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Bastille Day fireworks
Bastille Day fireworks | © Yann Caradec / Flickr
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What's On: The Best Things to Do in Paris in July

Picture of Jade Cuttle
Updated: 18 June 2018
From raucous street parties to parading brass bands, mesmerising fireworks to fighter pilots, July in Paris is bursting with fun. The absolute highlight is Bastille day, but there are also urban beaches, music festivals and open-air cinemas on offer, too. If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris during this month, here’s our guide to making the most of it.

MUSIC │ Fnac Live Festival

📅 July 5 – 7

As part of Paris Plages 2018, the Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville will be animated with several musical highlights. The ultimate gem on the list is the Fnac Live Festival, whose eighth edition takes place from 5 to 7 July. The event, which has become a key part of the Parisian summer, will offer 30 free concerts on the forecourt of the Hôtel de Ville. Previously, it’s welcomed the likes of Alt-J, Benjamin Biolay, Calypso Rose, Fishbach, Cassius, The Horrors, Julien Doré, and Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains. It’s one of the biggest, and best free concerts of the season.

📍 Hôtel de Ville de Paris, Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004 Paris, France. +33 1 42 76 40 40

Jazz festival
Paris music festival | © SocialButterflyMMG / Pixabay

TRAVEL │ Paris Plages

📅 July 7 – September 2

The 2018 Paris Plages (Paris beach) will be open daily from July 7 to September 2, 2018. As well as the beach, there will be dozens of deckchairs available to relax in, plus picnic tables, refreshments and ice-cream stalls stretching right across to the Pont Alexandre III. What’s unique about this year is that there will be lots of sporting activities linked to the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. There will be an athletics track animating the area, football tournaments, pétanque (French boules) and beach volleyball to get the competitive spirit brewing. There will also be tai chi sessions and dance workshops, as well as free book-borrowing stations scattered across the palm-dotted landscape.

📍 Parc Rives de Seine and Bassin de la Villette

SPORTS│ Swimming

📅 From July – September 9

The Bassin de la Villette is the largest artificial lake in Paris at 800 metres long and 70 metres wide. Located near metro Jaurès/Stalingrad in the 19th arrondissement, it is a favorite local hotspot of summer fun. Open every day from June 16 to September 9, 2018 (except August 15) between 11am and pm, there will be a free swimming area where you can paddle to cool down from the sweltering Parisian heat.

📍Bassin de la Villette 75019 Paris, France

MUSIC │ Bals des Pompiers

📅 July 13 – 14

Parisians have a unique way of celebrating Bastille Day, which involves dancing the night away at one of the many Bals des Pompiers (Firemen’s Ball). While there’s plenty of choice for Firemen’s Balls on the 14th, the greatest choice is on the evening before. It’s the perfect way to get into the festive spirit before the day even begins. A full list of those participating is published a few weeks in advance by the tourist board. With disco lights and live bands, DJs and drinks on tap, these events are hotly anticipated with plenty of opportunities to get your groove on! The night usually begins at 9pm and can go on until around 4am, though most wind down around midnight.

Tickets: Often free, but donations are always welcome.

📍 Fire stations across Paris.

Bal des Pompiers
Bal des Pompiers | © NickK / WikiCommons

TRAVEL │ Bastille Day Parade

📅 July 14

If you’re not too tired from all the partying the night before, then make sure to set an alarm so you can see ‘the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe’, which completely takes over the Champs-Élysées. Literally everyone will be gazing awestruck at the military parade, including President Macron, who usually turns up at the Arc de Triomphe at 10am. It starts at the historic Arc de Triomphe before weaving its way to the Place de la Concorde. The incredible military planes soar across the sky in the colours of the French flag at 10:45am – it’s a breathtaking spectacle.

Tickets: Free

📍 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France

TRAVEL │ Bastille Day Fireworks

📅 July 14

The highlight of Bastille Day consists of the vibrant colours of the explosive firework display that dazzles the sky from around 11pm. It’s the city’s only firework display and keeps the population mesmerised for around half an hour. The most popular places to enjoy the spectacle are the Champ de Mars and the Jardins du Trocadéro. But do be aware that these highly coveted spots get incredibly busy. If so, you could opt for the banks of the Seine and its bridges – bring a picnic and a bottle of wine. The very best views will be gained from the top of the Tour Montparnasse, cocktail in hand, if you arrive early enough.

📍 Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, Paris, France

CULTURE│ Free museum openings

📅 July 14

Many of Paris’ museums and attractions open their doors free of charge on Bastille Day. If you want to visit the Louvre, now is the day when you can dodge the usual €15 entrance fee. And since most of the crowds will be clustered around the parade, some people say this is the best day of the year to visit the Louvre. You can also enjoy Notre-Dame, Musée d’Orsay and the Chateâu de Versailles for free on Bastille Day, though the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower have restricted openings, along with the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is closed in the morning. Be sure to check which venues are closed in advance.

FILM │ Open air cinema

📅 18 July – 19 August

The Cinéma en Plein Air at the Parc de la Villette and Cinéma au Clair de Lune is one of the highlights of the Parisian summer. Imagine kicking back on the grass as dusk falls, watching epic classics beneath the stars. 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. 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.

CARS │ La Traversée de Paris Estivale

📅 Sunday, July 22

La Traversée de Paris Estivale is the capital’s biggest gathering of classic cars, taking place on 22 July. This year will see its 11th edition with coupés, cabriolets, and motorbikes galore. A surprising sight to see in Paris is the annual tour, this year leaving from Saint-Louis to the Château de Vincennes at 7:30am, giving the whole city the opportunity to marvel at the stylish vintage vehicles. The exact route is not revealed until the last minute, after which they’ll be on show 11:30-4pm.

📍 All across Paris.

Vintage car
Vintage car | © Pixabay / Pexels