Paris like a Parisian: 9 insider tips for summer
Every season in Paris has its appeal and summer is no exception. The summer months are a great time to explore the Parisian outdoors and to linger on its unusually deserted streets and lovely outdoor cafes. Whatever your Paris-bound heart desires, our insider tips have you covered, whether you’re just spending a summer on vacation, or studying French in Paris.
1. Set up shop on a “terrasse”
Summer in Paris means relaxing on cafe terraces for hours on end. Who isn’t familiar with the clichéd image of white and green Parisian bistro chairs crowding cafe fronts?
Here are some charming spots where you’ll be able to people watch and enjoy well-deserved refreshments: the courtyard of Musée de la Vie Romantique tucked away in a backstreet of the buzzing Pigalle neighborhood, Lena and Mimile’s terrace perched on a stone wall, Rosa Bonheur’s terrace where you’ll be able to snap up a sunbed if you are lucky and Chez Prune, bordering the Canal Saint-Martin, a timeless classic.
2. Choose the park that’s right for you
As the temperatures rise, Parisians flock to one of the many parks of the city and set up shop for picnics or apéros that last long into the night. Laze in the shade of the Eiffel Tower at Champs de Mars, picnic in the backyard of the Louvre at the Jardin des Tuileries, enjoy sweeping views of the city from the elevated Buttes Chaumont in the 20th arrondissement, go slacklining at the Parc de Bercy in the east of the city or stroll in the colorful alleys of the Jardin des Plantes’ botanical garden, in the 5th arrondissement.
3. Become a pétanque master
Get out there and hone your _pétanque s_kills! In a nutshell, pétanque or boules is the French equivalent of bowling. It involves rolling or throwing steel balls, the size of a baseball, towards a target called a cochonnet, on hard packed earth. The player or team that has most pétanque balls closest to the target wins.
Although originated from the south of France, this game is quite popular in Paris. You’ll see it played in parks or dedicated fields called boulodromes. Perhaps the most impressive place to play pétanque is in the Arènes de Lutèce, an amphitheatre dating back to the Gallo-Roman era, accessible from Rue de Monge, in the 5th arrondissement (Place Monge metro station).
4. Fall in love with the Berges de Seine
The Berges de Seine, the banks of the river Seine, is one of the funkiest (and best) urban projects recently undertaken in Paris. Inaugurated in 2013, this pedestrianised 2.3 km long stretch on the left bank of the Seine boasts a hoard of activities and public spaces for all to enjoy.
A true playground for big and small alike, you can ride rented bikes here from the Musée d’Orsay until the Pont de l’Alma, play table tennis, join a free yoga class, book your very own relaxation space in converted shipping containers, leave your mark on a giant blackboard or enjoy a nice read on a floating garden just a step away from the Eiffel Tower.
5. Go for a dip!
The heat is getting unbearable and no amount of ice cold Perrier will help? Cool down in one of these original swimming spots. The newly renovated Piscine Molitor (Pi from Life of Pi was named after this pool), in the posh 16__e arrondissement will take your breath away and whisk you back to the 1930s. You can enjoy both an outdoor and an indoor swimming pool here.
Take a dip in the J_osephine Baker_ floating-swimming pool on the river Seine or escape to the beach at Paris Plages, temporary artificial beaches set up by the bank of the River Seine and the Bassin de la Villette. Who said that lazing around on king-sized sunbeds or playing beach volleyball in the heart of Paris wasn’t possible?
6. Not just ice cream, Berthillon
Summer just isn’t summer without ice cream. For the best homemade ice cream in town, head to Berthillon on the Île Saint-Louis. One of the two natural islands floating on the Seine, the Île Saint-Louis houses more ice cream shops on its main street than any other street on earth. You won’t mind the snaking queues as you may even get a glimpse of the Notre-Dame Cathedral while waiting for your serving of frozen heaven.
7. Escape the city for a day
Sometimes you just want to be away from it all, somewhere where the sound of waves or chirping birds drowns out the noise of the city. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options for day trips near Paris. Miles of sandy beaches await you at the chic seaside resort of Deauville: ramble down its famous boardwalk or play a round of mini-golf.
Travel back in time and take a guided tour of Monet’s countryside home and garden, in Giverny, where his famous Water Lilies paintings came to life. For some sensational château visits head to Versailles, a classic, or to Fontainebleau, a secondary royal residence which will delight you with its expansive gardens.
8. Out in the open
Summer really is about spending time outside and you’ll find that Paris does it well. There are plenty of cultural, musical and sports programs held in beautiful outdoor settings, at all times of the day. Enjoy the screening of cult films and short films at the Open Air Cinema Festival set in the Parc de la Villette, from mid-July to the end of August, or dance at the Solidays and Rock en Seine music festivals to the sound of French and international artists.
If you are feeling adventurous, join the hundreds of Parisians at the Paris à la Nage mythical canal crossing, an event held for over 100 years, every single summer.
9. Be where it matters!
Paris will host the Euro 2016 finals on July 10. If you don’t have tickets to the Stade de France, you can enjoy public screenings of the finals (and all other matches) at the Eiffel Tower Fan Zone, and explore the world of football at the Foot Foraine Festival (held at the Parc de la Villette). Don’t miss out on the parade and fireworks on July 14, also known as Bastille Day and join in the neighborhood festivities organised by each fire station, known as bals des pompiers.
The Tour de France is the largest annual sporting event and probably one of the most watched ones on television. On July 24, experience the excitement and adrenaline rush first hand in Paris; secure yourself a spot on the Champs-Elysées avenue and cheer on the cyclists as they ride in on the final stage of their 5.319 kilometer-long race!