Parisians sitting at exterior cafe tables
Ian Packham

5 reasons to visit Paris in July

The mass exodus of Parisians keen to head south to the shores of the French Riviera begins in July, which seems a little like Monet putting down his paintbrushes in favor of some gardening. Why? Because July is one of the best times of year to visit Paris.

Paris in July experiences wonderful summer temperatures of around 23°C, and also hosts some of France’s top annual events. Intrigued? You should be! Here’s 5 very good reasons to visit Paris in July.

1. Bastille Day celebrations

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Better known in Paris as Le Fête Nationale (National Celebration) and Le Quatorze Juillet (July 14) Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison. Taking place on July 14 1789, it kicked off the French Revolution.

Little remains of the prison itself, except for a star-shaped outline on the sidewalks of Place de la Bastille. However, as France’s national day, it’s far from forgotten. The main event is a military parade – the largest in Europe. This makes its way along the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.

Attended by the French President and notable guests – most famously US President Donald Trump – it ends with a magnificent fly past by the Patrouille de France aerobatics team. For more on them, head to the Museum of Air and Space. The attention then turns to the Eiffel Tower.

Constructed to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the base of the Eiffel Tower is the location of a major concert. As darkness falls, the biggest fireworks display of the Paris year erupts around the tower. Whilst that’s enough for many, the celebrations continue all night long at the central fire stations of each of the 20 arrondissements (districts), which fling open their doors to the public.

2. Museums by night

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Part of the European Night of Museums extravaganza, Paris’s Nuit des Musées (Museums Night) sees many of the city’s much-loved collections offering free after hours opening. Guests can explore their treasures and take part in special events including workshops. Just some of those which take part are the Picasso Museum and the Museum of Arab History.

But if you miss this one-night-only event there are several other options for exploring Paris’s landmark attractions after dark. Nights at Les Invalides combines an immersive sound and light show with the chance to explore Napoleon Bonaparte’s burial place on the banks of the Seine by candlelight.

Alternatively, you could turn to the Palace of Versailles gardens on Saturday evenings throughout July. Specially lit for the occasion, music drifts around the groves and fountains before the sky erupts into a sea of fireworks.

3. Make the most of the good weather

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With glorious July sun and warm evenings pretty much on tap, there’s plenty of reason to linger in Paris’s public outdoor spaces. Take a Bateaux Parisiens Seine river cruise and you might be surprised to see beachgoers lining the river’s banks. Those unable to up sticks to the French Riviera for the summer season are at least able to sink their feet into the imported sand of the Paris Plages beaches.

Of the many reasons there are for exploring the parks and gardens of Paris in July, one of the best has to be the Fête de Tuileries. Located just behind the Louvre, it takes the form of a traditional funfair, complete with wooden carousels, a ghost train and hall of mirrors.

Meanwhile, Parc de la Villette hosts an open-air cinema for much of the summer. One best suited for night owls, screenings can only take place once it’s got dark enough, meaning the mix of classic and modern movies don’t get their curtain call until 10:00 – 10:30PM.

4. Join the festival crowds

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On the eastern side of the city, the Parc Floral within the Bois de Vincennes becomes the site of the two month long Paris Jazz Festival. The eclectic line-up includes many of the greatest names in jazz, which in the past has seen both Gregory Porter and Sandra Nkaké take to the stage.

Crossing musical genres, Festival Fnac Live has a commanding position in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) building. The free event lasts three nights and welcomes somewhere in the region of 100,000 revelers keen to see acts that have included Sting, Shaggy and Ed Sheeran.

The lesser-known Canal de l’Ourcq around the Bassin de la Villette also comes into its own in July. As well as being a lovely place to soak up the sun with a canal-side stroll, it hosts a number of July events ranging from concerts to urban art trails suitable for all the family.

5. Bikes and shopping bags

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If one major July spectacle on the Champs-Élysées in July wasn’t enough in the form of the Bastille Day celebrations, then there’s the grand finale of the Tour de France to look forward to. The bike pack arrives in the capital after a route covering approximately 2200 miles.

Ending with several laps of the Arc de Triomphe – and the impressive feat of cycling over cobbles whilst sipping from a Champagne flute – it’s a great way to get close to any cycling heroes.

If it’s shopping bags rather than bikes that interest you, Paris in July is still the place to be. The time of the traditional summer sales, stores throughout the capital can offer significant discounts on ordinary retail prices, with the best deals generally appearing towards the end of the sales period.

Should luggage space prevent you from making too many purchases, the stores of streets like Boulevard Haussmann are still well worth visiting. They include department stores Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, whose impressive art nouveau interiors have been drawing crowds for over 100 years.

Saving on attraction admission in Paris in July

With so much going on, you might think you’re going to need a significant win on the loto (the French lottery) to pay for it all. But even if lady luck isn’t standing by your side, it’s still possible to do all you want without worrying about the cost. Although Paris is considered an expensive city to both visit and live in, there are ways visitors to the French capital can ensure their money lasts.

Explore Paris with Go City and you’ll get the benefit of reduced admission on many of the city’s top tourist attractions. What’s more, you can do this without needing to make any firm decisions about what you’d like to visit or when until you’re all set to immerse yourself in Paris in July.

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