People flock to Paris during August to experience it at its “quietest.” They know that in this month they can partake in coffee or wine-sipping in cafés or explore popular sites where you usually have to compete with not only other tourists but the locals! A large percentage of Parisian residents hit the road themselves for their annual summer holidays (we discussed this for Paris in July as well).
Paris in August does offer plenty of Parisian-free zones that are ideal for tourists who favor the tranquility. There are all the Paris parks and gardens, open-air markets and events, museums, and charming streets where Parisians live rather than just work.
Summertime in Paris can be a little bit tricky because a lot of small businesses (coffee shops, grocery stores, and strangely, even some hotels) are closed. But Paris in August doesn’t mean Paris is completely empty! There’s a good chance you’ll find the city relaxing and quiet, open for exploration of all its hidden gems which may not have been quite as accessible as other times of the year.
One of the main benefits of Paris in August is that the museums and art galleries are open late into the evening so you can go see them after exploring the city all day. And since Parisians typically spend their summer holidays outside Paris, it’s your chance to explore the cuisine – and lively Parisian nightlife with little competition.
And Paris isn’t really Paris without its sophisticated Parisians. You may find yourself competing with them for a sunlit bench at your favorite park or café, but the locals are also the ones who keep Paris alive and vibrant year-round.
And although Paris is always worth a visit, Paris in August is enticing. Let’s explore some of the best things to do with your time in Paris during this mesmerizing time of year!
What can you do in Paris in August?
There are plenty of things to do outside when it’s nice out (parks, markets, events) or inside when it is too hot or at night when it cools down (museums, restaurants) This means that even if it is sweltering outside, there are plenty of things to do. There are a ton of music events and festivals and open-air cinemas. The museums and galleries are open late into the evening during summertime, so you can visit them late after a day of exploring elsewhere or walk off an early dinner.
Here is a list of the highlights.
Music Events and Festivals
- Paris Jazz Festival is a large festival held June through September in the Bois de Vincennes (more precisely the Esplanade Saint-Louis in front of the Château de Vincennes) in 12th Arrondissement.
- Les Arènes Lyriques is an open air concert in the Jardin des Arènes-de-Montmartre (25 Rue Chappe, 18th Arrondissement) with the Arena Orchestra and its lyrical voice choir, called Les Arènes Lyriques.
- Rock en Seine Festival [Canceled for 2021] is a 3-day rock music festival, held at Domaine National de Saint-Cloud just west of Paris.
Other Events, Festivals, and Experiences
- Liberation of Paris The Hôtel de Ville holds festivities and activities on August 25th honoring the ousting of German forces from Paris.
- Paris Quartier d’ete Festival. This event, also called the Paris Summer Arts Festival, begins in July and runs through August. It includes theater acts, dancing, and even circus performances. Entertainment is found all over the city.
- L’Été du Canal. Running July and August along the banks of Canal de l’Ourcq and Canal Saint-Denis this event is focused on family-friendly activities and gives you an opportunity to paddle on the water! Both canals are located in the 19th Arrondissement.
- Cinéma Paradiso Louvre. Every night during this open-air cinema event you can see a film for free plus pre-film musical entertainment in the Pyramide du Louvre courtyard.
- Parc de la Villette Open Air Cinema. You can enjoy a movie in the park from July 15 through August 16 as a part of this annual festival. There are art films, blockbusters and many films are in English. Many bring picnics to make the evening complete.
- The Jardin d’été in the Musée du Quai Branly (37 Quai Branly, 7th Arrondissement) has special summer activities.
- Paris Plage every July and August the city of Paris creates this artificial beach along the Seine.
- Check out one of the beautiful public pools in Paris like Piscine Pontoise in the 5th arrondissement (night swimming!), Piscine Josephine Baker in the 13th arrondissement (a pool ON the Seine!).
- La Beach Parisienne. Try out this NEW beach club at the Chalet du Lac Orée du Bois de Vincennes in the 12th Arrondiseement.
- Night at Les Invalides The Les Invalides is the monument where Napolean Bonaparte’s body is laid to rest. There is a light show every Saturday night during July and August.
- La Fete Foraine des Tuileries. Fete Foraine translates to “fun fair” and this one is a pop-up carnival in the Tuileries Garden that beginning at the end of June and running through the end of August. The fair includes a giant Ferris wheel, bumper cars, carousels, and rides.
Culinary Delights of August in Paris
Paris has a strong culinary tradition and is regarded as one of the best places to eat in the world today. Parisian cuisine is rich and varied, and that includes where you can eat too. The city is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world and that includes its bistros and brasseries, its street food as well as its haute cuisine. Paris is also a city that has evolved over the years (and still evolving, as illustrated in my friend Lindsey’s book The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement ), and Parisian food culture, in turn, has evolved too. Today Paris is full of different types of restaurants where you can enjoy contemporary French fare or more traditional Paris cuisine, which tends to be very seasonal.
A lot of restaurants are closed in August, but that will not prevent you from having fabulous meals! I recommend checking out my friend Meg’s Paris by Mouth site, she keeps real-time information on what is open and what is closed during the summer months!
What to eat in Paris in August
Eating seasonally is ingrained into the French DNA. Parisians take pride in their cuisine, and seasonal produce is a huge part of it. There are numerous markets and vendors that sell fruit and vegetables, as well as cheeses, and more throughout the city. Parisians enjoy experimenting with different types of foods from various regions. Parisians will go to extraordinary lengths in order to make sure they get the very best ingredients for their dishes, and seasonality is important as it ensures getting the freshest products available.
What you will find in season and in restaurants in August:
- Fruits in season: peaches (there are 300 varieties in France!) strawberries (Mara des bois), mirabelle plum, figs, nectarines, blackberries (mûres), blackcurrants (cassis), melons, pears, apples, apricots, and blueberries (myrtilles).
- Vegetables in season: beets (betterave), artichokes, cucumbers, broccoli, fennel (fenouil), oseille, carrots, chard (blette), onion, peas (petit pois), green beans (haricot vert), lentils, girolle and cèpe mushrooms, garlic [white (ail blanc), pink (ail rose) and new (ail nouveau)], red peppers (poivre rouge), potatoes, pumpkin, zuchinni (courgette), leek (poireau), frisée, radish, eggplant (aubergine), cauliflower, watercress, spinach, romanesco, lettuce and tomatoes.
- Seafood is in season: sea bream (daurade), anchovies, mackerel, haddock (aiglefin or eglefin), pollock (goberge), sardines, langoustine, red mullet (rouget), albacore tuna, mussels, herring, hake, and crab.
- Did you know that there are seasonal cheeses (fromages)? It’s true! Try St. Nectaire AOP from the Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal; Ossau-Iraty AOP (sheep cheese) from the southwest, or Langres from the Champagne region. This is the time of year to try enjoy soft rind cheeses such as Reblochon, Chaource, Brillat Savarin, Pont l’Evêque, and of course, Camembert. Also try Banon (goat’s milk), Bûchette, Boulette, Cabecou, Crottin de Chavignol, Epoisses, Fleur du maquis (from Coscia), Fourme d’Ambert, Fontina, Livarot, Maroilles, Roquefort, Saint-Marcellin, and Saint-Pierre.
Summer is a great time for salads. Try the salade niçoise for a nice seasonal treat. With both potatoes and herring in season, try the popular herring starter. The cold soup Vichyssoise (leek and potato) is great for warm weather. And ratatouille is a very common summer meal as well.
Also a note on what not to eat. Summer is not the best time for oysters, so I would avoid them in restaurants.
Save on food costs by visiting the local markets and shops.
Paris restaurants can be expensive, and while it’s worth splurging on one good meal, you don’t want to blow your entire travel budget just on food. Luckily, you can find a lot of treats at the local markets (here’s the etiquette). You can also ask the hotel staff or locals to recommend small cafes and bistros that they go to. This may save you from “tourist rates” and will definitely have good food. August is wonderful for picnics in the parks. Buy at the local market and head to one of the 9 ideal picnic spots in Paris.
Important tips to remember
A trip to Paris is wonderful but there are some tips to make it even better. Here are a few things to remember:
- Paris in August is not as crowded as other months because fewer locals are in town, but Paris still gets their share of visitors. For popular sites, you should still try to book in advance.
- It is high season for hotel rooms, so you will always need to plan ahead for everything.
- If you are going to be on the roads, the worst of the annual traffic jams takes place every year on the Saturday of the week when July turns to August.
- There is one national holiday in France, Assumption Day, so even if a store or restaurant isn’t closed for summer vacation, it will likely be closed on this day!
- Some restaurants and small stores may be closed for their annual vacation.
- With the good weather, you will be doing a lot of walking in Paris. Make sure to pack comfortable travel shoes. Resist the urge to bring flip-flops, they are a no-no. Plus the streets are dirty and the sidewalks aren’t any better, good luck with the dog poo and ugh dirty feet by the time you are done walking anywhere!
- It may be hot outside, but some of the metros are NOT air-conditioned so walking might actually be cooler.
- If you are staying in an Airbnb or similar, be warned that air-conditioning is not a given. You will only find AC in major hotels, stores, etc.
The Weather in Paris in August
Everyone wants to know this, but with all the changes in the world, it is so hard to predict a normal weather pattern! In general, the weather in Paris in August is pleasantly hot, not extremely hot. It can get muggy, with temperatures reaching into the 80s (28º C). It’s not unusual to see some showers.
What to Pack
It can be tough to pack for Paris in the summer. Paris is a typically very hot city which means you want to be cool when you are outside, but if you step into a museum or shopping center you may face chilly air-conditioning. And some restaurants and a lot of small stores likely don’t have A/C. So as always, my best advice for you is to pack layers.
I recommend packing summer clothes that are made from light material and won’t wrinkle easily when you pack them in your suitcase. I bring a light sweater and a few scarves; it’s Paris after all! Sunglasses and hats are a must. Resist the temptation to wear flip-flops, that won’t go over well. Shorts will be deeply frowned upon at some of the fancier restaurants.
Paris is a city of texture, so don’t be afraid to dress up your outfits with layers or accessories and that can be a fun thing to shop for too!
Read more suggestions in my What to Wear in Paris: Tips for Packing for Paris in the Summer (+ Packing List!) post.
Is August the best time to visit Paris?
Paris in August is a special time to visit Paris. It’s the perfect opportunity for people who prefer their vacations not to be as crowded or touristy. Paris in August means little competition for the best Parisian restaurants and their menu prices often include half-price bottles of wine. It’s also one of the last times before school starts when Parisians and Parisian-insiders take advantage of Paris itself.
You should definitely consider planning a trip during this month!
Have you ever visited Paris in August? What was your experience? Did you go to any events? Do share!
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