Are you spending the rest of the summer in Paris and are looking for other things to do than go to Paris Plages? No problem! There are lots of other cool ways to enjoy August in the City of Light. Well, to be honest, this month wasn’t always my favorite time to be in the capital, however, I’ve now embraced the many reasons to love Paris in August. Here are some outing ideas to make the most of the month, either on a date out with your chéri or with August-holiday-orphaned friends.
Cruise on the Canal de l’Ourcq
When it’s stiflingly hot in Paris, residents often seek a little relief from the heat along one of the city’s waterways. The Seine and the Canal Saint Martin are usually packed… but there’s also the more offbeat Canal de l’Ourcq which, in the summer, can blow the former two… out of the water. A few years ago Paris Plages crept up here, implanting an annex along the banks of le Bassin de la Villette, that said it never feels as overcrowded as the main branch of this annual event down on the Seine. Other than the simple pleasure of having a waterside drink, there are a number of opportunities of getting in, or rather on, the water.
My top recommendation is getting in on the boat load of fun had during the Tiny Boat Apéro hosted by the Chamber Paris, the next one taking place on August 11th. This fabulous Paris private cocktail club hosts several events each month (August is a little slower, but they haven’t closed up shop!), held in cool venues and allow locals and visitors to mingle with a tasty cocktail and snacks in hand. Events are usually open to non-members for an additional price.
If you can’t attend The Chamber’s event, you might like to hop on one of the cruises that head northward up the canal, exploring beautiful though rather unchartered even for the seasoned Parisian. Until August 21st, the tourism bureau of Seine Saint Denis is running a whole variety of cruises up the canal as part of the “Summer on the Canal” series. Join a regular cruise, a brunch cruise, a street art theme cruise or even a salsa cruise, no nachos won’t be served, bring your dancing shoes! Alternatively, you can captain your own mini boat by renting at a very reasonable rate through the Marin d’Eau Douce.
Track Down Secret Parks & Treats in the Marais
The Marais is one of the nicest places to stroll in the whole city… especially in August when many of the locals have gone on holiday. Start at métro Saint Paul and make your way to 7 rue de Turenne to pick yourselves up the trendiest ice cream of the summer at Ice Roll. These tasty custom made chilly rolls are taking the area by storm (pun intended!). Made before your eyes on a freezing crepe-like stovetop, you can pick your flavors to create a takeaway cup of four ice rolls.
Go back around the corner eastward onto rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine and into the courtyard, then the second courtyard of the Hotel de Sully for a little Renaissance magic. You can sit and enjoy your ice rolls here or keep moving through Place des Vosges towards the hidden Square Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur, with its pretty rose trelasses.
Once you’ve had a little lovers’ break here, head back down rue de Turenne to rue du Parc Royal, where you can savor the lovely little Square Leopold Achille park that runs along its left side. Down rue de Sevigné you’ll find the cute Square George Cain or pop into the nice courtyard of the Institut Suedois for un petit café. A little further you’ll have arrived on rue des Rosiers, if you hadn’t started your stroll with an ice roll, you can pick up a tasty limited edition ice cream eclair at l’Eclair de Genie (on rue Pavée) or wait in the long line for at the bling-bling ice cream at the Magnum concept shop (corner of Pavée and Rosiers).
Just up the road is the cool little hidden Jardin des Rosiers-Joseph Migneret (pictured above), passing the remains of a tower from the 12th century Philippe Auguste wall, you’ll certainly surprise your sweetheart with its secret charm. Steer yourselves back north and another rue des Francs Bourgeois you reach the Soubise palace, home to the National Archives and some beautiful discreet gardens in its northeast corner, the perfect place to stop for a snuggle after roaming and eating your way through the neighborhood.
Castles, Ice Cream & Trains in Montmartre
Do something different in Montmartre, start by taking a stroll to find all the castles described in my recent article on Secret Castles of Montmartre. These will take you around much of the neighborhood and also past many of the more ‘famous’ sights of the area (map included).
Before you go down (if you do) towards the Chateau des Lys, make a slight detour on rue Caulaincourt to Kosak, a small shop serving up amazing artisanal ice cream using only natural ingredients, Its owners Nathalie and Catherine also have one of the best collections of artisanal chocolate in Paris (more on them in this article I wrote on the area).
If you’re wanting to quench your thirst instead (or why not do both), veer your track towards le Grand Train, the cool bar emphemère. Celebrating it’s second year, this pop up event held in the former train depot offers up a chance to mix with locals lounging in the sun, eating pretty fabulous pizza, organic sandwiches, burgers and sipping away at a glass of rosé or beer… perhaps while sitting in a disused TGV high speed train? Note, there can be big line end of the afternoon, early evening and they close around midnight.
Take a Spin on a Vintage Carrousel
After a successful run last summer the coolest little museum in Paris, le Musée des Arts Forains, is once again holding group tours in English. The unique museum of “funfair arts” houses a fascinating collection of historic of carnival rides, games and associated artifacts. It’s organized into four themes: the “Théâtre du Merveilleux” (Theatre of the Marvels), the Venetian Rooms, the “Théâtre de Verdure” (green outdoor areas) and the Museum of Fairground Art, featuring a Cabinet of Curiosity, carnival, extraordinary gardens and funfairs of the Belle Époque.
The tours in English take place every Monday and Thursday at 2:30pm (so for August: August 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22 & 25). If you can’t attend on one of these days, they also hold daily tours in French and kindly give non-French speakers a handout in English so you can follow along. The tours cost 16 euros and must be book in advance which you can do here.
Hunt Down Street Art & Cool Drinks
Who needs Pokemons in Paris when the city is scattering in cool street art to hunt down? As travel writer Heather Stimmler-Hall of Secrets of Paris has found, there’s a fabulous concentration of creations in the north end of the 13th district. Follow her useful photo essay and map to help you explore this offbeat neighborhood. Of course part of the fun is stopping for a well deserved libation at the end and this area has some of the best options for a tasty beverage en plein air.
Les Berges attracts most of the Seine-side goers these days, but there are some great terraces all along the river just beneath the National Library on the Quai François Mauriac. The main péniches barge bars like le Petit Bain, la Dame de Canton and the Batofar have extended their operations to terraces along the quai, where you can also find other summer terraces serving up a variety of food and drink. Your night doesn’t have to end with dinner and drinks, the fun goes on till dawn with DJ sets at concerts as the former turn into clubs (check their full agendas on their sites).
Need other inspiration? Check out these other articles of mine:
And other great Paris Summer Ideas Here.