June in Paris can be the worst because of one thing: tourists. Now, many of us are tourists in France, but we’re not tourists. Tourists talk too loud in an église, gouge out eyes with selfie sticks, and criticize French waiters for being slow (newsflash: they’re letting you enjoy your food). We know Frenchly readers aren’t tourists, so here are 10 things to do this June to really enjoy Paris as a tourist, away from tourists.
June is blessed with lovely, temperate weather, so on sunny days, take food from a sandwich and crêpe stall-in-the-wall (or bread, cheese, and wine from Carrefour!) and head out for a picnic. Good green places to spend lunch include Square Saint-Lambert, Esplanade des Invalides, Parc Montsouris, Parc Monceau, Place des Vosges, and Square du Vert-Galant. You could sit at the base of a monument, like Sacré Coeur or Eiffel Tower, but those spaces aren’t nearly as peaceful.
Organized by the Minister of Culture, the 15th anniversary of the Rendez-vous aux jardins opens the gates of 2,200 public and private gardens throughout France to you to explore. More than 3,500 events are planned over the course of three days to celebrate gardens, gardening, and the outdoors. Around 50 events have been planned for Paris, including concerts in the Parc Montsouris, a workshop in the National Archives, and a tour of garden flowers at the Musée de la vie romantique.
8 boulevard du Palais, 75001 (map)
Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité is inarguably a gem of Paris. The stained glass windows could captivate you for hours on end. What makes the hours of oogling even better is classical music. Hear a classical music concert “A Little Night of Music” in Sainte-Chapelle featuring five famous pieces, including Pachelbel’s Canon and Schubert’s Ave Maria. Tickets are on sale here. And even if you aren’t available that night or have been to Sainte-Chapelle already, this site lets you see all the classical music concerts coming up in Paris. You can see Bach play in Notre Dame!
Bois de Vincennes (map)
While Coachella leaves a swamp of trash and trampled flower crowns in Indio, the We Love Green music festival promotes love for the environment. Held in the Bois de Vincennes, this eclectic music festival puts A Tribe Called Quest, Nicolas Jaar, Solange, DJ Jon Hopkins, and more, on a stage made from 100% natural materials. Appropriately for the audience of tree-huggers, merchandise and concessions stands have been replaced with organic food and wine stalls. Daily and weekend tickets are still available for the respectable price of $55 and $100. Buy tickets here.
Île aux Cygnes, 75015 (map)
A little more than half a mile long and just 36 ft across at its widest point, the Île des Cygnes splices the Seine on the western side of Paris. Despite being tiny and uninhabited, it’s crossed by three different bridges, making it easily accessible for walkers headed to the Allée aux cygnes. This path boasts walkers (and their dogs), runners, and hardly any tourists. Trees, grass, and benches line the path, as well as stunning views of the quais and apartments on the Seine. Also on the island is a 72’ tall replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Various locations on the Champs-Elysées (map)
The Champs-Élysées Film Festival: a five-day festival in six theatres on the Champs-Elysées, featuring all kinds of films: full-length, short, premiering, French, English, subtitled, animated, live-action, old, and new! There are opening and closing ceremonies where awards will be given to American and French feature and short films. The City of Honor this year is New Orleans for its recent increasing presence in Hollywood, and films set in New Orleans will be featured. Tickets are 7€ for a screening, and 10€ for a premier or talk with the many actors, actresses, and directors present for the festival. Passes start at 25€. See the full schedule here, and buy tickets here. (Tickets to non-premiere screenings are on sale at the theatres.)
Palais de Tokyo – 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 (map)
Unlike student dioramas with baking soda volcanoes, plastic dinosaurs, and paper maché, the dioramas at the Palais de Tokyo are actually worth seeing. In their summer-fall exhibit, Dioramas remakes dioramas into something much greater. The props, contexts, and stories mix nature with the capitalism pop-culture with history, and movie sets with reality. The viewer is encouraged to see the dioramas as a representation of social and historical issues rather than an illusion.
Quai de Valmy, 75010 (map)
Tourists prefer Le Marais and Montmartre, so right along the Canal Saint-Martin is the place to be. Start at Du pain et des idées (map) for a viennoiserie to be eaten by the canal; you’ll get a vibe for the neighborhood while you eat. Walking up the quai, go into Artazart (map), a bookstore specializing in design. Pass two bridges and there’s Antoine et Lili (map), a women and girl’s clothing, accessories, and home boutique. Everything is floral and adorable. Cross the canal and head down Rue Bichet to Pop Market (map), a funny giftshop of low-price goodies. End at Le Comptoir General (map), with a bar, restaurant, and boutiques in a large, strangely decorated communal space.
Jardin Tino-Rossi – 2 quai Saint-Bernard – 75005 (map)
You can live out the moment you thought you’d only see in movies: dancing on the Seine. In the Jardin Tino-Rossi on the east side of Paris, every evening from the beginning of June to the end of August, dancers gather on this quai of the Seine to sway late into the night. In the four small amphitheaters of this pavement garden, tango, salsa, swing, and folk dancing take place, with all ages and all skill levels present. Actual lessons begin at 7:00pm nightly and entry at any time is free.
Palais de Versailles – Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles (map)
This is a little outside Paris, but the RER C goes directly to Versailles in about 40 minutes. Every summer, the Palais de Versailles puts on musical fountain shows with 55 of its fountains. Shows happen on Saturdays and Sundays from April 1-October 29, and Tuesdays until June 27. (Very helpful details about weekend shows here and Tuesday shows here.) The best musical fountain shows happen on Saturday nights, from June 17-September 16, from 8:30pm-10:45pm, and end in fireworks. (See rates and buy tickets here.) You can also buy tickets to the Royal Serenade in the Hall of Mirrors, a traditional Baroque dance performed in full costume. Shows are the same Saturdays as the night fountain shows, running from 6:30pm-7:50pm at 20 minute intervals. (See rates and buy tickets here.)