Paris Plages/Pause Cafe, Isabel Miller-Bottome
For those who cherish the peaceful atmosphere resulting from the mass exodus of holiday-goers, August is Paris’ most prized month. In the past, I haven’t always embraced this sentiment, mainly because I love the charge of the city. I adore the hustle and bustle of the busy streets; the fashionable Parisians strutting down the sidewalk, chatting over a glass of wine or coffee on café terrasses, and shopping in the stylish boutiques. However, perhaps these August-lovers have it right? Here are 10 reasons to convince any reluctant critics (myself once included) why August is the best month to be in Paris:
Jardin de Reuilly/Place des Vosges, Isabel Miller-Bottome
1. There’s so much going on for free
Free movies, free concerts, free exercise lessons, free…! Your social calendar will be packed with the outdoor cinema screenings at la Villette or the Clair de Lune festival, pétanque or dancing at the Canal de l’Ourcq, running on Les Berges, and more. It might just be the best month to be in Paris on a budget, and since the weather tends to be nice you can save on dining costs by picnicking.
Le Lucernaire, Briag Courteaux
2. You can actually get a table en terrasse
I noticed the other day when scoping out the cafés on rue Montorgueil at the peak of lunch hour that there were a surprisingly large number of tables available. And same luck at apéro; we had our pick of the usually highly coveted tables. Next I plan to try some of the notoriously tough-to-get-into venues like le Perchoir; perhaps we’ll have repeat good fortune.
Le Louxor, Braig Courteaux
3. Discovering new bakeries
Most residents have their go-to favorite bakery. There’s nothing worse than arriving in front craving that crusty baguette only to find the door closed, blinds firmly pulled down and a hand-written notice stating “fermé pour congés annuels.” Fear not. Parisians can’t live without their daily bread. The bakeries in each neighborhood coordinate their holidays so that there is always a boulangerie open. The city of Paris even helps out with this handy list of bakeries open in August. While you might long for your preferred pain, by trying a new and different spot, you may discover that you like another bakery better.
4. Discovering new restaurants
This merits a separate category than the bakeries, because you might even have to hike across the city in your efforts to find the meal you crave. But it’ll be worth it, and you’ll likely have some pleasant discoveries. The legend of all good Parisian restaurants closing in August is slowly changing, and thankfully some restaurateurs have realized that there are many Parisians, and tourists, still in the city in August who are in search of a superior meal.
Le Petit Poucet, Palmyre Roigt
5. Reuniting with old friends
We’re always so busy in Paris that months can pass without seeing friends, even those who might live down the street. So many Parisians go away in August that you’re more inclined to text the people you haven’t seen in a while, in the hopes that they might have stayed around too.
Jardin du Ranelagh, Palmyre Roigt
6. Taking in the smaller things
Since there are fewer chances of being distracted by the sexy garçon who just walked by or the fabulous outfit sported by that ultra-cool parisienne, you can notice things that would have normally passed you by: quirky signs from the 1950s, a beautiful building facade, a secret passageway… Paris is a treasure trove of unique finds that even locals miss, and August is the perfect time to discover them.
7. Parisians are more relaxed
Parisians aren’t necessarily the friendliest, that is, while out and about. I can’t really blame them if they’ve just spent ages stuck in traffic, been shuffled around on the crowded metro during rush hour, or stepped in something unpleasant on the street. However, with most of these stresses reduced in August, the ones who stay in town are relaxed, have wide smiles on their faces, and take their time to enjoy the beautiful city and its pleasures. They may even strike up a conversation with you on the café terrasse that you’ve just scored a seat on.
La Guinguette de Neuilly, Palmyre Roigt
8. The air is cleaner
You may have experienced or read about the increase in pollution in Paris, mainly blamed on vehicle emissions. Since these cars have been driven down to the French Riviera, to Normandy, or are parked in their suburban garages, this naturally results in less exhaust, less traffic, and less noise pollution as well. If you do have to drive in Paris this month, the city offers free parking in many areas (another freebie to add to the list!).
Promenade Plantée, Isabel Miller-Bottome
9. You don’t need a good excuse to drink rosé…
Rosé wine is gradually losing its bad rap, but in summer it’s generally accepted, and even extolled. It’s the perfect accompaniment to your terrace enjoyment, and if packing a picnic, just be sure it remains well chilled.
10. …. or lay around by the Seine, in a park, on a patch of grass
There’s nothing better than relaxing by the river, the canals, or in the beautiful parks during summer, and especially in August. There are fewer Parisians doing the same, so you have a better chance of finding the perfect place to spread out your blanket, lay out your picnic with that new baguette and just-bought chilled rosé, chat with a nearby happy Parisian, or merely relax and breath in some of that fresh air…for free.
La Guinguette de Neuilly, Palmyre Roigt
That’s it, I’ve been won over! Enjoy your Parisian August!
- Here is Paris by Mouth’s comprehensive list of restaurants open this August.
- Learn everything you need to know about rosé wine this summer from Condé Nast Traveler.
- Don’t miss all of the restaurant openings, festivals, and other August events on the HiP Paris Blog!
Written by Lily Heise for the HiP Paris Blog. Images by Isabel Miller-Bottome, Briag Courteaux, Palmyre Roigt. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.