1. Shop les soldes (until August 6)
The end of the six-week sales in France known as les soldes is truly the best time to shop. Discounts, which started at 20%-off in the first weeks, have dropped to as low as 80%-off for the final weeks. Those expensive items you’ve been drooling over are finally in your price range. And if you leave France before you’ve finished shopping, you can still do some shopping online and get your goods delivered.
2. Gustav Klimt at the Atelier des Lumières (August 1 – 24)
After a hugely successful first run, the Gustav Klimt exhibit will be returning to the digital museum Atelier des Lumières in Paris this August and October. During the exhibit, 3,000 images by Klimt are projected onto the walls of the 3,300-square-meter space. Visitors can walk freely throughout the exhibit hall, taking in a 360-degree view of the Austrian artist’s work. This special run of the exhibit offers showtimes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., from August 1 to 24 and October 29 to November 2. Buy tickets here before they sell out (note: you have to buy tickets in advance). — Atelier des Lumières, 38, rue Saint-Maur, 75011
3. Free outdoor music at Classique au vert (August 10 – September 1)
Classical music sounds best in two places: in a historic cathedral, and outdoors. Every weekend from the beginning August through the middle of September, classical music will fill the air for the festival Classique au vert in the Parc Floral of the Bois de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement. We recommend Trio Karénine, who will play some of the most beloved classic compositions (August 10), Emmanuel Rossfelder, Victor Villena and Valentine Lemercier, playing a setlist of international compositions (August 18), and Quator Modigliani, one of the most prestigious French ensemble groups in the world (August 31). A full schedule is available here. — Esplanade du château de Vincennes, Route de la Pyramide, 75012
4. Paris Plages (until September 1)
Lining the Seine, the free beaches of Paris Plages pop up by the La Villette canal and in the Parc Rives de Seine, a pedestrianized green space which lines a large part of the river banks. The beaches are complete with parasols, sand, and palm trees — you might even mistake it for the Riviera. La Villette accommodates water sports and bathing in addition to family-friendly workshops for kids, board games, books, exhibitions, and sport-related activities thanks to Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympics. Along the Seine, one can enjoy the sunshine and then cool off at one of the ice cream or refreshment kiosks.
5. Berthe Morisot exhibit (until September 22)
The works of female French Impressionist Berthe Morisot are on display at the Musée d’Orsay. An important figure in the Impressionist movement, the museum will be exhibiting paintings that span her career from the 1860s to her death in 1895. Morisot painted exquisite depictions of the bourgeoisie, women’s lives and interests, and domestic duties. Buy tickets online here. (Buy in advance to avoid waiting in line.) — Musée d’Orsay, 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007
6. Dance on Quai Saint-Bernard
A live band keeping the beat, the Seine beside you, your love — or maybe a stranger that caught your eye — in your arms… the quai Saint-Bernard is proof that Paris est une fête. Bring your wine (it’s legal to drink publicly in France) and get ready to tango, swing, waltz or even square dance. Every Wednesday and Thursday night in August (except the 15) dancing is scheduled to happen on the quai Saint-Bernard from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Though truth be told, you’re likely to find a group dancing on the quai most any night! — 2 quai Saint-Bernard, 75005
7. Get the city’s best ice cream
First stop on the ice cream tour should be Berthillon. It’s the Paris ice cream place, and it’s also loaded with tourists so make sure you don’t go at any normal ice cream-eating time (e.g., after dinner, late afternoon…). Monsieur Benjamin has the most unique creations: they serve long cylindrical rolls of ice cream (yes, rolls). Hugo & Victor will provide the classic yet utterly delicious flavors that are sure to have your mouth watering. Patissiers Pierre Marcolini and Pierre Hermé get in on the action with their own delicious ice creams and sorbets as well. Il Gelato del Marchese is the undisputed place to go for gelato, and vegans will find exactly what they’re looking for at Jay & Joy.
8. Connect with nature at one of Paris’s farms
Sometimes Paris is just a bit too hot, a bit too crowded, and a bit too full of concrete. To reconnect with nature, visit one of Paris’s farms. Stop in at La Ferme de Paris, Tuesday to Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. on weekends), to see animal feedings and walk among orchards, or head a bit out of the city to Les Fermes de Gally for some more pastoral perfection and farm-made ice cream. Here are six farms in and just outside the city we think are worth your time.
9. Open air movies at Parc de la Villette (until August 18)
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For a fun night without spending a penny (ahem, centime), the open-air cinema in La Villette is ideal. This year, from July 17 to August 18, the 29th edition of the outdoor film festival will feature movies set in the future. The schedule includes French films (“Demain”) and some American ones (“Blade Runner 2049,” “Wall-e”). Doors open at 7 p.m. so bring a blanket, a picnic (here are recommendations for the perfect French apéro) and some good company. — Prairie du triangle, Parc de la Villette, 75019
10. La Nuit des Etoiles (August 2 – 4)
Despite the general smog that hovers over the city, stargazing in Paris is possible. The French Astronomy Association hosts the Nuit des Etoiles, an annual stargazing festival throughout France, on August 2 to 4 this year. The programming will highlight the moon landing, in honor of its 50th anniversary. Two events are happening in Paris proper: one on all three nights at Tour Montparnasse from 8 p.m. to midnight, and another on August 2 at Prairie de la Géode in Parc de la Villette from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (See the full map of events here.)
If you miss the Nuit des Etoiles, you can still see the stars on 16 special observation evenings in Paris’s parks and gardens (July 6 to August 31). The sessions are free of charge and take place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. No need to register, just stop by and stargaze as you please.
11. Hunt for pops of color
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Paris’s signature beauty comes from the Lutetian limestones that make up the city’s buildings. The prevalence of neutral shades makes the capital’s pops of color so much more beautiful. Take advantage of the nice weather and the maximal natural lighting to traverse the city, from the Canal Saint-Martin to north of Sacré-Coeur, in search of these nine vivid locations.
12. Rock en Seine (August 23 – 25)
It’s a little out of Paris, but the Rock en Seine weekend music festival is totally worth it. American bands like Major Lazer, Foals and Two Door Cinema Club will perform alongside French stars like Polo & Pan, as well as many other international stars. And while festivals in the US are often well over $100 for a one-day pass, Rock en Seine offers day passes for as low as 69€. Buy tickets here. — Parc National de Saint-Cloud, 92210 Saint-Cloud
13. Bask in the sun on a terrasse
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Hot weather means cold beer, sunny weather means tanning (PSA: wear sunscreen — the French do). No matter how you spin it, August is peak terrasse season. Maison Maison, located on the Parc Rives de Seine, provides prefect views of the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower, while Au Petit Fer à Cheval offers a strategic people-watching spot. The cocktail bar Pavillon Puebla is a tucked-away secret hub of bar nightlife in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Le Bar du Marché is the prime realty of the rue du Buci.
14. L’été du canal (until August 25)
Festivities and cultural events held around a canal, that’s what to expect during L’été du canal, from July 6 to August 25. Swim in the Bassin de la Villette, follow a trail of graffiti street art, take a paddleboat (built for two!) down the canal, dance on terrasses to late-night DJ sets… when Parisians can’t get to the ocean for the summer, they’ll make the best of any body of water they have.