I love Paris in the month of August!
Around the Fete National day, Parisians tend to adopt the same vacation modus operands: flocking out the French capital as soon as possible to reach their house by the beach or in the countryside. It is estimated that about 50% of Paris residents leave the capital in August. Paris suddenly goes very quiet.
From about the 15 july and nearing the month of August peace reigns over the French capital. But not for this, it means this month should be avoided if you plan to visit Paris. 'Au contraire', it is a bonus to visit Paris in this season. Why? because Paris suddenly regains a different feel, much more pleasant and relaxed than usual. This perceived unnatural quietness reflects and manifests in Parisian street life and social feel.
Parisian residents that happen to stay in are much more relaxed. You see more people smiling, lingering out in corners engaging into conversations, and of course the street brasseries, cafes and restaurants are busy, but not packed as usual.
There is also a growing sense of 'camaraderie' between those residents that stay in the capital and tourists. Everyone suddently turns friendlier in the quiet summer months, even waiters, who are usually tourists' main source of criticism for rudeness towards Parisians. You still get to see a lot of people in the parks chilling out, uncrushed and sunbathing in the month of August.
Staying in Paris in August as a resident or as a tourist has many advantages. Here's some of them:
1. One can get to enjoy the best of the city museums and sightseeing spots without the crowds and without having to queue ages to go in. I am a resident but I still like to go up to the Arc de Triumph for a great view and to take some photos.
- One can get to enjoy the best of the city museums and sightseeing spots without the crowds and without having to queue ages to go in. I am a resident but I still like to go up to the Arc de Triumph for a great view and to take some photos.
3. There are far less cars on the roads (about a third of the usual number), so it much more comfortable to cycle around without hearing car hums, traffic noise and smelling the pollution. If you like cycling and are thinking of bringing your city bike to Paris, then you should visit in the month of August where the streets will be yours. You will get the feeling that the streets are something of your own as you cycle without the usual hustling traffic
4. If you do not want to bring your own bike, and think of using the Paris public bike system: Vélib, then again, this is a very convenient month to use them as there will be no lack of bikes at any time in the day and no lack of bike post to park them once you reach your destination. Vélib + August = top convenience.
5. Walking around the streets of Paris in the mornings is a respire of fragrance and calm, particularly if you are staying in a village-like arrondisement like the 14eme, where your have numerous little pebble stone streets next to parks and green bushes and flower sets. Visit the local parks by Moulin Vert and admire the little houses near rue Cité Bauer, Rue Thermopiles or the side streets by Boulevard René Coty
6. The top brasseries at Boulevard de Montparnasse are open: Le Dome, La Rotonde, …. as well as the Bar a huitres. so it is real pleasure to eat seafood while sipping champagne in one of the rather uncrowded terraces watching the remnant Parisians and wise tourists pass by.
7. While some shops and other businesses close, not all shops do. I'd say that about 60% of places close for at least 20 days during the summer season. However, I find that I can still have my morning coffee & croissant at one of the open brasseries in my area. They don't all closed in august. August is a good month to do shopping without the crowds.
8. Most pedestrian street hubs in Paris still have life and some shops remain open to public. So you get less choice but less rushed. Eg: rue Daguerre in the 14th had the 'italian delicatessen', the 'champagne place', the greek traiteur, the corner Daguerre café…
9. On 14 july and 15 August is the all Paris museums and monuments are open to public despite it being a bank holiday. Again, no long queues on those two days despite them being bank holidays.
10. Street markets, although smaller in number of stalls, are much easier to go through and again, hardly any queueing is needed.
I am personally a great fan of staying in Paris in the busy months of July and August. I enjoy the sense of peace that reigns everywhere. Come to Paris in August, book yourself into one of the many available holiday apartments for rent in the French capital and you will have a whale of a time. Have you ever stayed in Paris in the month of August?