Summer in Paris: Beyond Bastille Day

Celebrated July 14, French National Day, or Bastille Day, commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Celebrations are held all over France, but thousands line up along the Champs-Elysees in Paris to watch the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. These annual festivities aren’t limited to the ground, either; locals and tourists can also look high above the crowds to see the Patrouille de France aerobatics team in action. 

But Bastille Day isn’t the only thing tourists should add to their agendas when visiting the French capital in the summer. Here’s a quick list of 5 fun summertime experiences you don’t want to miss when vacationing in Paris.

Work on Your Tan at Paris Plages ('Beaches')
beaches, plages, Paris, France
Loic Lagarde/Moment Open/ Getty Images

Yes, Paris is a landlocked city, but that doesn’t stop it from transforming into a beach town from mid-July to mid-August. Take a stroll along the banks of the Seine to see a full-fledged beach with sand, games, chairs and umbrellas. Sip on a cocktail from one of the open-air bars while you work on your tan. These makeshift beaches are located from Rotonde de Ledoux to Rue de Crimee and from the Louvre to Pont de Sully, a favorite spot with a great view of Notre Dame. Insider’s tip: It’s not uncommon for friends and family to congregate along the river around dusk. Bring a bottle of Bordeaux, some duck pate and artisanal cheese — you’ll fit right in.

Return to Your Zen State at These Green Spaces
Jardin des tuileries, gardens, Paris, France
Consuelo Almazan Carretero/E+/Getty Images

In addition to the Seine, Parisians take advantage of their parks and green spaces to unwind and relax with friends and family. And if you’re a visitor, you should, too. The City of Light has more than 30 gardens and parks perfect for strolling, playing soccer or people-watching as locals and tourists pass by. Enjoy some of our favorite places to “park it,” such as the Jardin du Palais Royal, Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc du Champ de Mars.

  • 113 Rue de Rivoli
  • Paris, 75001 France
Witness the Adrenaline Rush of the Tour de France
Tour de France, bike riders, Paris, France
Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Cheer on cyclists as they wrap up the final stage of one of the largest sporting events in the world, the Tour de France. Competitors pedal the last 85 miles in Paris to finish this 23-day race, which covers more than 2,000 miles of open road with teams of up to 9 bikers. Get up early to camp out along the Champs-Elysees or near the Place de la Concorde to watch the cyclists whiz by and cross the finish line. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss!

  • Avenue des Champs-Elysees
  • Paris, 75008 France
Roll With the Parisians Every Friday Night
roller blading, skating, Paris, France
Russell Mountford/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Go roller skating every Friday night for Le Friday Night Fever, an event organized by Rollers-et-Coquillages (“Skates and Snail Shells”). If it’s not raining, more than 10,000 top-notch skaters of all ages gather on Place Raoul-Dautry — in front of the Montparnasse metro station — for a fast-paced, 3-hour, 12- to 15-mile circuit on skates. Join the group on Sunday afternoons if you’re looking for a more leisurely roll. Skaters meet at 2 p.m. at the Bastille metro on Boulevard Bourdon.

  • 34 Place Raoul-Dautry
  • Paris, 75015 France
Take a Day Trip to Explore Old-World Luxe Living
Palace of Versailles, gardens, Paris, France
Veronica Garbutt/Lonely Planet Image/Getty Images

Take the metro or RER (regional express train) to explore some of the most popular castles or palaces near Paris. Head west of the city to visit Chateau de Versailles (Versailles Palace), the residence of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. Take a tour of the palace, walk through the gardens, see Marie Antoinette’s estate and take a romantic row in a paddleboat on the Grand Canal. We recommend stopping at La Petite Venise — one of 2 on-site restaurants — for seasonal dishes and daily specials. Chateau de Vincennes, Chateau de Fontainebleau and Chateau de Rambouillet are a few other notable palatial estates to visit. Or you can go with complete fantasy and explore the castles at Disneyland Paris — just a 35-minute ride from the city on the RER A.

  • Place d'Armes
  • Versailles, 78000 France

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