Parisian Living

August in Paris: The City’s Still Buzzing

by Erica Berman

August. An ideal time to be in Paris, as long as you don’t expect endless days of sunny hot weather or being able to work on the perfect tan. Yes, as the current season has shown, Parisian summer weather can be unpredictable! Being in Paris in August is still fabulous (and my favorite month of the year by far), as long as  you don’t need to:

•    Receive medical attention of any kind…
•    Get a haircut
•    Order furniture
•    Perform administrative tasks
•    Renovate your apartment or fix a small leak

Picnicing at La Villette before a movie

As of July 1, the French are either on vacation, planning vacation or dreaming of vacation. When August 1 rolls around, they are pretty much all truly en vacances (if not physically, at least mentally).  Nothing serious is possible in Paris before September and la rentrée. One must know this and plan accordingly.

You can forget about ordering the new couch you’ve been coveting anytime between July 1 and Sept 1. “Oh la la Madame… the factory where the couches are manufactured is closed until the end of August! Zut, alors the 6-8 week delay will bring you to at least mid- October before delivery can be made.”

You can try to get to the dentist to repair the filling that inconsiderately fell out over dinner. Another chorus of “Oh la la Madame, ze dentist is on vacation and will be back September 1.”

Strolling on the Canal St Martin

Summer flu? Need a doctor? “Oh la la Madame le cabinet medical is closed until further notice.”  Note: Don’t expect forthcoming referrals or sympathy.

Need a haircut and color… “Oh la la Madame…” you get the picture.

That said, once you are familiar with the rules, you can plan accordingly and then relax, knowing you won’t get anything serious done in Paris in August anyway. Just make sure not to fall ill or need root canal surgery. **

Notre Dame and tanning along the Seine in the sun

Visitors to our lovely city may rejoice in the fact that, since they are blessedly on holiday, they don’t have the day-to-day worries of living in Paris and not being able to accomplish anything in August, and thus can jump right into all the fabulous Paris August activities.

Here are some suggestions for not-to-be-missed culture and entertainment events happening in Paris in August: (Please note these are 2011 dates and will vary slightly in following years)

St Sulpice

August festivals

  • La Villette, July 19- August 21 -Picnic galore and free movies as soon as the sun sets.
  • Clair de Lune, August 5-22 –  Free movies all around Paris based on where they were filmed
  • Paris Quartier D’été. Culture, danse, music… It’s too late to catch this great event in 2011, but mark it in your 2012 calendar now! It runs every summer from around mid July until the end of the first week of August.
  • Paris Plage, July 21-Aug 21
  • L’Eté du Canal summer festival – another Paris plage in  the hip Northern Paris area just beyond the Canal St Martin, June 25- August 28th.
  • Theater and music in the gardens and streams of Chantilly, every weekend from July 16 – August 18.
  • Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles. This spectacular water festival takes place every Saturday evening starting  9 pm from June 18 – September 3.
  • Carnival in the Tuileries gardens through August 21st.

La Villette

All major museums and tourist attractions remain open in Paris in the summer. You will also find that many food shops, restaurants and boutiques are open as well. You will not go without baguette, red wine or culture when visiting Paris in August!

** Please note: I am slightly exaggerating above. You CAN, with a bit of ingenuity and persistence find that random Frenchie who IS working in August. For the record, I successfully secured a haircut appointment the first week of August, found a handy man to fix my semi-broken fuse box with two days notice, went to the doctor AND managed to have my two new arm chairs re-upholstered and delivered last weekend, just in the nick of time before Monsieur le tapissier went en vacances!

Paris Plage Canal de L’Ourcq

Related links

Written by Erica Berman for the Hip Paris Blog. All photos taken by Erica Berman. For our amazing rentals in Paris, Provence & Tuscany check out our website Haven in Paris.

Written By

Erica Berman

Erica Berman grew up in Lexington, Mass. After graduating from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Journalism and an intensive summer at Middlebury College (Vermont), Erica went to Paris with hopes of submerging herself in French culture and perfecting her French -- and she stayed 20 years. Erica is the founder of the HiP Paris Blog and Haven In her former company. She now splits her time between Paris (Montmartre) and Maine (Midcoast). She recently started a non-profit growing organic produce for the food insecure in Maine called Veggies to Table. In her all-too-rare free time, Erica likes to travel off the beaten track, explore Paris and Maine, read, take photos, cook, kayak, hike and enjoy long Sunday brunches with her friends. View Erica Berman's Website

8 comments on “August in Paris: The City’s Still Buzzing

Roger is right! Anyway, great article Erica – very true! The city does have a wonderful sense of calm, particularly during my morning commute where the metro corridors are eerily empty. If only the people ON the metro would get the memo about taking it easy during August and would leave the pushing and rushing for the rentrée! Enjoy your break!

architects, rather. lol

Love this article.
As I’m decorating my first apartment in Paris it’s taught me valuable lessons. It pays to establish good relationships with salespeople, owners, architets, etc. Indeed, the couch thing was unbelievable at first but as I bought the bed from the same company I received a promo price on a gorgeous sofa and it will be delivered next week. Habitat has great delivery service as well. I’ve discovered new textile and furniture stores in the process and I really do think that someone upstairs is smiling on me because it’s been a pleasure finding treasures in this city to create a beautiful apt. to come home too when Paris gets a little tiring. I really like the way you tell the truth about Paris.

What a lovely article — and the photographs are terrific, too.

Be glad that the city’s buzzing and not burning!

I wish I could take August off! It sounds like a great custom that should definitely be imported state-side, if only personally…I did manage to get two days off work to create a four-day weekend for a little personal summer hiberation writing session, just me and the cats and the laptop.

It would all be better if this was taking place in Paris, though…

paris (im)perfect

Very funny. And very true. I kind of like knowing there’s a month when everyone is just sort of checked out and nothing will get done. Takes the pressure off!

I do have to say, I kind of turn it around in some ways, though. I love working during August because I feel like I’m getting away with something. While everyone is on vacation, I feel like I’m getting ahead!

As for administrative tasks, I hope I don’t ever have to test the theory again, but I actually had a *positive* August experience at the tax office. After months of a pesky problem that would not get resolved, it finally did in August. NO ONE was at the office except a few workers – and certainly no clients. Maybe the worker was feeling relaxed because there was no one else there, but I finally got the attention I needed!

I sure hope I haven’t jinxed myself. Never know – the problem could rear it’s head again!

Enjoy August, Erica. It truly is great.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe without commenting

Vacation Rentals for Those Who Don’t just Travel, they Experience.

Boutique rentals from our trusted partner Haven In

Paris · Provence · Tuscany · London

Vacation Rentals You'll Love