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Paris in July

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Paris inJuly is a great time to visit Paris France. Why? The weather is warm, the locals are [generally] in a good mood, and on top of the endless things to do year-round, there are also plenty of extra things to do outdoors. My very first visit to Paris was in July, July 12-15th, 1989 to be precise. My parents and sister were living in Madrid while I was just finishing my first year of college in the San Francisco Bay Area. I flew to Madrid for the summer and we did a giant European road trip which included Paris, just in time for the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day. We checked all the boxes that trip: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, and everywhere in between. Sadly, I do not remember a thing I ate which is very unusual for a foodie. I was too busy falling in love with Paris and donning my new moniker, francophile!

Photos from my Paris Trip in July 1989

Paris in July is special. You can enjoy all that makes this city so eternally loved from cafés in which philosophers like Sartre used to drink coffee with their friends to strolls alongside the Seine, to the streets where French-style still reigns supreme. Paris’s main tourism season runs from April through August with July being a peak month for visitors. So be prepared. There are crowds but careful planning will help you avoid lines. The locals are more relaxed and happier during this month because a lot of them are on their summer vacation too! Those that stay in Paris will be more willing to have conversations with you, offer advice about Parisian life, or even invite you into their homes for a drink (unless they are grumpy about not being able to leave the city).

In June of 1936, a law was passed that gave every salaried employee two weeks of paid leave, France was the first European country to do this! So a few weeks later when August 1st rolled around, all eligible employees were off for their first ever holidays, “les grandes vacances.”  In 1950s France, a third week of vacation was added. Automobiles were now more common, so the French jumped in their cars and got exploring mostly to the South (also the time when the original Michelin guide gained popularity to direct motorists to great eating as they traveled around the country). This led to mass tourism which then led to mass traffic jams! By the 1960s a four was added, a fifth in the 1980s, and continued to build to the current 8 weeks (that is not counting holidays too!). 

As holidays grew longer, companies had to deal with juggling their employee’s time off, so they gave their workers a choice: July or August. “juilletistes” are those who take their vacation in July, and “aoûtiens” are those who take their vacation in August. Many Parisians choose to stay in town in July because there is still a lot happening in the city, others like to get the heck out of dodge! Either way, there are fewer locals, but more tourists.

This is Paris in July and it’s a lovely time to explore!

What can you do in Paris in July?

In short? A lot! The days are LONG in July so you can pack in plenty. Paris in July is cool because it’s a time when the city takes on its “summer persona”. It becomes more animated with outdoor concerts, festivals, and events that last until late at night. So many events are planned during this month that your head will spin with choices! I am sharing some of the major ones below. Make sure to get out to all the gardens, have a drink on a terrace or rooftop bar, take time to enjoy in between seeing all the sites!

Bastille Day in Paris

Bastille Day

Bastille Day is the largest summer holiday in France so Paris celebrates it on a grand scale. It is the 14th of July and celebrates the French Revolution when the Bastille prison was taken over and some unfortunate royals lost their heads…Le 14 Juillet (Bastille Day) is a full day of military parades, ceremonies, and flyovers. The parade is the oldest and largest military parade in Europe held on the Champs-Élysées in front of the President with other French officials and foreign guests.

Besides the parades, there are free activities and concerts throughout the city. It is a day for eating outside, a lot of Parisians picnic (here are 9 great spots to picnic in Paris) with wine, charcuterie, and frivolity. The day ends with a massive fireworks display. If that doesn’t dazzle you enough and you want to fully experience the day, then attend a Fireman’s Balls (Bals des Pompiers) on July 13 or on Bastille Day. Each fire station in Paris has Fireman’s Balls where visitors can attend. It’s an open house that includes music, beer or champagne, and lots of dancing.

saxophone played outside

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.
  • Lollapalooza Paris is a 2-day rock and pop music festival held at the Hippodrome ParisLongchamp (2 Route des Tribunes) in the 16th Arrondissement.
  • Festival Days Off is an alternative music festival held at La Philharmonie de Paris (221 Avenue Jean-Jaurès) in the 19th Arrondissement.
  • Beau Festival is a very small music festival with an eclectic mixture of music: folk, jazz, soul, etc. and is held at La Station Gare Des Mines (29 Avenue de la Porte d’Aubervilliers) in the 18th Arrondissement.
  • The Peacock Society Festival (held in Sept for 2021, should move back to July in 2022) is an electronic music festival that takes place just outside Paris in Creteil (at the Parc Interdépartemental des Sports Paris Val de Marne, Chemin des Bœufs, Creteil France 94000).

bikes racing on a street

Other Events, Festivals, and Experiences

  • Tour de France Finish. Each year cyclists end their 2,000-mile journey by completing the last section of this famous race down Parisian streets to cross the finish line at Champs Elysees. Be sure to claim your spot early to watch the race. Be aware that some metro stations are typically closed during the afternoon as the race ends.
  • Carnaval Tropical de Paris. The fun and colorful event happens on July 4 as the city celebrates more than 30 overseas countries with Caribbean music, dancing, and costumes. 
  • 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.
  • Les Nuits de Fourvière. Check out the Les Nuits de Fourvière (a series of concerts on Sundays) with more than 700 events, including opera performances, music sessions, DJs’ sets to name but just a few! The series generally takes place throughout the months of both June and July.
  • La Nuit des Musées (Night of the Museums). A single night in July (throughout Europe, not just Paris) where many museums and monuments are open and free of charge. There are also workshops, guided tours, musical performances that take place in the museums.
  • 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 (in the 1st Arrondissement) 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.
  • 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.
  • Japan Expo. (returning in 2022) A 4-day event dedicated to all things Japanese. Held at the Paris Nord Villepinte event center just outside Paris (82 avenue des Nations, Villepinte France 93420).
  • Paris Fashion Week/Haute Couture Fashion Week. An event that always creates a buzz around Paris. For 4 days in July, Paris fashion houses show the world their latest designs. Those who don’t have invitations to the prime events can catch glimpses of models in the 8th arrondissement, near the Branly Museum, and in the trendier neighborhoods like the Marais neighborhood.
  • Summer Sales! Lastly, the soldes d’été continue! This is one of the two annual sales seasons allowed. There will be sales everywhere and on literally everything! 
Paris Plage

A rare empty chair at Paris Plage in the morning.

Culinary Delights of July in Paris

Paris is known for food with 1,800 pastry shops, more than 9,000 restaurants, and farmer’s markets. And while there aren’t any Parisian food festivals in July, there are food tours that will make your stomach happy! The tours are given by experts in local culture and allow you to stop at different eateries to taste small meals. Check out my favs: Paris By Mouth and Context Travel. If it is really hot, you could also get inside and learn how to make those yummy macarons and delicious croissants at La Cuisine Paris, I had so much fun doing a bread baking class there!

What to eat in Paris in July

Ice cream should most definitely be on your list of things to eat while visiting Paris in July! The French have a different twist on ice cream, preferring elegant portions of this very refined treat. They’re not used to the jumbo-sized scoops of fluorescent-colored nondairy products that Americans are so fond of. Ice cream or crème glacée or glace is phenomenal in Paris!

Closeup of parasol in glacier terrace at vosges square in Paris

What you will find in season and in restaurants in July:

  • Fruits in season: strawberries (La Ciflorette, Mara des bois) the last of the cherries (cerises), red currants (groseille), raspberries (framboise), figs, peaches, melons, nectarines, blackberries (mûres), blackcurrants (cassis), watermelon (pasteque), and blueberries (myrtilles). Grapes may just be starting to arrive depending on the weather for the season.
  • Vegetables in season: asparagus, beets (betterave), artichokes, romanesco, corn (mais), cucumbers, broccoli, fennel (fenouil), oseille, carrots, chou rave, chard (blette), onion, peas (petit pois), green beans (haricot vert), lettuce, garlic [white (ail blanc), pink (ail rose) and new (ail nouveau)], shallots, beans (fèves), red peppers (poivre rouge), potatoes, girolle mushrooms, zuchinni (courgette), leek (poireau), radish, eggplant (aubergine) and tomatoes.
  • Seafood is in season: sea bream (daurade), lobster, mackerel, haddock (aiglefin or eglefin), pollock (goberge), sardines, clams (palourde varietal), dab (limande), red mullet (rouget), albacore tuna, mussels, and crab. Crab is king in July!
  • Did you know that there are seasonal cheeses (fromages)? It’s true! Try Beaufort Summer AOP from the mountains of Savoie and Haute-Savoie; Maroilles from the north of France, Laguiole cheese from Aubrac, or from Corsica Fiumorbu (or Fiumorbo) cheese. This is the time of year to try enjoy soft rind cheeses such as St. Nectaire, Reblochon, Chaource, Brillat Savarin, Pont l’Evêque, and of course, Camembert.

Summer is a great time for salads. Try the salade niçoise for a nice seasonal treat. The cold soup Vichyssoise (leek and potato) is great for warm weather. And ratatouille is a very common summer meal as well.

salade niçoise

Salade niçoise.

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. July is wonderful for picnics in the parks. Buy at the local market and head to one of the 9 ideal picnic spots in Paris.

illustration of a girl having a picnic

Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.

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: 

  • Between the 2 months of July in August, July is cheaper for hotel rooms. It is still high season, 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.
  • Some restaurants and small stores may be closed for their annual vacation.
  • If you plan on participating in the summer sales, you might think about bringing a second bag or suitcase. Make sure you keep your receipts and think about de-taxing (‘Détaxe’ tax refund and duty-free) at the airport or at large department stores (BHV Marais, Bon Marché Rive Gauche, Galeries Lafayette, and Printemps Haussmann) where they have specific counters set-up. If you live outside the EU and want to take the time to complete the paperwork and wait, you can have VAT deducted from the purchases. Here is a great article on the topic.
  • 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.
  • It will be crowded. Book museums, tours, and restaurants in advance!

people walking on the Champs-Élysées

What to Pack

The weather will (usually) be warm but not overly hot so you can enjoy outdoor activities without being miserable in your own sweat! Paris sees mostly sun in July and it doesn’t have much humidity. Winds are light so it is one of the best times to visit. Lighter cotton clothing that you can throw a sweater or scarf over is recommended. Linen and cotton as opposed to denim would be smart choices for fabrics. 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.

white pants striped shirt laying on floor

Read more suggestions in my What to Wear in Paris: Tips for Packing for Paris in the Summer (+ Packing List!) post.

Is July the best time to visit Paris?

Paris is a destination city so it is always a pleasure to visit but July is special because of all the holidays, festivals, and events that are held all over the city. It is vibrant with music, fireworks, and parties during the peak of summer, so it’s a great time to pack your bags and head to the city of light and love. If it is your first time to Paris, check out this guide, or the second, I’ve got you covered too!

Have you ever visited Paris in July? What was your experience? Did you go to any events? Do share!

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boy crossing the street in Paris bike leaning against a story in Paris people sitting under an umbrella along the Seine in Paris

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