In July and August, Paris puts on a host of open-air events to celebrate the sunniest, hottest months of the year. There are all kinds of ways to make the most of the long days and mild evenings. Our top tips for a Parisian summer: join the Bastille Day celebrations; relax on the ‘beach’ at Paris Plages; get geared up for the finish of the Tour de France, or go festival-hopping – here is a selection of the best.
Bastille Day in Paris
The highlight of the summer is Bastille Day on 14 July. The programme for the national holiday, which falls on a Thursday in 2016, is packed with events. In the morning the military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées takes place, heading down the ‘most beautiful avenue in the world’ all the way to Place de la Concorde. Cast your eyes skyward for the military flypast, always a thrilling spectacle. In the evening, it’s party time with the firemen’s balls held in a number of fire stations all over Paris Region. Some of the balls are held on the previous night, the 13th, so do check before going. The celebrations wind down with a bang between 11pm and 11.30pm, with a spectacular fireworks display set off from the Eiffel Tower - a brilliant way to end the day!
Paris gets into the festival vibe in summer, with an eclectic selection of events to suit all tastes. Music, cinema, theatre: take your pick of the summer festivals!
There is a wide choice of music festivals. For electronic music fans, there’s The Peacock Society Festival in the Parc Floral de Paris from 7 to 8 July and Les Siestes électroniques at the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac on 8 and 9 July. If you prefer classical music, head for the Parc Floral in August for the Classique au Vert festival. And rock fans can look forward to the now-legendary Rock en Seine festival, which takes place just outside Paris, in the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud. New this summer, the legendary US music festivalLollapalooza comes to France, taking place at the Longchamp racecourse on 22 and 23 July.
During the summer, Paris turns into a seaside resort and welcomes Paris Plages (from 8 July to 3 September). In the new Parc Rives de Seine, sun loungers and palm trees pop up along the quaysides to create a relaxing beach scene by the edge of the water. There are lots of activities for adults and children. But before going off to soak up the sun, take advantage of some thirty or so free (and outdoor) concerts at the Festival Fnac Live, on 6, 7 and 8 July!
The mild temperatures also bring the cinema out in the open air. If you want to see a film on the big screen, comfortably seated in a deckchair, don’t miss the fabulous Open Air Cinema Festival, which takes place from 20 July to 20 August at La Villette. The theme this year is cooking. Another summer film festival is Cinéma au clair de lune, organised by Le Forum des images. For this 17th edition (from 28 July to 13 August), make the most of free open-air screenings in various parts of the capital. Other film-related events worth the detour include the Festival Silhouette dedicated to short films and La Chaise et l’écran in the 11th arrondissement.
In summertime, theatre also goes outdoors! In mid-July, enjoy a cultural bonanza with Festival Paris l’Eté, a multidisciplinary event with theatre, music, dance, circus … The end of August marks the start of the Tréteaux Nomades, a travelling theatre festival that comes to the Arènes de Montmartre.
Full details of outdoor festivals in Paris
July sees the opening of an exhibition paying tribute to Christian Dior, the fashion designer who first set Paris alight in 1947, made his mark on the times and brought a dazzling, iconic, eternally French touch to the luxury sector. Experience the legend and step into the world of a virtuoso artist who could turn his hand to anything, close friend of the Surrealists, inspired gallerist, brilliant illustrator and designer. At the Musée des Arts Décoratifs from 5 July to 7 January 2018.
The Nuit des étoiles, the big family fun event of the summer season is back for the 17th year running, from 28 to 30 July. This free event promises three nights packed with activities such as stargazing, introduction to astronomy and workshops. Various venues in Paris and the surrounding region are involved in the operation, including the Tour Montparnasse, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace at Le Bourget. Grab your telescope and reach for the stars!
If you like fine vintage cars, don’t miss La Traversée de Paris Estivale, the biggest classic car gathering, which takes place in the heart of the capital on 30 July.
Join the crowds to watch the finish of the Tour de France! The cyclists will arrive in Paris on 23 July after a gruelling three-week ride over 3,516 km. The 21st and final stage of the race culminates in a sprint along the Champs-Elysées. Don’t miss this popular sporting event.
Wrestling enthusiasts are in for a treat in 2017 as Paris hosts the World Wrestling Championships at the Accorhotels Arena from 21 to 27 August.
From 6 to 13 July, travel to the Land of the Rising Sun at Japan Expo, the biggest Japanese popular culture and leisure event in France. The 18th edition of the fair will take place at the Parc des Expositions de Paris-Nord Villepinte.
In Paris in summer, music lovers are spoilt for choice! As well as the many music festivals held in the capital, many top-billing artists are in concert. Robbie Williams is at the Accorhotels Arena on 1 July. On the same evening, the legendary band Depeche Mode is at the Stade de France. The celebrated American singer Norah Jones plays the Dôme de Paris - Palais des Sports on 11 July, and last but by no means least, Coldplay is at the Stade de France on 15, 16 and 18 July.
Hurry and book your tickets as the majority of concerts are already sold out!