Immortalized in literature and song, there might not be a better time to be in Paris than the Springtime.
Les Berges (Raïssa)
Les Parisiens bask in the warm rays and take in the spring air and blossons in any way they can, usually camped out on the sunniest terraces or leisurely strolling through the most popular parks and along the waterways.
Luxembourg gardens in a mellow moment – Carin Olsson
If you don’t want to follow the crowds, there are plenty of wonderful places to make the most of the season, without half of the city (and its visitors) joining you.
Opened last summer along the southwest bank of the Seine, Les Berges has quickly become the place to picnic or enjoy an evening drink along the river. However, this means that unless you arrive early it can be practically impossible to find space to sit, let alone a free table at the highly coveted En Attendant Rosa bar terrace.
Instead, head to the east end of Paris, where you can start by lounging or having a late afternoon picnic on the large shaded lawn of the Parc de Bercy. Covering more than 14 hectares its one of the largest parks in the city, a well-kept secret of the 12th arrondissement. At dusk walk across the Josephine Baker footbridge for a Seine-side drink and DJ at the Batofar or Petit Bain boats or on the rooftop deck of the ultra-hip Wanderlust in the Cité de la Mode.
The capital’s many gardens are an obvious choice for savoring the spring, nevertheless, the Tuileries, Luxembourg and even the more off-beat Buttes-Chaumont can get jammed packed especially on weekends. Follow the sun west for two of the best places to experience the natural wonders of the season: the Parc de Bagatelle and the Jardin Albert Kahn.
You can begin with touring the refined Parc de Bagatelle, located on the northwest side of the Bois de Boulogne. Its history actually dates back over 200 years stemming from a dare in 1775 between Marie Antoinette and her brother-in-law the count of Artois that he couldn’t convert this newly acquired property into a leisure chateau and park in less than 64 days.
He won the bet and the beautiful site is still proof of his success. Today the park is home to over 10,000 rose bushes and hundreds of other flower varietals. Just south of the Bois is the lesser-known Albert Kahn Museum and Garden. This turn of the twentieth century philanthropist of exploration had the garden designed with different botanical atmospheres from around the world. Spring is great time to visit this special place, with its flourishing international blossoms. More memorabilia of his travels is on display in the museum, in case you need a break from strolling in the sun.
Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte (Selden Vestrit)
When the warmer days start rolling in, locals and tourists alike love to escape the hectic city. The most popular day trips from Paris in the spring tend to be Versailles or Giverny. While the impressive royal gardens of Louis XIV and those of impressionist painter Claude Monet are spectacular, it can be hard to take in their beauty with the mobs of visitors. To experience the origins of the French garden in relative peace, make a trip out to Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the inspiration for Versailles.
The castle holds many events throughout the season such as their candlelight evenings and coming up on May 25th a 17-18th-century Grand Siècle costume day with a déjeuner sur l’herbe picnic and costume contests. For a more laidback castle-garden visit, try to Chateau de Rambouillet. Rich in French regal history, it dates back to the 14th century and has connections to leaders from Francois I to Napoleon. A stroll in its bucolic gardens will lead you to the posh Laiterie de la Reine, a dairy built for Queen Marie Antoinette.
What are your favorite off-beat things to do in Paris in the springtime?
Written by Lily Heise for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.