A kind of calm falls over Paris in summer, when the locals leave on holiday – though they have so many reasons to stay put and enjoy their city at its best! While some favourite restaurants and stores do close for the vacation period, plenty stay open, as do all of the museums – and the list of things to do outdoors is endless. Here’s my best shot at narrowing it down for you!
For one magical month – from around July 20 – an entire beach is set up on the north bank of the Seine, from the Louvre to Pont de Sully in the centre of the city, with palm trees and all! Find yourself a deck chair or sprawl on the sand (1), borrow a book from the mobile library, play pétanque, dance beneath the cool mist-sprinklers, and enjoy the music of the various bands who perform regularly. Yet another Paris Plage can be found at the Bassin de la Villette (metro stations Jaures, Stalingrad, Riquet and Ourc) where you can also float around on a pedal boat, or paddle out in a kayak. Free outdoor concerts are held in front of the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) on mid-July evenings, featuring French and international artists, before the stage makes way for a beach volleyball court through the rest of July and August. The free outdoor cinema in the Parc de la Villette also runs for a month from around July 20, screening films from all over the world, with a different theme and program each year (2).
Gather together some friends and some good picnic ingredients and feast at sunset on the banks of the Seine – head to one of the islands, or anywhere with a view of the Notre Dame. Just last year, the long stretch of riverbank between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont d’Alma (towards the Eiffel Tower) was transformed into a pedestrian area known as Les Berges, with bars and a floating garden and areas for games and lots of space for cycling and skating (rent a Vélib bicycle, or hire skates from Nomades, metro: Bastille) – and there are often outdoor concerts, films and other events here too.
Further east, near the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand and boat/music venue/cinema Batofar, a village of bar-cafés appears along the river each summer. More live music can be enjoyed on the rooftop of the Petit Bain, another boat-bar, just next to the floating swimming pool, Piscine Josephine Baker.
Not too far from this fun and merriment is a strange-looking green building, otherwise known as the Cité de la Mode (3). It houses the hip Wanderlust, the sunny and spacious rooftop bar Nuba with a great panoramic view over the river – and just below, M.O.B., one of the two Parisian branches of this Brooklyn-based all-vegan American fast food restaurant. Burgers, salads and soups are served, as well as a pizza-like invention called a M.O.B. which is shaped like the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge.
M.O.B. Cité de la Mode: open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to midnight, Sunday from 10am to 6pm, burgers served from 12pm onwards, at 34 quai d’Austerlitz 75013, metro Quai de la Gare, or Gare d’Austerlitz.
A wave of burger-love has swept over Paris this past year or so (foodtrucks, too) – thankfully, this has involved some great vegan places I can steer my omnivore friends towards. Highly recommended is V.G. (4) – their super-tasty burgers are vegan with vegan cheese, and for summer they’re serving a special seitan burger with asian salad (mango, pawpaw, and more).
V.G.: open Mondays from 12pm to 2:30pm, and Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 9pm, 85 rue Lafayette 75009, metro: Poissonière, or Cadet.
Even more great burgers are to be found at Hank, which stands for ‘Have A Nice Karma’ (5). Their ‘hankburgers’ are all-vegan and mostly organic, all of their products and furniture are eco-friendly, and their location in the middle of the Marais is ideal.
Hank: open Tuesday to Friday for lunch from 12pm to 3pm and for dinner from 7pm to 10pm, Saturday from 12pm to 10pm, Sunday from 12pm to 3pm, 55 rue des Archives 75003, metro: Rambuteau.
Also in the Marais is Pozzetto (6), which has the most delicious sorbet you are ever likely to encounter. It’s all made from seasonal fruit direct from the market – the strawberry sorbet is amazing, as is the watermelon this summer! (Have a read of their philosophies on travel here and you’ll understand how beautiful ideas are translated into such beautiful desserts.)
Pozzetto: open Monday to Thursday from 12pm to 11:30pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 12:45am, Sunday from 12pm to midnight, 39 rue du Roi de Sicile 75004 and just around the corner at 16 rue Vieille du Temple 75003, metro: Hotel de Ville, or Saint Paul.
The Marais is a part of Paris well worth exploring – gorgeous architecture, beautiful gardens and museums (the Musée Carnavalet is one of my favourites, displaying art and objects from the history of Paris, as well as an entire silver-leafed ballroom created by the Spanish artist José Maria Sert) and a whole lot of cafés, bars and boutiques (some even open on Sundays!) The Marais is also a haven for thrift shopping – rue de la Verrerie/rue du Roi de Sicile is a good place to begin (check out Mam’zelle Swing (7) for real vintage as well as freshly-made retro styles), as well as nearby rue de Rosiers and rue du Temple.
More thrifting can be done just south of the Centre Pompidou on rue Saint-Martin – and the fantastic Pompidou itself is not to be missed. You could easily get lost here for an entire day, with it’s enormous halls full of modern and contemporary art, its bookstore extraordinaire, and the incredible panoramic view over the rooftops of Paris from the top of the museum’s many escalators (8, and at the top of this article) – stay for a drink at one of the rose-adorned tables and enjoy the sunshine!
Bob’s Kitchen (9) is a short walk north of here, and is great for breakfast, lunch, juice, or an extended Sunday brunch. Everything here is wonderfully healthy and vegetarian, with many vegan options – just ask one of the friendly staff for recommendations.
Bob’s Kitchen: open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am to 4pm, 74 Rue des Gravilliers 75003, metro: Arts et Métiers.
42 Degrés (10) is Paris’s only all-vegan, all-raw restaurant, and their dishes are all art-on-a-plate. The ever-changing menu highlights the creativity of the team here, and merits several visits just to taste what they can do! Walk north from here to take in another stunning view over Paris from the Sacre Coeur, or wander west towards the Opéra Garnier (11, astoundingly beautiful inside, and well worth taking a tour of) and the department stores Galeries Lafayette (12) and Printemps, which each have cafés on their top floor terraces for more rooftop-gazing.
42 Degrés: open Tuesday to Sunday from 12pm to 10:30pm (kitchen closed but restaurant remains open between 2:30pm and 7:30pm, when tea, coffee, smoothies and desserts can be enjoyed) 109 rue du Faubourg Poissonière 75010, metro: Poissonière.
Sol Semilla (13) is a shop and a café and a restaurant all about seasonal vegetables and vegan superfoods. Acai, mesquite, klamath and other unpronounceable things form part of a varied and interesting menu – the soups and the drinks are particularly good. In the shop, you’ll find packaged superfoods (raw cocoa beans! raw cocoa beans covered in raw chocolate!) and recipe books, and keep an eye on their website for details of cooking classes and other special events.
Sol Semilla: ‘Cantine’ open Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 7pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm, shop closes an hour later, 23 rue des Vinaigriers, metro: Jacques Bonsergent.
Just across the Canal Saint Martin is Carmen Ragosta (14), boutique and vegan restaurant. I went having heard rumours about an excellent vegan tiramisu, and was suitably impressed! The wonderfully warm and vibrant Carmen prepares fresh food daily – and she is also the designer and creator of the clothes and bags that fill the store. Shoes sold here are by sustainable Brazilian brand Melissa. The tiramisu is also available to take away – enjoy by the canal (15), which is yet another popular place to wander along in the afternoon, or while away an entire evening.
Carmen Ragosta: open Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30am until 7pm, 8 rue de la Grange aux Belles 75010, metro: Jacques Bonsergent.
Finally, there’s a fair on in the Tuileries gardens by the Louvre, with a giant Ferris wheel (16) for taking in the view. Escape the crowds under the shade of the horse chestnut trees, or pull up a chair and around a fountain or one of the velvety green lawns. And if you’re in search of one last sorbet, the eco-friendly Grom (17) is just a short walk over the Seine to the south, in a lively part of Saint-Germain. (Their cones are vegan, and their website also lists ingredients in case of food intolerances.) Check out the neighbouring bars and stay for a cocktail or two – and this is a good place to catch a film (so many cinemas!) should the rain clouds roll in.
Grom: open in the summer Monday to Tuesday from 12pm to 11pm, Thursday to Saturday from 12pm to midnight, Sunday from 11am to 11pm, 81 rue de Seine 75006, metro: Odéon.
Don’t forget other favourites featured in the article Winter in Paris, which are just as wonderful in the warmer months!
Photography by Emilee Seymour. For even more images of Paris and other spectacular places around the world, follow us on Instagram.