Summer, according to the experts, may just be the worst season to visit Paris for those looking for a uniquely Parisian experience. This is the time when locals flee the city for weeks at a time for les grandes vacances. Many shops close for the entire month of August and tourists often find themselves facing long lines and crowds at the popular monuments and sites.
But while summer in Paris may be a different experience than a Parisian spring or autumn, there is one advantage to traveling to Paris in July and August: more sunny days than any other time of the year! Here are five ways to soak up the sun while enjoying some off-the-beaten-path Parisian treasures away from the summer crowds.
Summer in the City – Paris Insider’s Guide
1. Lounge on a Terrace
After hours spent taking in the sights on foot, a sunny café terrace is just the place to recharge. For a nice escape from the hustle-and-bustle of the city, try one of these hidden terraces:
Le Bistrot des Dames: When you first enter the Bistrot des dames, it may look like a typical Parisian cafe, but locals know that it hides a special treat. Ask to be seated on the terrace and you’ll be led to a small garden oasis. It’s an ideal respite from the noisy city atmosphere (18 Rue des Dames, Métro Place de Clichy ).
Tip: Expect a ten minute wait to access the terrace if you go on the weekend.
Café A: Formerly a convent, the sober looking building just steps away from the Gare de l’Est train station is easy to overlook. But weary travelers would be wise to stop in for a visit. The building houses the cool Cafe A, an outdoor cafe in the inner courtyard that includes ping pong tables and refreshing drinks. (148 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin).
Drink recommendation: Try the ACE juice cocktail for a refreshing blend of juices.
2. Grab Some Street Food
Eat a burger in Paris?! Yes, the idea may seem unfathomable when it comes to one of the gastronomic capitals of the world, but hear me out. Le Street Food has become a popular option in Paris in recent years and many food trucks and other street food vendors abound in the city, offering affordable cuisine with a French touch.
Another great option for a meal on the go is the Marché des Enfants Rouge. If you’ve never been to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, you’re in for a surprise. This market, which is the oldest in the city, combines the traditional French market experience with tasty choices from around the world. Enjoy Moroccan cuisine or Italian specialties as you take in the market, which takes its name from the former orphanage that once occupied the site.
3. Admire the Art…Outside
If you’re tired of the long lines at popular Paris museums, it might be time to take another approach to discovering art in Paris. The city that is famous for the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay is also a global hub for street artists. The 13th district is particularly rich in street art, including work from Shepard Fairey, the street artist behind the famous Obama “Hope” poster.
If you’re a fan of sculpture, you’ll likely enjoy the Musée de la Sculpture en Plein Air, an open-air sculpture exhibit along the Seine. Sculptures are sprinkled throughout the Tino-Rossi Square and the surrounding park and you’ll find the artwork between groups of picknickers, parents out with their children and salsa dancers who gather along the embankment to dance.
Stefanie Talley runs the website freeinparis.com, where she shares free events and money saving tips for those living in or visiting Paris.