Sunshine warming the pavements, café terraces filing up … it’s summertime in Paris! A carefree atmosphere prevails, with tourists and residents alike enjoying the capital’s parks and outdoor activities. It’s the perfect time of year to spend the entire day strolling around exploring new districts, rediscovering the city – and enjoying the season’s not-to-miss events! In summertime Paris is livelier than ever, and there’s something to suit all tastes.
Summer officially kicks off with an annual must-see - the Fête de la musique. Every year on 21 June, amateur and professional musicians take up their quarters in streets, parks and even several museums to play free concerts for passers-by throughout the evening. Dancing is on the programme too, with beginner’s lessons offered to anyone who wants to give it a whirl. The celebration takes place in a laid-back, good-humoured atmosphere.
More info about the Fête de la musique
A similarly upbeat atmosphere marks the Marche des fiertés (i.e. Gay Pride) a few days later. This huge, colourful parade with live music is a great opportunity to get dancing to joyful electro tunes. It is both a festive and activist gathering to promote the visibility of the LGBT community. Featuring dances, floats and costumes, it rounds off the 15-day Quinzaine des Fiertés festival with its packed programme of discussions, screenings and parties open to all comers.
More info about the Gay Pride
Every summer, visitors and Parisians flock to major music festivals, many of them held outdoors, and always eagerly awaited. During Solidays, the tents go up at the Paris Longchamp racecourse for a three-day programme of concerts by highly talented bands, with all proceeds going to the fight against AIDS. Styles range from rap to pop and rock, as at the very popular Fnac Live Paris, a three-day festival held on the square outside the Hôtel de Ville, featuring 30-odd concerts by new bands. At the Parc de Saint-Cloud, Rock en Seine takes over the vast gardens designed by Le Nôtre. This three-day rock festival, held as sizzling summer draws to a close, pulls in nearly 110,000 spectators. Jazz fans head west of the city to enjoy free concerts at La Défense Jazz Festival, a week-long event in early summer when the esplanade of the business district is filled with the sounds of great jazz by some of the best current-day musicians. To the east, the creative Villette is home to the Festival Jazz à la Villette, where fans of Marcus Miller, Belmondo Quintet and Joshua Redman congregate when September rolls around.
More info about outdoor festivals
Opera too can be enjoyed in open-air settings during the Opéra en plein air festival held at the Domaine de Sceaux, the Château de Vincennes, the Hôtel national des Invalides and the Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. And, every Saturday in summertime, classical music fills the air in the gardens of the Château de Versailles during the enchanting Grandes Eaux Nocturnes featuring illuminated fountain displays and a dazzling fireworks show.
All summer events at the Château de Versailles
Bastille Day takes place in the heart of summer. This nationwide celebration brings the whole country together. Symbolizing the end of the monarchy, France’s national day is celebrated on 14 July each year.
The day’s festivities include public dances that people flock to, including the traditional firemen’s ball in Paris on the evening of 13 July. On the 14th, there is a military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and a fly-past by the French Air Force’s alpha jets in the morning, plus a dazzling fireworks display at the foot of the Eiffel Tower at night (with a different theme each year), followed by a spectacular concert. A not-to-miss event!
More info about 14 July celebrations in Paris
To enjoy the atmosphere of summer, have a pleasant family outing or switch off from the hurried pace of city life, grab a deckchair and settle down on a beach …. in Paris! The Paris Plages event transforms the capital into a makeshift beach along the city’s waterways. Cultural activities, beach games and supervised swimming are organized throughout the summer months to create a seaside atmosphere. Specially installed equipment and kiosks enable you to make the most of the sunny summer days: you can eat an ice cream, play boules or cool off under refreshing outdoor showers. It’s the perfect way to relax on the banks of the Seine and admire the beautiful views while soaking up the sunshine.
More info about Paris-Plages
On very hot days, an air-conditioned cinema hall can provide a pleasing escape. Every year in early summer, the Fête du cinéma offers an opportunity to watch movies at discounted prices over a few days: the perfect way to cool off inside a cinema while enjoying a good film.
Film fans also have a range of eagerly-awaited outdoor film festivals to choose from. Many Paris parks organize open-air screenings for part of or throughout the summer. The most popular one is the Festival de cinéma en plein air at La Villette, but there are outdoor screenings at events in other districts of the city too, like La Chaise et l’écran in the 11th arrondissement, Toile sous les étoiles at the Château de Vincennes and the Festival Silhouette at the Parc de la Butte du Chapeau-Rouge. Sit back and enjoy!
More info about outdoor cinemas in Paris
Funfairs are a source of endless amusement for children of all ages. In Paris, the Fête des Tuileries, held all summer long in one of the capital’s most beautiful parks, is a one-of-a-kind funfair, with thrilling attractions, activities for tiny tots, games of skill and much more. In short, all the best-loved fairground attractions in a setting like no other.
Another summertime option is the Fête du Bois de Boulogne. At the western end of Paris, in one of the city’s two woods, a 100-odd attractions are set up for a few weeks in summer to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. These include a Big Wheel, a hook-a-duck stall and a tilt-a-whirl, to name only a few. There’s something for everyone, whatever your age!
More info about family outings
A favourite pastime of Parisians is to sit down at a terrace to enjoy a drink with friends and watch the world go by. Every summer, terraces, rooftops and warehouse wastelands transformed into trendy spots open in various parts of the city for just a few weeks. These pop-up venues quickly become popular places to meet up and relax in the cool of the evening.
Our selection of summer terraces