If you've ever visited Paris in August, you'll know that the city isn't exactly in its normal state. Most locals abandon Paris for the overpacked beaches of the Cote d'Azur or the Atlantic Coast, and Paris falls under the reign of visitors from around the globe. Laid-back, festive, and eerily stripped of its metropolitan stress levels, the city of light is a tourist's playground in August. And as for the full-time residents who've stayed behind, well, they're equally relieved to have fewer locals around. The enthusiasm of visitors tends to be infectious, and Parisians, reputed for their gloomy dispositions, welcome the change of ambiance.
Why to Love Paris in August:
In a few words, you (and hordes of other visitors, of course) have the city to yourselves. Traffic nearly grinds to a halt on the streets, and activities like biking or rollerblading around the city are rarely more pleasant. Metro cars may be overpacked and sweltering, but stressed commuters have been replaced with cheerful packs of vacationers. The mood is perhaps less authentically Parisian than at other times of the year, but being an honorary Parisian myself, I can tell you that it can be very pleasant. To add to the fun, free events like open-air cinema, live music, and beaches along the Seine river gives the temporary illusion that Paris is a resort town or amusement park.
August in Paris is also an ideal time for experiencing a cruise on the Seine river or on Paris canals and waterways, especially on hot days when breezes off the water offer a welcome reprieve. Having a relaxed meal while gliding along the water can be to memorable effect.
A Few Highlights in August 2013:
- Through mid-August (precise dates to be announced): Paris Plage (Paris Beach) turns three locations around the city into an ideal place to relax, read, picnic, or stroll up and down temporary boardwalks. In the evenings, free live music and drink-sipping on outdoor terraces along the Seine will lure adults.
- Through late August (precise dates to be announced: Open-Air Cinema Festival at the Parc de la Villette--Every year, Parisians and visitors spread out blankets at the ultramodern Parc de la Villette, where some 36 movies are shown for no charge on a giant outdoor screen.
The August Thermometer
- Minimum temperature: 15 degrees C (59 degrees F)
- Maximum temperature: 24 degrees C (75.2 degrees F)
- Average temperature: 19 degrees C (66.2 degrees F)
- Average rainfall: 55 millimeters (2.2 inches)
How to Pack and Prepare for a Trip to Paris in August
- August in Paris is generally warm and muggy, with average temperatures at around 75 degrees F. Rain is frequent and it isn't unusual for autumn-like conditions to foil plans for outdoorsy activities.
In recent years, however, major heatwaves have been known to strike in August, and temperatures have sometimes climbed to the high 90's. In 2003, a two-week heatwave hit Paris in early August and caused a significant number of heat-related illnesses and deaths. Elderly visitors, visitors with medical conditions, and parents with infants and small children should remain especially alert to possible spikes in temperature, and take necessary precautions. Reserving a hotel room with air conditioning is one of them. Making sure to keep plenty of water on hand and drinking regularly, even when there is no sensation of thirst, is another.
- August can be surprisingly rainy, and erratic thunderstorms and heavy showers are common. Pack a reliable umbrella in case one of these takes you off guard you during a stroll or picnic.
- Bring both closed-toe and open-toe shoes.. On hot days or excursions to the park you'll appreciate the open-toed pair, but you'll need a good, comfortable pair of walking shoes too, especially since visits to Paris usually involve lots of strolling-- not to mention those maddening metro tunnels and stairs.
- Pack a hat or visor and other sun gear for sunny days when you wish to spend time lounging in one of Paris' best parks and gardens.
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