Thursday, August 6, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Why is Paris Empty in August?

Ah, Paris. The city of light, love, and le chocolat! If you’re planning a trip to France’s beloved capital, you may want to book for sometime in August. Not only is the weather parfait this time of year (think: mid-to-high 70s), but Paris is also a bit of a ghost town during the eighth month of the year. Ah, pourquois?, you may be wondering (why, that is).  August, for most folks, is a month for vacations, weddings, and time spent outdoors. It’s no different for Parisians– however, unlike Americans, these folks get bountiful vacation days. Like, plus or minus five months off!

With all of that vacation time, many Paris natives decide to use their plentiful time off to jet-set in August. So, while they’re vacationing somewhere else, you’ll have their hometown all to yourself! Paris sans les Parisiens! You’ll still have to get along with the other tourists, of course! Another plus of visiting Paris in August is that hotel prices tend to drop. I can hear your bank account saying “oui, oui!” already!

When visiting Paris in August, you must remember that this is when many Parisians are on vacation…including many shop owners. So, if you have a certain boulangerie or pâtisserie you’d like to visit, double-check that it will be open in the summer months. Don’t worry, you won’t starve though! There are still many crèpes to be had in Paris in August. You may just have to walk or bike a bit longer to find them!

If you don’t mind the quiet streets and less hustle and bustle of the otherwise energetic city, then Paris in August is the place to be. You can stroll the streets, relish the sights without crowds, hop on the métro without fear of being pushed aside, and truly take advantage of this city on vacation.

Here are a few other tips if you plan to visit Paris in August:
Some Museums Are Free!

In August, tourists can enjoy some of Paris’ most wonderful museums – for free! From the Modern Art Museum and the Carnavalet Museum to the Zadkine Museum and the Museum of Romantic Life, there is no shortage of cultural experiences to be had in Paris. Some museums also offer free entry on Sundays throughout the year, including the  Picasso Museum.
Zadkine Museum
Soak up the Parisian Sun!

While the folks who live in Paris year-round are off in Santorini or off in Normandy, you can soak up the sun in their own backyard! Paris is home to some really cool “beach” spots, which are less crowded than you might expect for the height of summer. While it may not be the traditional ocean scene, you should definitely check out one of the three main riverbank spots along the River Seine, complete with sand! These temporary artificial beaches offer the perfect mix of city and “ocean” vibes.
Paris Plage
Enjoy the Greenery!
Another great place to get your fill of vitamin D is at one of the many parks located in Paris. From the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the Parc Monceau to Parc de Belleville and Parc de Bercy, chances are there’s a beautiful park near your hotel, hostel, or Airbnb. Grab a baguette and some fromage from the local supermarché and enjoy a nice picnic outside. You can also pick up local treats at one of the many flea markets, open year-round.
Parc Monceau
Embrace the French Festivals!
The Parisians may be on vacation, but that doesn’t mean Paris is totally shut down. In fact, there are tons of cool events and festivals that take place in Paris during the month of August. While there, you should definitely check out the Open Air Cinema Festival, locally known as the cinéma en plein air, in Paris’ Parc de la Villette. This film festival starts in July and runs through the 20th of August. You can catch a variety of films out in the open air!

If you’re into classical music, Paris has just the festival for you! The Festival Classique au Vert in Parc Floral offers open-air stages for folks to gather and listen to beautiful music in gorgeous surroundings. If rock music is more your style, you can’t miss Paris’ Rock en Seine three-day rock music festival. You can opt for a day-ticket or a weekend pass.
Open Air Cinema Festival
Keep in Mind…

Of course, while Parisians are on vacation, bidding au revoir to Paris, you will still have to deal with many fellow tourists during the month of August. So, common tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tour and the Musée du Louvre will likely be packed with fellow travelers. However, if you’re prepared to visit common sights a bit earlier or later in the day, you should be able to avoid the masses. Another note, if you’d like a proper Parisian meal but don’t want to get sucked into a tourist trap, make a habit of turning down random side streets. Much like in New York City, the smaller streets of Paris are where you’ll find more traditional, less touristy options for food and drinks. While many of these smaller eateries may be closed in August, there’s a good bunch that do remain open and finding one is like a diamond in the rough!
Paris Traditional Food
With fewer cars around town, Paris in August is a wonderful time to hop on une bicyclette, let your hair blow back, and enjoy the sights on your own. Paris may be empty of locals in August, but it is full of opportunity for you. Whether you choose to see Paris on your own, with a partner, with friends, or with family, it’s a beautiful city to be enjoyed throughout the year. They say Paris is always a good idea, but we think it’s an even better idea in August.

Have you been to Paris during the month of August? Are you currently planning a trip? Are you a Parisian yourself?! Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear your thoughts on one of our favorite cities!

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