Not so long ago, I shared a collection of spots in Paris where you can find spring blossoming in Paris. Well, now that the seasons have moved on and summer sunshine is dancing off the white walls of Paris’ arrondissements, there really is no better time to explore and enjoy the City of Light. Here’s what a perfect summer’s day in Paris could look like.
A Morning Market
Wake as early as you please and enjoy un petit dej’ of your pleasing from a local patisserie or in the comfort of your own kitchen before slipping into comfortable walking shoes and hitting the streets. Depending where you’re staying, you may find it satisfying just to wander around your local neighbourhood, otherwise you can attack this list of places in Paris to get lost in.
Alternatively if you need a bit of direction and want to avoid the tourists hanging out at their usual spots, the morning is a good time to blend in with locals and enjoy the atmosphere of one of central Paris’ historic markets. There’s the city’s first undercover market at Marché des Enfants, the sea of floral colour on display at Marché aux Fleurs close to Notre Dame, or the traditional favourite French produce for sale at Marché Bastille, this is a great way to start your day.
Coffee (and art) at Cafe du Petit Palais
Not far from Champs Elysee is the Museé des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Art), in the centre of which you’ll find a small oasis of green lined with pillared porticos and the Jardin du Petit Palais café. With mosaics underfoot and a painted ceiling above, this is one of the most beautiful terrace cafes in Paris and a must-enjoy on a summer’s day. Should the weather take a turn for the worse, the museum is a stunning place to seek refuge and the permanent exhibition is always free.
Go to the beach!
Paris has become famous for its city plages and from late July to the end of August you can enjoy three kilometres of sand along the Seine stretching from the Louvre to Pont du Sully. If you’d rather avoid being so central then head north to the 19th arrondissement where you’ll find a pop-up beach at Bassin de la Villette, a man-made lake that few tourists go out of their way to discover. Much more than just a place to sunbathe, you can also kayak or row on the water and you’ll find a plethora of cafes and restaurants lining the promenades on both sides.
Lunch al fresco
If you choose to stay at Bassin de la Villette for lunch you can try get a table on the terrace at 25° Est, a popular Paris restaurant that is a rare combination of perfect location – right on the water – and fairly-priced French fare.
Back closer to the Seine, you can enjoy rooftop dining at Le Georges in the Pompidou Centre or a secret garden alcove at ChantAirelle in the 5th arrondissement; reservations are recommended at both. Other restaurants with open air dining areas include Café A on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin and the artistic-meets-rustic Les Petits Gouttes in the 18th. If you don’t want to plan ahead, your best bet is to head to the Latin Quarter where you can take your pick from street-side dining. Alternatively, use the brilliant website 123terrasse to enter a postcode or street name and find your nearest terrace café!
An Afternoon of Festival Fun
Paris is a city brimming with festival fun in the summer and you can take your pick from music, culture and art events, many of which are free to attend. There’s Versailles Festival from May to July, Festival de Saint-Denis in June, Paris Jazz Festival in June and July and then Paris Quartier d’Été takes over the city in July and August with a wide range of performances and live shows in Paris’ most historic buildings and squares.
Relax and Recline in the Park
Paris parks offer visitors (and locals) the opportunity to sit back and relax, thanks to their famous dark green recliner chairs set out in summer months. You’ll find them in Jardin du Luxembourg, les Jardins du Palais-Royale and in the Tuileries Garden. While you may have to hunt for a while before you find one that’s not already occupied, feel free to move it around the park to find your ideal spot in the sun or the shade.
Cinema En Plein Air de la Villette
End your busy day of walking around Paris by sitting down and watching a movie at the Cinema en Plein Air in Parc de la Villette. Not just any cinema, this opportunity to watch a film outdoors in one of Paris’ more rugged parks is free entry and you can bring your own picnic.
Sunset with a view
Photo by Liz Bennington
Alternatively let nature put on a show and watch the sun go down on Paris. Prime locations for watching the sunset include the western tip of the Ile de la Cite, the open space of Place de la Concorde – with the Eiffel Tower framing your view – or you can join the other romantics on the steps of La Basilique du Sacre Coeur. Alternatively, if you’d like a cocktail in your hand as the sky changes colour, head to Wanderlust, a huge restaurant-bar-nightclub complex that also has a floating terrace on the river, which it fondly describes as a “playground on the Seine”.
Have you ever visited Paris in summertime? What was your favourite thing to do?
Summer is celebrated for many reasons – sunshine, holidays, time off work – but for others summer is a time for celebration as they don long black robes and throw flat black hats into the air. I’m talking about the thousands of students who will be graduating over the next few months.
However, universities are not just for students. They are often beautiful, historic buildings that add great cultural value to a city; things many travellers are on the hunt for. With this in mind here are ten of Europe’s most beautiful universities well worth visiting. Continue reading
Getting lost in Paris isn’t so easy these days. Doesn’t matter where you are in the city a disembodied voice will mangle street names at you until you’re exactly where you want to be, at the appointed time, all synchronised and nicely tidied and touristy. Take a wrong turn and the voice recalibrates and herds you back on track like a demented cyber-collie road-testing an electric-blue energy drink.
Good news if you’re on a sort of historic monument Supermarket Sweep. But for those who love a meander and long for the days when you had to get your bearings by having a beer and asking the waiter, it’s all a bit organised. Where’s the romance, the chance discovery, the excuse to sit in cafés, drink beer, philosophise?
Now the trick is to, ‘think lost’. You don’t need to go phone-less, you just need to put yourself in the way of places you might have happened on by chance in the good old days when doing Paris without a plan was still a possibility. I like to think of it as ‘determined drifting’. Here are a few suggestions to get started with but beware, aimlessness can be highly addictive once you get the hang of it. Continue reading
They say that cities never sleep; that they stay awake for 24 hours a day, every day, brimming with life, activity and energy. And that’s exactly why city-break-addicts like you and me love them. But many of the world’s most famous cities have another side to them; a side that lies dormant, abandoned and asleep deep underground – their lost subway stations.
Hidden beneath the earth, these disused railway stations, or ghost stations, have become popular sites for urban explorers as tributes to bygone eras or unfinished urban developments. Here are 10 lost subway stops to think about exploring on your next city break. Continue reading
“I never knew the charm of spring, I never met it face to face, I never knew my heart could sing, never missed a warm embrace, till April in Paris.”
So famously sang Ella Fitzgerald in Count Basie’s April in Paris, and I’m not about to argue. Paris is one of the most special places to visit once cold, grey winter has fallen behind for another year, and while you can find those ‘charms of spring’ throughout the city, there are a number of places you should seek out if you want to over-indulge in springtime scenes full of bursting flower buds and aromatic blossoms. The following is for those without hayfever, by the way. Continue reading