The Best Things to Do in Paris in April
It's spring time in the French capital and you're lucky enough to be there. Here's our guide to Paris in April.
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong once sang of the pleasures of April in Paris, and we have to say, we at Plum Guide have to agree with them. If you have to choose one month to pay a visit to the French capital, the sunny days of spring are the perfect time to do so. Paris in April showcases a different side to this iconic city; the weather is fine but the summer tourist bustle is yet to arrive, and there are unexpected delights down every cobbled alleyway. Let Plum Guide take you through the streets of this magical city with coffee, cemeteries, and flower markets.
Enjoy an alfresco drink
Paris has a vibrant cafe culture; carrying a Starbucks cup is akin to wearing a scarlet letter in a city filled with charming little family-owned ventures, some centuries old. One of the best things to do in Paris in April is simply to grab a coffee and soak up the Parisian atmosphere. Rickety tables in sunny squares are the perfect place to take a breather in between sightseeing, so don’t feel as though you’re wasting time by stopping for frequent coffee breaks – it’s all part of the experience, after all. We recommend a trip to La Fontaine de Belleville; a lovingly restored 1920s bistro, this cafe mixes palatial interiors with simpler but no less beautiful outdoor seating. Sink into one of their oh-so-chic rattan chairs, order a coffee and perhaps a pastry (go on, you know you want to) and watch the world go by for an hour or two.
Escape April showers in a museum
You can expect rain and even snow in the winter months (don't worry, we've got a guide to Paris in December so you can navigate any adverse weather) but rain in April? That's right: it may be the month that spring properly takes hold of the city, but Paris in April is still prone to the odd rainy day or drizzly afternoon. Don’t let that put you off exploring, though – there are plenty of indoor pursuits which will make you forget all about the momentary lapse in the weather. Paris has a museum or gallery for every mood and of course, it’s tempting to head to perhaps the most famous example, holding Paris’s most famous painting. But if you’d prefer to avoid the rush of day trippers at the Louvre jostling to catch a glimpse of the enigmatic Mona Lisa, we recommend heading to slightly quieter pastures. Musee l’Orangerie is our top pick; showing a dizzying array of Impressionist works, including Monet’s Water Lilies, this museum is set within the gorgeous grounds of the Jardin des Tuileries so if there’s a break in the rain, you can promenade through the gardens of this former palace. (And even if the clouds don’t clear, you can hurry back to your own Plum palace; perhaps the chic Chez Vous, just minutes away from the museum?)
Visit some of Paris’s most famous former residents
A trip to the cemetery may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to things to do in Paris in April, but we promise it's worth it. Père Lachaise draws in over 3.5 million visitors each year, and we can see why -- these leafy walkways and quiet corners are the perfect place to take a springtime stroll. Some of the most well-visited and well-known graves include that of racy novelist Colette, artist Max Ernst and of course, Oscar Wilde. Pop on your lipstick and add your mark to the kisses covering his grave, taking a moment to appreciate his words of wisdom. He retained his sense of wit up until the end; his last words were allegedly a lament of the state of his rooms in Paris, declaring that, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.” We sympathise, of course; there’s nothing worse than a poorly decorated room. Perhaps you’ll prefer the opulent furnishings in Plum home It Started With Eve? We like to think Oscar would have approved.
Find your next holiday read
As the winter chill starts to withdraw from the city, outdoor markets and individual sellers take to the streets, filling stalls by the Seine and tiny courtyards with their wares. No, we’re not talking about the caricaturists, or the shops selling plastic Eiffel Tower figurines. The bouquinistes are an iconic sight in the city, but one that many tourists overlook. You, however, know better – these booksellers’ distinctive green stalls have been labelled a UNESCO world heritage site, and give the Seine the reputation of the only river in the world crammed between two bookshelves. They specialise in rare and antiquarian books, so if you’re looking for that treasured first edition, here’s where to find it.
Search out some tropical greenery in the heart of the city
If you’re looking for a photography opportunity that will make your friends green with envy, there’s no better place than the lush Marché aux Fleurs, on the Île de la Cité. You don’t have to be fluent in French to guess that this is a flower market; but rather than a narrow street crammed with stalls, like Columbia Road in London, Paris’s flower market is a rather more sophisticated affair. Take your time wandering around enormous greenhouses of exotic flowers, verdant plants, and perhaps even pick up a hothouse bouquet; press a bloom between two of your newly-purchased books, and it’ll be a lasting memory of the bustle and brightness of the market long after your trip to Paris in April is over.