Historically August is the month when many Parisians leave the city and flock to the beaches and countryside.
While shuttered shops and restaurants signed with "fermeture pour congés d'été" (closed for the summer holidays) aren't unheard of, the city in August is far from the dead zone that it once was.
With a bounty of cultural and recreational festivals on offer, and lighter crowds, August in Paris can be magnifique too.
MUSIC FESTIVALS IN AUGUST
Paris is a mecca for music lovers of all genres and in August you can enjoy your favorites en pleine air.
- Rock en Seine: This three-day ticketed music festival held over the last weekend in August draws more than 100,000 fans each year to Parc National de Saint-Cloud where live acts representing every subgenre of rock n' roll perform across four stages. Established international bands such as Green Day play here as do the breakout stars of tomorrow. Since 2005, the Avant Seine pre-festival provides a forum for new talents of French rock to showcase their talents. Many attendees elect to camp onsite in the park's gardens.
- Festival of Chamber Music in the Orangery at Bagatelle: This festival featuring the Octuor de France, currently the only permanent French ensemble of its kind, is held in the Orangery next to the magnificent rose garden in the Parc de Bagatelle, one of the city's four botanical gardens. Concerts take place twice weekly in July and August.
- Festival Classique Au Vert: This classical music festival takes place over seven consecutive weeks on open air stages set up in the Parc Floral.
- Jazz à la Villette: Starting August 30th, this jazz festival co-produced by La Villette and the Philharmonie de Paris showcases jazz in all its many splendored forms.
FILM & THEATER FESTIVALS
Whether you prefer your performances onscreen or onstage, these August film and theatrical festivals will keep you entertained.
- Cinéma en plein air: This free, month-long film festival held on the lawns of Parc de la Villette showcases French and international films, with foreign films subtitled in French. Many come early and picnic on the lawn. (You can also let deck chairs and blankets for a fee). Or splurge and book a scenic dinner cruise with menus curated according to the featured film.
- La Chaise et l'écran: Every summer since 2008, the city's 11th arrondissement brings film to the neighborhood's gardens and squares. This free, open-air festival features four films curated by a popular cinema personality.
- Silhouette Festival: Launched in 2002, this free annual film festival held in the 19th arrondissement celebrates short films, with an emphasis on exalting the out-of-the-box, be it in theme, image, subject matter, or sound treatment. The event begins with a concert night of emerging artists representing a diverse array of musical styles and forms. More than 100 short films are screened for 20,000 attendees.
- Festival Tréteaux Nomades: Put on by the Compagnie du Mystère Bouffe, this traveling festival is the grand finale of summer in Paris. Plays, burlesque theater, music, poetry and popular shows are staged at various indoor and outdoor venues, including The Arènes de Montmartre, Hôtel de Beauvais, Place Sainte-Marthe, and La Bellevilloise, the Arènes de Lutèce.
Check their website for ticket prices and schedule.
- Les Pestacles Festival: This annual family-focused festival takes place on Wednesdays from June through September at the Parc Floral. Street arts, dance, and circus acts keep kids of all ages entertained. The concert program presents an array of international music from reggae to classical via hip hop, urban culture, rock and opera. There is a fee to enter the park, but the events are free.
- Nuit des Étoiles: Organized by the French Astronomy Association, this three-day event features stargazing, introduction to astronomy, and various workshops on the solar system. The rooftop of Tour Montparnasse, the highest office tower in Paris, is a popular viewing spot.
- L'Été Defacto La Defense: For five weeks, the Paris business district showcases its playful side with food trucks, deck chairs, and live music along the esplanade.
- Paris Plages: Continuing from July, this free, city-wide festival transforms major portions of Paris into seaside resorts and tropical beaches. Loungers, palm trees, beach umbrellas, sandboxes, and pop-up swimming pools set the scene for fun in the sun. Staging areas include both banks of the Seine as well as Quai de la Loire at the Bassin de la Villette, Paris's largest manmade lake; Parc Rives de Seine, a riverside promenade opened to the public in 2017; l'Hôtel de Ville; the Louis Lumière Stadium; and the Elisabeth Stadium.
- Éte du Canal: Every July and August, the Canal de l'Ourcq hosts weekend concerts, DJ sets, dance classes, shows, and Bals Pop, popular dance balls for Hip Hop, Latin music, swing and more. Rental rowboats and pedal boats, canoes and kayaks stud the canal waters. A cruise along the Canal Saint-Denis affords a leisurely view onto an open air street art museum.
The Gay Games: Launched in 1982, the Gay Games bring together athletes, artists and others, gay or straight, in celebration of diversity, respect and inclusivity. Each year, around 10,000 participants take part in 36 sports and 14 cultural events over nine consecutive days held at venues around the city.