7 Things to Do in Paris This Summer Besides the Olympics

Whether you're there for the Games or not, you can enjoy music, festivals and outdoor activities.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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While the Summer Olympics will undoubtedly be a highlight of travel itineraries in Paris this summer, the City of Light offers an assortment of experiences beyond the sporting world.

Whether you're heading to Paris for the Olympics but want to see more of what the city offers or you're specifically traveling there outside of the Games (which open July 26 and run through Aug. 11), here's what to do in Paris this summer.

1. Rock out at Fête de la Musique

Summer kicks off with Fête de la Musique, an annual music festival celebrating World Music Day on June 21. Set on the summer solstice, the free festival is held in cities throughout France, and musicians — both professionals and hobbyists alike — are encouraged to perform in parks and other public spaces, such as train stations and town squares.

Check the official Fête de la Musique website for this year’s concert locations and times.

2. Enjoy music at Festival Django Reinhardt

If you want to double down on music, head to the Festival Django Reinhardt. Running from June 27-30, the jazz music festival is named for the famous Ramoni-Belgian jazz guitarist and composer and is held in Samois-sur-Seine, France, about an hour's train ride from Paris.

Unlike Fête de la Musique, this event is not free. Early bird single-day passes start at 35 euros (about $38).

3. Celebrate Bastille Day

Bastille Day is a national French holiday held annually on July 14. Throughout France, there are all sorts of celebrations that day, ranging from picnics to all-night parties. Many are free to participate in, including a symphonic concert and fireworks display near the Eiffel Tower.

The concert starts at 9:15 p.m., and for better or worse, it doesn’t take reservations, so get there early.

Once the concert is over, fireworks blast off from the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero gardens. The Parc du Champ-de-Mars, a large public green space running along one side of the tower, offers a wide range of free viewing spots. Many people also book cruises on the Seine to take advantage of more unique views and to avoid the crowds on the ground.

4. Check out the Paralympic Games

(Photo courtesy of Paris 2024)

To avoid the sometimes high costs of attending the Olympic Games, consider watching the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games instead. They are held from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, and admission tickets are generally more affordable than tickets for the Olympic Games. Prices start at 15 euros (about $16).

5. Watch the Disneyland Paris drone show

(Photo courtesy of Disney)

Between now and Sept. 30, head to Disneyland Paris for a nightly drone light show over Sleeping Beauty Castle, where about 500 drones fly in iconic shapes synced to music.

You’ll need a Disneyland Paris theme park ticket to watch the Disneyland Paris drone show. Prices for one-day, one-park adult tickets start as low as 70 euros per day (about $76), though they may be higher depending on when you go. Still, that’s a deal compared with Disney park tickets in the U.S., where prices can easily be double that. At Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, one-day adult tickets start at $109.

6. Sunbathe on the beach

Paris has unique beach offerings. From July 8 to Sept. 3, the Seine riverbanks and Bassin de la Villette (an artificial lake) turn into a beach-like atmosphere. The banks of the Seine are lined with lawn chairs, sun umbrellas and palm trees, and pools of different depths are set up at the lake.

There’s also entertainment throughout, such as dance parties and outdoor movies. And while there’s plenty of free space to lounge on the Seine beaches, there are also some paid activities, including canoe and kayak rentals.

7. Take advantage of free and low-cost summer activities

Summer makes for one of the best times to experience many of the city's free activities. Open-air markets come alive in the summer, where you can shop for fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. The markets also make for a smart way to save money on dining out, as your market haul could make for a delightful picnic meal to be enjoyed at one of the city’s many parks or along the Seine riverbanks.

Speaking of parks, the Jardin des Tuileries is worth a stop. Located just across from the Louvre, the centuries-old park is free to walk through. Or, you might pay for one of the garden’s attractions, like a carousel ride (3 euros).

You might save money by visiting Paris before the Olympics

While witnessing the 2024 Paris Games will undoubtedly be exciting, it’ll also be expensive.

Even the price of Paris public transportation will temporarily rise for part of the summer. Between July 20 and Sept. 8, individual public transit tickets will nearly double from their current prices. French government officials have said prices will temporarily cost 4 euros (roughly $4), up from the current starting price of 2.15 euros.

It’s a similar case with lodging. Rates for available short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, are 40% higher during the Olympics versus the two weeks prior, according to an analysis by short-term rental analytics company AirDNA.

If a European vacation is on your mind — but you don’t necessarily care for the Olympics — then, consider booking before the Games begin. There will still be plenty of unique festivities throughout the city — and you’ll likely get to experience Paris without sky-high Olympic prices.

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