14 Places You Must See to Live Like a Local


Residents and tourists alike agree that summer is the perfect time to explore the French capital in the fresh air, take dawn-to-dusk strolls, and enjoy the city's many parks and gardens. Read on to discover 14 must-have experiences to enjoy Paris and the greater Paris area on a nice day and live like a true Parisian.

Image credit: Patrick Minero / Unsplash
Image credit: Patrick Minero / Unsplash

Image credit: Patrick Minero / Unsplash

1. Rediscover Paris by the Water

Enjoy the fine weather with a stroll along the Canal de l'Ourcq or the Canal Saint-Denis, or around the Bassin de La Villette, in a less touristy corner of Paris. Every summer, from July to September, Paris Plage organizes sports activities and supervised swimming in this area. Yes, you can now swim in certain places along the Seine. You can take advantage of the free deckchairs, cool off with the equally free mist sprayers or play pétanque. In the summer of 2024, Paris Plage will also be taking place on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement. One of the unmissable events of the Paris summer, L'Été du Canal usually starts around July 6th and runs until the last week of August. The program includes water concerts, short cruises, street art and open-air cinemas.

2. Celebrate “La Fête de la Musique” all night long

Every year on June 21, the summer solstice (the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere), Paris celebrates music all night long. Amateur and professional musicians, young and established artists gather in the streets, parks and museums to offer free concerts to passersby. You'll find someone performing everywhere: under the Louvre pyramid, in the Luxembourg Gardens, the Museum of Jewish Art History and the Church of Saint-Eustache. All musical styles are played, from classical to electronic, brass bands to popular choirs. Admission is free, but reservations may be required for some events. The program changes every year. For more information, visit fetedelamusique.culture.gouv.fr/en.

Luxembourg Gardens © Rafael_Wiedenmeier/iStock
Luxembourg Gardens © Rafael_Wiedenmeier/iStock

Luxembourg Gardens © Rafael_Wiedenmeier/iStock

3. Show your support for the LGBTQI+ community

The Paris “Marché des Fiertés” (or Pride March) usually takes place at the end of June. This festive yet passionate gathering aims to highlight the local LGBTQI+ community. A huge parade of colour and music sees dancing, floats and costumes all over Paris. Since 1981, this open-air event (one of the biggest in the capital alongside the Paris Marathon) has been attracting large crowds from the Paris region as well as the provinces and abroad. At the end of the march, a huge free concert featuring many internationally renowned artists is usually held in Place de la Bastille or Place de la République (depending on the route).

Image credit: Mathias Reding/Unsplash
Image credit: Mathias Reding/Unsplash

Image credit: Mathias Reding/Unsplash

4. Relax on one of the capital's 3,000 terraces

From rooftops overlooking the city to leafy courtyards tucked away from the views and hustle and bustle of the streets, Parisian restaurant terraces are veritable treasures, perfect for sharing with friends. One of the more intimate terraces tucked away is Apicius, located in the heart of a grand 18th-century mansion with the atmosphere of a small palace. For stunning views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, head to Monsieur Bleu at the Palais de Tokyo. And don't forget the impressive terrace of Le Tout-Paris, a Michelin-starred brasserie on the seventh floor of the Three Key Cheval Blanc hotel.

Le Tour Paris (Cheval Blanc Paris) © Edouard François
Le Tour Paris (Cheval Blanc Paris) © Edouard François

Le Tour Paris (Cheval Blanc Paris) © Edouard François

5. Swim in Paris' most beautiful outdoor pool

The luxury hotel Molitor Paris takes over from its namesake, a former swimming pool that was a legendary venue from the 1920s to the 1980s. Tastefully restored by architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, the outdoor pool now boasts additional levels, a rooftop terrace overlooking the city, a Clarins spa, and a gourmet restaurant run by an award-winning chef. Beneath the ultra-modern varnish, Molitor's Art Deco heritage remains, particularly in the antique studded portholes and 1940s furniture. Access to the pool is, of course, included in the room rate.

    © Molitor Paris
    © Molitor Paris

© Molitor Paris

6. Party at an outdoor music festival

Every summer, major music festivals return to the capital and its suburbs to delight tourists and Parisians. One of them is “Rock en Seine”, a three-day festival dedicated to rock music in the vast Parc de Saint-Cloud. Opera lovers will be delighted with the “Opera en Plain Air” festival, which takes place in several venues in Paris and the greater Paris area. These venues include the Palace of Sceaux, the Château de Vincennes, the National Museum of Invalides and the Seine National de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Classical music reaches its climax at the Palace of Versailles. Every Saturday evening from June 8 to September 21, 2024, “Les Grandes aux Nocturnes” will bring to life the fountains and pools of the grounds. At night, enjoy a magical spectacle that combines fireworks and a glowing water show. This year, four more evenings have been added to the schedule: Friday 28 June, Sunday 14 July, Thursday 15 August (“Nocturne de Feu”) and Saturday 21 September (“Nocturne Electro”). Finally, in September, don't miss the “Jazz à la Villette” festival.

Image credit: Hugo Herrera / Unsplash
Image credit: Hugo Herrera / Unsplash

Image credit: Hugo Herrera / Unsplash

7. Watch the Fête National Fireworks Display

Celebrated throughout France, July 14th commemorates the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution, symbolizing the end of absolute monarchy. In Paris, events begin on the evening of July 13th, with popular balls held inside the fire stations of each district. On the morning of the 14th, early risers can watch a military parade on the Champs-Élysées as the Patrouille de France flies overhead. In the evening, a spectacular fireworks display takes place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, followed by a spectacular concert.

Image credit: Grégoire Quemener/Unsplash
Image credit: Grégoire Quemener/Unsplash

Image credit: Grégoire Quemener/Unsplash

8. Bargain hunting outdoors for everything from books to antiques

When the weather improves, don't miss the chance to stroll outdoors. The City of Paris regularly publishes a list of the city's best flea markets, but for lovers of antiques and vintage design, the Saint-Ouen flea market is the best place. It is the largest antique and second-hand market in the world, covering an area of ​​7 hectares with more than 11 separate markets and over 2,000 stalls and shops. Furniture, bronze, lighting, tableware, jewelry, books, archaeological items and more can be found in the alleys of this bohemian market, which began in 1885. You can also sit on the terrace of a café and listen to a gypsy jazz concert. Another unique Parisian sight is the “bouquinistes” on the banks of the Seine. Located on the right bank from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre, and on the left bank from Quai de La Tournelle to Quai Voltaire, these bookshops sell vintage and second-hand books.

Image credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash
Image credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash

Image credit: Roman Kraft / Unsplash

9. Experience an outdoor cinema

Many of Paris' larger parks screen films under the stars all summer long, or even all summer long, including the family-friendly La Villette Open Air Cinema Festival. For a more unconventional option, try the Silhouette Festival in Buttes du Chapeau Rouge. Other examples include La Chaise et L'Ecrins in the 11th arrondissement and Toile sous les Etoiles at the Château de Vincennes.

© Luca Tosti / Festival Silhouette
© Luca Tosti / Festival Silhouette

© Luca Tosti / Festival Silhouette

10. Rent a boat in the Basin de La Villette

At the Marin d'Eau Douce you can rent a boat without a license and cruise at your own pace. Piloting your own boat with friends, family or as a couple is a great way to relax in the summer sun.

© Marine d'Or Douce
© Marine d'Or Douce

© Marine d'Or Douce

11. Taste the best ice cream and sorbet in Paris

Located just a few steps from the Sacré-Coeur (16, Place des Abbesses), Une Glace à Paris came up with the brilliant idea of ​​setting up deckchairs outdoors. Here you can enjoy delicious sorbets and ice creams made by Emmanuel Ryan (Best Ouvrier de France and World Pastry Champion) and Olivier Ménard. You can also take a cold treat home with you to stroll the nearby streets of Montmartre. Another option on the Île Saint-Louis is Berthillon, a classic that has reigned since the 1950s. Its recipes are guaranteed to be free of colourings and preservatives and offer a total of more than 90 flavours, around 40 of which are available daily à la carte. Chestnut glacés, roasted pineapple with blackcurrant, mango and basil…whatever you choose, it's sure to be delicious.

Raspberry
Raspberry

Raspberry “Snow Granita” © Jade Genin

In summer, Jade Genin, daughter of famous Parisian chocolatier Jacques Genin, offers two standout products: the “Snow Granita” and an ice cream collection of ice creams. The finely grated granita has a snowy texture and is inspired by Japanese shaved ice, but without syrup. It is entirely plant-based, without any flavorings or additives, and no refined sugar, so it will please even the most taste purist. The ice cream is made without turbines and using only premium ingredients such as Tahitian vanilla and Bronte pistachios. The result? Intense flavors and an extremely creamy texture! Visit the boutique at 33 Avenue de l'Opéra in the 2nd arrondissement.

12. Visit Paris' best museums for free

Typically held at the beginning of July, Nuit des Musées is a popular highlight of the summer in Paris. Entry to museums is free all night, and you can enjoy temporary exhibitions, workshops and activities created especially for the event. You can also sign up for a variety of guided tours.

Image credit: The Free Birds / Unsplash
Image credit: The Free Birds / Unsplash

Image credit: The Free Birds / Unsplash

13. Watch the sound and light show at 'Nuis aux Invalides'

From the first week of July to the last week of August, head to Les Invalides. This 17th-century building is one of the most visited monuments in Paris and is famous for being the site of Napoleon's tomb. Every summer at dusk, the courtyard hosts a fantastic sound and light show with a different theme. Tickets can be booked online here: lanuitauxinvalides.fr/in.

© La Nuit aux Invalides
© La Nuit aux Invalides

© La Nuit aux Invalides

14. Take advantage of sales and go window shopping

From the beginning of July to the end of August, Paris hosts its summer sales. You can usually find discounts of 30% to 70% off the original price, but by the end of August, some items can be up to 80% off. If you want to take advantage of your trip to Paris to explore luxury brands, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps (next to the Opera) are worth a visit for their beauty and rooftop views of Paris.

Gardens of Cheval Blanc Paris © Yann Deret
Gardens of Cheval Blanc Paris © Yann Deret

Gardens of Cheval Blanc Paris © Yann Deret

Hero image: © jptinoco/iStock



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