A few short years ago August would have been seen as a terrible time to visit Paris. And whilst some still stick to this old cliché, many others, us included, now see August as one of the best times of year to visit the French capital.
Why the about face? It’s simple really. Although hotels might ratchet up their prices, Paris in August enjoys great weather and a plethora of events sure to have you returning year after year.
Relive Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
The River Seine rightly takes the limelight when it comes to the best loved things to do in Paris in August. And let’s face it, why wouldn’t it?
What could be better than enjoying a drink or late-night DJ set from aboard one of the peniche boat bars moored along its banks? Or opting for a river cruise passing by the city’s most famous sights on a warm mid-summer evening?
Or even the chance to flop into a deckchair, as if you’re in the south of France rather than the center of the capital? The latter is possible thanks to the Paris Plages program of beaches and pools which crop up along the right bank of the Seine in July and August each year.
If you prefer your seas a little warmer, head instead to the Aquarium de Paris. Suitable for adults as much as younger visitors, its tanks contain everything from jellyfish to sea turtles and no less than four species of shark.
Delve into the capital’s history
One of the most important occasions in Parisian history is marked on August 25 – at the Liberation of Paris Festival. It commemorates the surrender of Nazi forces in August 1944 to a mix of Free French, British and American troops.
The festival kicks off at midday with firemen replicating the climb up the Eiffel Tower to unfurl the French tricolore. This is followed by a parade and then music at the Hôtel de Ville. The Order of the Liberation Museum is open daily for anyone interested in the full story.
To pay your respects to the great and the good of French history, consider instead the Latin Quarter’s Panthéon. Built by King Louis XV to house the relics of the city’s patron saint, after the French Revolution it was converted into a national mausoleum.
Among the 80 burials and memorials are those to philosopher Voltaire, writer Victor Hugo and Nobel prize winning scientist Marie Curie, one of just a handful of women honored.
On the western edge of the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg stands one of several replicas of the Statue of Liberty in Paris. It’s one of around one hundred statues dotted about the garden, at 1/16th the scale of the New York original.
Paris in August with the kids
Younger visitors to Paris may not appreciate the significance of events such as the Liberation of Paris Festival. But they certainly won’t get bored with the number of child-friendly things to do in Paris in August.
With the added bonus of soothing tired legs, an open-top Hop-on Hop-off bus is a great way to connect up sights from the storefronts of the Champs-Élysées to the gothic masterpiece of Notre-Dame Cathedral, which has survived revolution and fire during its 800 year history.
Thrill seekers should instead turn their attention to Parc Astérix. The second-largest theme park anywhere in France, it boasts over 40 attractions, including seven rollercoasters and a further seven water rides. All are based on the comic book series following the lives of ancient Gaul’s tribes.
Meanwhile, the Place de la Concorde is occupied from July until the end of August with the Fête des Tuileries. An authentic traditional funfair, attractions here include a tin can alley, hook-a-duck, carousels and stalls selling candy-floss and freshly-made donuts.
Make the most of the summer weather
Yet another reason to stay in Paris in August is the giant screen belonging to the open-air movie theater which stands amongst the trees of Parc de la Villette in northern Paris. Bring a picnic, rent a deckchair and a blanket, and enjoy evening screenings of everything from French indie cinema to cult classics. Movies are shown in their original language with French subtitles as necessary.
Few subtitles are needed for the Rock en Seine festival, which literally rocks the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud park at the historic gates of Paris over three days in August. Creating a memorable contrast with their 17th-Century surroundings, the five stages host internationally-renowned bands such as Royal Blood and Eels alongside homegrown up-and-coming talent.
Summer in Paris doesn’t come to an end until the arrival of the Tréteaux nomades traveling festival at Montmartre arena. Almost impossible to pigeon-hole, the festival uses French characters you’ll know and love from classic works – for example Quasimodo and Cinderella – in totally new and sometimes subversive ways.
Enjoy first class art
It’s difficult to visit Paris in any month of the year without a stop at the Louvre, dominating the right bank of the Seine. With enough artworks to keep you busy for an entire lifetime, highlights include the da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
Almost immediately opposite on the rive gauche (left bank) stands the beaux arts edifice of the Musée d’Orsay. Built as a railway station in 1898, it has been a gallery dedicated to French art since a major renovation in 1986. Monet, Degas and Gauguin are all well represented.
Fans of modern art need look no further than the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Pompidou Center – Europe’s biggest modern art museum. A who’s who of the 20th-Century art world, its walls hang with greats including Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Willem de Kooning.
Save on attraction admission in Paris in August
One of the sunniest months of the year in the French capital, Paris in August is not to be avoided as some would have you believe. Alive with summertime activities and outdoor events, it is in fact a great time to visit Paris.
Make the most of your trip by saving on admission to many of the top attractions with Go City. The All-Inclusive Pass allows you to see as many attractions as you like within a given period at reduced cost. The Explorer Pass gives you 60 days in which to marvel at up to seven different attractions.