Why August is the best month to visit Paris

August 2, 2023
August-1 (1)

Although most Parisians seem to rush out of the city as soon as the clock strikes midnight on July 31, it’s not necessarily because August is such a terrible month to be in Paris. On the contrary, it’s actually our favorite time of the year – for several reasons. Yes, many businesses are closed, and yes, the few who stay in the city are often plagued by a merciless heat wave called la canicule. But hear us out.

You have the city (almost) to yourself

That’s a luxury you’d normally never have in Paris, the densest city in Europe and the 7th densest in the world (denser even than New York City). While Parisians spend the rest of the year crammed into metro cars, stuck in pedestrian jams (yup, that’s a thing), fighting for the last available seats on terraces, and standing in line for everything and anything, it’s feels wonderful to finally have some peace, quiet – and, most importantly, space.

A little heads-up: Since August is the busiest month for travel (there’s two camps in Paris, the Juilletistes who vacation in July, and the Aoûtiens, who take time off in August and are the majority), this means that for every local who leaves, a visitor fills the gap. So tourist sites like the Louvre, Sacré-Coeur and so on can actually be busier than usual. But as long as you stick to local addresses and neighborhoods, you`ll be able to enjoy the wonders of a quieter Paris.

Sunny but not sticky

Aside from la canicule, which usually lasts a week or so, the weather is about as good as it gets. It’s less humid than in June and July, meaning you don’t have to take fifty showers a day, but still sunny and nice, which is a welcome change in this usually gloomy and gray city. In short, August weather provides the perfect conditions for the heaps of outdoor activities that await you.

Exhibitions, cinemas, concerts, rooftops

Locals watch a movie at the outdoor cinema at La Villette.

Lunch on a rooftop overlooking the landmarks and the tourists queuing in the sun, a photo exhibition on the waterfront, drawing in the park, drinks on the deck of a boat, and at the end of the day, an open-air movie or concert in or in front of the city`s most famous sites (yes, the same ones that unsuspecting tourists were queuing up for a few hours earlier). Life happens outside, partly because we all live in shoeboxes that become our own personal hell during the summer, but not only.

Paris Plage

We’re not gonna lie, your options for cooling off are limited. Most public pools are indoors only or heated by the crowds stewing in them, and most private ones will cost you more than a train ticket to the seaside. There is hope, however. The city has pledged to clean up the Seine, currently a bacterial death trap, and make it safe for swimmers by 2025. In the meantime, you can enjoy La Baignade, a pop-up swimming pool on the Canal de l`Ourcq whose water quality is regularly tested. Admission is free. La Baignade is part of Paris Plage, an urban city beach on the banks of the Seine and the Canal de l’Ourcq with a variety of water and outdoor activities, deck chairs and parasols.

Dance under the stars

No one wants to go to a stuffy nightclub when it`s a billion degrees outside, but putting off partying until fall isn`t an option either. Enter the city`s outdoor clubs, spread out on the outskirts of town where the thumping bass doesn`t bother anyone. Daytime is filled with a variety of festivals throughout the summer, and then of course there are the illegal parties in the woods.

Picture perfect

It`s hard to capture the beauty of Paris with the relentless flow of cars and passersby blocking your lens. So either you`re a skilled photoshopper, or you try your luck in August, when you`re more likely to find deserted streets and squares.

A colorful house in a normally busy street, with no one in sight.

Go with the flow

Eating out can be tiring, because unless you go to the corner bistro on your street, you have to plan ahead and reserve a table a few days, sometimes weeks, in advance. The same goes for seeing certain exhibitions and attending a show. It`s true that a lot of businesses close in August, so you might not be able to go to that hyped-up restaurant or the wine bar your friends recommended  from their last trip. But the places that do stay open during the national holiday month usually have seats available and welcome walk-ins, giving you the opportunity to be spontaneous.

If you`re visiting in August and aren`t sure what`s open and what`s not, or just want to explore a more local side of Paris, consider getting your own personalized travel guide tailored to your wants and needs.