There can’t be many urban sunrises more picturesque than the one over the Seine in early spring. The spectacular morning show of pink and gold is best enjoyed on the bridges between Pont Alexandre III in the west and the Île de la Cité in the east.
It can sometimes feel like fashion week in Paris never quite ends but, officially, the first week in March is when designers, editors, bloggers, models, celebrities, and the paparazzi descend on the city for the fall/winter ready-to-wear shows. The action is spread around the city but the Grand Palais is a popular venue for the biggest labels.
Paris’ parks and gardens remain open throughout the year, and the Jardin du Luxembourg is no exception, but when the trees are bare and the flowerbeds empty during the winter, they aren’t exactly at their most inviting. Longer, milder days signal the return of open-air pastimes like chess, pétanque, and miniature boating.
Paris might have a reputation for being the ultimate playground for chic cosmopolites but one spring event indulges the locals’ nostalgia for their rural roots. Instead of the latest gallery opening or book launch party, Parisians converge at the Paris International Agricultural Show to check out the season’s prize livestock and to sample gastronomic innovations from suppliers across France and the globe.
For a few weeks, Paris blushes bright pink with the blooming of hundreds of cherry trees. The two most popular spots to see them are by the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame though neighborhood parks like the Jardin Anne-Frank in the Marais or the Promenade Plantée are more relaxing options. The Parc de Sceaux in the southern suburbs also has a whole grove of these fabulous trees.
The weather in Paris in spring is usually warm and dry, and minor heatwaves aren’t uncommon, but the odd torrential downpour is to be expected. If you arrive in the city unequipped for such a meteorological eventuality, pay a visit to one of the local umbrella specialists like Pep’s or Alexandra Sojfer on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Thankfully, after the storms come the rainbows. This beauty has been captured from the top-floor clock face windows of the Musée d’Orsay, the best place to see impressionist art in Paris. The museum’s major spring exhibition in 2017 will be Beyond Stars. The Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky which will run from March 14th to June 25th.
Wisteria is another of the city’s gorgeous spring flowers. It grows over the façades of cafés and restaurants across the city but one of the best places to see (and photograph) it is in the Jardin Catherine-Labouré on the Left Bank where it has been trained onto long tunnel passageways.
For many, Paris is the most romantic city in the world, essentially just one giant make-out spot. However, as we all know, passion can quickly turn into less savory emotions. Evidently, this is as true for the city’s wildlife as it is for its human inhabitants, like the two frisky love birds that sent these feathers flying at the Place de la République.
Obviously, there’s no time of the year when you can’t run around the Champs de Mars carrying a red balloon but for four days in May it can make a huge difference to the lives of sick or disadvantaged children. The No Finish Line event organized by Siemens raises money by paying €1 for every lap of the mile-long route completed.
The gardens and shopping arcades of the Palais Royal are always a great place to retreat to from the madness of central Paris but when the magnolia trees are in full bloom it becomes an unrivaled urban oasis. The ever-changing Daniel Buren installation is also a favorite for creative selfies.
The Paris Marathon in early April is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. But for those who aren’t quite up to the 26-mile slog there is now the Paris Color Run, which is held just a week later. The aim of the game isn’t to score a new PB for the three-mile course but to make the world a happier, healthier place.
One of the surest signs that spring has well and truly arrived in Paris is the steady, rhythmic pock of ping pong balls emanating for the city’s parks. Helpfully, the city council has put together a full list of table locations. Wherever you play, expect the neighborhood kids to crowd around and not so subtly hint that they want you to give them a game.
As the season heats up, the fountains which lay sad and empty all winter are returned to their former splendor. The display at the Trocadéro is impressive but for the most spectacular in the land, you’ll need to visit the Palace of Versailles, where the musical fountain shows take place between March 31st and October 31st.
One minute the Arc de Triomphe is all you can see as you walk up the Avenue Carnot and the next (usually in early-May) it all but vanishes behind an explosion of lilac petals. The Royal Empress Trees are planted in other parts of the city but nowhere are they more beautiful than here.
The French Open, or Roland-Garros as the locals call it, is the highlight of the clay court tennis season and one of the year’s four Grand Slam competitions. The crowds are notoriously rowdy and love nothing more than joining in a rousing chorus of booing. It’s all meant in good fun, though, just Parisians gearing up for a summer of larks.
On the third Saturday in May for 10 years, the museums in Paris and across France have stayed open until the tiny hours of the morning for the Nuit des Musées celebration. This incredible event is also accompanied by musical performances and special installations around the city.