Landscape image of the Eiffel Tower against an orange sky with trees in the background. A very small French flag flies in the foreground.

Summer in Paris

Summer in Paris is a dream come true, filled with long sunshine-y days and warm, balmy evenings. Like many before me, I fell in love with the ‘city of love’ from my first visit years ago and it continues to captivate me. I’ve been to Paris many times and am excited to share my quick and comprehensive guide to getting the most out of Paris in the summer time.

Landscape image of the Eiffel Tower against an orange sky with trees in the background. A very small French flag flies in the foreground.
The Eiffel Tower – perfect in all seasons.

Free Walking Tour of Paris

My strongest recommendation is that you take a free walking tour of Paris as soon as you arrive. There is SO much to see and do that it can be difficult to know where to start, so a walking tour will help orientate you. Local guides are also a fantastic resource for where to eat and drink in the area in which you’re staying.

Most free walking tours of Paris last 2 – 2.5 hours and – despite the name – you pay at the end whatever you think the tour was worth. Most walking tour guides will email you a pdf at the end of the tour listing all their recommendations and tips.

Free Walking Tour of Paris Tip

Try to book the earliest walking tour of the day.
Not only will you beat some of the crowds, but you will then have the rest of the day for sightseeing at your leisure.

Plan for Crowds

Paris in summer is crowded. That’s a fact. Every year, but even more so this year because of the summer Olympics. So make sure you factor the crowds into your itinerary. I’ll list some simple tips and tricks to help you beat the crowds.

  • Book tickets well in advance. Attractions like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, and the Moulin Rouge can be booked out weeks in advance, so make sure you book your tickets early. Eiffel Tower tickets go on sale three months ahead of visiting date, so – especially in summer – be online and ready to buy your tickets as soon as they’re available.
  • Start your day as early as possible. Parisians – and Europeans more generally – tend to start their days a little later, and then finish a little later, than, say, Americans and Canadians. So if you’re wanting to have a look around at the magnificent sights of Paris, I suggest you head out early in the morning – before breakfast! – and enjoy the city in relative quiet. Early mornings are a great time to snap some photos of the iconic sites of Paris without anyone else around – take advantage of it!
  • Buy a multi-trip travel ticket. Buy a Navigo card from the service desk or ticket window of most metro stations, and load pre-paid trips onto it. The queues for tickets can be looooong and time-consuming so just do it once. The metro is fast, efficient, fairly expansive, and well priced, so make the most of it.
  • Buy a museum pass. If you know you’re going to go to at least two museums, a museum pass is definitely the way to go. Not only will it save you money, but it also allows you to skip the queues. Worth its weight in gold!
  • Book restaurants in advance. If there are particular restaurants you want to go to, make a booking as soon as you can. Parisians tend to eat a little later, so if you’re having trouble getting a booking for 8 or 9pm, try an earlier time slot.

Olympics this Summer in Paris

Olympics: 26 July – 11 August 2024.
Paralympics: 28 August – 08 September 2024.
The Olympics and Paralympics this summer in Paris will mean extra crowds – but also more excitement!
Expect additional road closures throughout the city to accommodate events. The road closures may last hours or several days, depending on the event and thoroughfare and parking restrictions.
Four new sports will be added to the Olympic schedule this year: breakdancing, surfing (to be held over 15,000kms away in Tahiti!), skateboarding, and sport climbing.
Although it’s called the ‘Paris Olympics’, events will be held in different locations. For example, the surfing will be held over 15,000kms away in Tahiti! The sailing will be held in Marseille Marina, football will be held in Nice, Bordeaux and Lyon, and equestrian and modern pentathlon events will be held in Versailles. So be prepared for excitement, crowds, road closures, and international Olympic spirit all around France (and Tahiti!).

Exhibitions this Summer in Paris

Paris – like most European cities – is expensive. But if you know where to look, there are still some great activities to keep you occupied that won’t break the bank. Here is a list of free or low cost exhibitions showing in Paris this summer:

  • Karl Lagerfeld exhibition of costumes and sets from the series, “Becoming Karl Lagerfeld“. Held from 07 June to 11 August 2024 at BHV Marais in the department store’s Observatory.
  • Artist SKIO is holding a solo show of their photos at Galerie Goldshteyn-Saatort until 16 July 2024.
  • Paris!” An exhibition showcasing the best the capital has to offer will be held at the Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ City Hall, until 16 November 2024. (Note that Hôtel de Ville will host the Olympic marathon, so expect disruptions to the exhibition during that time.)
  • The Canadian Cultural Centre presents and exhibition by Canadian filmmaker and digital artist, Clive Holden, entitled “Composition pour un ensemble, ou L’Esprit des Jeux“. Translated to “composition of an ensemble, or spirit of the games”, the exhibition is free for you until 07 September 2024.
  • Festival Paris L’ete. Fun in summer in Paris this year will be hosted at 40 different locations through the city – at parks, famous monuments, and public squares. On throughout July and August.
  • The annual Paris Jazz Festival – Paris Floral Park – check the website’s calendar for details about artists and performance times.
  • The exhibition “Sous le soleil des savoir-faire, Les Maîtres d’art à Versailles” will be held at the Espace Richaud in Versailles from 19 June until 22 September. Discover 100 unique creations by 33 exceptional craftspeople, highlighting rare and precious skills handed down from generation to generation.
  • Fête des Tuileries. The annual Paris funfair is a return to your youth! Think cotton candy and rides and summertime fun! On during July and August 2024 in the Tuileries Gardens and Place de la Concorde.
  • The Korean Cultural Centre is offering a free and fun exhibition of Korean games from the 18th century until today. From vintage toys to video games, you can check out the excitement until 05 October 2024.

Paris Parks and Gardens

Summer in Paris is a delightful time to make good use of the city’s parks and gardens. Some are free, others charge a small fee, but all are very well maintained and offer visitors a shady respite from the heat and the crowds.

  • Parc de la Légion d’Honneur. Gorgeously free green space – 24 hectares for you to stroll through at your leisure.
  • Jardin des Tuileries. With the Louvre at one end and Place de Concorde at the other, the park is gorgeous all year round. And free!
  • Jardin du Luxembourg. The beautiful Luxembourg Gardens (sometimes known as the Gardens of the Senate because its owned by the French Senate) is centrally located in the 6th arrondissement. Boasting fruit trees and gorgeously manicured lawns, it’s the perfect place for a picnic.
  • Parc Monceau. So beautiful that even Claude Monet painted here! Bordering the 8th and 17th arrondissements, Parc Monceau has free wifi, coffee shop, a couple of playgrounds and a carousel for the kids. Parc Monceau is fabulously French!
  • Coulée Verte René-Dumont. This innovative and interesting Promenade Plantée is built on and along what used to be the Vincennes railway line. An extensive green belt, the park runs for almost five kilometres (three miles) and ranges from wildly wonderful to neat and planted with fruit and nut trees. Great walk, but not all sections are easily accessible for wheelchair users, and parts can get busy on summer days.
  • Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil. Located in the 16th arrondissement, this botanical garden is open to the public and houses over 1,000 species of plants.
  • Square du Vert-Galant. Cute little patch of greenery below Pont Neuf!
  • Le Bois de Boulogne. A gloriously gigantic public park in the 16th arrondissement that was once a royal hunting ground. Not it includes walking/ running trails, lakes, restaurants, and even a camp ground.
Landscape park scene with budding tree in the front, a circular pond with a fountain and bronze lion in the middle ground and parkland in the background. All in a pinkish hue.
Beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, Paris.

Free Museums in Paris

Paris can get really hot in the summertime, so I suggest you spend the hottest part of the day in the cool, air conditioned comfort of one of Paris’ many museums. But going to a museum or art gallery each day doesn’t have to be expensive! Paris is home to a number of museums that are free for everyone all year round. Still more museums are free on certain days in the month, so plan your visit accordingly:

Free Museums in Paris

The following museums are free all year round. However, most museums in Paris are closed at least one day per week, so please double-check the museums’ websites to verify opening hours and days.

  • Musée Bourdelle. Sculpture studio and gardens of Emile-Antoine Bourdelle. Located in the 15th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.
  • Atelier Brancusi. Centre Pompidou in the 15th arrondissement. Brancusi’s entire collection of sculptures, drawings, paintings, glass photographic plates and original prints. Includes Brancusi’s furniture and tools. (NOTE: Check Center Pompidou website – Atelier Brancusi is currently closed for renovation works but due to re-open any day now.)
  • Musée Curie. Historical museum based on radiological research. Located in the 5th arrondissement. Open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 1pm – 5pm.
  • Le Plateau. Contemporary art in a modern, minimalist setting. Located in the 19th arrondissement. Open Wednesdays to Sundays from 1pm – 7pm.
  • Musée de la Préfecture de Police. Museum of police history. Located in the 5th arrondissement. Open Tuesdays to Fridays.
  • Mémorial de la Shoah. Holocaust museum. Located in the 4th arrondissement. Closed Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Partly Free Museums

The following museums offer free entry to the permanent collections on display, but temporary exhibitions attract an entrance fee:

  • Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris. Museum of modern and contemporary art. The gallery boasts over 15,000 artistic creations from the 20th and 21st centuries. Located in the 16th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.
  • Maison de Balzac. A museum in the former house of renowned French writer, Honoré de Balzac. Lovely garden and fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower. Located in the 16th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.
  • Petit Palais / Musée des Beaux-arts de la Ville de Paris. The beautiful Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts. It’s home to a lovely collection of artworks including paintings and sculptures that the City of Paris has acquired over time. It’s a small gallery so you can pop in for under an hour, if you so choose. Located in the 8th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.
Landscape view of the ornate, single arch Alexandre Bridge III in Paris, complete with gold statues atop stone plinths at each corner. The bridge spans the Seine river with a couple of boats on it.
Pont Alexandre III, Paris, in summer.

Free Days at Paris Museums

The following museums offer free entry once a month – often the first Sunday of the month, but please check. Additionally, some of these museums (including Musée d’Orsay) require you to book online in advance:

  • Musée d’Orsay. My personal favourite museum in Paris! Spectacular collection of (mainly French) paintings and sculptures housed in the gorgeous old railway station, Gare d’Orsay. Located in the 7th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays. Free on the first Sunday of the month (but bookings are essential).
  • Musée de l’Orangerie. A gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Located next to Place de la Concorde. Closed on Tuesdays.
  • Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. Museum featuring the indigenous art and cultural artefacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Located in the 7th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.
  • Musée de Cluny-Musée National du Moyen Âge. Museum of medieval art. Located in the 5th arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.
  • Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine. A museum of architecture including modern and contemporary architecture, castings, stained glass windows and murals. Located in the 16th arrondissement (and offering a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower!). Closed on Tuesdays.
  • Musée Gustave Moreau. A gallery dedicated to the works of Symbolist painter, Gustave Moreau. Located in the 9th arrondissement. Closed on Tuesdays.
  • Musée Picasso. Gallery dedicated to the works of Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso. Closed on Mondays. Free on the first Sunday of the month.
  • Musée Jean-Jacques Henner. Museum dedicated to the art works of French painter, Jean-Jacques Henner. Located in the 17th arrondissement. Closed on Tuesdays. Free on the first Sunday of the month.
  • Musée Guimet. An impressive collection of Asian art – reportedly the largest collection in Europe. Located in the 16th arrondissement. Closed on Tuesdays.
  • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. A private museum with exhibits that focus on the relationships between humans and the natural environment through the traditions and practices of hunting. Located in the 3rd arrondissement. Closed on Mondays.

Summary of Summer in Paris

Paris is the perfect place to spend summer! With just a little planning, you can beat the crowds to visit monuments, museums, parks and exhibitions. (And still have some money left over to eat delicious French pastries!) I hope you love Paris in the summer as much as I do, and I hope your holiday is perfect. Bx

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