Planning a trip to Paris in May? You are in for a treat! May is one of the best months to visit the French capital and I've been there multiple times during this month of the year. Here's everything you need to know, including what to wear, what to eat, and what to do!
There is no better time to visit Paris than in May. The city is in a time of transition. It's like they are shaking off the gloominess of winter and the unpredictable weather and rainy days of early spring. The weather starts to be perfect with lots of sunny days that draw the French people into the city streets, for a glass of wine at a cafe or terrace, or for a picnic in one of the many beautiful parks or green spaces. Summer weather is just around the corner and there is plenty of sunshine.
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The crowds are minimal, which means you will get to enjoy all of the best things that Paris has to offer without feeling like you're being crushed by a crowd of people or facing long lines. The café terraces are open, and there's a strange mix of people with nowhere to go yet or if they do have someplace to go, they'd rather dawdle in the sun!
If you are looking for an escape from winter's chill, May is a great time to go. I have been to Paris during the month of May many times and except for a few gotchas which you can totally plan for it is an excellent time to go.
Why Visit Paris In May?
Everything from the weather to seasonal events and art makes a May trip to Paris a great vacation decision. In May, Paris is a bustling hub of life. Warm weather brings visitors to the city, the locals are out and about and flowers blossom brightly. The garden and parks are also bustling with life and the terraces are wide open.
Is Paris crowded in May? May is the tail end of the off-season in Paris, so while you will have more crowds than in March or April, it won't be as crowded as the summer months.
Paris always has its fair share of tourists, but the high season for tourism and summer crowds hasn't hit full speed yet, which starts to pick up in late May. That makes visiting all the touristy destinations much more pleasant, although there will still be lines at the more popular spots. Many of the tourist sites offer “skip-the-lines” passes for those who don't mind paying a little extra to avoid standing in line.
Paris in May Weather FAQs
The Weather in Paris in May
It is incredibly pleasant in Paris during May. It doesn't have the rain of early spring and hasn't yet moved into the summer heat which sometimes means hot days and extreme temperatures! The only weather downside in Paris during May is the chance of afternoon showers.
Temperatures for Paris in May are considered perfect with an average temperature of around 60 degrees during the day but the high temperature can get up to 80 degrees. The average lows at night hover around 57 degrees at night, so bring sweaters and a jacket to be comfortable.
Is Paris warm in May?
Average temperatures in May hover in the 60s, though they can get up to the 80s. Perfect weather for wandering and exploring!
Is Paris rainy in May?
On average, Paris sees about 2.6 inches of rain each May, spread over 10 or so days. Chances are most of your trip will be sunny but it's always good to be prepared with an umbrella and backup plans for a rainy day.
Special Events & Festivals In Paris In May
If culture, live music, outdoor events, and festivals are your things then a trip to France's capital will be just what you need this year. With so many exciting events happening on any given day, there are plenty of good ideas to choose from. Here are some key events to put on your itinerary.
European Museums Night (La Nuit des musées)
This event allows you to explore Parisian heritage sites for free, and it only takes place twice a year! For those of you who are interested in art history or European culture, this is an excellent opportunity! It takes place on the weekend closest to the 18th.
In 2023, this will be May 13th. European Museums stay open overnight as part of this annual tradition which started in 2005. The 18th of May was chosen because it's also Europe Day when people celebrate peace and unity across borders from both sides of World War II with celebrations including song festivals, theater performances, exhibitions, and more.
The French Open
This is an annual event held from May through June. In 2023, the grand slam tennis tournament dates are May 28 to June 11. The French Open is also called the Roland Garros and is the premier tennis event at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris. Tickets are extremely hard to come by but the good news is you can watch it in bars! (Here is a great Behind-the-Scenes tour of Roland Garros Stadium.)
The Grand Steeplechase
One of the most prestigious events in the horse racing world, this event is set for May 20 and 21 in 2023. It covers 6,000 meters and includes 23 obstacles to challenge both horse and rider. It is also known as the great Paris steeplechase.
Steeplechases have been in France since the mid-1800s with the Grand Steeplechase beginning in 1877. It is held at the Auteuil Hippodrome on Route des Lacs in the Bois de Boulogne in the 16th Arrondissement.
Festival Jazz a Saint Germain Des Pres
The Saint Germain des Prés Jazz Festival is a celebration of music and offers concerts by well-known artists in a beautiful atmosphere that is not always traditional to concerts.
For 2023, it is scheduled for May 10 through May 17. The event was created in 2001 and is located in the jazz center of Europe which is the infamous district of Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the 6th Arrondissement.
Villette Sonique Festival
The Villette Sonique Festival is a 15-year-old festival that is outdoors, free, and has a vast range of music to enjoy including jazz, post-punk, and rock. it's the right place to plan a picnic at the Parc de La Villette – Plein Air in the 19th Arrondissement. It is usually held the last week of May.
Printemps Des Rues
This street festival celebrates street art. It is along the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin in the areas of the 10th arrondissement, 18th arrondissement, and 19th Arrondissement. This festival includes performances of all types. All shows are free. 2023 dates are set for May 27 and 28.
Other Events/Seasonal Sensations
- May Day: If you are in Paris on May 1 buy some lilies of the valley for good luck. They are sold in sprigs, bouquets, or whole plants. May 1 is also known as Labor Day one of several public holidays so things will be closed.
- Foire de Paris – This home decor event takes place at the Grand Paris Expo at Porte de Versailles in the 15th Arrondissement. 2023 dates are April 27 to May 8. Paris has lots of great trade fairs, so always be on the lookout!
- Paris Jazz Festival: (moved to June for 2023) Originally known as the À fleur de Jazz because it is held at the Parc floral de Paris within the Bois de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement.
- Belleville Artists Open Studios is an art event with over 200 exhibitions throughout the Belleville neighborhood in the 20th Arrondissement. (This has been moved to June 1 to 2 for 2023.)
- FestiWall is a street art festival in the 19th Arrondissement along the Ourcq and Saint-Denis Canals.
- Yoga Festival (Le Yoga Festival Paris ) takes place Porte de la Villette Convention Center in the 19th Arrondissement.
- Livre Paris is a massive book fair that takes place towards the end of May at the Porte de Versailles in the 15th Arrondissement.
- Cinema and Espionage Exhibition at the La Cinémathèque Française in the 12th arrondissement. If you love spy movies this is the exhibition for you! Ends in May so you have the whole month if you are visiting Paris in April!
- Wisteria Bloom: Check out the wisteria in Montmartre in the 18th Arrondissement. These beautiful purple vines can only be seen for a few short weeks and smell heavenly! Besides Montmartre, the wisteria at the Grande Mosquée de Paris in the 5th Arrondissement shows up on Instagram a lot!
Paris in May Event FAQs
Is Paris Fashion Week in May?
Paris has 5 fashion weeks (Paris Fashion Week – Men Fall/Winter; Paris Fashion Week – Haute Couture; Paris Fashion Week – Women Fall/Winter; Paris Fashion Week – Men Spring/Summer; Paris Fashion Week – Women Spring/Summer) but none of them are in May. The closest is the Men – Spring Summer which is June 20-25 in 2023.
Is the Tour de France in May?
No. The famous bike race takes place from July 1-23 in 2023.
Is the Paris marathon in May?
No. The Paris marathon takes place in April.
More Things To Do In Paris in May
Besides the festivals and special events, May is a great time to do pretty much anything you would normally travel to Paris for. There is SO much to do in the city and you can see my suggestions for even more activities in my guide to Paris for the first time and things to do in Paris after your first trip. But here are some things that are especially lovely in May:
Get Your Photos of the Eiffel Tower
I personally don't think going to the actual tower is worth it but if you want your iconic photos, you will definitely have a better chance of getting them without hoards of people in May. Some of my favorite views are from the Batobus ( or a river cruise) and sunrise at the Trocadero.
This is also a good time to get photos of any other landmarks you want, like the Arc de Triomphe Sacre Coeur, or the Notre Dame Cathedral (which is still closed). Another great spot to capture Madame La Tour is Pont Neuf.
Best Spots Eiffel Tower Photos Ebook
Are you looking for the best spots to take a stunning Eiffel Tower photo in Paris? Look no further! This ebook is designed to be your one-stop guide for taking those breathtaking Eiffel Tower shots throughout the city.
Visit The Paris Museums
If the weather forecast calls for rain, wandering through museums is a great way to spend a rainy day in Paris. There are tons of museums to fit all interests in Paris including the famous Louvre Museum and the Orsay Museum (check out the 27 Van Gogh paintings they have at the Musée d'Orsay). Most museums offer skip-the-line advance tickets, which I do recommend buying.
Wander the Tuileries Gardens
The Tuileries Gardens are right next to the Louvre and it's one of the top free things to do in Paris. I love to wander and stroll through the gardens every time I visit – it's prime people-watching! And while they're beautiful year-round, I find them especially so in May. See my guide to the Tuileries Gardens for more.
Enjoy a Seine River Dinner Cruise
See the City of Light from a new perspective as you sail down the Seine. There are many options for Seine river cruises but a dinner cruise is particularly enjoyable, especially when the weather is mild.
A Few Things to Enjoy Outside of Paris
Palace of Versailles
This is a quick half-day trip from Paris if you start in the early morning. It is one of the best places to escape the hustle and bustle of Paris and spend time taking in a historical spot that shaped France. Visit the château and the gardens and get an idea of how the Sun King and his descendants lived, including the infamous Marie Antoinette!
- Versailles: Palace of Versailles Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
- Versailles: Skip-the-Line Tour of Palace with Gardens Access
- From Paris: Versailles Skip-the-Line Tour & Gardens Access
- From Paris: Versailles Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry
- From Paris: Palace of Versailles & Gardens w/ Transportation
Visit the Loire Valley
Home to stunning French châteaux (aka castles), the Loire Valley is a popular day trip from Paris. And May is the perfect time to do so, as everything has officially opened for the season, the gardens are in bloom, and the weather is not too cold or too hot. (Not to mention fewer crowds!)
- From Paris: Full-Day Loire Valley Chateaux Tour
- Paris: Loire Castles Day Trip by Coach With Wine Tasting
- From Paris: Small-Group Loire Valley Castles Full-Day Tour
May is a popular time to visit Disneyland Paris with the kids! Tickets are cheaper than in the U.S.! The park is 40 minutes by car or train (get the RER from the metro station) in Marne-la-Vallée Chessy.
- Disneyland Paris 1-Day Ticket
- Paris: Disneyland Paris 1-Day Flexible Ticket
- Paris: Disneyland Multi-Day Entry Ticket
- Paris: Disneyland Tickets and Shuttle Transport
- Paris: Disneyland Paris Ticket with Transfer from Paris
Culinary Delights of May in Paris
Besides all the wonderful events listed above, there is plenty of events to take in when it comes to food and beverage. May is the month with my favorite food festival, Taste of Paris. Here are the best ones.
- Bread Festival (Fête du Pain): This festival is scheduled for May 13 to 21, 2023. You know that time of year when the smell of fresh bread fills your nose and makes you hungry? Wait, what? That's not every day in Paris? Just kidding. Or maybe not. The Paris Bread Festival has live demonstrations and recipes for croissants, baguettes, and other treats alongside samples (yes!). The event used to take place at Parvis de Notre Dame, but since the fire, it now happens at Place Louis Lépine in the 4th Arrondissement.
- Taste of Paris: The biggest and best food (and wine) festival in Paris! Taste of Paris generally takes place in mid-May at the Grand Palais Éphémère in the 7th Arrondissement. Dates for 2023 are May 11 to 14.
- Paris Beer Festival: A festival dedicated to independent craft beer, currently scheduled for May 8 to 14, 2023.
What to eat in Paris in May
Eating in Paris any time of the year is good, but in May some of the produce is at its peak, which means you can get some really delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. Many restaurants offer seasonal menus so it is always good to know what is actually in season!
Paris has many tastes to experience, but during the spring there are some seasonal specialties. If you visit the marchés (farmer's market) you will see many of these items listed below.
- Fruits in season: cherries (cerises) especially Burlats from Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur available starting mid-May; strawberries (La Ciflorette, Cléry, Darselect, and Gariguette), passionfruit and rhubarb. Also available: lemons, limes, mangos, and pomelos.
- Vegetables in season: broccoli (including Romanesco), aubergines (eggplant), red and green cabbage (chou rouge and chou vert), fennel (fenouil), asparagus, cucumbers, cauliflower (chou fleur), artichokes (artichaut), new garlic, endives, peas, green beans (haricot vert), radishes (radis), shallots (échalote), dandelions (pissenlit), arugula (roquette), chard (blette), sorrel (oseille), carrots, watercress (cresson), and fava beans (fèves).
- Seafood is in season: trout and striped red mullet (rouget-barbet), also it's the beginning of sardine season.
- Did you know that there are seasonal cheeses (fromages)? It’s true! Beaufort AOP, a cow’s milk cheese from Savoie is especially good. There is also Banon (goat’s milk), Boulette, Cabecou, Crottin de Chavignol, Epoisses, Fontina, Livarot, Maroilles, Roquefort, Saint-Marcellin, and Saint-Pierre.
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 a local guide to recommend small cafes and bistros that they go to. This may save you from “tourist rates” and will definitely have good food. May is wonderful for picnics in the parks. Buy at the local market and head to one of the 9 ideal picnic spots in Paris.
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French Holidays in May
One thing to keep in mind when choosing your trip dates is that there are several holidays in France in May, including four national holidays where the French have the day off. That can definitely impact your visit!
Here are a few days to keep in mind:
- May Day (the 1st)
- Victory in Europe Day/Armistice Day (the 8th)
- Ascension Day Around (mid-May)
- Pentecost Day/Whit Sunday (the day moves it is generally anywhere from the 20th to the end of the month)
- Whit Monday
Besides the “regular” national holidays the tail end of Easter/Spring holidays where the children do not return until the first week of May (generally). Account for French families being on holiday too for flights, trains, and restaurants.
And lastly, French Mother's Day is the last Sunday of May so the parks may get crowded. Restaurants will be crowded ALL day.
Important Tips for Visiting Paris in May
Visiting Paris is an exciting experience but there are things you can do to make sure you avoid glitches.
- Be aware of transportation strikes. For many of the Mays I have been in Paris, there have been transportation strikes which can impact you moving about the city and the country!
- Book your attractions early. While it isn't the height of the tourism season, there are still visitors and crowds. Booking early ensures you get into the attractions that truly interest you. Try out any skip-the-line options to avoid long waits. It is worth the money.
- Book in advance. May is not a month you can generally book a spur-of-the-moment trip! You should book in advance. Watch for deals on flights, hotels, and tours.
- Ask about rain dates. It does rain in Paris in May! While most tours carry on regardless of weather, some are best enjoyed under clear skies so ask if you can get a rain check in case of rain.
- Don't go to restaurants in heavily touristy areas. True for any time of year, but with all those May holidays, it will be even harder.
- Learn some basic French. You know how I feel about “Bonjour!”
Okay. This is not unusual for France in general, especially during the months of May and October. But this year, there is an extra round of strikes around France's retirement pension reform that began in February and will continue throughout the spring which will impact your trip to Paris.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Most of the time strikes = transportation issues.
- That means the metro (RER), trains (SNCF and RER), buses (RER), and sometimes taxis too.
- Make sure your airport transfer is secured well in advance of any possible transit strikes. By pre-booking an airport transfer, you won't be stuck without transport and the hotel will take care of providing updates concerning delays or disruptions that may occur.
- One thing I do is head to the CDG area the night before my flight so that any possible delays will not force me to miss my flight. I love the Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel but have also stayed at the Paris Marriott Charles de Gaulle Airport Hotel and citizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
- For air travel, 95% of the time international flights are not impacted. However, as soon as you arrive in France, you may have issues if you have inner-France connections to other French airports.
- BUT you may have trouble getting to the airport on the day of a strike. Taxis will not be able to get through demonstrations at the airport and will drop you off in inconvenient locations and you will have to walk! My best advice is to ask the taxi driver to drop you off at ibis Paris CDG Airport it is a 5-minute covered walk to Terminal 3. Or the citizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
- Before heading out of your hotel check in with the front desk or concierge. They usually know where and when protests are planned. You do not want to be inadvertently swept up into a demonstration.
- Avoid the large public areas called “Places”, especially around Place de la Republique, Place de la Bastille, Place d'Italie, and Place de la Concorde.
- Tune into France24 online. It is in English and can help you keep track of what is going on in real time. Also, try Gov.uk.
- Download the Citymapper app for the latest transportation updates. This savvy app will keep you up-to-date on train and transit info, providing alternative routes when necessary.
What Pack for A Trip to Paris in May
The first thing people ask me is: What should I wear in Paris in May? My answer is always: layers! You'll likely be chilly in the morning and evening but warm during the day, so dress in layers you can easily remove. See below for my full guide to what to pack for Paris in May.
Paris is a city that attracts travelers from all over the world. It's one of the most popular destinations, and for good reason- there are so many things to see and do! You can spend days in Paris without even starting to scratch the surface.
Whether you are coming for a weekend or a week, it's important to pack wisely. Paris is a city known for its fashion, and the people of Paris are usually dressed to impress. But what about you? What should you pack when traveling to Paris in May?
While the weather is not as temperamental as in April, layers are always your best option. Bring a light jacket (great if it is also waterproof if it rains). I am a big fan of scarves or pashminas which have multiple functions.
It will likely be sunny, so don't forget sunglasses and maybe a hat ( a nice one not a baseball hat!).
Always pack comfortable walking shoes and socks, as wearing heels in the city can be tiring. If you're planning on doing any shopping, a pair of flats will come in handy!
When it comes to bags, it's important to pack light since you will likely be carrying your bag for most of the day. A cross-body tote is perfect for this type of trip, as it can easily go from daytime outfit to nighttime attire and still look fashionable. I always bring foldable bags of various sizes for shopping and food.
For more tips and a packing list, check out my post on what to wear in Paris in spring!
Why is May the best time to visit Paris?
If you have your heart set on visiting Paris, May is one of the best times to visit. Visiting in May offers many events and activities, great weather to enjoy, and fewer crowds to contend with at attractions. Paris weather in May means mild temperatures that make for excellent walking or biking tours and the cool evenings are a great addition to wine, food, and music. You cannot go wrong with Paris at this time of year!
Is April or May better for Paris? April in Paris is very similar to May in Paris, though the weather is a bit chillier with more rain. It's also a little less crowded. It's really up to your schedule and weather preferences, as well as what you want to do!
Have you ever visited Paris in May? What was your experience? Did you go to any events? Do share!
I am married to a French man, lived in France for 3 years, and have been to Paris more than 50 times. I am always a tourist so the information, tip, and tricks I share are created to help you!
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- Look for fares using sites like Skyscanner or Expedia.com.
- For France (Paris) coming from the West Coast, I typically fly Air France or United. From the East Coast, I typically fly Air France or Delta.
- If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. Not only will you have a spot to relax before your flight and charge your devices, but you can eat and drink for free (without paying crazy airport prices!)
- I use Expedia.com, Booking.com, and Hotels.com to find lodging. Always check the reviews on TripAdvisor before booking!
- For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. When traveling in Europe, I use AutoEurope to make reservations. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. I typically book with Sixt.
- For transportation from the CDG airport to anywhere within Paris, consider pre-booking with Get Transfer. It is one way to be stress-free and you can request an English-speaking driver.
- Tours + Atractions
- I book tours with companies like Viator and GetYourGuide. Both have a wide variety of activities for every travel style. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
- If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City.
- Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities.
- If you are looking to buy tickets to attractions, check out Tiquet.
- Don't Forget Travel Photos
- One of my favorite things to do is to get photos taken of me while on vacation. Flytographer is a great option with photographers all over the world.
- Peace of Mind
- It’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. I always travel with insurance and would recommend SafetyWing, SquareMouth or Travelex Insurance are good options.
- Should you have any trouble with flight delays to the extent you feel you deserve compensation, I encourage you to check out and use AirHelp. I used them and for 1 claim I got compensated (transparency: a 2nd claim did not, but I was still glad I tried!).