Slowing Down: Why We Love Paris in August
Text by Tory Hoen
You may have heard rumors that Paris empties out in August. As it turns out, the rumors are largely true. But before you start envisioning a Parisian ghost town—tumbleweeds rolling down the Champs-Elysées—take it from us: August is a wonderful time to be in Paris. As many locals head to the coast and many businesses close up for the month, you can feel the city’s pulse slow down. Traffic decreases, picnickers multiply, people become friendlier, they linger in parks and enjoy balmy evenings on café terraces throughout the city. In August, Paris settles and simply enjoys itself.
In the past, many tourists have avoided the month of August, deterred by the fear that many restaurants and businesses might be closed, or that Paris in August is not the “real” Paris. Nowadays, there is no need to worry about such things. While the “August atmosphere” is more relaxed and unhurried, there is plenty to do during this wonderful month; and many locals believe it’s actually the best moment to take advantage of the city. In addition, visitors can often find special deals and lower rates at this time of the year.
Photo Erica Berman – Park in Paris in August
Restaurants & Food: Neither locals nor visitors go hungry in August. While some restaurants close for part (or all) of the month, many stay open to receive tourists and locals alike. If you have a specific restaurant in mind, it’s always best to reserve ahead. If you’re not pressed for time, stroll around and see what you stumble upon! Some of Paris’ best food can be found in restaurants that are slightly off the beaten path.
August is also a wonderful time to take advantage of fresh produce by cooking for yourself. Open-air markets (such as Place Monge and Blvd Raspail) maintain their regular schedules. And famous food streets (rue Mouffetard in the 5th, rue Cler in the 7th) welcome hungry visitors. Some food shops may close for select days in August, but in general, they will coordinate their closings with other shops in the neighborhood, so as not to inconvenience the locals. If you do find that your favorite boulangerie has closed for the day, chances are you won’t have to look far for another. August is a great time to discover culinary secrets that you would have otherwise missed!
Shopping and Museums: While some small, privately owned boutiques may close during August, Paris’ large department stores (BHV, Le Bon Marché, Printemps, Galeries Lafayette) remain open, as do most larger boutiques and international chains. All major museums such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Rodin Museum maintain their regular hours.
Statue in the garden at the Musée Rodin. Photo by Tory Hoen
Culture: The number and variety of cultural events provides another great reason to head to Paris in August. Film buffs will want to take advantage of the warm weather by attending Paris’ two major open-air film festivals, Cinema en Plein Air and Clair de Lune. Cinema en Plein Air takes place in Parc de la Villette from July 15-August 16. Clair de Lune screenings take place in different neighborhoods around the city between August 5th and 23rd. Both film series are free and open to the public. At the end of August, one of Paris’ most anticipated music events of the year rolls into town. From August 28-30, Rock en Seine takes place at the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, just outside Paris (Metro: Pont de St-Cloud, Line 10). This year’s line-up will feature MGMT, Oasis, Vampire Weekend, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, and Birdy Nam Nam. A 3-day pass, which will get you into every show over the course of the weekend, goes for 99€ and 1-day passes are 45€.
The Great Outdoors: Finally, we don’t have to remind you that summer is the best time to linger in parks, stroll along the Seine, and loiter along the banks of the Canal St. Martin. All of Paris’ parks and public spaces are open everyday and are entirely free to the public. No matter what your style—the dramatic Jardin du Luxembourg, the elegant Parc Monceau, the wild Parc des Buttes Chaumont—Paris has it all. In addition, the much acclaimed Paris Plages festival runs from July 20-August 20. Grab some sunscreen and spend the day at Paris’ very own beach—complete with palm trees, lounge chairs, beach cabanas and sporting activities.
Jardin du Luxembourg. Photo by Tory Hoen
So if you’ve delayed making plans for your summer getaway, it’s not too late. A low-key August in Paris is just what you need to recharge for the year ahead.