50 unmissable ideas for your summer in Paris
July and August 2016? MLP has it covered
If you really want to enjoy this summer in Paris, and you are in need of some fabulous ideas you have come to the right place. Paris is a quiet source of inspiration this time of year. There are so many fantastic things you can do and interesting places to find, ensuring you and your family can make the most of your time here. Although the city is pretty much quiet in August, as most Parisians head off to the South of France to indulge in a little beach life for a few weeks, there is still plenty happening here that you can enjoy.
MLP has pulled together 50 useful ideas that should help you plan your summer holiday in Paris. It’s a long list and some ideas suggest a couple of additional recommendations. Hopefully you’ll find it a comprehensive guide to what you could be doing whilst in the city during July and August.
Over the holidays Mama Loves Paris will be continually providing ideas for you across the cultural spectrum, so keep checking in with MLP, Follow us on Facebook for regular updates and subscribe to receive our newsletter.
Summer on the Canal
Over the summer head to the North of the City and take in the rays along Canal de l’Ourcq. Throughout July until August 21, this stretch of the canal will be a hot bed of fun for the whole family. Boating, beaches, cruises, music events, hiking and street art events, have been organised to keep you entertained.
You can participate in the fun water events or just chill in the deck chairs strewn along the banks. It’s the perfect place to slot in amongst the natives and engage in what they love to do over the summer. MLP took the kids last Summer, read the post to get a little insight into what you can expect.
For more information check out Été du Canal.
July 2 until August 21
The Paris Batobus is not just for tourists. It’s actually a great way to give kids a sense of their city as a view from the river really brings the city alive for them. It’s a brilliant way to show them some of the sights minimising any whining about having to walk on a hot sticky day. You can get on and off as you please and use your ticket all day as the boat stops at around nine places all the Seine including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. A great adventure if you’ve got visitors with kids from out of town, this taxi boat gives a wonderful snapshot of the city from its best vantage point – the river.
The Phantom of Paris Arrivé
If you haven’t yet been to La Gaîté Lyrique then you should definitely consider checking it out. It is a fabulous venue. It’s positioned across from a playground and has the most huge and stunning café upstairs. Until July 29 there is some kind of haunted house experiment going on, offering a chance to explore some secret passageways! Apparently there are 4 parts to the expo which allow you to flit between illusion, fantasy and surrealism through to reality and hard truths. In the end, you can become a ghost! Sounds super weird but oh so fascinating!
La Gaîté Lyrique, 3a Rue Papin, Paris 3.
A wonderful haven for children, Jardin d’Acclimatation is always a pleasure. It’s a 20 acre amusement park in the Bois de Boulogne but it is gentle and understated compared with Disney or Asterix. There are rollercoasters, carousels and good old-fashioned fun like hook-a-duck for the little ones. There are pony rides and a mini farm and we are eager to try the new Jump Zone trampoline area.
But the biggest draw is the sprinklers which are just irresistible fun for kids on a hot day, and it’s pretty tempting for the adults to run in there with them. The Jardin d’Acclimatation now also houses the Fondation Louis Vuitton gallery but we don’t rate your chances of getting the kids to agree to abandon the park. A fun way to arrive for younger kids is to take the little train that runs from Porte Maillot to the main entrance of the park.
Jardin d’Acclimatation, Bois de Boulogne, 75116 Paris
Your kids may or not be into the famous characters Asterix and Obelix from the comic books of René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. But the truth is it doesn’t really matter. Parc Asterix is a great day out and a great alternative to Disney. There are 39 attractions at the park and they’ll take you on a voyage through history through the Vikings, ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Egypt, Gaul and France, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
New for 2016 is the new Discobelix ride, an 80m disc that will whirl you over the water, guaranteeing thrills and splashes! As well as the giant rollercoaster and water rides, there are also five gentle attractions aimed at the under 3 age group. If you don’t have a car, a shuttle bus runs from the Pryamide du Louvre.
Parc Asterix, 60128 Plailly
The Ice Age Exhibition
You have probably seen these adverts all over Paris. They certainly caught the attention of my twin boys who absolutely love the Ice Age movies. The new film is out in July and in anticipation of that, Le Art Ludique, is offering up an exhibition that will showcase all the various elements that went onto making the films. Drawings, footage, sculptures, paintings, you name it they’ve got it! It’s on until September and it just opened here in Paris. Until September 18.
Art Ludique – 13 Quai d’Austerlitz
A Summer shaken not stirred
“My name is Bond….James Bond” From April 16, the Grand Halle de la Villette celebrates 50 years of the man in the suit, that has saved the world countless times without putting a hair out-of-place! They have curated an expo that holds 500 original objects from the movies over the years. MLP’s spies tell me there’s even an Aston Martin on show, alongside everything else you would expect like; costumes, sketches photos etc etc. Awesome! Kids under 4 go free – but for everyone else it ain’t cheap #justsaying. Until September 4.
Grande Halle de la Villette – 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris 19
The Paris Beach
Now we’re talking! Very excited to announce the return of the Paris beach. Loving the fact that Paris just hauls in 5,000 tonnes of sand, buys in some deck chairs, parasols and turns the banks of the River Seine into Les Plages à Paris! It all kicks off on July 20 lasting a month. The beaches will be at Bassin de la Villette and La Voie Georges Pompidou.
Boating is a big thing in Paris. When you think about it, of course it should be. Lolling around in a row-boat, taking in the gorgeous views, maybe a picnic… well it really does just sound like summer in Paris. We love the Lac Inférieur in the Bois de Boulogne on the western edge of the city where you can boat among the ducks and admire the woodland and Eiffel Tower views.
For those further east, the Bois de Vincennes offers a similar experience on the Lac Daumesnil, a massive lake bordered by willows, poplars, and tall grass where you can rent a row-boat from a wooden shed on the lake shore. Don’t fancy rowing? Well how about captaining your own electric boat? Small electric canal boats are available for hire at Bassin de la Villette and are the perfect way to take yourselves on a mini cruise of the Canal de L’Ourcq area. No boat licence required!
Life on Mars
If your kids are planet obsessed, then they will love the chance to explore Mars. Get up close and personal with the Red Planet by checking out this interactive and explorative session, at Palais de la Découverte until August 2016.
Palais de la Découverte. Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Paris 8
The Paul Klee Expo
Already reviewed by Jennifer Hamerman for MLP, this exposition at the Pompi has been inundated with visitors. Super popular and great for kids as well as adults. Discover how one of our Mamas enjoyed the exposition with her daughter by reading the full review and consider adding it to your bucket list. Until August 1.
Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris
It’s the most famous French national holiday. July 14 is Bastille Day and commemorates the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. The military parade on the Champs Elysees is an impressive site for the kids and usually begins around 10am. A good spot to watch the festivities is on Rue de Rivoli, opposite the Tuileries we found it to be less cramped than on the Champs Elysees. Read more…
Kids love being allowed to stay up to watch the evening fireworks display set off from the Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro gardens. They are impressively dazzling against the Paris night sky. You can watch from the Champ de Mars or Place du Trocadéro. This year they plan to start the fireworks at 11pm and they’ll last 35 minutes. For more background info check out our post from last year. Continue here…
The Dinosaur Exhibition is still on, and kids still want to see it. Initially when the exhibition was launched it was almost impossible to get in, such is the love for dinosaurs amongst so many of the little people in our lives. Luckily it is on until August 16 so there is still time to go and see this Jurassic expo. Now at the Palais de la Découverte. Plus there are so many workshops and family sessions available for all of you, so check out the website for more information.
Palais de la Découverte. Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Paris 8
La Fête Foraine des Tuileries
Until 22 August, the Tuileries gardens host a fantastic annual funfair. With carousels, ghost trains, trampolines and giants swings, this year promises to be one of the best. Waffles, churros, candyfloss and toffee apples galore! Entry is free but obviously the cost of rides and food add up.
Days & Nights at the Zoo
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Paris Zoo (often called the Vincennes Zoo by locals) reopened in 2014 after a 167m Euro renovation. It is nicely divided into 5 ‘biozones’, with an African Sahel-Sudan plain with giraffes, lions, white rhinos, while a greenhouse reconstructs the climate of the tropics with part of it devoted to Guyana and the other to Madagascar. Its a calm and happy day out for the kids but we won’t tell you this is a world-class San Diego.
Throughout July, Parc Zoologique will be open every Thursday night from 7:30pm until 1am in the morning. You and the family could take a late night stroll through the zoo and watch the animals sleeping or prowling in their surroundings during the night. Perhaps a late night picnic is your thing or an apéro. Whatever takes you fancy, this is indeed an unusual opportunity that might be worth a punt. Buy your fast track ticket in advance online.
Parc Zoologique, Zoo de Vincennes, 53 Aveneue de St Maurice Paris 12.
Parc des Buttes de Chaumont
The dramatic waterfalls, cliffs, meandering paths and large lawns of the Buttes-Chaumont are fantastic for a long, lazy summer day. Pack a picnic, lounge on the grass and people watch. Theatrical and quirky, this park has character. Check out the Mama Loves Paris review of this fabulous park.
With Euro 2016 mania still going strong in the city, it’s a great time to get your kids actually participating in the sport, rather than just watching on television. July sees two football festivals taking place in the city aimed at young soccer fans. The first is the Coup de Foot at Carreau du Temple from 6 July to 10 July, with games, demonstrations and football related art. La Villette is hosting Foot Foraine a fun and artistic take on the beautiful game. Until July 10th, Foot Foraine will feature a host of soccer activities, from exhibitions to interactive displays and workshops for kids
Musée de Poche
We love this wonderful, pocket-sized museum for children. They just moved into their beautiful new premises (right next door to their old base) near Goncourt metro in the 11th. This summer they are offering an excellent programme for children aged 6 – 12 years old from 4 – 22 July.
The kids will have to arrive at 9.30 at the Musée de Poche after-which they’ll be taken each day to a major museum such as the Musée Quai Branly or the Musée Rodin. Then they’ll come back to the Musée de Poche’s own art studio to spend the afternoon creating their own art based on what they saw. Friday 8 July looks especially great – a Street Art Safari in the Marais district! This great little place is an MLP favourite and their holiday programmes are excellent.
The Grand Train Experience
A pop-up experience that includes a bar, restaurant, garden and playground, has just opened for the hot season. You’ll find it at the foot of an old train station depot of SNCF. This temporary space is a mish mash of fun and has included markets, gardening space, concerts and more. Apparently there are plenty of surprises in store this year. It opened on April 30 and will be available for you and your family to explore until October 16. From 11am until 11:30pm – Check out the Grand Train Facebook page for more info.
Le Grand Train – 26b Rue Ordener, Paris 18eme.
This humongous space in the 19th is a stunning creative haven for artists. Open 6 days a week and free to all to wander, so makes the perfect family chill out spot. There is always some form of entertainment going on here even if it’s just the dancers/jugglers/gymnasts practicing for their performances! They also have a special section for mums with babies/toddlers (for a small fee ) plus the Pizza van out the back provides excellent sustenance. Great place to hang out. They have lots of paid for events there too. Suitable for kids of all ages. http://www.104.fr/english/
Le Centquatre, 104 Rue d’Aubervilliers, 75019 Paris
We know the French are seriously dedicated to film and a wonderful benefit of this is the outdoor movie season (or ‘cinema en plein air’) in the summer. We recommend the outdoor film festival at La Villette as they screen movies in their original language with French subtitles. The programme is a great mix of classic and more recent films. It’s the perfect spot to relax with a bottle of wine and a picnic while you take in the movie. The La Villette festival runs from 13 July to 21 August and its completely free! Optional deck chair rental at 7 Euros.
We are also eager to try the Cinéma au Claire de Lune festival which is back again this year from July 28 to August 10. The Forum des Images basically goes on tour to different outdoors spots throughout the city to set up outdoor movies for free! Highlights include Woody Allen’s Annie Hall in the Place des Vosges (perfect date night!) on 20 July. Screenings start at 9.30pm.
This annual summer-long family festival takes place in the beautiful Parc Floral, part of the Bois de Vincennes in the East of Paris. Les Pestacles runs until September 28 and features shows, workshops, dance, and learning tours. This year’s theme is world music and the line-up looks especially great, with fantastic events for kids running all summer long.
A favourite of MLP! A fantastic place for kids and adults alike stretching along the banks of the Seine from the foot of the Musée D’Orsay. A play space for kids packed with an assortments of apparatus, games and activities coupled with eateries, fabulous views and perfectly located for access to some of the cities hottest cultural spots – it is a must for both city dwellers and visitors. MLP wrote about this hidden gem for The Guardian in the UK. Read the piece to get the full flavour of why Mama Loves Paris adores Berge Street.
Les Berges – Quai d’Orsay, 75000 Paris
Mini Rock en Seine
Rock en Seine is a huge 3-day festival that takes place in Paris and it is loved by the locals. But there is a special kids versions taking place in a small village away from the festivities and the maddening crowd. The event for the little peeps will include, dancing (obviously! workshops that will cover art and movement. A mini TV crew will host interviews and stream live music sessions; there’ll be sound and instrument lessons, food aplenty and lots more. Guaranteed fun! And it’s FREE! Register here.
Mini Rock en Seine. August 26 to 28 from 4pm until 10:30pm (Saturday) 3pm – 9:30pm (Sunday).
Domaine Nationale de Saint Cloud, Parc de Saint Cloud.
High Ropes in Parc Floral
Chances are you might be heading out to Parc Floral for the Les Pestacles kids festival. While you’re there, do think about getting yourself up into the treetops for some high ropes and zip wires! This is a lot of fun and the Parc Floral is such a beautiful setting. Remember that children need to be over six years old and they suggest you wear sports shoes. The cost is 21 Euros for adults and 16 Euros for kids.
Parc de Sceaux
Parc de Sceaux is just south of Paris and is easily accessible on the RER (Line B to Bourg-la-Reine, Sceaux ou Parc de Sceaux) . Its a fantastic summer destination for a picnic outside the city. There is a grand chateau and you can stroll through the gardens which were designed by Andre Le Notre, who also designed the gardens of Versailles and Chantilly.
We are lucky that it only takes a hop on the train to take us to Disney. The RER line A from either Chatelet or Gare de Lyon will take you to Marne –La Vallee and the station exit literally brings you right to the entrance of Disney. It couldn’t be easier. If you’ve got younger children, they will be more than happy with the gentle ‘It’s a Small World’ ride, and Spinning Teacups at the Disneyland Park. Be warned that if they want to meet a Princess, you should reserve that immediately upon your arrival.
BTW, it’s true that little girls often walk around the park in their full princess outfits so you might want to take one with you rather than face tears. The boys are likely to love the cars racing rides and the brilliant car rally event which is worth signing up to. Older children will want to head for the Walt Disney Studios park, with special effects rides based on films. We will be honest with you – it is busy in the summer holidays. But those of us who have queued on a cold winter day will testify that sunny is best!
Parc de Belleville
Parc de Belleville is set on a slope and has the longest waterfall in Paris. Head up to the terrace at the top of the park for a wonderful panoramic skyscape of the city and a fantastic spot for photos. Head over in the late afternoon and stay for an early picnic dinner. This park has a relaxed vibe, with table tennis tables, wooden playgrounds and large lawns with families enjoying picnics.
Baladobus – escape the city!
This idea is so inspired it could only be French. The Baladobus really opens up the countryside to Paris residents. Take the RER train to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse or an SNCF train to Rambouillet, and the Baladobus will pick you up and drop you at various countryside locations. Destinations include Chateau de la Madeleine, Chateau du Breteuil, Vaux de Cernay Petit Moulin and Abbaye Vaux de Cernay. The Parc Naturel Régional de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse is opened up to city dwellers with no car with this simple but brilliant scheme.
Parc de la Villette
The Parc de la Villette is the third largest park in Paris and is found in the north-east of the city. Many Parisians head there to visit the fantastic science museum, the Philharmonie music venue and the IMAX cinema. But the park itself is well worth a visit in its own right, especially in the summer. There are ten themed gardens to explore. A favourite with kids is the Jardin du Dragon which is home to a very large dragon sculpture with a huge slide for children. Enjoy a stroll along the Canal de l’Ourcq and let the kids run wild in Little Villette dedicated to children and open all year round.
Picnics in Paris
A must on a beautiful summers day. This is an essential experience in the Parisian calendar. Find a park or a space on the river bank and take in the rays as well as the beautiful views of Paris. The biggest challenge will be working out exactly where to have that Picnic but luckily MLP has the perfect top ten spots for you. Read more…
Jardin du Luxembourg
Every time we go here we are reminded what a privilege it is to have this special place as ‘our’ park. The summer blooms in the Jardin du Luxembourg are incredible. Toddlers keep busy with their buckets and spades in the rose garden (endless tipping of water from the taps!). Pony rides, Guignol puppet shows and the sound of racquets hitting tennis balls. Wooden sailboats and a terrific playground.
The Fairground Museum
This special museum in Bercy is packed with a collection depicting the history of Fun Fairs. It’s a very special place that can only be explored as part of a tour but it is also extremely interactive. The children get to play games from the 1800’s and ride the carousels. The tours are in English and are available until August 31 on Mondays and Thursdays at 11am. The tour is about 90 minutes long and lots of fun. http://www.arts-forains.com/
Ice cream stops!
The founder of Bertillon may have been against eating ice cream in summer but we don’t agree with him. Get the kids out with the promise of ice cream and then a whole new adventure in a different neighbourhood begins. We love Scaramouche near Abesses for their delicious scoops from Provence, Pozzetto for unbeatable Italian style and the classic Grom at Rue de Seine.
Go up in a hot air balloon
The Parc Andre Citroen is worth a visit anyway. It is so modern, feels almost futuristic. The park was built on the site of the former Citroën car plant and features computerised sounds, a reflecting pool, water jets, smaller, colour-themed gardens and glasshouse pavilions. But if you really want to wow the kids, take them up in the hot air balloon. Yes, really, a hot air balloon! It will take you up to see Paris from 150m up in the air. The tethered Eutelsat helium balloon costs 12 Euros for adults and 6 Euros for kids. If the weather looks unreliable, call 01.44.26.20.00 to check if they’ll be operating that day.
Tour de France
On Sunday 24 July, take the kids to watch the grand finale of Tour de France bike race. Its a fabulous atmosphere as crowds gather to watch the cyclists conquer the last stretch of their 2000 mile, 21-day journey by whizzing up the Champs-Elysées.
Garden of Flowers
This beautiful botanical garden is home to four museums and a mini-zoo. Those who know the Jardin des Plantes feel great affection for this park but it is never over-run with visitors and so is ideal for the summer months. Tempt your kids over there with the promise animals of the Galerie de l’Evolution and then get the whole family out for a stroll around the beautiful plants and trees that this garden hosts.
L’été des P’tits Futes
Now an annual event in the north of Paris, this fab festival for kids returns to entertain for the entire summer. The festivities take place in the Theatre Darius Milhaud where children are offered a programme of productions throughout July and August. Modern stories, comedy and magical tales are planned to be shown during the festival very day for children as young as 2 years old. You can find the full schedule of theatre shows at http://www.etedesptitsfutes.com/
L’été des P’tits Futes: From July 5 until August 31st.
La Cité des Science is always a winner with the children. It’s easy for parents as it never fails to entertain. The two spaces dedicated to kids from 1 to 14, are perfectly designed to keep the children engaged for an hour or so. Plus there is a current exhibition that will also maintain their interest and curiosity. Bébés Animaux is a special exposition for 2 – 7 year olds. Here, they offer the chance for children to observe the birth and growth of 73 different species of animal. They will be able to see their development and become aware of all of the different functions, that are altered as these baby cuties grow. It’s a learning experience and sounds like one that shouldn’t be missed. Plus, this venue is an awesome to place to just hang out. Until August 17, 2017
Cité des Science 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou Paris 19
Barbie does Paris
The Barbie exposition is still amongst one of the favourites in Paris at the moment. Already reviewed by one of our Mamas Ami Cadugan it is an accomplished expo of the plastic it girl. From her creation to world domination, every aspect of the rise of Barbie is examined and there are thousands of Barbies to peruse and outfits too. Read the review and check this expo out. Until September 18
Les Art Decorative, Paris.
Children Cinema Special
A special series of movies for kids will be shown throughout June and July this year. Each movie has been specially selected around the theme of metamorphosis and each one will be shown at 3pm. 26 films in total are on the agenda. From Beetlejuice to the Nutty Professor and ET! MLP reckons the films will be screened in English with French subtitles. Yay! The Museum of Cinema has a list of all the films and advises the age groups too. On until July 31.
La Cinèmathèque Française, 51 Rue de Bercy, Paris
Kids go Flying
Just a short jaunt outside the periphique of Paris is the Paris Air & Space Museum. Little known by tourists but popular with the French this venue has a great event planned for kids in July. It’s called fly kids and it starts on July 6 lasting for 5 days.The event gives children, aged 8-14 the opportunity to simulate and understand the process of a satellite over a series of different tailored sessions. There is also a planetarium here and so many interesting things to get immersed in – including a Boeing 747 to explore. Check out the website for all the info.
Les Nuit aux Invalides
An annual event that is much loved by the French and gives you the chance to absorb 2,000 years of the history of France. Projected onto the stunning building at Musee des Armes it is an exquisite show but it is on late at night. Shows will be broadcast in 3D in the open air in both English and in French until August 27. The video gives you a flavour pf what you can expect.
This year marks the 25th birthday of this much-loved theme park. Brilliantly, France is recreated in a miniature form giving you and your family the chance to travel around the country in a totally unique and different way. Here you’ll find 117 replicas of monuments and 150 typical French landscapes. To make it super fun there are a tonne of activities including trampolining, interactive spaces, the chance to make a barrel and barrage, treasure hunts, slides, a car driving course, engraving..the list is endless. the kids can even climb a volcano! There’s also a special hives, bees and flower installation throughout July. Open until November 2.
France Minature, Boulevard Andé Malraux 78990 Elancourt
Animal Expo at the Fondation Cartier
Their press team reports that from July 2, 2016 to January 8, 2017, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is pleased to present The Great Animal Orchestra, inspired by the work of American musician and bioacoustician, Bernie Krause. The exhibition brings together the work of artists from all over the world and invites the public to enjoy an aesthetic meditation, both aural and visual, on the animal kingdom, which is increasingly under threat in today’s modern world.
Shakespeare & Company
So it’s not outdoors of course, but our list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the world’s most interesting bookshop. It’s just such a great place to explore especially with its remarkable history story. Ernest Hemmingway and the Fitzgeralds constant dialogue with the Gertrude Stein in this very vicinity and the charming way authors are provided with lodgings. This and so many other stories can be found around each nook and cranny. A stones throw from Notre Dame. Read more
To ensure you get the most out of your summer in Paris, check out: The top ten coffee shops, top pancake houses, top ten outdoor swimming pools and the best getaways within an hour of Paris. The best picnic spots is coming soon and many more ideas to keep you inspired.
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Have an amazing summer in Paris and stay tuned for all the posts we have coming your way, over the summer months, to help you discover old and new places in the city.
Wishing you all a bon vacance.
Thanks you Jennifer Hamerman for your writing, research and contribution to this article. You’re a star!
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