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!
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.
Not to be missed under any circumstances, the 10th edition of the Gay Games will be held in Paris from 4 to 12 August. Each year, up to 15,000 competitors from more than 70 countries take part in this international competition open to all, whatever age, level or sex.
More information on the Gay Games
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. 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 5, 6 and 7 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. 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.
May is a month to savour with the week-long event Les Heures Heureuses, when foodie walks are organized throughout the city. It’s the ideal way to explore Paris neighbourhoods while sampling all manner of tasty delights. Ménilmontant in the 20th arrondissement, Clichy-Batignolles in the 17th, the Marais (3rd and 4th): don’t hesitate to join these gourmet walks, which offer a fantastic opportunity to sample a tasting menu featuring all the flavours of Paris. More than 280 restaurants will be creating bite-size delights for visitors to taste, for only 2 euros. If you’re a food lover, you’ll be in seventh heaven.
Full details of outdoor festivals in Paris
On the exhibition scene, summer marks the last weeks of the major exhibitions of 2017 and the start of key exhibitions for 2018. Visit the Parcours inaugural at the Musée Yves-Saint-Laurent (until 9 September), the exhibition Chagall - Malévitch - El Lissitzky at the Centre Pompidou (until 23 July), Kupka, a tribute to the father of abstraction, at the Grand Palais, or the exhibition on the masters of Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic Countries at the Musée d’Orsay.
Chris Marker takes us on his travels for several weeks at the Cinémathèque de Paris (29 July), Al Musica continues to spread the sound of Arab music at the Philharmonie de Paris (19 August), whilst at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, you can still learn all about Special Effects (19 August).
Fairs and trade shows
From 5 to 8 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.
The Nuit des étoiles, the big family fun event of the summer season is back for the 17th year running, from 3 to 5 August. This free event promises three nights packed with activities such as stargazing, introduction to astronomy and workshops. To give you a foretaste of a total eclipse of the moon, which will take place on 27 July in Paris! 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 29 July.
For a 3rd year, La Villette inflates with air. Europa kids features giant slides, a maze, climbing games, an inflatable village for children!
Join the crowds to watch the finish of the Tour de France! The cyclists will arrive in Paris on 29 July after a gruelling three-week ride over 3,516 km. The 22st and final stage of the race culminates in a sprint along the Champs-Elysées.
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. Ed Sheeran sets the Stade de France alight (6-7 July) and Iron Maiden will be on stage at the AccorHotels Arena (5 and 6 July).