Vacation Like a Parisian: 5 Summertime Things to Do in Paris

Photo credit: La Villette Facebook page

Learn more

Subscribe to Le Point: get a digital subscription here, or a print subscription here.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the streets of Paris as beautiful as ever. It’s summer, and while tourists flood in, most Parisians are going on vacation. If you’re one of the few in the city, either as an unlucky worker or happy tourist, you might be plagued with a few questions: how should you spend your long summer days? Will you ever escape the heat? How do you feel like you’ve left the city for vacation (like a good juilletiste) without actually leaving?


Fortunately, several activities are happening in the capital to occupy your sunny weekends. Rediscover Paris in the coolest hours, in the coldest spaces. Watch classic movies on the grass, relax by the fountain while listening to jazz, meet up at nightfall to talk about astronomy, listen to music and party on the docks, explore the Tuileries garden with friends… here’s what to do to make the most of your summer in Paris.

1. Watch movies under the stars

View this post on Instagram

💈PPB Nº40 : Jusqu’au 18 août, c’est Cinéma en plein air à La Villette ! 🍿 Plusieurs soirs par semaine, découvrez ou redécouvrez gratuitement une multitude de films regroupés sous le nouveau thème de cette 29e édition : « Demain ». 🎬 Ponyo sur la falaise de Hayao Miyazaki, Her de Spike Jonze, Bienvenue à Gattaca d’Andrew Niccol… 🎞 Et 22 autres récits d’« a-venir », entre utopies et dystopies. ⏰ Accès à la pelouse dès 19h, projections entre 21h30 et 22h30 (en fonction de la tombée de la nuit) 👛 Gratuit 🎟 Programme complet : 📷 Cinéma en plein air – La Villette #PPB #ParisPlansB #LaVillette #CineVillette #cinemaenpleinair #cinémaenpleinair #villette #movies #movie #cinema #cinéma #pleinair #grass #green #tree #trees #nature #film #films #summer #été #ete #paris @la_villette

A post shared by ParisPlansB (@parisplansb) on

To spend your evenings with family or friends, 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 films set in the future. The event is free, just bring your folding chair or picnic blanket to the lawn or rent deckchairs onsite. The projection area opens its doors at 7 p.m., providing a great opportunity to come early, picnic, and grab the best seats while waiting for the projection to start at nightfall. On the program: “Blade Runner 2049” by Denis Villeneuve, “Demain” by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, “Her” by Spike Jonz, “Wall-e” by Andrew Stanton… There’s something for everyone. Before the open-air cinema, the festival invites you to eat under the trees during an aperitif Garden Party in Jardin 21 on Wednesdays until August 14 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

2. Listen to music among the trees

View this post on Instagram

Super concert de Baabox Leila Martial

A post shared by Bruno Astulfoni (@brunoa29) on

The Parc floral de Paris is a special place to the east of the capital, perfect for escaping the city’s incessant hubbub. This summer, the park is offering three musical events on the weekends: the Paris Jazz festival from July 6 to 28, the Classique au vert festival from August 10 to September 1, and a festival for young audiences, Les Pestacles, from June 26 to September 4. This year, the park has a new feature as well: night concerts organized on July 19, 25 and 26, with artists such as Anne Paceo, Youn Sun Nah, Cimafunk, Orquesta Akokan, Chassol and Yaron Herman. With the exception of the night concerts, the entertainment is free. However, the entrance fee to the park, charged to anyone over 7 years old, is 2€50.

3. Observe the stars from Paris’s parks

View this post on Instagram

⭐️ C'est reparti, l'Association Française d'Astronomie organise durant tout l'été un marathon de 16 soirées d'observations gratuites et ouvertes à toutes et à tous dans certains parcs parisiens. ⭐️Du 06 juillet au 31 août. ➡️ 06/07 Square Séverine (20e) ➡️ 09/07 Square Louis Xlll Place des Vosges (4e). ➡️ 12/07 Parc montsouris (14e) ➡️ 🌓 16/07 Éclipse de Lune – Parc de Belleville (20e). ➡️ 20/07 Jardin d'Éole (18e) ➡️ 26/07 Square Georges-Meliès (12ème) ➡️ 27/07 Jardin des Grands Explorateurs (6e) ➡️ 29/07 Parc André Citroën (15e). ➡️ 7/08 Parc de Belleville (20e). ➡️ 9/08 Jardin Villemin (10e) ➡️ 10/08 Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (19e). ➡️ 15/08 Square Louis Xlll Place des Vosges (4e). ➡️ 23/08 Square Georges Méliès (12ème). ➡️ 24/08 Jardin d'Éole (18ème). ➡️ 28/08 Parc Montsouris (14e). ➡️ 31/08 Jardin Villemin. . . Parlez en autour de vous ! . . . #astronomie#parissouslesetoiles#afastronomie#souslecieldeparis#observerleciel#astrophotography#watchthesky#skyinparis#astronomieobservation#parissouslesetoiles2019#psle2019#afa#associationfrancaisedastronomie#telescopes#etoiles#sortiraparis#parcparisiens#quefaireaparis#jupiter#astronomy#parisastronomie#sortiraparis#parisenété#exploreparis#parisautrement

A post shared by Paris sous les étoiles (@paris_sous_les_etoiles) on

The French Astronomy Association is offering a marathon of 16 evenings of astronomy observation in Parisian parks and gardens from July 6 to August 31. These sessions, led by the members of the association and open to all, reveal the secrets of the City of Light’s starry sky. Sessions in various parks throughout the capital present the opportunity to discover more about space with telescopes and eyeglasses on loan from the association. The sessions are free of charge and take place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. There’s no need to register, just stop by and stargaze as you please. In case of bad weather you can check if a session is still happening online.

4. Relax beside the water

A multitude of festive and cultural activities are offered on Canal de l’Ourcq from July 6 to August 25. L’été du canal is a festival that offers waterfront entertainment every weekend in July and August. On the sunny banks, you’ll certainly find activities to occupy your summer days. Swim in the bassin de la Villette, follow the street art trail, listen to DJ set over an apéro, or sail on the canal with musical or gourmet cruises. Riverboat tours on the canal cost between 1 and 2 euros and will delight young and old alike. The boats leave every 40 minutes on the Paris-Bobigny route from 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

5. Solve a mystery in the Jardin des Tuileries

From July 6 to August 25, the Louvre invites you to participate in its escape game, Mystères aux Tuileries. This outdoor adventure game, organized in the Jardin des Tuileries, is an opportunity to get a group of friends together for some fun. Solve puzzles, consult archives and read historical engravings from the Louis XIV years to uncover the secrets of the gardens. If you win the game, the Louvre will give you free tickets to the museum. Teams of two to four people can register on the website to play. The game is reserved for adults and takes place every day from 11 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., and there are night sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays until 9:15 p.m.

This article was first published on Le Point.

Learn more

Subscribe to Le Point: get a digital subscription here, or a print subscription here.