In many ways, Paris in the summertime is the least Parisian of times in the city of lights. Since French people generally have several weeks of paid vacation a year, huge numbers of locals flee town for vacations in the South of France or elsewhere, and the influx of visitors turns the city into a perpetual Babel, with foreign languages heard just as frequently as French in metro cars or cafes.
The pace slows, the streets are calmer, the nights longer, and summer festivals and special events promise some fun days and nights out in the warm (or muggy) air.
Love It (The Pros)
Summer might not strike every traveler as the ideal time to visit, but for some, it'll strike all the right chords.
It's a prime time for festivals and great open-air events, and many of these, including the Paris Street Music Festival (Fete de la Musique), or the open-air cinema at the Villette park in the city's north, are entirely free.
Visitors rule the city during the summer. Paris is always geared toward tourists, who flock here in the millions year-round. But in the summer, since most Parisians are gone, you can truly enjoy the city on your own terms. Meeting people from around the world is another fun prospect, especially for student travelers who may be using the summer break to explore the city.
The atmosphere is relaxed and carefree, and opportunities for great nightlife in Paris abound. Sprawl out and have a picnic at one of Paris's elegant parks and gardens or along the banks of the Seine or have an all-nighter by hopping between some great Parisian nightclubs.
And Now, the Cons
It can be prohibitively expensive: A spike in airfares during peak season means reserving well ahead is a must (Look for a travel package and book direct via TripAdvisor). If you're taking the train, book tickets well ahead (Buy direct at Rail Europe).
It's not for the crowd-shy: Tourism peaks between May and early October most years in Paris, so you're going to have to accept having...erm, lots of company during your visits to Notre Dame Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower.
The metro is generally crowded, and often, hot and congested, so make sure to wear layers even if it's relatively cool out.
The weather can be erratic and unpredictable: Spells of rain or intense heat waves can ruin plans for outdoor activities, and extreme heat can be dangerous for elderly or young visitors. Make sure to bring lots of water with you on long excursions, and dress appropriately (again, I recommend layers to make sure you're prepared for sudden rain or heat spells).
What to Do?
Summer is festival season, and with the extra-long days and (generally) warm nights, you'll have no trouble finding things to keep your schedule full and exciting. Here are just a few ideas for what to do-- click through to explore these in detail:
- Boat tours of the Seine and Canals
- City walking tours
- Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris
- Top Summer Festivals in Paris
- Paris Plage (Paris Beach)
- Paris Gay Pride
- Open-Air Theatre at the Shakespeare Garden (Bois de Boulogne)
- Rock en Seine (3-day outdoor rock festival)
Month-by-Month Guides to Paris in the Summer:
- Paris in June Weather Outlook, Packing Guide, and Highlights
- Paris in July Weather Outlook, Packing Guide, and Highlights
- Paris in August Weather Outlook, Packing Guide, and Highlights
Book Your Summer Trip to the City of Light
As I said earlier, it's really crucial to book well ahead for a summer trip to the city of light, lest you get stuck with sky-high fares or hotel rooms that are only second-rate.