Ice cream cones drip in the sunlight. Children laugh with delight as they ride the carrousel in the Jardin des Tuileries. Women in breezy sundresses sit lazily at a café mid-afternoon. Friends share wine, cheese, and a baguette for a pique-nique in the park. Stars only begin to sparkle in the sky after 10:00 pm, as shimmers of sunlight give the sky a light hue late into the evening. And traffic hums on the Champs-Élysées well past 1:30 in the morning.
This is summer in Paris. This is a time to enjoy Paris, by being outdoors and experiencing its cafés, parks, and festivals until Parisians return from their August vacations the last few days before September. The great thing about summertime in Paris is that you do not need to break the bank. Virtually everything can be experienced for free or at very low cost. Our “Best of” list is composed of simple things, more than anything, that make Paris a standout city in the summertime.
Treats. All year long Parisians can feast on extraordinary patisseries but summertime is the best time to stand in line at the famous Berthillon ice creamery on Île-Saint-Louis to have the best, richest ice cream in the world. Other great venues for the best gelato outside of Italy include Amorino, which is also on the island, but with multiple other venues, including Le Marais, Rue Cler, and near the Luxembourg Gardens. Barbe à papa (cotton candy), is served throughout the city, but try the homemade cotton candy at the carrousel in the Jardin des Tuileries. Soft-served ice cream cones can be found throughout the city, with well-known venues at Trocadéro and across from the Eiffel Tower on Pont du Trocadéro.
Cafés. What better way to experience and see Paris than to sit at a café outside on the sidewalk for a morning espresso and croissant, a quick lunch or snack, or an afternoon drink. You wonder if Parisians work in the summer at all, as the cafés are full, from morning until midnight, with well-heeled Parisians gossiping, smoking, and sipping their favorite drink as they wear sunglasses to surreptitiously gawk at others walking by. Some great café venues include Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots, Le Flandrin, Café de L’Alma, Café du Trocadéro, Café Bo Zinc and Café Bonnie.
Parks. Parks remain a favorite venue for children to play with old friends and make new ones (speaking French is optional, the language barrier for children does not hinder their play time), have a pique-nique, go on a carrousel ride, buy treats or toys, and rent big rowboats (to ride) or little sailboats (for the little ones to play). Our favorite parks may include mainstays such as Champs de Mars, Jardin du Luxembourg, and Jardin des Tuileries, and less well known venues such as Jardin du Ranelagh, Bois de Boulogne, Jardin d’Acclimatation and Parc Buttes-Chaumont. And if you’re looking for an all day excursion, stop by the gardens at Versailles for a picnic and discover the château.
Restaurants. Sidewalk seating in restaurants is a fantastic way to dine in the city. Our favorite restaurants with sidewalk seating include La Chaumette, Tribeca, Veramente, Pizzeria d’Auteuil, Le Select, La Perla, Le Fumoir, and Café Bo Zinc. It is important to make reservations in advance. Also, keep in mind that many good restaurants are closed the first three weeks of August, so call ahead to see if they are open.