best way to get around Paris in the summer is to walk. It’s a great way to see the city and explore streets off-the-beaten-path. And when it’s sizzling hot with 100% humidity, you don’t want to be stuck on a non-air-conditioned bus or train. Believe me!
If you prefer to use public transportation, then the metro is the best option. It’s cheap, easy, and efficient. There are 16 metro lines in Paris, and the entrance is indicated by a large letter ‘M’. Tickets can be bought from inside the station at a kiosk and cost €1.90 each (€14.50 for 10 (‘un carnet’)).
Here is a complete map of the trains, buses, and metros in Paris. Remember trains and metros in Paris are considered different modes of transportation. Tickets for the metro don’t always include train stops. Make sure you purchase the ticket that corresponds to your desired destination.
Useful Tip: In general, the metro is very hot in the summer. Lines 1, 5, and 14 are the only ones with air conditioning.
Why I Love Paris in Summer
Paris holds a special place in my heart. It’s the place where I learned French, found my home away from home, and fell in love with France. In summer, Paris is full of life. The terraces are buzzing with people, the sun is almost always shining, and it’s the perfect time to have a picnic in one of the many parks. Even though I live in Strasbourg, I go back to Paris as often as I can. So, this list is made from my favorite things to see and do in Paris during the summer. Some are cliché and some are off-the-beaten-path, but, either way, I can guarantee you will have fun. Hopefully, this guide will inspire you and help you plan your next trip to the City of Lights!
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