Bastille Day in Paris
The highlight of the summer is Bastille Day on 14 July, with an event-packed programme. The programme for the national holiday, which falls on a Sunday in 2019, 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 July to September). In the Parc Rives de Seine, the riverbanks are turned into a beach, complete with sun loungers and palm trees, to create the feel of a seaside holiday. There are lots of activities for adults and children.
More info about Paris Plages
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. If you prefer classical music, head for the Parc Floral for the Classique au Vert festival August-September). 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 (July) !
The travelling festival Lollapalooza, which brings together a diverse mix of musical genres, is returning to Paris for the fourth time on 18 and 19 July. Fans can expect an electrifying line-up at the Paris Longchamp racecourse, with Billie Eilish and Pearl Jam as this edition’s lead acts.
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 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.
Theatre has its place in the sun too with Tréteaux Nomades, a travelling festival that comes to the Arènes des Montmartre, with performances in the purest tradition of commedia dell’arte and farce (from 21 August to 6 September 2020).
Full details of outdoor festivals in Paris
Summer offers visitors a last chance to see the year 2020’s major exhibitions. At the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Giorgio de Chirico. Metaphysical Painting exhibition is on until 13 July 2020, while the Musée d’Orsay’s retrospective of work by James Tissot (1836-1902) is on until 19 July 2020. Turner. Paintings and Watercolours from the Tate Collection can be admired at the Musée Jacquemart-André until 20 July 2020, while 26 July 2020 is the final day of the Man Ray and Fashion exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg.
The Music of Picasso is on at the Philharmonie de Paris until 16 August 2020, and Body and Soul. Italian Renaissance Sculptures from Donatello to Michelangelo at the Louvre until 17 August 2020. Révolutions at the Grande Halle de la Villette closes on 23 August, and Matisse at the Pompidou Centre on 31 August 2020.
Summer is also the time when Paris museums choose to place the spotlight on lesser-known artists and more unusual themes, such as The Golden Age of Danish Painting (1801-1864), on until 16 August 2020 at the Petit Palais, and Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946). Light and Solitude, on until 13 September at the Musée d’Orsay.
Fairs and trade shows
From 2 to 5 July, travel to the Land of the Rising Sun at Japan Expo, the biggest Japanese popular culture and leisure event in France. The 21th 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 18th year running. 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 in 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 in July.
For a 4rd 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 19 July after a gruelling three-week ride over 3,516 km. The 23st 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. There are not just several music festivals taking place in various parts of the capital, but summer concerts and shows too.
The 2019-2020 season’s closing concert at the Philharmonie de Paris will be worth seeing, as always (date and programme to be confirmed). The jazz guitarist and singer George Benson returns to the Olympia on 4 July 2020, while the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden will perform at Paris La Défense Arena on 11 July 2020.
A spectacular fireworks display with Marie-Antoinette as its theme makes for a great family outing to the gardens of the Château de Versailles at nightfall (2 to 10 July 2020). The historically-themed sound and light extravaganza La Nuit aux Invalides is back this year too (from 8 July to 29 August 2020). The programme features a new version of the show Lutetia: 3,000 years of stories in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Hôtel National des Invalides.
The Opéra National de Paris will wind up the season with stagings of three legendary operas: Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (until 12 July 2020) and La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini (until 13 July 2020) at the Opéra Bastille, and Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (until 13 July 2020) at the Palais Garnier.
Classical dance enthusiasts can look forward to a spectacular production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake performed – for the first time in Paris – by the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre at the Stade Jean Bouin on 3 and 4 July 2020. And Alexander Ekman is presenting Play, his first creation for the Paris Opera Ballet, at the Palais Garnier until 14 July 2020.