What to do in Paris when it is sizzling hot
So summer has finally hit Paris. We’ve been complaining for months about the bad weather, the rain, the cold and the wind and now we’ve all started complaining about the heat wave that hit us. I guess the weather gods can never really please us mortals. While I am pretty satisfied with the sun kissing my skin (don’t forget sun protection though!), the long lazy evenings that come along with it, and the possibility to go outside without an umbrella in your hand, Paris is definitely not the best place to hang around when temperatures sizzle above 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). There is loads of traffic and narrow streets, adding to the heat and pollution in the city, there is no sea nearby to cool off in, and air conditioning is not as popular as it is in the USA. Walking in Paris, admiring her beauty and historic sights, is just not that great when the sun burns your skin away and you feel stickier with every step you take. So what to do in Paris when it gets really hot hot hot? What are the perfect spots and undertakings to cool down?
1. Relax and take it easy at Paris plages. Yes, Paris is not located anywhere near the sea, but we do have a beach in summer time: our very own Paris plages (beaches of Paris) along the Seine river. Sure, there is no salty sea breeze or wet sand to cool off in, but enjoying a cold cocktail or glass of fresh lemonade in the shade while gazing at the tourist boats passing by and admiring the Eiffel Tower from a distance isn’t bad either. Your little ones can amuse themselves with building sand castles (strokes with actual sand can be found) while you dip in the small pool available (it’s prohibited to swim in the Seine, and it isn’t recommended anyway) or lounge on one of its many terraces or hammocks. Life could be worse.
2. Hit the movies. The only place in Paris where air conditioning is always on is at the cinema. There are several movie theaters to be found in each arrondissement who play a wide range of French and foreign (including American and English) films. Language is not an issue since most movies are played in their original language. Just to be sure, check whether the movie is indicated (at the poster or time schedule) with VO (version originale). If so, this means that the movie is played in its original language with French subtitles (even when the movie poster has a French title for an originally English spoken film), while VF indicates the movie is spoken in French. For surviving lazy afternoons or dramatically humid nights, check out that cinema in your neighborhood.
3. Or stay outside and enjoy the evening breeze while watching a film at the Cinema en plein air (open air cinema) or the Au Clair de Lune (in the moonlight) places in Paris. At several locations throughout the city, large screens are popped up in the evening and you can enjoy a movie for free. While no new releases are shown here, some good golden oldies and fun summer films are on the schedule. Think Dirty Dancing, some Bollywood, or a classic Woody Allen. Chairs, and even blankets, are often available on the spot. Bring along a bottle of rosé, a few snacks, and have yourself a sweet date night under the stars.
3. There is no better excuse to eat lots of ice cream. Paris has some of the best ice cream I have ever tried, and a laaaarge variety of flavours are available at most sellers and stores. If you are prepared to queue (Parisians love their ice cream too), you are in for a real treat. Your best options are:
– Berthillon. My personal number one. Selling plenty of delicious flavors including pistachio (if you are into pistachio, this is the best one you’ll ever have), rhubarb, peach with mint (schwing!), pineapple with basilica, lavender, and caramel with ginger. If you don’t feel like trying anything ‘exotic’, they have most regular flavours as well. You’ll find their main salon at 29-31 rue Saint Louis en l’Ile in the 4th arrondissement but many other spots sell Berthillon ice cream, so look out for those too.
– Grom at 81 rue Seine in the pretty 6th arrondissement sells yummy homemade Italian ice cream. No experimental, crazy flavors but good old-fashioned decent ice cream flavors which are pretty much all good. Don’t miss it when you are in the neighborhood.
– For some extraordinary flavors, head out to La Tropicale in the 13th at 180 boulevard Vincent Auriol. What about orange with a hint of pepper, beetroot with red fruits, or honey with pine nuts? Yes, you are in for a surprise at La Tropicale but I promise you it’s good. All ice cream is bio (yay!) and seriously delicious.
– Amorino sells pretty good ice cream all around Paris and are generous with servings. Stick to their ice creams, I tried their waffles etc. but found them less satisfying. Their yoghurt flavors, as well as their coconut and caramel ice cream are among my favorites.
– For the frozen yoghurt lovers out there (I am one of them): good news! Froyo is becoming increasingly popular in the city of love. While I think you can never go really wrong with froyo (it just never tastes really bad), I love Chacun ses Goûts at 4 rue Geoffroy L’Angevin in the 4th arrondissement. A friend of mine made me try Baci Bisou at 25 rue des Vinaigriers in the 10th and with plenty of toppings to choose from, I was definitely not disappointed. It’s right off Canal St. Martin, where you can enjoy your 0% fat treat along the pretty canal.
4. Stretch your legs and hide in the shade of one of Paris’ parks. Our parks are not only very pretty and well maintained, they also offer excellent opportunities for recreation and people-watching. The largest ones are at the edge of the city: Bois de Vincennes (with its chateau) and Bois de Boulogne. Both have a few ponds for rowing (romantic!), feeding ducks, or just regular chilling. Otherwise, the city centre includes several smaller parks. To catch a glimpse of the city’s hipsters head to the Place des Vosges which is surrounded by art galleries, go up to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont for a nice view over Paris, run or play around in the Jardin du Luxembourg, enjoy the beautiful fountains behind the Louvre in the Tuileries, or look for some inner-city peace in the Jardin des Plantes (there is a small zoo for children as well) or Parc André Citroën. These are lovely places for a picnic or just to rest after hours of walking or sightseeing. For those who can’t get enough of the Eiffel Tower, sit down at the Champs des Mars where you can enjoy the tower in her full glory but be prepared to share the area with plenty of others.
5. Hit the waters and splash it out in the waterpark Aquaboulevard. The ideal place to cool down for kids: the park has several swimming pools, slides and other water attractions. It’s easily accessible by metro, located at the end of line 8 at metro stop Balard. You might try one of Paris’ public swimming pools, but these are often over-crowded and not always open for the public. Check their locations and opening hours here. Another great option to enjoy the freshness of Parisian’s waters is on a boat tour over the Seine. With the wind blowing in your hair you might actually feel a little less hot while cruising along Paris’ greatest sights. Best time of the day: late afternoons or early evenings when temperatures start to drop.
6. Go up, up, up! The higher you go, the more you can enjoy that little breeze that’s floating around somewhere above you. Queue for the Eiffel Tower and make it all the way to the top, it can be surprisingly cool there. Take the superfast elevator to the top floor of Tour Montparnasse and enjoy the wind, a refreshment and the view – you’ll be able to admire the whole of Paris including the Eiffel Tower. Or sip at a fancy cocktail at Printemp’s rooftop terrace (Le Déli-Cieux) or at Le Georges which can be found at the top of Centre George Pompidou (no need to enter the museum if you don’t want to, there is special elevator bringing you straight up to this gorgeous place).
7. Try out a few museums. This may not be the first idea popping in your head when you want to cool down, but some museums offer lovely hide outs. The wonderful gardens of the Rodin museum do not only provide you with shady corners and relaxing stretchers, but will also feed you with some cultural intellect and fine pieces of art. Admire Mr. Rodin’s master piece The Thinker and catch up on a little bit of art history while strolling through the green gardens and flower beds. Or have a cup of iced tea at the beautiful terrace of the Musée de la Vie Romantique, surrounded by trees and roses.
Have a lovely summer!