Summer in Paris… the dream and the reality

Paris Romance All rights reserved BELLANDA ®

Paris Romance
All rights reserved

Paris has to be one of the most magical cities in the world.  It’s full of romance and dreams… but like many cities there is a reality of summer that one can’t deny once you’ve lived here.  At the age of 22, I started making my almost yearly summer visits to Paris.  I thought that I was immersing myself into the Parisian lifestyle by avoiding what I considered tourist traps. I wandered the streets as far away from the map yielding tourists as possible and spent many hours in cafés writing, reading and watching people.  It was my unspoken mission to get a feel for what I thought was the real Parisian lifestyle.  As I walked aimlessly, I enjoyed the quiet streets soaking in the calm and beauty of the incredibly gorgeous historical architecture.  It was pure heaven compared to that of my busy New York lifestyle.

It wasn’t until after living here for several years that I began noticing patterns and learned that the Parisian lifestyle I thought I was living so many years ago was far from that.  Truth be told, summer is probably the least Parisian moment of the year.  The influx of people with suitcases begins in July.  Then, there is that moment around mid-July when you realize that you hear more English on the streets and in the metro of Paris than French.  The suitcases become more and more prevalent as the summer moves on and in August you realize that many of the real Parisians have already flown the coop, leaving Paris to the tourists.

Vacation is considered a right that all people should enjoy in France and many companies even impose this vacation on their employees.  That said, we are not talking about the one week or even two-week vacations Americans might be lucky enough to get. Vacations here can total anywhere from one to two months.  This in itself is actually an incredible concept.  One must not leave out that vacation is taken so seriously that it even includes the unemployed, who at times go on even better vacations than the working people… but I’ll leave that subject for a later post.  😉

Many shops, restaurants and special art expositions are closed during summer and your favorite places to buy bread, meat, fish and croissants will also close at one point or another.  This in itself can be quite frustrating if you like good food and enjoy cooking.   On a more serious note, you really don’t want to get sick or God forbid need surgery in August, because of course, your regular doctors are also entitled to their vacations.  If you are smart and can hold out, you might want wait until September.

On the plus side, those quiet streets I mentioned enjoying as a tourist are actually that.  Everything slows down, especially in August, and you can truly enjoy the beauty of this city.  In addition, you can actually take your car out and find a parking space directly in front of where you want to be instead of going round and round in search of a spot only to finish by parking in a garage.  One must not forget the metro.  If you can get over those summer metro odors that at times make you squint in pain, you can actually get a seat during rush hour and don’t have to worry about someone rubbing up against you.  As for you photography buffs, summer will be perfect for you as deserted side streets photograph brilliantly with no worries of a passerby getting in the way of your shot.

All rights reserved BELLANDA ®

All rights reserved

Back in the day when I was a tourist, I didn’t have the benefit of reading blogs or typing ‘Paris in summer’ on Google.  I had to go with the flow, in ignorance of course, but in retrospect that wasn’t half bad.  I always stumbled upon something while wandering the streets of Paris that will left me in awe or made me laugh.  My mouth dropped when I saw a man-made roadblock during a 14th of July Bastille celebration.  It was actually made of police officers who stood in a line across the Champs-Élysées.  I stood there watching them and kept thinking, can’t they just use barriers?  Don’t those officers have something better to do?  Then, there was the Porta Potty with a VIP sign hanging on it during the arrival of the Tour de France.  I couldn’t understand what made it so special at first because it looked like a regular Porta Potty.  I was tempted to go inside to take a peek, but it was roped off.  When I saw the door open, I realized that this Porta Potty was exactly the same as the others but apparently just for Very Important People.  Silly me to think that they could use the same bathroom as us normal folks!

One of my very favorite discoveries was the ability to rent a bicycle in the Bois de Vincennes, as well as a row-boat that I took me around the water surrounding two little islands in the Bois de Vincennes.  Who knew Paris had such natural beauty?  Oh right, probably you since you now have Internet and Google.

Bois de Vincennes Paris, France All rights reserved ~ BELLANDA ®

Bois de Vincennes
Paris, France
All rights reserved ~ BELLANDA ®

Anyway, if you do come to Paris in summer just keep your eyes open.  Sit back, take in the sights and enjoy.  As a tourist, Paris is beautiful anytime… that is if you stop running around trying to see everything in a day.  Yes, most of the Parisians do skip town and life is indeed slower, but soak it all in… for Paris is beauty in itself.


20 thoughts on “Summer in Paris… the dream and the reality

    • I see we have something in common, Chuck. 🙂 Can’t wait for your next trip here! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for taking the time to leave a comment. *smiles


  1. Staying up late to finish your blog, thank you, It’s made my day holed up in a lonely hotel room tonight. Reminds me of wonderful memories of your beautiful city which I’ve always ejoyed in the early fall time of the year.I like the energy of the city during that time & then it’s off to Avignon & on. Your writings are an inspiration to me to create and to hold all that is loved in my world.


    • Thank you so very much… your words have in turn made my day/night/morning. After reading your comment, I’m glad I stayed up late, too. Thank you! Your thoughts have touched me deeply and I appreciate your taking the time to share them. Keep creating… keep smiling… keep dreaming…


  2. Aw this is my first August in Paris and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but as a photographer I’m going to use your tips to make the most of it! And just hope I don’t need a doctor haha! Thanks for a good read 🙂


    • Thank you! I’m glad that you enjoyed the post.

      Fear not, there are indeed doctors, bakeries, butchers, restaurants, etc. that will be open… It tends to be more annoying to those of us that live here who have grown to enjoy our “favorite” spots. We are indeed the people who will need to adjust or get out. 😉

      Enjoy the slower and calmer pace of Paris… it makes for a lovely holiday. In addition, in summer it remains light out until quite late at night so you have more time to explore the city.

      Oh and remember… the ‘real’ restaurants don’t usually open until around 7 PM. I recommend waiting, but if you can’t wait, you can usually find a brasserie.

      Best wishes for a lovely August in Paris…


  3. Well you’ve managed to invoke Hemingway’s book A Moveable Feast for me. This book got me interested in Paris and that feeling has never left me. I enjoyed reading this and I am always happy when an email shows up notifying me you’ve written a new post. Cheers, Michael


    • Thank you, Michael. I’m honored to be able to invoke anything concerning Hemingway. Thank you for taking the time to not only read my new post… but to share your thoughts & my post with those dear to you.
      Best wishes to you.


  4. I have been lucky to visit Paris in all the seasons. Each has its own flavor, Thanks for reminding me of a place that I love; and will be visiting again in the future.


    • Thank you, Libby. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. As for writing a post on that subject… I am considering it. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. It is always a pleasure to get feedback.

      Best wishes!


  5. All places are different once you live there, I think. It’s a whole different perspective being offered, hence your post as I can see 🙂

    Paris as a tourist is far from sitting back and relaxing if for example someone only has three days off, of which half a day is the traveling. They will run around and try to see everything.
    I know I did… Had such a long list of things to see, and ended up making a new list with what I truly didn’t want to miss visiting. Left everything else for when I can afford to go back for a longer vacation.

    Your post makes me want to visit Paris during the summer now. My life is built up of this running around every day I really want to shake off.


    • Indeed, Estrella.

      I have my own never ending list of things I’d like to try or see in Paris. Thank goodness I live here so I can see things at a very slow pace. I’ve long lost my NYC run around behavior. 😉

      Hope you make it back here so you can try Paris with new eyes. 🙂 We can meet for coffee!


  6. I know what you mean. For those of us who’re not from Europe, it’s shocking to even hear that people actually take the month off in August! It’s not too bad in England but elsewhere particularly in France, Italy or even Spain. We spent a week in Paris over the summer holiday and drats, most of my favorite places were shut. On the other hand, it’s so good to see the streets practically empty. Well, except for the roads leading to the Eiffel Tower 😛


    • Thank you for your comments and for stopping by my blog, Marlene. I agree… empty streets are a real pleasure! Sorry some of the places you wanted to visit were closed. On the plus side, that means you get to come back to visit your favorite places another time of year. 😉


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