Planning to visit Paris in the summer? Yeah, you and everyone else in the free world since it’s easily one of the best cities in France.
It’s not THAT bad but traveling to Paris in the summer is definitely not ideal, although the weather is nice – making it one of the best times to visit France.
I’ve done it twice and I think that most people hate Paris because they visited during the summer when the crowds were at their worst, the lines at their longest, and the heat at it’s most ridiculous (feel free to escape Paris altogether by exploring one of the best places to visit in France, outside of the capital)
God, I’m getting a migraine just thinking about it.
However, there are a ton of things that you can do to make your summer trip to Paris more enjoyable, like take a wonderful day trip from Paris.
Because if it all sucked big time, I would NOT be writing this post.
Plus, I understand why you’re visiting Paris during the summer.
It’s not because you love crowds and enjoy sweating like a beast all day everyday.
You’re there because the kids are off from school, the weather is nice, and this is basically the only time of year that you can escape work and take that Paris vacation of your dreams.
So while I can’t convince your boss to give you time off during the fall, which is the best time to visit Paris, I can provide you with some expert Paris tips and tricks that will help you survive, and dare I say LOVE, your summer vacation, even if you only have 3 days in Paris.
Grab the closest macaron possible, to satiate your eternal appetite for all things Paris, and let’s begin some epic Paris vacation planning…STAT!
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1. Reserve tickets to all major attractions in ADVANCE!
This Paris tip is ridiculously obvious.
I’m gonna say it anyway because inevitably, you’ll have some joker roll up to the Louvre on a Saturday in August and be utterly SHOCKED that they have to wait three hours in line just to get frisked by a security guard before they can even enter the museum to purchase a ticket.
So yeah, don’t let this be you.
Because legit, nothing ruins a vacation faster than spending all your time waiting in line and seeing absolutely NOTHING.
Purchase tickets to all top Paris attractions WELL in advance. You know, Paris points of interest that everyone wants to see like the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the D’Orsay Museum, Versailles, the Paris Catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, Opera Garnier, Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame (the towers climb since no entrance ticket is needed), etc.
HOWEVER (and this is a BIG one):
You will still need to wait in line. Sorry, but there is no way around it, even if you book your tickets in advance.
Pre-booking all of your attraction tickets will save you time, but between security and queues for advance ticket holders, you should definitely still expect to wait in line; albeit a shorter one but still a line none the less.
It sucks but I don’t want you to be shocked when this happens, especially if you’ve booked all your tickets well in advance.
***If you don’t want to reserve tickets to Sainte Chapelle in advance, you can always purchase a joint ticket to Sainte Chappelle and the Conciergie at the Conciergie, where ticket lines are MUCH shorter. Plus, purchasing a joint cheaper is cheaper than buying the two tickets separately.***
2. Get Up Early
If you’ve ever read my blog then you know that I LOATHE mornings.
They are definitely my kryptonite (I make Grumpy Cat look tame).
Therefore, the idea of waking up early every day of my summer vacation in Paris is truly my idea of a living hell.
If you actually want to ENJOY your summer in Paris, then getting up early to avoid the crowds is essential.
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“But Kelly, I have all my tickets! Why do I still need to get up early?”
By getting up early, not only do you avoid that sardine can feeling of being packed into a museum with 10,000 other people at mid-day, but you can also take better photos (without the selfie stick-wielding masses in all of your shots), avoid long queues at security, and even procure an ever illusive audio-guide.
Another perk (said dripping with sarcasm) of visiting Paris in the summer is that most major museums completely run out of audio guides by 10 am.
If you actually want that audio guide that you reserved, then definitely visit any major Paris museum right when it opens.
***The notable exception to that rule are days when museums have night hours. You can avoid the crowds at the Louvre by visiting either Wednesday or Friday evening when the museum is open until 9:45 pm. You can also avoid the crowds at the D’Orsay by visiting Thursday evening when the museum is open until 9:45 pm.***
3. Purchase the Paris Museum Pass
“I hate saving money!” said no one ever.
Even millionaires LOVE saving money since that’s how they hold on to their epic amount of wealth.
Purchasing the Paris Museum Pass (click to get yours now) before any summer trip to Pars is a must!
Just choose from three distinct options, based on the length of your stay in Paris.
2 Day Paris Pass for €53
4 Day Paris Pass for €67
6 Day Paris for €79
The benefits of this pass really depend entirely on what you plan to do during your summer Paris itinerary.
If you want to see anything even remotely touristy during your summer in Paris, then the Paris Museum Pass is totally worth it since you get direct access to over 50 top Paris attractions, saving you oodles of time and money.
What’s not to love? Entrance to major Pairs attractions like the Arc de Triomphe, Centre Pompidou, Musée National des Arts Asiatiques – Guimet, Musée des Arts et Métiers, Musée du Quai Branly, Chapelle Expiatoire, Louvre Palace and Museum, Cité de l’Architecture et Patrimoine – Musée des Monuments Français, Musée Gustave Moreau, Musée Cluny, Philarmonie de Paris – Musée de la Musique, Crypte Archéologique du Parvis Notre Dame, Notre Dame Towers, Musée National de l’Orangerie, Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, Musée d’Orsay, Palais de la Découverte, Panthéon, Musée National Picasso-Paris, Musée des Plans-reliefs, Musée Rodin, Sainte-Chapelle,etc. are all included with the purchase of this pass
This isn’t even the full list. I only mentioned top Paris attractions here to demonstrate that this pass includes almost everything you’d actually want to see.
Oh, I Almost Forgot:
The Paris Museum Pass also includes 20 super fab attractions OUTSIDE Paris, like Château de Versailles, Château de Fontainebleau, and Villa Savoye.
Still Not Convinced?
Well, for the 2-Day Pass to pay for itself, you need to visit a minimum of 3 museums/monuments a day (aka visit attractions with admission fees that are equivalent to €26 a day).
For the 4-Day Pass to pay for itself, you need to visit a minimum of 2 museums/monuments a day (aka visit attractions with admission fees that are the equivalent of €17 a day).
And for the 6-Day Pass to Pay for itself, you need to visit a minimum of 1 or 2 museums/monuments a day (aka visit attractions with admission fees that are the equivalent of €12 a day).
You should probably go get you Paris Pass now and rejoice at the multitude of savings you’ll enjoy during your trip to Paris.
Your bank account with thank you.
4. Expect Many Local Buisnesses to be Closed
You expected everything in Paris to be open throughout the summer?
That’s so sweet!
It’s also slightly delusional because guess what? Yeah, Parisians need a break too!
And like you, Parisians want to take a nice summer vacation, typically during the month of August.
While all major attractions will remain open, many locally owned restaurants, bars, and shops will be closed during at least some portion of August as locals escape the hot, cramped, and crowded streets of Paris.
If you’re traveling to Paris during August, just remain flexible and know that you may not be able to dine at that ONE, Insta-famous restaurant that everyone has been raving about.
Also remember that this is not the end of the world since, like most of my problems, this is a total first world problem that is not worth having a major melt-down over (PSST: Not sure what restaurants are open during August in Paris? Then check out Paris by Mouth!)
This happened to me last summer when I was doing an impromptu dessert tour through Paris.
I was desperately trying to get my foodie swerve on but sadly, virtually every local dessert shop that I visited was closed.
But rather than endure acute, sugar withdrawal:
I decided to head to Gallerie Lafayette instead, a fantastic Parisian shopping mall.
While here, not only did I enjoy amazing, panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower from their rooftop bar, but I also got to visit their gourmet food hall, on the ground floor, and devour an assortment of desserts from fine purveyors of world-class pastries like Éclair de Génie, Jean-Paul Hevin, Angelina, Jacques Genin, etc.
So whatever you do:
Add Galleries Lafayette to your list of places to visit in Paris, and all will be right with the world.
5. Make sure that your hotel has airconditioning
This is by far the BIGGEST lesson that I learned while traveling through Paris last summer.
Not shockingly, I’m an American. And as such, I assume that everything, everywhere is airconditioned at all times since well, that’s exactly how it is in the US
Because for Americans:
AC is a given and a total way of life. Therefore, in the States, a hotel that doesn’t have airconditioning is kind of like a hotel that doesn’t have indoor plumbing.
It just doesn’t happen. Even the crappiest hotels have working toilets and AC.
I incorrectly assumed that all of the hotels that I booked in Paris would have airconditioning.
Yeah, big mistake.
Not only did my 4-star hotel not have AC, but I was in Paris during an excruciatingly hot heat wave where daily temperatures routinely exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
If I canceled my reservation last minute, I would lose my entire desposit and have to pay for ANOTHER hotel.
And so I was faced with the ultimate dilemma.
Do I pay for another hotel or sweat to death in my hotel room?
Yeah, neither of those options was appealing to me, so I came up with plan C.
I called my hotel, sobbed about how I just noticed that all the rooms didn’t come with AC (which was true), faked an asthma condition that required AC, and then prayed to God they gave me a room with AC, which they did.
So moral of the story?
Before booking your hotel room in Paris this summer, always double check and make sure that ALL the rooms in the hotel come fully equipped with airconditioning.
***My favorite Paris hotels that DO come with air-conditioning in all of their rooms (they’re also well-priced and well-located) include Hotel Mercure Paris Pigalle, Le Belmont Paris, Hotel Splendor Elysees, and Hotel Le M St. Germain.***
6. Be prepared for high prices
Another added joy of visiting Paris in the summer?
Yup, high prices on airfare and hotels since it’s peak travel season.
See, I knew that news would make your day!
However, not all is lost since there are a ton of ways that you can save money in Paris.
I’m not gonna go into all of them now since I have an entire post about backpacking Paris, but I will give you some of my tips on how to save money on hotel rooms and flights to Paris.
Let’s start with flights shall we?
I fly from NYC to Paris and NEVER, even in high season, pay more than $400 for a round trip, direct flight to Paris.
But how do I perform such voodoo magic?
Trust me, it’s really not difficult if I can manage to do it.
About 2 months prior to my trip:
I’ll use Skyscanner to research flight prices from all local airports (For me that’s JFK, Stewart, and Newark. I’ll even throw in LaGuardia just in case. But no matter where you’re from, definitely compare flight prices from different local airports).
***Skyscanner is great but I also look up the cost of the flight on the airline’s website since it can sometimes be cheaper.***
***I typically book my flights 6 to 8 weeks before my trip. However, to guarantee I’m getting the cheapest price possible, I also use Hopper, a flight pricing app that tells you how far in advance you should purchase your tickets if you want the cheapest flight possible.***
I also routinely look up direct flights from NYC to Paris on Norwegian Air since they are a great budget airline that has a nifty low-fare calendar that will help you determine the cheapest day and time to fly.
The more flexible you are with the date and time of your flight, the cheaper your flight will be (so if you can fly on a weekday either early in the morning or late at night, that will help you save money).
For additional savings:
I also look up one-way flights, to and from multiple destinations, to see if buying two one-way flights is cheaper than buying a round trip ticket.
For my trip to London, I bought a one-way ticket from Newark to Heathrow ($125) and then bought a one-way ticket from Stockholm to JFK ($175) since that flight combination was much cheaper than purchasing a round trip ticket from NYC to London (the round trip ticket from London to NYC was well over $500).
And added bonus? I get to visit Sweden too!
Now, I’m not quite as savvy at saving money on hotel rooms but whatever, I’ll tell you what I do anyway.
My experiences with hostels and Airbnbs have been no bueno.
When booking hotel accommodations for a trip, I typically use hotels.com.
Not only are their rates reasonable, but they provide you with in-depth property reviews, have a ton of sales, and even give you a free hotel stay every time you book ten nights with them (This is cumulative over time so you don’t have to book 10 nights with them all at once. Just register with them and login every time you make a reservation to receive the dicsount).
Want to save even more money on your hotel room?
Then choose the non-refundable booking option and pay the hotel in full, online, before you arrive (As with booking flights, I always compare hotel.com’s rates with the rates you get when booking a room directly from the hotel’s website, just to make sure that I’m getting the cheapest rate possible).
7. Don’t Forget to Watch Out for Scams!
One of the biggest mistakes people make in Paris is that they assume the city is completely safe.
Just because Paris is know as the “city of love” doesn’t mean that the criminals are gonna love you enough to tell you that your wallet is hanging out and that someone might steal it.
Like any major city, Paris has a ton of petty crime that you need to be aware of and protect yoursel against.
It’s incredibly easy to protect yourself against the scams and minor crimes that you’ll likely encounter in Paris.
To stay safe:
Always be aware of your surroundings and try not to look like a total selfie stick slingin’ tourist while kickin’ it in Paris.
So that neon pink fanny pack and “I Love Paris” t-shirt?
Yeah, you might want to leave those back in the US of A.
And if you really have no idea how to dress like a local in Paris, just check out my nifty Paris packing list.
If I can somehow manage to dress like a local in Paris then literally anyone can.
Avoid pickpockets in the metro and in all major Paris tourist centers by carrying your bag in front of you at all times and by carrying only the cash and credit cards that you need for the day.
All of your other valuables, your passport included, should be kept in your hotel safe.
If your wallet does get stolen, you can still access the money and credit cards that you have back at your hotel.
Never accept gifts from strangers or hand over a credit card or passport without asking for ID since these are common scams that Parisian criminals use to try and separate you from your money.
Because as the old adage goes:
Better safe than sorry since nothing ruins a vacation faster than having your wallet stolen (One of the worst mistakes I made in Barcelona, Spain).
What if you take all these precautions and your stuff STILL gets stolen?
Hello, travel insurance? We meet again!
Yup, you know exactly what I’m gonna say before I’m gonna say it but this is why you ALWAYS need to buy travel insurance before each and every trip.
Because life, yeah, it can get kind of lifey.
And since you can’t predict when disaster will strike, you always need to have travel insurance just in case.
If someone does steal your wallet, you can just file a claim with your travel insurance company and they’ll reimburse you for anything that was lost or stolen.
I know and love World Nomads travel insurance.
Not only is it easy to make a claim, but they cover almost any country you might want to visit (except maybe Pakistan) and offer a fantastic level of coverage that includes almost any travel disaster imaginable.
Their policies are easy to customize, and they even allow you to extend or change your policy while you’re on the road.
If you do choose World Nomads, purchase their Basic Plan if your gear is worth less than $1000 and an Explorer Plan if your gear is worth more than $1000 since both plans offer $100,000 worth of medical coverage.
8. When visiting Pairs in the Summer, Take Advantage of Special Events!
Like most major cities:
Paris embraces the beautiful summer weather with a slew of fantastic, outdoor festivals and events that are fun for locals and tourists alike.
Start off the summer right on July 14th with Bastille Day, a French national holiday that celebrates the storming of the Bastille, on July 14, 1789, and the beginning of the French Revolution.
No idea what I’m talking about?
In the tiniest of nutshells, the Bastille was used as a prison during the French Revolution and became a symbol of the king’s total power over the French people.
By capturing the Bastille:
French citizens signaled the transference of power from the monarchy to the nation’s people.
Celebrations typically include awesomness like fireworks and killer dance parties held at fire stations all over Paris.
What, can’t make it to Bastille Day?
No worries! You can always check out the Quartier d’Été Festival (an art and music festival that features various music, dance, art, and theater performances) which runs from July 16 through August 4 or the ever awesome, Rock en Seine rock concert/festival that runs from August 24 through August 26.
Looking for something a bit more mellow?
Then pack a killer picnic and attend a free movie in the park at Parc de la Villete’s Cinéma en Plein Air between July 18 and August 19.
Many of the English films are shown with French subtitles so any potential language barriers will not be an issue.
***Paris also has a Paris Street Music Festival (Fete de la Musique) in the summer that is totally free.***
9. Eat as much Berthillon as possible!
Ice cream lovers of the world rejoice because, in Paris, Berthillon is king.
And likely, your new best friend
At least as long as you pack a ton of elastic waist shorts for your trip to Paris this summer!!!
But let me back it up first (beep, beep, like a truck! No? Not funny? Awkwardly moving on).
What is Berthillon anyway?
No, I haven’t developed some weird speech impediment in the last 2.5 seconds.
Berthillon is actually the name of a luxury ice cream and sorbet retailer in Paris.
Any by luxury, I mean the BEST ICE CREAM EVER (insert frenetic spirit fingers)!!
They basically sell ice cream on steroids since the ice cream and sorbet served at Berthillon Glacier is so thick and creamy that it has an almost taffy-like consistency.
I adore their mint chocolate chip, but the sorbets are epic too. And that’s saying a lot since I don’t even like sorbet.
The fruity flavors of their sorbets (like the peat and melon) just explode in your mouth, making this the perfect sweet treat on a hot and humid, Paris summer day.
Be prepared though.
Because this place is uber popular and not exactly a hidden gem (it’s the perfect stop along any Latin Quarter walking tour).
You will ALWAYS have to wait in line to get this decadently, delightful treat.
But I promise, the wait is 110% worth it.
10. Pack plenty of sunscreen and sun hats (AKA Your Handy Dandy, Summer Paris Packing List)
Paris is extremely hot and humid during the summer (June through August), with temperatures that routinely hover around 80°F during the day and 60°F at night.
You need to prepare accordingly, which is why my summer Paris packing list routinely includes warm weather staples like a sun hat, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, etc.
I’m pasty AF and make Casper the friendly ghost look tan.
So, without these summer Paris essentials:
I would either shrivel up like a prune, cease to function, or become insanely grumpy, morph into the Hulk, and basically smash everything up around me since I loathe hot and humid weather (which is exactly what Paris is like all summer long).
Below, you’ll find a list of everything you need to pack if you want to survive Paris in the summer, with a free, printable, Paris summer packing list at the bottom!
Because real talk, who doesn’t love the word FREE?
I hate the heat and humidity. Therefore:
One of the only reasons why I actually look forward to the summer is that I get to wear this cute AF hat basically all day everyday.
Not only does it protect me from the sun since it’s SPF 50 with a handy windproof strap that keeps it from flying away at the drop of a hat (Get it? I crack myself up!), but it’s wicked cute with a fancy wide brim, has a large bowknot in the back, and even hides my perpetually unkempt hair since I never have the patience or energy to actually do something with the long blonde mess that sits atop my head.
This hat always gets me a ton of compliments as I use it to try and protect what’s left of my mildly youthful complexion.
Hats are easy to wear, help dress up any outfit, and always make my Instagram photos look 10,000 times cuter.
This hat has me rolling in the hearts like a not-so-pseudo-big shot.
But if this hat isn’t you cup of tea:
Any hat will do as long as it has a feminine look and a wide brim that will help protect you from the sun.
I also adore this hat because it’s a total steal at $15.
Nothing makes me look like a self-important, wannabe celebrity faster than a nifty pair of retro, polarized sunglasses in black, every Parisian’s favorite color.
Okay, I kid…sort of.
Sunglasses really are the best because not only do they protect my light eyes from harmful UV rays, but they also make me look slightly posh and alluring without actually trying.
They expertly hide my glare as I silently judge you for draping yourself all over a priceless heirloom while shamelessly taking 12,000 photos of yourself with a selfie-stick of doom.
I know I shouldn’t judge but I can’t help myself, it’s part of my human constion.
This pair only costs $15, which is perfect for someone like me who is perpetually losing her sunglasses and refuses to spend anything over $20 on a pair of shades that she is just gonna lose anyway.
And on a more practical level:
Nobody wants to squint their way through summer vacation. it’s never a good look.
3. Light Day Jacket
While I do love a good leather jacket, it’s a bit heavy for the summer.
You’ll definitely want to pack at least one light jacket since you may encounter a chilly evening or run into a bit of rain.
Now, when I look for a summer jacket:
I want something waterproof and warm, but also light, tailored, and chic so that I feel somewhat stylish.
I love the Cole Haan packable raincoat and think it’s one of the best raincoats that I have ever owned.
Not only is it compact and easy to pack:
But it comes with a removable hood and a charming belt that creates a customizable, feminine fit that is perfect for Paris.
But it gets better!
Not only is this high-quality jacket fashionable, but it”s functional too!
The fabric is durable, comfortable, waterproof, and heavy enough to be worn throughout the summer, as well as the spring and fall.
This jacket is a bit snug, especially in the back and arms, so definitely order a size or two larger than you normally would.
When it comes to packing a pair of sandals for Paris, not just any old sandals will do.
Any sandals that I bring to Paris need to have it all! Not only do they need to be flat, reasonably priced, comfortable, and stylish, but they also need to have a back (so that my foot doesn’t slip out of the sandal) and be able to take a beating from Paris’ legendary, cobblestone streets.
Those streets are the things that Instagram dreams are made of, but they can also be murder on your shoes and feet.
Not only are they true to size, with an assortment of colors and styles to choose from, but they have ultra-soft, faux leather straps, a well-cushioned footbed, and non-skid soles that are perfect for the aforementioned cobblestones of doom.
And at just $20 a pair:
You really don’t have to feel THAT guilty when you impulsively buy a pair in every color available.
Truly the perfect chic but comfortable sandal for any summer in Paris.
Packing a reusable water bottle is one of the simplest ways to save money, and the planet, when you travel.
Not only do you avoid creating unnecessary plastic waste, but you also save a butt ton of money since you don’t have to spend $3 every time you want a drink of water (Which will be quite often since Paris is extremely hot and humid throughout the summer).
Talk about a win-win.
But, when water bottles aren’t holding copious amounts of water, they’re pretty bulky and take up precious space in your carry on.
A collapsible water bottle! I use mine all the time and absolutely love it!
And when I’m not using it?
Yeah, I just roll up this little modern miracle, throw it in my bag, and I’m good to go since it helps save me a TON of room in my carry in.
Dresses are foreer and always an ABSOLUTE must in Paris.
Not only are they easy to pack, but they always make you look and feel great (like you tried to look good without actually doing anything).
They’re super easy and breezy during the summer when it’s wicked hot outside.
This dress happens to be a Boatneck Sleeveless Vintage Tea Dress from one of my favorite designers on Amazon, Grace Karin
I love their dresses (I have a dress with a short sleeve black top and a white bottom with lemons that I get a ton of compliments on) since they’re high-quality, last forever, true to size, come in any pattern/color imaginable, are reasonably priced at $30 a dress, and hide any bodily imperfections with the help of a pair of Spanx.
A timeless look that is perfect for the summer.
When visiting Paris in the summer:
Not only do you want to pack clothing that will help you stay cool and comfortable, but you also want slightly conservative pieces that have a classic look about them.
And this skirt has all that and then some!
A slightly longer skirt that hits at, or just beneath, your knees, it has a comfortable, cinched waist (with a zipper) and flares out at the bottom, giving you a fantastic retro feel that is quite flattering too.
There are an assortment of vivid, high-quality fabrics and patterns to choose that include everything from skulls to flamingos.
And did I mention that there are pockets???
Yup!! This skirt has large pockets that make the perfect place to put your cellphone while walking around Paris.
One down side?
It tends to get a bit wrinkly so you may have to iron it, which I find uber annoying.
But other than that, it’s true to size and a great buy for $20.
So leave the skimpy mini-skirt at home and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn, not Lindsey Lohan, instead.
8. Day Bag
This backpack is like the holy grail of day bags.
Not only is it Heidi Klum level stylish, but it’s incredibly functional since it can store a ton of stuff, including 10″ Macbook, and comes in two super snazzy colors.
It’s waterproof AND has an antitheft design that somehow magically fuses nylon and leather to make an extra durable fabric that protects your belongings against slashing.
There’s even a back zipper for the main compartment that rests up against you while you’re walking.
No more theft-related anxiety since people can’t just undo your backpack’s zipper and help themselves to your belongings.
This also bag has two adjustable shoulder straps, a detachable crossbody strap (use this at a museum where backpacks aren’t permitted), and a slew of interior pockets to keep you organized and looking fly like a G-6.
And all this for just $26. Yup, dreams really do come true.
PRINT OUT YOUR FREE, SUMMER PARIS PACKING LIST RIGHT NOW!
There you have it, my list of 10 essential, insider tips to help you survive summe rin Paris.
True, I can’t change the stifling hot weather, or the fact that your hair may frizz.
But, I can help you make the most out of your trip to Paris this summer with these mildly insightful tips.
So rock out and enjoy all that Paris has to offer this summer. And if this post has you feeling mad inspired, then pin this now and read it tagian later!