Riverside beaches, outdoor movies, and ice cream. Savor the oh-so-sweet side of the City of Light.
Visitors to Paris in August get a rare glimpse of the French capital in summer mode, as the pace of life goes from hustle and bustle to delicious leisurely lull. Every year around this time, the French embrace the time-honored tradition of the congé annuel (annual holiday) and shift into vacation gear. Many head out of town, leaving behind a city that lends particularly well to quiet delights and summertime exploration. There is even vocabulary unique to this phenomenon: people who leave in July are Juilletistes (jou-way-teest) and those who leave in August are Aoûtiens (A-oo-sien).
If Paris is in your summer plans, consider yourself a true Juilletiste or Aoûtien!
Smaller businesses and boutiques hang signs announcing their annual closures, but plenty of shops and restaurants remain open, and for once you won’t have to book weeks in advance for a table. Local businesses stagger their annual closures and by law, at least one bakery must remain open in every neighborhood. The French take their bread very seriously.
Paris’ museums and monuments all remain open, and visitors can also take advantage of exceptional cultural offerings, which include outdoor movies and sandy beaches. Mais oui, beaches! From July 20th to August 16th, the right bank of the Seine becomes an impromptu plage (beach) complete with umbrellas, sand, sprinklers and beach chairs. This year, this free, family-friendly activity is bigger and better than ever, with 3.5 kilometers of festive “beach front” along the Seine and canals. For an easy-to-use Paris Plages map, check out the official webpage here.
For the second year running, the Louvre is also getting in on the Paris Plages action with a special exhibition on the Nile. Find the Louvre installation — featuring a giant blue hippopotamus — from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm (open until 8:00 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays) on the Niles’s – oops, we mean Seine’s – right bank, nestled between the Pont Neuf and the Pont des Arts bridges. And what better complement to this excursion than booking our exciting new family tour, A Nile Family Voyage at the Louvre. This two-hour journey through the Louvre’s unforgettable ancient Egyptian collection is specially designed for families with children ages 6 – 12.
Cinephiles, meanwhile, can join the locals and catch a free film at the Parc de la Villette‘s annual outdoor movie festival from July 22 to August 23. This sprawling verdant park in Paris’ northeast district also boasts grassy lawns for picnics and scenic vistas of the canal. This year’s movie offerings include Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (Aug 15), Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (Aug 23), and more. Movies are shown in their original language (vo, version originale) and subtitled in French.
Finally, to beat the heat, embrace the French past time of sipping a leisurely apéritif at an outdoor café, or indulge in an ice cream or gelato. Three of our favorite stops are Gelati d’Alberto on the historic Rue Moufftard in the 5th district, the famous Berthillon ice cream shop on the picturesque Île Saint-Louis, and Scaramouche in Paris’ charming Montmartre neighborhood.
Wherever your summer travels take you, Paris Muse wishes you bonnes vacances!