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What's On: The Best Things to Do in Paris in August

Picture of Jade Cuttle
Updated: 10 August 2018
August is the hottest month in Paris, and so the locals tend to spend most of their time outside. Whether you fancy a festival along the bustling banks of the river, or prefer to kick back and enjoy a film beneath the stars, you’ll be spoiled for choice when visiting Paris in August.

FESTIVAL │ L’Été du Canal

📅 Until Sunday, August 26

L’Été du Canal is an eclectic free summer festival that brings Paris’ waterways to life in ways you’ve never seen before. There are sun-loungers and soothing live music concerts, balls and booming DJ sets, as well as river shuttle trips available for just €1 to ferry you from one festive event to another. Keen to show the best of Paris’ urban beauty for its 11th edition this year, the canal will be animated with 10 kilometres of open-air street art exhibitions in collaboration with the prestigious Studio Harcourt. As well as being an art lover’s paradise, it’s great for families, too, as there are lots of activities available for children.

Tickets: Free.

📍 Bassin de La Villette, Quai de la Seine, Paris, France.

FILM │ Open air cinema

📅 July 18 – August 19

If you’re a movie buff then you’ll be delighted to learn about the Cinéma en Plein Air at the Parc de la Villette and Cinéma au Clair de Lune, both unmissable highlights of the Parisian summer. Some of this year’s films on offer include La La Land, Holy Motors, and Mommy, as well as Spring Breakers, Jules et Jim, and Mars Attacks. But it’s not just the film choice that brings people flocking in the thousands. It’s the fact that the screenings take place on the grass outside after dusk, and nothing could be more romantic than kicking back to a good film beneath the stars. All films are shown in their original language, with foreign films proudly screened with French subtitles. Make sure to bring a blanket, or if you prefer, opt for a deckchair for €7 or five for €20.

Tickets: Free

📍 Parc de la Villette, 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France. +33 1 40 03 75 75 / and at various venues across Paris.

SPORTS│ Swimming

📅 Through August until September 9

Swimming in the centre of Paris? Who would have thought it? The picturesque canal known as the Bassin de la Villette (near metro Jaurès/Stalingrad), in the 19th arrondissement, is a hotspot filled with water-based activities in the summer. It’s the largest artificial lake in the City of Light at 800 metres long and 70 metres wide. Open every day until September 9, 2018 (except August 15) between 11 am and 9 pm, there will be a free swimming area where you can paddle to cool down from the sweltering Parisian heat. If you’re tempted to join the water but don’t quite fancy getting wet, then you can enjoy a range of water sports that include kayaking, canoeing, and even stand-up paddle-boarding, which depart from the Marne riverbanks.

📍Bassin de la Villette 75019 Paris, France

SPORTS│ Bike tour

📅 Through August

There’s no better time than August to enjoy a bike tour of the Marne riverbanks, a luscious green corridor that runs through Paris. Weaving past medieval-style turrets, admiring the Art Deco villas, a beautiful castle and 7th-century abbey steeped in historic legends, you’ll be immersed in quaint architecture and unique cultural heritage. This includes, for example, discovering the local tradition of ‘guinguettes’, whose riverside restaurants are bustling with people dancing to live music all day long. On this fascinating tour, you can stop by for a drink and even join in the dancing yourself. The price is very reasonable considering there’s an insightful guided commentary (in English) with authentic vintage bike included too.

Tickets: €23

📍21 Quai Gabriel Péri 94340 Joinville-le-Pont

rando velo pop marne © CDT94 Camille Chowah (1)-min
Bike tour on the Marne | © CDT94 Camille Chowah

CRUISE│Brunch

📅 Through August

Of course, not everyone can hack in physical exercise during the high temperatures. If you still want to soak up the sunshine, then a relaxing brunch cruise makes a perfect addition to the August agenda. The River Seine becomes very crowded during high season, so it’s definitely worth exploring one of the other verdant waterways, such as the Ourcq canal. As part of the annual L’Été du Canal program, there’s a wonderful excursion that’s definitely the city’s hidden gem when it comes to boat cruises in Paris. While tucking into delicious and wholesome homemade dishes from fresh produce and organic vegetable gardens, you can discover the hidden face of Paris as you marvel at the impressive street art that adorn the canal-side buildings. It’s like entering a fascinating open-air museum when you skirt along this canal by boat.

Tickets: € 27 for adults, € 16 for children under 12

📍6 quai de la Seine 75019 Paris

ArthurCrestani_MarmitesVolantes-2171
Eté du Canal brunch cruise | ©Arthur Crestani

FAMILY│Fête des Tuileries

📅 Until August 27

If you prefer to be more central, then the rides and attractions that have been taking over the Tuileries Gardens for years offer fun in abundance. Not just for children, it’s bursting with exciting activities for everyone, and unlike other fun-fairs, this one is right in the very heart of the city. It’s your last chance to rediscover sweet childhood pleasures like duck fishing, bouncy castles, bumper cars, ghost trains, a hall of mirrors and flying swings, among the more than 60 attractions on offer, before the season of fun must close for the autumn. Of course, not everyone goes just for the rides. For some people, the greatest attraction is the heaps of food stalls wafting scents of sumptuous fairground delights like crepes, candy floss, toffee apples or warm churros that taste best when dripping with Nutella.

Tickets: Free entry and the price of rides varies

📍 Jardin des Tuileries, 113 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France

MUSIC │ Classique au Vert

📅 Saturday, August 5 – Sunday, September 17

After a long day sightseeing in Paris, or after whirling round on fairground rides, what could be better than to catch some live music in the evening? Classique au Vert merges the majesty of classical music with the pleasure of being in nature, and has done so for the past 20 years. The festival offers a whole range of open-air concerts on Saturdays and Sundays in August and the first fortnight in September. There’s simply no excuse not to visit given that live bands promise to serenade you with free concerts throughout the day. You don’t have to buy any tickets to the concerts, all you have to do is rock up at Parc Floral de Paris and contribute a small €2.50 fee to enter the park.

Tickets: Free.

📍 Parc Floral de Paris, route de la Pyramide, Paris, France.

MUSIC │ Rock en Seine

📅 Friday, August 24 – Sunday, August 26

If you’re not a fan of classical music, then fear not. Rock en Seine is your final chance to enjoy a major summer music festival in Paris before the city starts winding down for autumn. With this in mind, Rock en Seine always ends the season with a bang. It takes place every year just outside the city of Paris in the gorgeous natural expanse of Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, the Château de Saint-Cloud’s landscaped park. This year, the three-day festival will be welcoming the likes of rock legends Thirty Seconds to Mars and Liam Gallagher, as well as more indie groups like First Aid Kit, Glass Animals, and Wolf Alice. It’s a must-visit for all rock music fans.

Tickets: From €39 for a day ticket and €139 for a three-day pass.

📍 Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, 1 Avenue de la Grille d’Honneur, 92210 Saint-Cloud, France.