Paris in May: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France

TripSavvy / Leopoldine Bauer

Words that comes to mind when we think of Paris during the month of May? Flourishing and buzzing come near the top of the list. Why? Well, the entire city feels a bit like a hyperactive hive, teeming with visitors, lush blossoms and activity. Tourist season is at its peak. Even the most blase locals seem in brighter moods, perhaps inspired by the infectious enthusiasm brought by out-of-towners.

If you're looking for a taste of the Paris you've seen portrayed in countless Hollywood films, then visiting at this time of year may be the perfect choice for you. If you dislike crowds and want some of the city to yourself, however, you may want to look into visiting at a quieter time.

Paris Weather in May: What to Expect?

You're likely wondering what the weather's likely to be like in May, and how to pack accordingly to prepare for the month's famously changeable conditions. It may be bright, sunny and warm out in the early morning, then windy, chilly and wet in the afternoon. Overall, temperatures creep up toward the genuinely warm, especially toward the end of the month. But you shouldn't expect summer-level warmth.

Average Temperatures & Rainfall:

  • Minimum temperature: 10 degrees C (50 degrees F)
  • Maximum temperature: 18 degrees C (64.4 degrees F)
  • Average temperature: 14 degrees C (57.2 degrees F)
  • Average rainfall: 56 millimeters (2.2 inches)

How to Pack for a May Trip?

May in the city of light generally has both brisk and warm days, with average temperatures at around 57 degrees F. You might want to pack clothes that you can layer in case an unusually cool or warm day sneaks up on you. Bring light cotton clothes for sunny days, but also pack warm socks and a spring coat.

  • It's not usually excessively wet in May, but sudden thunderstorms are common. Pack an umbrella just in case one of these surprises you during a stroll or picnic.
  • Bring both closed-toe and open-toe shoes, if possible. On hot days or excursions to the park you'll appreciate the open-toed pair, but you'll need a good, comfortable pair of walking shoes too, especially since visits to Paris usually involve lots of strolling — not to mention metro stairs.
  • Consider bringing lighter clothes such as t-shirts and skirts for warm weather; you should have ample opportunities to laze around outside, enjoying a spontaneous picnic by the Seine or hopping in a rowboat at the Bois de Boulogne

May Events and Activities in Paris

This is probably one of the best times of year to be in town if you enjoy outdoor events. From jazz festivals to tennis championships, there's plenty to keep you busy and enjoying the (hopefully clement) outdoors. Here are a few highlights we recommend.

  • May is a great time to enjoy the city's many beautiful parks and gardens. From the formal, dazzlingly laid out lanes of flowers and shrubbery at the Jardin des Tuileries to the romantic-style hills and artificial lakes of the Buttes-Chaumont, going green is always a good idea.
  • This is also an ideal time of year to explore the city with someone special, so be sure to check out our guide to the top romantic things to do in Paris.
  • Museum Night — As part of the global event of the same name, a huge number of Parisian museums will open their doors free of charge to visitors until late until the night. Special events and illuminations await in many of Paris' major museums, from the Louvre to the Centre PompidouThe next Museum Night event takes place on Friday, May 22nd, 2020.
  • Artists' Open House in Belleville Galleries — This annual event provides an exceptional opportunity to get to know some of Paris' contemporary artists and their work, as well as getting a glimpse of Parisian life from the inside. Nearly 250 artists open their doors to show off their work and spaces, daily from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm. In 2020, the event runs over a weekend in late May (precise dates have yet to be announced).
  • The French Open at Roland Garros — Tennis fans should not miss one of France's most exciting and important tournaments. Tennis greats like Steffi Graf made their debuts at Roland Garros, and the French Open continues to host some of the world's unforgettable matches. If you can't get your hands on tickets, don't despair: Paris City Hall (Metro: Hotel de Ville) often organizes free viewings of the major matches on a giant screen outside. In 2020, the French Open begins on Sunday, May 24th and closes on Sunday, June 7th.

May Travel Tips

As you've probably gathered, May has plenty going for it. However, there are also a few downsides and important things to keep in mind. Follow these tips to ensure your trip is as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

  • If you prefer your vacations largely free from the human swarm, this may not be the optimal time to visit. Conditions in museums and even in popular neighborhoods are often quite crowded, and you'll have to compete for entry into some of the city's more coveted attractions and to book restaurants in the best places. For a more low-key experience, consider visiting instead during low season (generally late October through early March). 
  • High season is in full bloom along with the flowers, and that, of course, means higher prices. You'll need to book well in advance and look for special deals to avoid paying more than you'd like to for flights, hotels and tours.
  • We highly recommend taking advantage of sunny days to get out of the city for a stretch. Fresh air, history, architecture and even gorgeous hiking trails await on these easy day trips from Paris.
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