Top 5 Things To Do In Paris in Summer
Ineke is a travel photographer who wants to encourage people to chase an exceptional life, live and travel outdoors, stay in unique places and discover themselves and our beautiful planet along the way. Find out more
Paris is always a good idea! So good that I visit almost every year, giving me plenty of tips, experiences and ideas I can share with you.
Whether it’s your first time, or your tenth, whether you’re traveling on a budget or have some money to spend, here are my top 5 things not to miss during a summer trip to Paris.
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Discover an oasis of green in this vibrant city
Are you more of a city person or a nature person? In Paris, it doesn’t really matter. The city is home to beautiful, busy streets as well as lush green garden walks.
My personal favorite is the Tuileries Garden, which is free for the public and so large you quickly forget the bustle of the city. Dating back to the French Revolution, this is a place where locals stroll, meet up, relax, and celebrate. Take a snack and a good book or newspaper and sit by the ponds to soak up the lively yet peaceful atmosphere.
Tip: Since it’s just next door, end your stroll with a visit to the Louvre, a royal palace which became the most visited art museum in the world, with an astonishing collection famously featuring the Mona Lisa. Explore the Louvre at your own pace but with a timed-entry ticket so you don’t waste valuable time waiting in line.
Another beautiful oasis of green on the edge of Paris I highly recommend is the breathtaking gardens where Queen Marie Antoinette spent her days. The Gardens at the Palace of Versailles are some of the world’s most celebrated gardens, especially in summer when they are in full bloom. They are free to visit unless you see them on a fountain show day. These happen almost daily during the summer, and are totally worth the extra few euros. The shows are full of optimism and possibility, and tell you a beautiful historic story, taking you from pond to fountain to statue.
While you’re there, take the time to visit the main palace, where you can catch a glimpse of the royal chamber. Imagine yourself attending the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, in the famous Hall of Mirrors. The estate of Trianon — on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles — is home to pretty palaces, sloping lawns, and sleepy waterways. It’s less crowded but equally stunning. Finish your trip to Versailles with a visit to the Queen’s Hamlet, Marie Antoinette’s quiet getaway in the estate or Trianon for peaceful walks and small parties.
Don’t waste time in line. Use a separate entrance and quickly find your way in this labyrinth with a guided tour. If you prefer to explore at your own pace, download the Versailles app to guide you and avoid the ticket line by booking your entry ticket in advance.
Tip: Bring a few light snacks for when you’re strolling through the gardens. They’re huge, and perfect for a picnic.
Experience the Eiffel Tower in an alternative way
The Eiffel Tower is one of the best-known sights in Paris, and for good reason. For 4 decades, it was the world’s tallest structure and its daring design impressed many. It’s still impressive today, and attracts crowds from all over the world.
If you don’t want to wait in line for hours, I discovered a great alternative way to see the Eiffel Tower while enjoying lunch. Located next to the structure is an outstretched grassy park called the Champs des Mars, perfect for a picnic with the best views of this incredible sight. You can either pay a visit to the supermarket first, or order a delicious picnic in advance from Picnics in Paris by Zia (located 5 minutes from the park).
If you’re in the mood for a fancier lunch experience, reserve your spot at Madame Brasserie, located on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. The food and service are excellent, the interior design is marvelous and you’ll have an amazing view without the crowds.
If after having the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower you can’t resist going up to the top, book a ticket to the Summit and avoid the ticket line. The views are unforgettable.
Don’t miss out on apéro time
“Apéro time” is like music to my ears. Apéro (short for apéritif) is an alcoholic beverage enjoyed before dinner to “open your appetite”. For the French it’s mostly about socializing and sharing a moment with friends or family.
One of my favorite apéro places is alongside or on the Seine. The coziest pop-up bars right next to the water can be found near the Eiffel Tower — look for the quay where the Seine river cruises depart (Port de Suffren and Port de la Bourdonnais). You could always book a river cruise and have your apéro on the water during sunset. The perfect way to enjoy Paris in summer.
Or you can have the best of both options, with an apéritif along the Seine at one of the lovely pop-up bars, followed by dinner on a panoramic glass boat as you glide through an illuminated Paris by night.
Add some sparkle to your night with a Parisian cabaret
What comes to mind when you hear the word “cabaret”? Let’s be honest, for me it was the words “old”, “boring”, and “overrated”. But then I got to experience it and nothing could be further from the truth. The “Moulin Rouge” is not just another show to fill your evening (or night). It’s an experience taking you back in time with beautiful burlesque dances, breath-catching acts, awe-inspiring costumes, and champagne to top it all off. Oh and did I mention the decorated venue you’re sitting in? As if you were back in 1899.
I would recommend having dinner first and booking the late night show with champagne included. You get half a bottle per person and, trust me, it’s the good stuff. Or you could also add a delicious French dinner to your experience.
Uncover more of the city on a bike tour
City trippin’ can be so exhausting, right? I know I often walk 6-12 kilometers a day when visiting a city. And my feet aren’t happy with that the next day.
There is a very good alternative to getting around though, and that is taking a bike. I’ve never seen so much of a city before and my feet are truly grateful.
In Paris, I would recommend you take a less touristy tour, which will take you to a few gems that are largely undiscovered by most visitors. Go off the beaten track with a local guide on a 3-hour bike tour and be amazed by what more the city has to tell. And if you feel like you’ve worked out enough in the previous days, there’s always the e-bike option.
Ineke is a travel photographer who wants to encourage people to chase an exceptional life, live and travel outdoors, stay in unique places and discover themselves and our beautiful planet along the way. Check her Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/its_your_travelista/