It’s common knowledge among travelers to Europe that August is a very bad time to go to Paris. Everything shuts down, they say, as most of the locals go on vacation in August. And it’s true. 50% of the city’s residents leave come August, but for those who stay, and for the tourists who come against the warnings, Paris in August turns out to be a more peaceful, relaxed version of itself.
With fewer locals out and about and most tourists sticking to the well-beaten path, those who avoid the most popular spots will be surprised with the relaxed pace of life in Paris at this time. While many shops and restaurants do shut down in August, there are still plentiful options; Parisians still have to eat and you will still find hundreds of charming cafes and quiet bistros for dining, as well as markets and grocers where you can pick up supplies for a peaceful picnic along the Seine. Stroll through the many parks of Paris, or watch children sail boats on the lake in the Tuileries gardens. Pick a less-visited museum, like the Musée Rodin or the Musée National du Moyen Age and you may find you have the place nearly to yourself. Even at the most touristy places, like Père Lachaise cemetery, it’s fairly easy to escape the masses – just skip Jim Morrison’s grave in favor of the resting places of people like Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, or Sarah Bernhardt.
Fashionistas will be glad to know that Paris’ twice a year sales, or soldes, are still going on in early August, though if you come later in the month you can also find great deals at one of the city’s many flea markets, like the Porte de Clignancourt. Other highlights of August include free open air movie screenings in Parc de la Vilette and outdoor theatre at the Jardin Shakespeare. From checking out the beautiful metro stations in Paris to laying on a man-made beach, there are quite a few free activities to explore during August in Paris.
If you’re the type of traveler who looks for the best party hostels in Paris when booking accommodation, or who prefers to stick to the well-traveled tourist trail, you may find the shuttered businesses more a turn off than an enticement. But if you’ve been there, done that when it comes to a whirlwind tour of Paris’s major attractions and would rather visit the city at a less hectic and stressful time, consider making your next trip in August. Depending on your travel style, you might even find that this month, with it’s slower pace and fewer crowds, is your ideal time of summer to enjoy a visit to Paris.
By Katie Hammel of BootsnAll
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