Of course, you can always visit the museums and palaces of Paris. You can stroll the Champs-Elysées and linger on the viewing platform of the Eiffel Tower. You can also celebrate summer the way Parisians do, with music festivals, open-air movies, and sunny afternoons spent on the Paris Plages (beaches) along the Seine. With a boom of hotel openings in unconventional neighborhoods, world-class restaurants taking a new approach to food, and a King Tut exhibition, there’s enough going on throughout the city to keep everyone busy and happy, even the most-seasoned Parisian traveler.
Stay someplace cool and new Fashionable hotels are cropping up in unexpected neighborhoods. The first Paris outpost of 25Hours Hotel opened in January directly across from the Gare du Nord station. The vibrant hotel seeks to reflects its place in the funky, diverse 10th arrondissement through its art-filled lobby bar, a hotel shop that sells everything from gold statement earrings to clothing, books, and wigs. Each room is colorfully decorated—with bright wallpaper and bedspreads and upholstery covered in punchy African and Asian fabrics. The hotel’s Israeli-Mediterranean-Romanian restaurant Neni is worth staying in for. 25hours-hotels.com
Another off-the-radar neighborhood, the 16th arrondissement, has suddenly become cooler: Brach Paris Hotel, with a glamorous Philippe Starck design, opened last October in a 1970s-era postal building. Rooms on the hotel’s high floors—kitted out with discreetly luxurious materials and midcentury modern touches—offer romantic views of the Eiffel Tower. As with other Starck creations, the hotel is full of eye-catching and eclectic artwork. You’ll find a fashionable crowd at the rooftop lounge and the Mediterranean restaurants downstairs. brachparis.com
Enjoy Paris en plein air
Summer nights in the City of Lights are even nicer when spent outdoors. Days on the Paris Plages aren’t half bad either.
La Villette, a big park in the northeast of Paris, shows outdoor movies for free almost every night for a month. This year, the program of 25 films showcase themes related to the future—from Blade Runner 2049 and Gattaca to Captain Fantastic. If you didn’t pack a picnic blanket in your suitcase, chairs rent for €7 (US$8). Cinema en Plein Air, July 17–August 18. www.lavillette.com
While it isn’t near the ocean, Paris enjoys a little bit of beachy fun every summer anyway. Join the locals at the Paris Plages and enjoy riverside lawns, umbrellas, chaise longues, palm trees, and a boardwalk at the Parc Rives de Seine, a park that runs along both banks of the Seine between the Pont de Soferino and the Pont Alexandre III. Along the l’Oise Canal, at le Bassin de la Villette, three public pools (with lifeguards and changing rooms) offer cool diversions, and the city has also set up zip lines, canoeing, board games, and pétanque courts for summer. Paris Plages, through September 2; pools open July 20–September 9. parisinfo.com
Eat your vegetables The huge surge of vegetarian, vegan, and health-conscious restaurants in Paris is one thing. But to see a veg-forward shift in a Michelin-starred kitchen feels like something remarkable. Le George, the star-bestowed restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel George V now maintains a sustainable kitchen garden that provides it with organic fruits and vegetables. The compostable waste from the restaurant will also be used to enrich the kitchen garden’s soil. The 20-acre garden, with its beehives and greenhouses, is located 11 miles outside the city on the grounds of Versailles. Guests of the hotel can arrange to visit the potager (the French term for kitchen garden) to help the kitchen staff select the day’s harvest, produce that they’ll see reflected in that evening’s menu at the hotel. fourseasons.com
Sample the world’s best pastry
It’s true that the croissants from almost any Parisian bakery will taste better than any you might find in other cities. This city takes its pastry seriously. If you do, too, consider a dinner at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. Pourquoi? The restaurant’s head pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato, was just voted the World’s Best Pastry Chef 2019, the first woman to have won. Préalpato focuses on lighter, healthier, and more natural desserts, using plenty of fresh seasonal and local produce. Try some of her signature offerings, such as the strawberry clafoutis with frosted pine shoots, or her Millason cake (a kind of flan from Gascony), or figue, a dessert that includes figs cooked three ways. Préalpato also recently published a pastry book, Desseralité, which covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about light and creative patisserie that won’t leave you in a sugar slump. dorchestercollection.com
(For an in-depth look at Parisian pastries in general, Context Travel offers a 2.5-hour walking tour of various chocolate and pastry shops in the St.-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood led by a professional chef or food writer.)
Celebrate the season
The three-week-long Paris Summer Festival (Festival Paris l’Été) keeps the city entertained through magic, theater, circus arts, dance, music, and art exhibitions. The diverse works are performed in schoolyards, parks, museums, and train stations throughout Paris, making it easy to join in whether you’re interested in orchestral music or contemporary dance or even card tricks. Festival Paris l’Été, July 12–August 3. parislete.fr
Get some culture
This summer proves that Paris loves artists as much as artists love Paris.
At Gagosian, a group art exhibition featuring works by Patti Smith, John Currin, Ed Ruscha, and Katharina Grosse among others will benefit the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Proceeds from sales will go to the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris and La Fondation Notre Dame. Gagosian Paris, through July 27. gagosian.com The Musée Picasso Paris is offering a side-by-side examination of the works of two 20th-century masters, Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. Musée Picasso Paris, through August 25th. museepicassoparis.fr History buffs (and lovers of shiny gold things) will want to visit the Tutankhamun, the Treasures of the Pharaoh exhibit at the Grande Halle de la Villette. More than 150 items from King Tut’s tomb will be on display in the cultural center. Grande Hall de la Villette, extended through September 22. expo-toutankhamon.fr
Stargaze in the city
Most Parisians decamp for vacation during August, but there are still a few diversions, mes amis. Star Nights (Les Nuits des Étoiles), offers hundreds of stargazing events, astronomy classes, and moon workshops at sites throughout the city. Pray for clear skies. Les Nuits des Étoiles, August 2–4. afastronomie.fr
>>Next: Plan Your Visit With AFAR’s Paris Travel Guide
Kristen Bateman I’m Kristen Bateman: a writer, editor and consultant.