Now that almost all Covid restrictions have been lifted, here’s a selection of summer events taking place in and around Paris this July and August. This list will be updated throughout the summer as new events are announced. Note that many monuments, events, and venues will require a Pass Sanitaire starting July 21st (or other proof of vaccination or Covid test less than two days old).
Summer 2021 Festivals
Summertime is music festival time! Time Out Paris is a great place to start if you want to see the (somewhat abbreviated) schedule of festivals in and around Paris this summer, in French only: Les Festivals de Musique à Paris
July 3rd – August 29th
The festive Fête des Tuileries takes place again this summer with the Ferris wheel, stomach-emptying rides, barbe-à-papa (cotton candy) and whack-a-mole games. Open daily at the Jardin des Tuileries, 11am-midnight (free entry, tickets can be purchased for individual rides). As the fair is in the center of Paris, there’s no loud music or noise effects for the rides that you’d normally expect, preserving a bit of the tranquility of the gardens as well.
The magical Candlelit Evenings at the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte are back! Open every Saturday from 2pm, candles lit at sunset, and fireworks show before the 11pm closure; reservations required. Due to Covid, the shuttle from the train station is no longer running (reserve a taxi or come by car, free parking). Read the Secrets of Paris article about it here.
Paris Plage! July 10 – August 22
Paris Plage : sandy beaches, palm trees, volleyballs and bikinis — on the Seine! This year it will take place along the Right Bank quays at the foot of the Hôtel de Ville, the Bassin de la Villette for water sports and the three swimming enclosures in the canal, and for the first year in the Jardins du Trocadero (July 17-September 13) with a great view of the Eiffel Tower. As usual, Paris Plages will feature many fun sporting activities (especially in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympics), water misters, kids activities, ice cream stands, open-air dancing, and even a little Seine-side library. For this year’s edition, you’ll see Covid info tents and a free vaccination center (with or without RDV) in front of the Hôtel de Ville. Free entry, open from 10am (until 6:30pm in central Paris, until 10pm at La Villette or midnight on weekends). Map and more details here.
July 14th – Fête Nationale
La Fête Nationale, aka Bastille Day to Americans, is one of the biggest holidays in France. And as Covid restrictions ease, this year there WILL be a parade on the Champs Elysées (you’ll need a Pass Sanitaire and mask to attend) and fireworks at the Eiffel Tower in the evening. Unfortunately this year’s Bals des Pompiers have been canceled again, so no dancing with the firemen, but there are plenty of other fun options: Bastille Day: What to See & Do in Paris
The 17th edition of the Nuit des Musées (Night of the Museums) take place all over Europe. In Paris and the surrounding Ile de France with over 200 participating museums and cultural centers that will be open for free starting at sunset, with a special program of events. Reservations required, check out the offerings on the interactive map here. The big news this year? The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is reopening after two years of renovations!
The 20th annual Carnival Tropical de Paris takes place today at the Étienne Charléty Stadium (13th) starting at 1pm until 6pm, with over 1000 dancers and 15 groups from the l’Île-de-France offering their very creative carnival performances (choreography, costumes and music). “The Royal family, King, Queen, Mini-Queen and Prince elected for 2021, will open the parade after a musical performance performed by the group DOKONON, a Guyanese orchestra well known in Paris during the carnival period with lead singer Hendy Chocho.” Free entry for up to 5000 guests, but advance registration and proof of vaccination or negative Covid test less that 72 hours old required.
The 108th (!) edition of the Tour de France kicked off from Brest last month and finishes on the Avenue des Champs Elysées today. It will be broadcast live on networks around the world (see “Broadcasters” link on the website), but of course if you’re in France it doesn’t cost anything to set up a chair anywhere along the route to watch the cyclists as they pass by (no word yet on whether access to the Champs Elysées will be limited, but it’s usually so crowded you can’t see anything there anyway unless you got a seat in one of the restaurant upper floors overlooking the avenue).
July 7 – August 26
This year’s monumental open-air sound and light show La Nuit aux Invalides is themed “Napoléon: L’Envol de l’Aigle” (Flight of the Eagle) to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the French Emperor’s death. “Come and spend the Night at Les Invalides and rediscover the parts of the Emperor’s life which forged the “Napoleonic legend”, but also the legacy he has left us. Monster for some, genius for others, Napoleon leaves no one indifferent.” It’s a 360° immersive experience lasting just under an hour. Note that a Pass Sanitaire is required. Tickets are €25.99 for seated VIP spots, €18.99 for standing spots (€15.99 for kids 11-17 years old, €5.99 for kids up to 10 years old). You can add on an English headset to hear the translations for €5.99, and a ticket to visit the Dome for €9.99. If you can’t find a spot on the night you’re looking for, there’s an official ticket reselling platform on their site under the “Repurchase” tab by date (prices are exactly the same).
Through July 11
The “Chopin au Jardin” festival features free Chopin concerts at the Kiosque du Parc Montsouris (14th) every sunday from 5-6pm.
July 16 – August 22
The Parc de la Villette is once again hosting its popular Cinéma en Plein Air open-air screenings every Wednesday through Sunday nights. Totally free (but they may limit the number of people if it gets too crowded on the lawn (Prairie du Triangle, behind the Grande Halle de La Villette, metro Porte de Pantin), so get there from 8pm to claim your spot — picnics allowed. The films start after sunset, so sometime between 9:30pm and 10:30pm. All films are shown in their original language with French subtitles. This year’s selection is a mix of big hits and classics: The Wolf of Wall Street, La Reine Margot, Amadeus, Invictus, Truman Capote, Bonnie et Clyde, Harvey Milk, Frida, and The Queen among others. NOTE: From July 21st a Passe Sanitaire and ID will be required to enter.
Through July 27
The annual summer sales, les soldes, take place this year for just four weeks (shorter than the usual five to help out shopkeepers after Covid shutdown) throughout France, primarily in clothing stores, but pretty much everything is on sale now. They used to be a really big deal, but now there are online sales and other sales throughout the year, it’s not worth lining up and fighting to get the “best deals”.
Through August 26
Bercy Village is hosting another season of free, open-air music performances of many different genres in the Cour St-Emilion starting the 21st for Fête de la Musique, then every Thursday from 6pm.
Through October 3
“Wonderland” is a hybrid open-air event/festival in a disused section of the Petit Ceinture railway on the edge of Paris with food tents with guest chefs, skate ramp, boules court, basketball court, kids’ playground, open-air art installations, yoga sessions, beer garden, wine bar, and cinema nights. Entrance is at 103 Cours de Vincennes, 20th, metro Porte de Vincennes; open Wednesday-Friday 6-11pm, Saturday noon-midnight and Sunday noon-11pm. Entry free until 7pm then €2 (kids free with a parent).
Through September 8
The Paris Jazz Festival takes place every weekend at the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes. “The free festival (you only pay entry to the park, €2.50) makes for a brilliant summer outing: everyone brings picnics and enjoys them in the sunshine amid colored flowers, woodlands and lakes, while listening to some virtuoso jazz – it’s also hugely popular, so get here early.” From 3pm until 7pm, no advance ticket purchase necessary. The schedule can be found on the official website.
Most Tuesdays and Wednesdays
The American Library in Paris is hosting free “Evenings with an Author” every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7:30pm Paris time (CET). This month’s guests include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen (June 2nd), food writer Alec Lobrano (June 9th), and The Hudson Review editor Paula Deitz (June 22nd). RSVP required (most are free, €10 donation recommended). See the full schedule here.
A Selection of Museum Expositions
Through July 4th
David Bowie fans won’t want to miss Bowie Odyssée, a special exhibition of memorabilia (mostly from a superfan collection), presented at the historic Parisian nightclub, Le Palace (8, rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 9th). Open daily, from noon-9pm (10am -7pm weekends). Tickets €14, reservations necessary.
Through July 18th
The Palais Galliera “Musée de la Mode” reopens today with an extension of the exposition “Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto” through July 18th. Advance reservations required (ticketing opens May 17th), entrance €14. Closed Mondays.
Through July 18th
The haute joaillerie Maison Chaumet is marking the bicentennial of Napoléon’s death with an exposition of jewelry celebrating the romance between the Emporer and his first wife, Joséphine. “Founded in 1780, the history of Maison Chaumet is closely linked to that of the imperial couple, of which it quickly became the official supplier. Empress Joséphine, who was one of the Maison’s first major clients, continues to inspire Chaumet’s creations today. In the heart of the sumptuous mansion at 12 place Vendôme, recently renovated, the exhibition looks back on the history of the legendary couple through more than 150 pieces of jewelry, paintings and other works of art. Historical pieces from Maison Chaumet will be specially unveiled for the occasion, such as the tiara worn by Joséphine during her first official appearance.” Free entry, but reservations required.
Through July 19th
The Musée de l’Orangerie reopens with the Magritte/Renoir exposition, “Surrealism in Full Sunlight”: “The first exhibition to show a still largely unknown chapter of Magritte’s work in its entirety, it compares Magritte’s works with those of Auguste Renoir, who inspired him.” Advance ticket purchase is required to visit the museum and the exposition.
Through July 18th
There’s a very naughty exhibition commemorating the 250th anniversary of the death of the 18th-century artist, François Boucher, at the Musée Cognac-Jay (in the Marais, 8 rue Elzevir, 3rd), “L’Empire des Sens”: “The XVIIIth century marks the advent of the pleasure of the senses. More than at any other time, Love occupies a dominant place in the arts. Philosophers, men of the theater, novelists and artists, all invest in the theme of amorous passions and carnal desires. “Painter of the Graces”, François Boucher is also the author of secret compositions, with a striking erotic charge. His works celebrate the naked body of the woman who abandons herself, hypnotizes the eyes and awakens the senses.” Entry €8, reservations required. Closed Mondays.
Through August 28
Genocides of the 20th Century (at the Shoah Memorial, 4th). A remarkable if disturbing open-air exhibition documenting genocides of the destruction of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, of the Jews of Europe, and of the Tutsi of Rwanda through a rich selection of photographs, archives and exceptional testimonies.
Through August 29
See the work of 40 street artists temporarily displaying their works in an empty postal sorting center in the 10th arrondissement for a show called L’Essentiel. “The subject is that of artistic excellence embodied in the convulsive beauty of the ephemeral; an aesthetic response to the singular and constraining situation that artists have experienced over the past year, relegated to the place of the “non-essential”. Entry by reservation on the website.
Through August 30th
Fragiles Colosses (at the Jardin des Plantes. Five monumental works by animal sculptor Michel Bassompierre, one of the most important artists in the field of animal sculpture today. Look for the bears and gorillas in front of the Verniquet amphithéâtre (Rue Cuvier entrance).
Through August 31st
The Hyper Festival is a city-wide cultural program which brings together cultural establishments from the City of Paris, the major summer festivals and artistic events taking place daily in public spaces throughout Paris. See the full schedule (in French) here: https://quefaire.paris.fr/hyperfestival