The gray weather is gone and Paris has bloomed into summer. Sidewalk cafés are teeming and with all the many summertime events and activities there's every reason to view Paris from her best angle—outdoors.
The Seine River takes front and center this summer, with the grand opening of the new Promenades des Berges, a mile and a half of lush landscapes, outdoor cafés, floating gardens, and cultural events alongside Paris's picturesque Left Bank. Stretching from the Musée d'Orsay to the Pont de l'Alma, the promenade's cool breezes and dazzling riverscapes set the stage for a summer full of festivities. Highlights include outdoor movie screenings in front of the Musée d'Orsay, musical events, chic open-air restaurants, and a boat café.
Now in its 11th year, Paris Plages just keeps getting better. From July 20 to August 18, Paris closes two major roadways, fills them with sand, et voila, a beach is born. Actually, two beaches: one in front of the Hotel de Ville, overlooking Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame, and the other alongside the La Villette canal. This year's special events include live music, a mobile library, sporting events, sandboxes, and a floating pool. Join in a range of activities, featuring free tai chi, ballroom dancing, ping-pong, fencing, and an adventure beach for kids.
An island of calm and beauty, the elegant Musee Rodin gardens present sound and light artist Erik Samakh's installations La Voix, des Ifs, featuring haunting female voices, and the enchantingly poetic Pierres de Lucioles, a first-time event and part of the museum's popular contemporary art cycle. Linger in the shady garden café over a light lunch, gourmet snack, or chilled glass of rosé. (Through September 29)
This year, Paris celebrates the 400th birthday of native son and gardener to the Sun King, André Le Nôtre, the single most important influence in garden design and landscape architecture in France. The yearlong event, titled L'Annee Le Notre, highlights the designer's greatest achievements in and around Paris, including the sublime gardens of Versailles, Chantilly, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Sceaux, and the Tuileries.
Music under the Sun (and Stars)
In the heart of Paris's incomparable Parc Floral, the 19th Paris Jazz Festival offers 31 concerts over eight weekends, featuring some of the world's top artists along with exciting emerging talent. Weekly themes include Soul & Blues, Jazz on the Beat, Latin Jazz, and Jazz Classics. If you're lucky enough to be in town on July 16, Bastille Day, don't miss the Interactive Ball, an afternoon of romping and revelry with the New Orleans R&B band Trombone Shorty. (Through July 28)
Cinema en Plein Air
Join film-loving Parisians under the stars and among the sculptures, gardens, and fields of La Villette Park to take in some gems of French and American cinema. Cinema en Plein Air features many well-loved classics and contemporary favorites on a giant outdoor screen. Admission is free, so pack up a picnic and make an evening of it. (July 24-August 25)
Photo Credits: Spectacular Seine: Kjuuurs | Dreamstime.com; Art Alfresco: Singhsomendra | Dreamstime.com; Glorious Gardens: Kiev.Victor/Shutterstock; Music under the Sun (and Stars): Paris Jazz Festival; Cinema en Plein Air: Fabrice Paulmier/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)