It’s never too early to start planning for the vast array of events offered in Paris as summer approaches. Here’s our complete guide to Paris in May with the best places to go, things to do, and activities for families in the City of Light.

While it is a great place to visit no matter what time of year, this is the month of the year when the streets of Paris really come alive. Summer is around the corner and all over Europe, people are relishing the longer daylight hours. As the average temperature starts warming up, May is one of the best months to visit. If you want to encounter fewer tourists and fewer crowds, the beginning of the month is a better time to visit. You can start to expect large crowds and long lines at popular attractions moving into late May and early June when we approach high season. Low season returns in late September or so.

Paris in May Weather

Late spring in Paris means (hopefully!) good weather. Still, pack an umbrella, a light sweater and a light jacket to transition from day to night. A hat and sunglasses are good if you’re lucky enough to have bright clear skies and sunny days in the French capital. The good news is that on average, there are only about nine rainy days in May. Expect an average high temperature of 67°F (19°C) and 50°F (10°C) for lows. 

First time Visitors

If it is your first time to Paris, it is a great time to savor walks, a guided tour, market days, parks and green spaces, a glass of wine en terrasse and of course, picnics. One of the best things is that it is the start of Festival season. It is the perfect time to enjoy a short walk in the early morning, stroll in the Île de la cité, Père Lachaise Cemetery, the Latin Quarter and scale the steps of Sacre Coeur. Enjoy open and green spaces from the lawns of the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine River, the Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des tuileries, Place des Vosges, Parc Clichy-Batignolles, and Square Gabriel Pierné, which is just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Pont des Arts and its sights and more.

In the approach to the summer months, it is the best time to enjoy outdoor events like a river cruise. It is a good idea to plan for day trips from Paris, to places like Disneyland Paris, Versailles and the Loire Valley.

Paris in May – Public Holidays

There are a number of public holidays in France in May which may impact opening days and times for establishments:

  • 1 May: Labor Day
  • 8 May: World War II Victory Day
  • 9 May: Ascension Day
  • 20 May: Whit Monday (Pentecost Monday)
Inside an opera house full of marbled stairs and golden lights.
Inside Opéra Garnier by Laila Gebhard

Paris Events in May 2024 – Culture

Tous à l’Opéra, Various locations – May 3-5

Tous à l’Opéra is an event hosted in almost every major city in France, from Montpellier to Lille with partners like the prestigious L’Opéra de Paris. For its 17th year running, the theme is L’Espirt d’équipe, or “Team Spirit.” So take the opportunity to participate in these special events meant to make the opera more accessible for the public.

Musical Fountains Show, Palace of Versailles – Every weekend until October 27 and Every Tuesday from May 7-June 25 + May 9, 20 and August 15

The Versailles Palace hosts a musical fountain show with lights, baroque music, and circuits around the gardens. Immerse yourself in the height of the French court era. This is an excellent trip for families with kids as well, teaching them the history of the Palace and allowing them to experience the iconic gardens of Versailles.

A stand full of colorful pastries for sale.
Foire de Paris by Jérôme S

Foire de Paris, Paris-Porte de Versailles – Until May 1-May 12

The Foire de Paris celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2024. Held at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, it has everything from kid’s animations and workshops, products made in France, tempting gastronomy, wine tastings and more. The fair has exhibited products, companies, leisure activities, and international cuisine since 1904. Discover new products and experience the best of Paris in one place.

“La Chambre d’Eaux” by Marie Barbottin and Catherine Verlaguet, Théâtre de la Ville – May 10-13

La Chambre d’Eaux” asks the question girl or boy? In this contemporary fable based around an old-fashioned bathtub, the audience is taken by the presence of bodies into a universe where the stereotypes assigned to girls or boys are unknown. Presented by Théâtre de la Ville, tickets range from 8-16 euros.

A woman pours in blonde beer in a beer glass.
Blonde beer on tap by Elevate

Paris Beer Festival, Ground Control – May 20-26

If you need a good reason to enjoy a beer, Paris Beer Festival  is it. The festival celebrates independent and artisanal beer from Paris and throughout the Île de France region in its 11th edition. This year, nearly around 60 local and international microbreweries will come together for a week to show off and celebrate their craft. This event is perfect for those who enjoy supporting small breweries and this artisanal craft.

Saint Germain des Prés Jazz Festival, various locations – May 13-20

The Saint Germain des Pres Jazz Festival was created in 2001 to celebrate international jazz artists in the heart of Paris’ jazz scene. It is the must-see spring festival for European jazz lovers, with exceptional concerts, talented young artists worldwide, and their multicultural artistic ventures with jazz as their medium. The festival takes place in several unique locations throughout Paris, with notable locations including the Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Maison de l’Océan and the l’Alliance Française.. 

A man in white shirt and cap leans down for his bread dough.
Bread-making at the Fête du Pain by WordRidden

Fête du Pain, Notre Dame Cathedral – May 7-16

Fête du Pain is a staple of spring in Paris. This year it will take place near Notre Dame Cathedral. This festival is an opportunity to learn about the insider secrets to making bread, pastries, and other French staples from the most well-known bakers in Paris! You’ll learn about the essentials, rules, and the art of the baguette tradicion and witness competitions for the best almond galette, apple tart, and butter croissant. 

Les Printemps des Rues, various locations – May 25-26

Les Printemps des Rues is an art festival hosted in three arrondissements of Paris over one weekend at the end of the month. It highlights the diversity of street artists, from music to spray-paint art. Ultimately, the festival brings out artists’ inner worlds and connects them to more prominent societal factors to unite the artists and the public. With live music, dance exhibitions, theater, and even marionette performances, there is something to discover for everyone. This year, the 27th edition takes places in the 10th, 18th and 19th arrondissements with a number of free events.

Armide by Jean-Baptiste Lully , Opéra Comique – until June 25

Under the musical direction of Christophe Rousette and direction of Lilo Baur this production is presented with French and English subtitles. When Syria was the land of crusades and legends its queen Armide captivated as much as she captured the Christian knights with her charm. But when the valiant Renaud aims to free his companions, Armide falls in love with him and her love proves destructive. Hosted by the Opéra Comique, it is a must-see for opera lovers.


La Fête du Travail – May 1

La Fête du Travail is the French version of Labor Day and is known as a national strike day. Workers take to the streets to celebrate their right to protest to protect their rights and the standardized 8-hour work day. This is an important day to mark in your calendar if you visit France around this time of year.

“May Day” – May 1

May Day is celebrated as the official arrival of spring in France, and it is the only day in the year that flowers can be sold on the street without a permit. Historically, a lily of the valley is presented to mothers and close family. Called muguets in French, lilies of the valley have been a symbol of good luck since the 16th century.

Le jour de la victoire en Europe “Victory Day” – May 8

“Victory Day” in Europe is celebrated for the Allied victory in World War II and the announcement of Germany’s surrender. It is a public holiday in France, including a commemorative parade down the Champs Elysées. In addition, the president leads a ceremony honoring the Unknown Soldier buried under the Arc de Triomphe. It is an important day in history and includes many French history and culture displays. If you are in Paris on Victory Day, you should witness the great traditions of the day.

La nuit des musées (European Museums Night) – May 18

The European Museums Night (La nuit des musées) is an event throughout Europe in which over 3,000 museums across 30 countries offer free admission, with various activities for their patrons. Enjoy this unique opportunity to have free access to some of the world’s greatest art held in permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

A tennis player in red shirt and white pants stands in a tennis court.
Rafael Nadal at the French Open by Frédéric de Villamil

The French Open: “Roland-Garros” – May 20-June 9

The French Open (Roland Garros) is one of the world’s great sporting events. Featuring some of the biggest stars in tennis to the game’s ambitious up-and-comers. There are a variety of tickets for various experiences, so there is something for everyone.

Improvised PowerPoint Comedy Show, La Pomme D’eve – Every Wednesday

This comedy show is in English and challenges some of Paris’ best stand-up comedians to present a PowerPoint presentation on a topic they have never seen before! The show is the only one of its kind in Paris, and a crowdfunded performance means it is accessible for a reasonable price. So enjoy a night of standup comedy in an intriguing format and support Paris comedians all in one space.

Art Exhibitions

Henri Matisse: The Red Studio, Fondation Louis Vuitton, May 7-September 9

Centered on Matisse’s iconic 1911 masterpiece the Matisse: The Red Studio, focuses on the birth and history of this masterpiece. Held in collaboration with MoMA and the National Gallery of Endmark, It has been on of the MoMA’s iconic works since 1949. The painting depicts Matisse’s studio adorned with patintings, sculptures, furniture and other decorative pieces. It is the first time the artworks depicted in the painting have been reunited since leaving Issy-les-Moulineux, the home of Matisse’s studio. Also shown are related drawings and paintings and other archival material.

Henri Matisse's iconic dance painting in blue and orange.
Dance by Henri Matisse

En Amour, Cité de la Musique – Philharmonie de Paris, until August 25

The interactive experience En Amour combines theatre, performance art, and digital installation. Artists Claire Bardainne and Adrien Mondot created a work of participatory choreography inviting visitors to immerse themselves to the rhythms of a 40 minute work of experimental music, their dances blending in to the projected images.

Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism, Musée d’Orsay, until July 14

The exhibition “Paris 1874” features artworks shown in the first Impressionist exhibition and displays them with pieces from the official Salon of 1874. This comparison showcases and compliments the revolutionary aspects of this emerging artistic movement. This retrospective explores the contrasting Impressionist movement and the traditional Salon of 1874, a significant chapter in the evolution of artistic expression.

Le Monde Comme Il Va (The World as It Is), Bourse de Commerce, until September 23

A sucsession of contemporary works from the Pinault Collection will explore the question of how contemporary artists view the world that surrounds them in Le Monde Comme Il Va. The iconic works on display date from the 1980’s until now and include a monumental installation by Kimsooja in the museum’s rotunda.

Inside an art museum with marbled statues and painted ceilings.
Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

A New Look at Jan Van Eyck, The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, Louvre, until June 17

The historic conservation work carried out on Jan Van Eyck’s iconic work, A New Look at Jan Van Eyck has seen layers of oxidized varnish, which had darkened the pain, stripped away. Newly restored to its former glory, the Madonna of Chancellor Rollin is displayed with other paintings by the artist along with works by Rogier van der Weyden, and Robert Campin.

SheerThe diaphanous creations of Yves Saint Laurent, Musée Yves Saint Laurent, until August 25

Fashion lovers won’t want to miss Sheer:The diaphnous creations of Yves Saint Laurent. Its focus is the art of transparency, used by the famed designer in fabrics including chiffon, lace and tulle. Laurent’s unique approach to fashion highlighted women’s mystery, independence and strength next to their sensuality.

Robert Ryman, The Active Gaze, Musée de l’Orangerie, until July 1

The exhibit Robert Ryman: The Active Gaze is the first exploration in France devoted to the late American artist in more than 40 years. Associated with the American minimalist movement, Ryman’s historical importance is the focus of this retrospective.

Best for Families

Voyage dans le temps / Journey through time, Cirque Bormann Moreno- Wednesdays and weekends in May

The Bormann Circus presents its show, Voyage dans le temps through August 4. The audience will experience music and cultures throughout the ages in a journey through time. Combining familial history, juggling, horse training, and acrobatics, the show is a two-hour performance with music, comedy, and poetic commentary. With affordable tickets, you won’t want to miss it.

Musée Rodin Sculpture Workshop – Throughout May

Bring out your inner sculptor and discover the techniques and methods Auguste Rodin used through the Musée Rodin’s sculpture workshops. The activities are adapted to participants of all ages, and participants will see Rodin’s most famous works, such as The Thinker and The Kiss. There are many ways to engage with art outside the technological world, so take advantage of this unique workshop.

An indoor center full of food stalls.
At the Foire de Paris by Jérôme S

Written by Reagan O’Brien for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.


Reagan O’Brien

Reagan is from Washington, D.C. where she is studying International Relations and Linguistics. She is always looking for a good picture and for the next destination. Outside of writing, she loves all things creative like knit and crochet, photography, music, thrifting and upcycling, and wandering through museums.

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