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)
- 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.
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
- Do it in Paris also has some great tips on what to do in Paris in August
- Paris by Mouth has a list of restos that are open in August
- Jadis chef Guillaume Delage opens a new restaurant in the 6th