So summer is fast approaching, it finds you in Paris, and you are ready for some great fun time! In the city of lights, everything is possible. From dancing under the beautiful lights, walking the cobbled streets of Paris, and even attending and participating in the numerous festivals, as long as you are in Paris, you are in for a great time!
Parisians get to enjoy their summer from around mid-July to mid-August. During this period, there are plenty of activities you can indulge in including music, classical shows, sunbathing… the list is endless! But as always, the Paris summer festivals have been by far the most popular. During this time, there is all manner of noise-good noise; music, art… there’s a lot of fashion on display, and you need to be able to fit in.
While hot pants, short dresses, and tank tops might be the ideal thing to wear during this time, you can choose to stand out with anything but. As long as you feel and look comfortable and stylish, then you can wear whatever festival outfits make you happy! Just keep it hot, sweet and simple!
For the festivals, you will have a lot to choose from, so you have to bear in mind the convenience in terms of distance, what suits you and of course the size of your pocket! Here are some picks for an unforgettable summer…
1.) La Fête de la Musique (Paris Street Music Festival)
This is one of the years’ most famous events in Paris and France in general. Held every 21st of June [on the night of the longest day of the year (the summer equinox)], the street music festival attracts hundreds of Parisians, who form crowds outside bars, cafes, and on the streets, giving free performances of electronic music, jazz, hip hop, rock, etc. With the event now becoming international (it actually started in France), everybody goes out on the streets to enjoy the free performances all around the city, from every different music style. During this time, the mood is usually light and the opportunity to get to know the city’s neighbourhoods, bars and cafes like a local is best during this event. It is also a must for any early summer sojourn in the French capital.
The event normally starts at sundown, with hundreds of performances, so there is always something to see. You can find out what performances are scheduled around where you stay by visiting the official website. Alternatively, you can simply choose to walk around and discover as many events as possible! This way, you are more likely to get more out of the event. Please also note that many of the Paris streets are blocked during this time with the main metro lines running all night, the buses have problems circulating, and even getting by in taxis can be a problem. Vélib’s on the other hand are locked down for the night, so you might have to do a lot of walking. Walk around with a map especially if you are a visitor. Chances of getting any sleep are zero!
2.) Paris Plages (Paris Beach)
Headed by the Mayor Bertrand Delanoë who is also well known for launching other interesting events, Paris Plages, man-made “beaches” that offer locals and tourists alike a “Seine-side holiday” each summer, has become a sensation! The event was initially criticized by some as costly, but it has now become a permanent fixture in the Parisian summertime scene. You see every year; the city of Paris settles a southern coast atmosphere on the banks, thanks to sand and floating swimming pools.
It is a free event where several spots in Paris are transformed into full-fledged beaches, each with a distinct theme. From sunning in the sand to swimming in pools suspended over the Seine, kayaking, or enjoying a free evening concert, Paris Plages offers activities that both kids and adults will enjoy. It is the ideal place to relax, read, picnic and wander down the animated broad walk. Even on hot nights, you can enjoy live music, while sipping a drink on one of the open-air bars.
Around July 20 and for four weeks after, the city closes the streets along the river, brings in tons of sand and palm trees, some deck chairs, and delightful ice cream, and offers a slew of entertaining options from beach volleyball to kayaking to open-air concerts on three different “beaches.” Holidaymakers at the Bassin de la Villette (Paris 19) can also borrow books free of charge, play beach volley, take an aquagym class in a mini pool, or kayak around the lake – or, of course just chill and enjoy.
The Seine’s banks become pedestrian and the beaches are spread across three spots (Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette).
3.) Glazart’s La Plage
If you are looking for an alternative to Paris Plage , then from June 2nd to October 1st you should visit Glazart (near Parc de la Villette in the 19th). It has its own version of La Plage (the Beach), with free live music, techno parties, and huge sand “beach” with terrace, cocktail bar, food trucks, food trucks, and even pétanque.
4.) Bastille Day
This is celebrated every 14t of July, and also includes the days around it. The day is also referred to as La Fête de la Bastille or La Fête Nationale in French, and it marks the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 and the first major event of the French Revolution of 1789. The destruction of the Bastille prison in central Paris was chosen as a symbol of France’s first stirrings of democracy, though it would take several reinstated monarchies and bloody revolutions to establish an enduring Republic.
During the event, there are patriotic processions across all of Paris, and fireworks are splashed all over! It is also a great way to enjoy some summery outdoor parades and laid-back ambiance, while learning more about (and taking part in) French and Parisian history.
5.) Paris Quartier d’Eté (Paris Summer Arts Festival)
Also known as the Paris Summer Arts Festival, the Paris Quartier d’Eté is a festival of performing arts in and around the French capital from mid-July until around August 11. Since 1990, Paris and the surrounding towns (Nanterre, Aubervilliers, Pantin, etc.) play host to performances by street theatre companies, in theatres, gardens, at monuments, and so on. Performances are programmed in the Palais Royal courtyard, in the parks of the city, in the Museum of Mediaeval Arts, on the banks of the Seine, amongst other venues, as well as in Pantin or Aubervilliers just outside.
The event features a month long of performing arts in and around the streets that surround the French capital. Visitors get to see dance, music, theatre, and circus performances, which are all mainly free of charge. The artists and entertainers come from all corners of the planet, ready to be received by an enthusiastic audience that want to see their special talents. There are various venues for the events, such as parks in the city, in museums, on the banks of the Seine, and more! Most of the shows are free of charge or accessible at reduced rates. The main aim of the festival is to invite kids and adults alike to have fun.
6.) Rock en Seine
Since 2003, thousands head to the sprawling grassy terrain on the Domaine National du St-Cloud just outside Paris’ city limits to enjoy three days of live music at Rock en Seine, the city’s largest summer music festival. This has been happening every year, with awesome celebrations of rock music with a combination of hip-hop, electronic music and even pop!
The event is faithfully attended by the locals with over 100,000 music lovers gathering in the French capital each year at the Parc National de Saint-Cloud to enjoy the live concerts across the four stages. All styles of rock are represented, with major international bands playing alongside some of the freshest talents of tomorrow, in a great mix of styles and backgrounds with something for all tastes.
Since 2005, the festival has also offered an “Avant Seine” pre-festival, which invites new talents on the French rock stage to strut their stuff. You can but tickets for one, two or three days, depending on what you are willing to spend for some fun, and the adrenaline! For the seasoned festival-goer, camping space is available to set up a tent on the premises.
7.) Open-Air Cinema at the Parc de la Villette
This year, get down and pick your spot on the green lawns of the Parc de la Villette, in the 19th district in the north east of Paris as you wait for screenings at the Open Air Cinema Festival (Cinéma en plein air). You can actually rent a blanket and deckchair. A cultural highlight every summer with a different theme each time, the festival welcomes thousands of film fans with a programme of French and international films, both new releases and cult films of the past. Get ready to travel in your teen years through a wide range of movies. All the films are in their original language, with French subtitles. Lesser known films and short films are also screened.
This year, the event will be held between mid-July to late August. This is the Paris summer film festival event, perfect for sipping a glass of wine, ploughing into a picnic and striking a pose in front of masterpieces on the big screen. Special events and activities are also open to all. Entry to the screenings at the Open Air Film Festival is free of charge for all. Audiences are invited to bring a picnic and enjoy it before the screening begins. Deckchairs are available from 7.30 pm, at €7 each or five for €20 (free with a La Villette membership card).
8.) Open-Air Theatre at the Bois de Boulogne’s Jardin Shakespeare
The Théâtre de Verdure du Jardin Shakespeare, located in the Bois de Boulogne, in the Pré Catalan garden is one of the most beautiful open-air theatres in the world. The audience sits on a large lawn around which flowers blossom, trees spread their shade and plants which are mentioned in five of Shakespeare’s plays grow! Each year since 1992 the Tower Theatre Company has performed Shakespeare in this delightful setting. This green romantic garden is the setting for the performance of works by the famous English playwright William Shakespeare.
One way to get away from the urban grind of central Paris and indulge in some culture and fresh air is to visit the outdoor theatre. Starting in May and through late September or early October, the open-air theater hosts a slate of plays, dance and musical performances.
The program, generally composed of classics from the Bard himself (sometimes in English) and French thespians like Molière, is always varied and generally includes at least one or two events– such as dance and music programs– suitable for kids. In 2016, the 25th year, there shall be a presentation on Romeo and Juliet.
This garden is well-known for its beautiful trees and foliage, including a 200 year-old purple beech tree. Come enjoy your lunch or picnic with other Parisians, and make memories! Tickets are generally paid in cash or check only. Debit and credit cards not accepted.
9.) Tuileries Garden’s funfair
From 25th June to 28th August this year, the Jardin des Tuileries will host a traditional funfair as is always the case. People of all ages and sizes come together to enjoy the traditional rides during this period. Some of the fun activities include bumper cars, ghost trains, shooting gallery, hall of mirrors, 1900 wooden carousel horses. A few skill games are also on offer including duck fishing games, a family favourite and ring throwing. Kids also have trampolines and giant slides, shooting games, a hook-a-duck game, a scary fun-house, bumper cars, a merry-go-round with authentic wooden horses, the little train, among others.
The Tuileries Gardens get their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries in 1564. The famous gardener of King Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre, re-landscaped the gardens in 1664 to give them their current French formal garden style. The gardens, which separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde, are a cultural walking place for Parisians and tourists where Maillol statues stand alongside those of Rodin or Giacometti.
Entry to the funfair is free of charge but the rides and attractions charge a fee. The Funfair also has no background music. Whether you visit with family or friends, relax and stroll among the stalls and rides, enjoying the traditional fairground snacks such as candy floss, ice-cream, waffles, churros, beignets and caramel apples, doughnuts, toffee apples, as well as crêpes and hot sandwiches.
10.) Paris Jazz Festival
This year, the Paris Jazz Festival will be taking place from 11th June 2016 to 31st July 2016. Founded by two jazz fans in 1994, the Paris Jazz Festival (formerly “A fleurs de Jazz”) artfully blends jazz melodies and the harmony of nature. With over 120,000 spectators last year, this jazz festival has clearly established itself as one of the great events in the genre in Paris and across the Ile-de-France region. Nobody, at that time, predicted that this festival would be such a successful project, and in 1998 took the name – the Paris Jazz Festival – the rest became music history of this beautiful city.
It has a daring and eclectic line-up each year, it is a symbol of the vitality of the French and Parisian jazz scene, and it also involves major international jazz players and singers to perform on stage at the Espace Delta where music and nature come together as one!
Since it started, the festival has been supported by the Parc Floral in Paris which lends its blossoming, verdant backdrop to jazz -lovers. The concerts take place every Saturday and Sunday throughout June and July. They are free, but there is a very reasonable fee to enter the Park, the gigs start around 3 pm. Even if the Festival is at an early stage in its career, it does features quality acts.
Take a picnic and blanket and enjoy the riffs, as well as the fragrant and eye-catching blooms. Each annual edition features several French and international performers, both established acts and up-and-coming talents, so it’s a great way to soak up some music while relaxing outside.
11.) Download Festival
From Friday 10 June 2016 – Sunday 12 June 2016, all roads will be headed to the Download Festival in Paris, France. Download, the legendary heavy rock festival, is journeying across the channel and to Paris for its first edition outside the UK.
Slipknot’s Corey Taylor has described the festival as “the destination for heavy-metal and hard rock fans,” and it’s easy to see why. From Gods such as Iron Maiden and proper metal outfits like Slayer down to those more obscure, Download has all rock bases covered and more. The festival is also renowned for its extracurricular activities such as its awesome Inflatable Wedding Chapel, Heavy Metal Dating, Dog’s Bed Stage, and its real ale house, all providing the perfect tonic for when the moshing gets a bit too intense.
12.) Festival Solidays
Held since 1999, the Solidays is a music festival that is held on an annual basis. It takes place at the Longchamp Racecourse in France, attracting French and international musical performers. It is organized by Solidarité sida, a French AIDS awareness group for youth, who bring together more than 150 artists and 170 000 festival-goers for three days.
The proceeds from the festival are donated to organizations fighting against AIDS, especially for those focusing on the African continent. The performers involved in Solidays accept a reduced fee or appears for free as a sign of their solidarity.
This year, the event will run from Friday June 24th to Saturday June 25th.
13.) The French Open (“Roland Garros”)
Often referred to as Roland Garros, the French Open is a major tennis tournament held over two weeks between late May and early June at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France. It is named after the French aviator Roland Garros, and it is the premier clay-court tennis championship event in the world and the second of four annual Grand Slam tournaments. As one of four annual Grand Slam tennis tournaments “Roland Garros” (as fans call it) brings haughty Parisians, wide-eyed tourists and tennis-chasers together in mutual devotion to the elegant game.
Visitors are very well received at the tournament by smartly dressed youths and models. Despite its location in one of the most costly metropolises in the world, it’s actually possible to find affordable tickets at Roland Garros. If you do not mind spending, there are package deals that include a terrific seat, buffet lunch, and the camaraderie of other well-heeled tennis fanatics. There are also reasonably priced “outside courts” passes which offer access to the smaller courts, which means you can spend the entire day on the grounds, hopping from court to court. While you won’t see the top seeds, you will have the chance to stand mere feet away from up-and-coming talent.
Public transportation to the tournament is pas de soucis. Try the French Open ad share your experience. It is worth a visit, not only for tennis buffs but for Francophiles and lovers of spectacle.
14.) Rendez-Vous aux Jardins (Meeting in the gardens) festival
Set up in 2003 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, this event happens every year on the first week-end of June. It opens over 3500 gardens throughout France for visits by the public.
In 2011, 1.8 million of visitors discovered around 2200 public and private gardens all over the French territory, including 400 exceptionally opened and more than 200 opened for the first time.
This event aims to enable the visitors to understand the complexity and the importance of the measures taken to know, protect, preserve, look after and restore the gardens. It also allows to transmit their savoir-faire and to enhance their cultural dimension. In addition to the massive opening of public and private parks and gardens, this event hosts many activities related to the national and/or a regional theme.
The gardens’ owners and administrators are invited to offer specific activities: guided visits, concerts, readings, demonstrations of their skills, workshops for children, lectures, games/competitions, gardens opened until sunset on Saturday night. There are also special tours and access to gardens in the Jardin des Plantes, the Musée du Vivant (part of the sustainable ecology school), Musée Curie, the forest in the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand, and Parc Montsouris. For many of the visits you need to email to sign up for free (like the vegetable garden on the roof of the Musée du Vivant). The event takes place from the 3rd of June to the 5th of June.
15.) Paris Fais-toi Belle!
Keep Paris beautiful! The Paris Fais-toi Belle! community clean-up event (4th June) has each arrondissement having a neighbourhood spring tidy up (gloves, bags, brooms, tongs and other cleaning equipment provided). This might be a nice way to pitch in and maybe even meet interesting people.
Following several smaller local initiatives, Mayor Hidalgo launched a citizens’ litter collection operation taking place all over Paris. As part of the “Paris fais-toi belle” clean-up drive, volunteers work alongside city employees to spruce up the streets and green spaces in their neighbourhoods. Everyone participates to raise awareness of the need to protect the environment and the public space. The “Paris fais-toi belle” operation aims to inform, to involve and to empower residents, as well as reminding Parisians of the magnitude of the task undertaken every day by the municipal sanitation workers.
Each year, the City’s employees collect 900,000 tonnes of household waste and 90,000 tonnes of bulky waste (furniture, electronic items and so on) from the streets, as well as keeping 1,600
km of roads and 2,900
km of footpaths clean.
16.) Carnaval Tropical parade
On June 4th, the 16th annual Carnaval Tropical parade sees over 4000 dancers celebrating French West Indies cultures as well as other dancers from Brazil, China, Colombia and other nations around the world. You should go see the dancers and try out the exotic foods on sale!
17.) The annual ‘Les 24h Vélib’
This is a free event and this year there will be celebrations of the 8th year of Vélib’! The event will take place on 15th and 16th of June this year. The street is closed to traffic from 8 am to 8 pm for a bike festival with several events for adults and kids, food trucks, pétanque, live DJ entertainment, information stands, etc. If you’d like to participate in the charity fundraising Vélib’ relay just show up and look for the Grand Boucle signs (every 2 laps pedaled = 1€ for charity).
What could be better? All over Paris you’ll find city bikes for rent, and you’ll be able to enjoy them on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, which will be car-free! It will be closed to cars for the occasion. The event is also for a good cause, with funds being raised to support charities.
The goal of the two days of festivities is to have people cycle 25,000km with 400 vélibs and to raise money for three different associations: Good Planet, Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque or la Fondation du Patrimoine. They will have a little village set up near the Petit Palais, and then on the Sunday, they will close down the Champs Elysée for the bike ride.
So if you’ve always had a secret desire to know what it feels like to be coming into Paris with the Tour de France, now’s your chance! You’ll be allowed to do 10 “tours”, and then you can decide which one of the three associations you want to donate your ride to (the association with the most number of rides will get a little extra bonus at the end). Last year, they rode over 17,000 km and raised more than 40,000€ for the associations.
18.) Murs Ouvertes
Also known as the ‘Open Walls for street art’, the Murs Ouvertes takes place at Lavo – Matik, featuring a collection of street artists from around the world and the entry is free. The festival runs from around 14th May to 18th June. Events during the festival include June 4th discount on all Obey t-shirts by Shepherd Fairey, June 11th signing by Levalet of his monograph “Des Illusions Comiques”, and the June 18th closing party. This year, they will also be hosting a live concert for Fête dela Musique on June 21st.
19.) Alexander Kato-Willis
On 4th June and 26th June, come witness a classical improvisation live. Don’t miss the virtuoso Japanese-American pianist Alexander Kato-Willis creating gorgeous, classical music before your eyes during a one-hour concert (followed by reception with wine and nibbles) in a private home on the Rue St-Honoré in Paris’ 1st arrondissement.
Every note is created in the moment; no performance is ever the same. This type of classical improvisation has not been seen in a really long time! Tickets go for €25, which is a real deal compared to the enjoyment you will receive in return.
20.) Théâtre du Châtelet – wonder.land
Come June 7th to 16th, another world-class musical in English will be playing at the Théâtre du Châtelet this month, wonder.land: the edgy modern-day take on Alice in Wonderland “that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives.”
Commissioned in partnership with the Manchester International Festival and the National Theatre, wonder.land uses a combination of live theatre and digital sets, as well as a score by Damon Albarn (of the British group Blur), to create a very contemporary look at coming-of-age in the 21st century.
Aly is struggling with all the pressures of being a teenager: family, school, friends and her own insecurities. Then she discovers wonder.land – a mysterious online world where, perhaps, she can create a whole new life. The web becomes her looking-glass – but will Aly see who she really is?
Combining live theatre and digital technology in dazzling new ways, wonder.land is brought to life on stage by an extraordinary creative team. With stunning sets, costumes, video projection and lighting, and a score by Blur’s Damon Albarn, this is a musical like no other: an Alice for the online generation.
wonder.land explores teenage issues and contains some strong language. It’s not suitable for children under 10. Tickets from €10 to €55.