There’s a lot do in Paris no matter what time of year you go but at no time does the urge to be outside feel stronger than during le été (Summer). Luckily, Paris might just be the most generous city in the world it when comes to providing fun things to do when the sun is shining. So get your sunglasses because here are five of the best free Summer activities in Paris:
1. Paris Plages. Every July a beach descends on the Seine complete with palm trees, 5,000 tons of golden sand and the oh-so-French navy and white striped deckchairs. So yes, you could spend all day every day sunbathing and pretending you’re soaking up the rays in the South of France (and that sounds good to us- this is a judgement free zone), but if you’re looking for something a bit more active, they’ve got you covered in that area as well.
From petanque to fooseball, the Plages offers free use of their courts and tables on a first come, first served basis. Looking to work up more of a sweat? Beach volleyball and wheelchair basketball take place in front of Hotel de Ville rain or shine. Group dance lessons in hip hop, ballroom, tango and more are given along the boardwalk during the afternoon and evening, plus Tai Chi in the morning.
In July, Hotel de Ville plays host to Festival FNAC Live, a concert series over a long weekend featuring diverse musical acts. In August, it celebrates the final days of the Plages with an outdoor movie showing.
Cafes, ice cream stands, pop up bars and a variety of seating arrangements dot the Seine-side landscape from Vois Georges Pompidou through Parvis de l’Hotel de Ville. The best part though? Free bathrooms. Get excited.
Oh, and the view isn’t bad either.
Also to note: Bassin de la Vilette in the 19th arrondissement also offers their version of Paris Plages and is the place to go for water activities like kayaking, pedal boats, rowing and the ever popular zip line.
2. Cinema au Clair de Lune/Cinema au Plein Air. Evenings in Paris just got that much better with free outdoor movies in July and August. Cinema au Clair de Lune travels from beautiful park to beautiful park playing both old and new French language films at dusk. Locations such as Place des Vosges and Butte Montmartre provide the perfect backdrop for a picnic under the stars.
Cinema au Plein Air takes place at Parc de la Vilette where movies revolve around a singular theme each summer. Classics and new favorites find their way to this free festival where all films are shown in their original language (many in English) – a bonus for expats.
3. Museums. Save your sanity and think twice about the first Sunday of the month free museum day – or really any of the big wigs at any time during the summer (think: Louvre, d’Orsay). Instead, head to one of the free-every-day-because-we-love-you museums that most visitors overlook, but wrongly so.
The Petit Palais, Musee Carnavalet and Musee de la Vie Romantique are just a few of the great choices available to all but thankfully lacking in that omnipresent summer quality: one million tourists.
4. Jardin Tino Rossi. The sculpture garden that runs from the the Institut du Monde Arab to the Jardin des Plantes is home to some of the most well known names in contemporary art. But we’re not here for that, we’re here to dance. From July through August hundreds of Parisians gather on the banks of Quai Saint Bernard to tango- or salsa, or whatever fits their fancy. After the wine is consumed and the picnic is put away, lessons begin. An hour later the music continues and everyone takes to the floor. The great news? You don’t need to come with a plus one. Plenty of people arrive solo and dance up a storm.
5. Jardin du Luxembourg Concerts. Afternoon and evening on almost every day of the week, this beautiful garden plays host to a number of musical acts at their kiosque a musique. Classical music dominates many of the programs but everything from ukuleles to big band jazz can be found here at one time or another, and provides quite the relaxing soundtrack for all that people watching you have to catch up on.