Top Summer Festivals in Paris

Music, Movies and More Outdoors

Summertime in Paris has gained a reputation for being a bit of an alternative reality, with its slowdown in business as usual and heady culture of long summer days and nights. One major part of that culture, of course, is summer festivals-- and in Paris there are a constant stream of these. From rock festivals and semi-improvised street music performances to open-air theatre and cinema, there's little excuse for remaining indoors during the clement months in Paris.

Without further ado, here are our picks for the most stimulating and entertaining summer festivals in the French capital. 

  • 01 of 08
    Sac Rock en Seine
    ••• Rock en Seine is Paris' most coveted summer rock festival. alung/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    This three-day rock festival takes place every year at the vast grassy expanse known as the Domaine National de St. Cloud just outside the city limits, attracting thousands of people, whether ardent fans or summer dabblers. You can buy tickets for all three days or for just one or two. Rock en Seine remains Paris' most coveted summer music festival.

    See more information on Rock en Seine 2017 (lineup, where to buy tickets...)

  • 02 of 08
    A performance at the Fete de la Musique
    ••• A performance at the Fete de la Musique. Ville de Paris

    La Fête de la Musique is a lively street music festival held every June 21st in Paris, and is one of the year's most popular events in the city of light. Hundreds of musicians gather in the streets, bars, and cafes of Paris, regaling crowds with free performances of everything from jazz and rock to hip-hop and electronic music.

    See more about the Fete de la Musique in Paris here

  • 03 of 08
    Sun and fun on the Seine: Paris Plages has become an institution.
    ••• Sun and fun on the Seine: Paris Plages has become an institution. Courtney Traub

    Launched back in 2002, Paris Beach (or "Paris Plages" in French) is a free summer event that transforms several spots in Paris into full-fledged beaches, each with a distinct theme. The brainchild of Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, well-known for launching ambitious municipal events, Paris Plage, which was initially criticized by some as costly and frivolous, has become a permanent fixture in the Parisian summertime scene. From sunning in the sand to swimming in pools suspended over the Seine, kayaking, or enjoying a free evening concert, Paris Plages offers activities that both kids and adults will enjoy.

    See More:

  • 04 of 08
    Bastille Day 2012
    ••• Bastille Day 2012. Berthold Trenkel / Getty Images

    Every July 14th, France celebrates its "Fete Nationale"-- Bastille Day, marking the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille prison. Today it's a cheerful affair comprising fireworks, firemen putting on campy shows at their stations, and more fun that's decidedly "a la francaise". Don't miss out on some of the year's liveliest festivities.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    The Quartier d'ete is another popular summer festival.
    ••• The Quartier d'ete is another popular summer festival. Courtesy of Paris Quartier d'Ete.

    The month-long Paris Summer Arts Festival overtakes the streets of the city with (mostly free) dance, music, theater, and circus performances from artists living and working around the globe. The 2017 Quartier d'Ete festival will run between July 17th and August 5th. Check back soon for program details.

  • 06 of 08
    Cinema at La Villette
    ••• Cinema at La Villette. Courtesy of Cinema en Plein Air-Parc de la Villette

    Every summer, Parisians traipse to the ultramodern Parc de la Villette in northern Paris with blankets and folding chairs to take advantage of celluloid in the breeze. The open-air cinema, or "cinéma en plein air", is generally free and hosts at least one show each evening for around a month in July and August, with a program chock full of both classics and recent hits. Many of the films are shown in English, too.

    Read More: 2017 Cinema en Plein Air Festival in Paris

  • 07 of 08

    Paris Jazz Festival at the Parc Floral

    Jazz performer Rita Marcotulli at the 2009 Paris Jazz Festival.
    ••• Jazz performer Rita Marcotulli at the 2009 Paris Jazz Festival. ©2008 Alain Alele. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

    Held at the picturesque "Floral Park" in the heart of the Bois de Vincennes wood east of Paris, the annual Paris Jazz Festival brings together noteworthy jazz musicians from around the world for two weeks worth of day and evening shows. Spectators tend to enjoy picnics on the lush lawn overlooking the stage. 

  • 08 of 08
    The verdant Bois de Boulogne is home to an annual Shakespeare festival in the open air.
    ••• The verdant Bois de Boulogne is home to an annual Shakespeare festival in the open air. Courtney Traub

    One way to get away from the urban grind of central Paris and indulge in some culture and fresh air is to visit the outdoor theater at the Jardin Shakespeare in Paris's verdant Bois de Boulogne (Boulogne Wood). Each year, generally starting in May and through late September or early October, the open-air theater hosts a slate of plays, dance and musical performances. The program, generally composed of classics from the Bard himself (sometimes in English) and French thespians like Molière, is always varied and generally includes at least one or two events-- such as dance and music programs-- suitable for kids.