Parisians typically flee the city for their summer holidays in August, but for travelers heading to the City of Light, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat (or bask in it). A bonus? You'll experience smaller crowds and the sunniest of sunny days. Here's how to do it:
Sunbathe Along the Seine
Paris may not be near the beach, but Paris definitely works hard to bring the beach to you. From the middle of July to mid-August, the Paris Plages event takes place on the Georges-Pompidou expressway in the fourth arrondissement, and in the Bassin de la Villette canal basin, located in the 19th. Visitors will find sand and beach chairs, free concerts, and plenty of activities ranging from volleyball to water sports.
Travelers can catch a boat shuttle on the weekends for €1 or €2 ($1.37 to $2.73) and sail on the Canal de l'Ourcq, heading from the Paris Plage at La Villette to Bondy and Aulnay-sous Bois. Along the way, you can make stops at Pantin, Bobigny and Noisy-le-Sec to rent a free kayak, canoe, row boat, or paddle boat at one of the water sports centers on the canal.
Catch a Free Film Under the Stars
Take your blanket to the Parc de la Villette where you can see a free film (some of which are in English), during the nightly open-air cinema event, taking place from July 23 through August 24. On the schedule this year: Half Nelson, Fame, and Lolita.
Take a Day Trip
If the city gets too hot, there are a number of easy day trips that allow you to explore the surrounding areas by train. Head to Domaine de Chantilly, less than an hour from Paris. Highlights of this lavish French estate include 115 acres of gardens and parks; two chateaux; a museum with more than 800 pieces of art; and the grand stables with live horse demonstrations.
Château de Vaux le Vicomte is another day trip option that's just 30 minutes from Paris by train. The chateau dates back to the 17th century and is famous for its Le Notre-designed garden. Stop by on a Saturday night when the chateau and gardens are lit by 2,000 candles.
Head to the Park
Paris is filled with parks, from the Jardin des Tuileries to the Jardin du Luxembourg, all of which are perfect for a picnic or summertime stroll. If you want to feel like a local, make your way to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a popular weekend spot in Belleville in the 19th arrondissement. Paris' largest (and steepest) public garden offers visitors waterfalls and caves, and the Greek-inspired temple of Sibylle on top of a cliff overlooking the lake. Do like the French and sit back, relax, and take in views of the city with a bottle of wine.
Stay in an Inexpensive Design Hotel
Rooms in Paris can be pricey, but a new crop of design hotels are raising the bar when it comes to offering a hip space at a not-so-hefty price point. In the 20th arrondissement on the Right Bank, Mama Shelter, designed in collaboration with Philippe Starck, offers a chic setting that mixes urban and contemporary design with rates starting at around €89 ($121) per night.