As anyone who’s lived through a Parisian heatwave knows, you need a seriously refreshing game plan in place if you’re going to avoid sweat stains, holiday-wasting listlessness, scorched skin, dehydration, sunstroke, an untimely death, and all the other summer bummers you can list. Aside from downing the Evian and rocking a parasol, try these 15 ideas for keeping your temperature low and enjoyment levels high.
Overheated Parisians have been illegally cannonballing into the canal for years but from July 15, 2017, they’ll finally be able to swim in it without fear of a reprimand from a passing warden (though cannonballs will still earn them a tongue-lashing). Three temporary pools 90 meters long, 16 meters wide, and of varying depths are currently being built along the canalside. They’ll be supplied with water from the canal and cool an estimated 1,000 bathers every day until the end of the summer. Existing outdoor pools of repute are the Piscine Joséphine Baker and the Piscine George Vallery.
Of all Paris’ mouthwatering ice cream parlors, there’s one that merits a cross-town hike even on the most blistering of summer days: Berthillon. Located in the dead center of the Île Saint-Louis, the smaller and less crowded of central Paris’ two islands, the line under the Gothic script of its shopfront does tend to get longer the hotter the weather becomes. Nevertheless, the 60 house flavors, 30 of which change with the seasons, are well worth the wait. Take your selections to the Square Barye for some shade and eastward views of the Seine.
Cycle along Paris Plage’s boardwalk at the Parc Rives de Seine
Perhaps rejuvenated after a few scoops of Berthillon ice cream, you may be in the mood for some light exercise. The activity with the most favorable exertion to wind in the face ratio is probably cycling. Rather than taking your chances with drivers whose patience is limited even when they’re not trapped in unairconditioned, four-wheeled torture chambers, pick up a bike from a Vélib’ station in the Parc Rives de Seine and take advantage of its seven kilometers of car-free pathways. From July to September, Paris Plage brings even more fun and games to this lively park.
Drink tea in the courtyard of the Grande Mosquée de Paris
As well as being one of the capital’s most beautiful places of worship and an important cultural center for its Muslim population, the Grande Mosquée de Paris is the perfect spot for some body temperature-reducing tea and blood sugar-replenishing pastries. There are actually two courtyards: a smaller, slightly busier one that you enter from the street and a larger one set within the building. They and the adjoining North African restaurant are open seven days a week from noon until midnight. After refueling, head around the corner to the mosque’s main entrance and visit its stunning fountain-filled gardens.
On a normal day, you’d be thought mad for taking a dip in the Warsaw fountains of the Jardin du Trocadéro, regardless of how appealing the thought of chilling out with an uninterrupted view of the Eiffel Tower might be. However, on hot summer days, rules and reluctance are tossed aside and locals and tourists alike pop into their turquoise waters. Be aware, however, of the hourly fountain shows that empty the pool of the less intrepid, particularly the central cannon which could easily find work extinguishing blazes or dispersing riots.
Enjoy the Fondation Cartier’s exhibits and art installation garden
A hot summer is great news for the ticket offices of Paris’ museums, which are kept mercifully cool to preserve the resident masterpieces. The top destinations for heat-weary culture vultures, and those more interested in the air-conditioning than the art, are the usual suspects: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou. To avoid the crowds, head to a smaller gallery like the Fondation Cartier. The airy glass building was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and the German artist Lothar Baumgarten created the surrounding woodland gardens. Its collections and exhibits feature painting, photography, sculpture, sound installations, and more.
If you want to find the best air in the city, as well as some of its finer liquids, then think about leaving behind the narrow, windless streets and heading up seven, eight, or even nine floors to one of its rooftop bars. One of the newest additions to this high-flying breed of Parisian hangout is Khayma, which opened on top of the boutique Generator Paris hostel in May 2017. Here you’ll find a vast Tuareg tent, Middle Eastern cuisine, signature cocktails, and unrivaled views of Montmartre and its crowning glory, the Sacré-Coeur.
Rejoice in the aircon of the Beaugrenelle mall and cinema
Just like its museums, Paris’ department stores and malls, most of which are subterranean and vaguely depressing, experience an influx of visitors on sunny days thanks to their air-conditioning systems. While looking at art is hardly a high price to pay for this local luxury, getting swept up in hordes of hardcore shoppers at Galeries Lafayette or Printemps most definitely is. Instead, head west – potentially on a Batobus riverboat – to the Beaugrenelle Shopping Center. As well as stores like Zara, Hollister, and Zadig & Voltaire, it has restaurants, bars, and a Pathé multiplex cinema.
If you can’t jet away at a moment’s notice to a sandy island somewhere in the French Antilles or South Pacific for a subaquatic safari, experience the next best thing at the Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Dorée. Located in the basement of a one-of-a-kind art deco building constructed for the Paris Colonial Exhibition of 1931, it showcases 300 fish, reptile, and invertebrate species from Asia, Africa, and South America. For summer 2017 only, you can cap off your visit with a drink or bite to eat at the pop-up terrace bar, Palazzo.
All joking aside, steadily rising summer temperatures are a reminder of the pressures our civilization is putting on the planet and a trip to this eco-friendly eatery is a great way to ease any carbon footprint-based guilt you might have. La REcyclerie occupies a converted railway station on the edge of the 18th arrondissement and its large terrace and urban farm stretch along both sides of the abandoned track. It’s most famous for its weekend brunches but you’ll find something delicious, and most likely organic, on the menu any day of the week.
Spend any length of time walking around Paris in the midday heat and you’ll soon find yourself checking every doorway for a way out of the sun and into the shade. More often than not, the doors you’ll find open – besides those of busy and stuffy shops and restaurants – belong to churches, whose thick stone walls and few small windows keep the air inside delightfully cool. Naturally, big-name attractions like Notre-Dame and the Sacré-Coeur aren’t going to be too relaxing and should be avoided in favor of smaller, ideally stumbled upon places.
In the up-and-coming neighborhood of Goutte d’Or in the north of Paris is where you’ll find the city’s only ice bar, where the room temperature is kept at a sensationally frigid -18° centigrade. Twenty-five minutes (and four vodka-based cocktails) in the Ice Kube Bar is all you need to forget the sweaty reality of summer in Paris and plunge yourself into a polar dream. The privilege costs €26 and you have to make a booking to get through the igloo door, so time your icy relief well.
The standout feature of the Parc André Citroën, a spectacularly landscaped green space overlooking the Seine on the site of a former car factory, is the Ballon de Paris. The views that this massive tethered helium balloon affords from 150 meters up are incredible and certainly worth the €12 adult ticket price. Provided the wind isn’t too strong, flights begin at 9AM and an early arrival is advised at the weekend and during the holidays. Elsewhere in the park, you’ll find glasshouses stocked with exotic plants, rivers that flow in geometric patterns, and fountains made expressly to be played in.
Attempt to get into the Catacombs during the summer if, and only if, you can get yourself up early enough to be the first in the line that stretches all the way around the Place Denfert-Rochereau, otherwise the wait under the glaring sun is a killer. That being said, with every one of the 130 steps down into the ossuary, the air gets a little chillier and the two-kilometer stroll through the gloomy galleries, which maintain a perfect 14°, is really rather pleasant if you don’t mind the company of six million skeletons.
Find a shady spot for a snooze at the Parc de Saint-Cloud
On the nicest days of the year, you’re lucky to find a single blade of grass in central Paris’ parks, even large ones like the Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg, that hasn’t been commandeered by sunbathers and picnickers, so it pays to get out the city. One of the closest, and most beautiful, is the Parc de Saint-Cloud: 460 hectares of landscaped gardens with dozens of sculptures and fountains. The best parts, for napping purposes anyway, are the long, poker-straight alleyways through the forests. Not to be missed, also, are the panoramas from the La Lanterne viewpoint.