Paris in August?
March 29, 2010 6:46 AM   Subscribe

How bad is travelling to Paris/France in August?

I'm thinking of spending my honeymoon in Paris in August this year. My fiancée and I went then last April and loved it, but I've read that in August most locals have the month off and essentially flee the city. Does that mean all the shops are closed that month, so that every day resembles a Sunday? We arrived on Sunday last time we were there and I wouldn't want to spend a whole two weeks there this time with everything closed. Anyone local with some advice of what it's like this time of year? How's the weather?

On a side note, would a short trip to Lyon be worth our time? We both love food, and I hear Lyon is a good stop for that.
posted by reformedjerk to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, the French all go on vacation for most or all of August. Plus it's hot and muggy there. If you want to go to France, why not go to the south, where there is a breeze coming off the Mediterranean? Or go to Paris at a different time of year...
posted by dfriedman at 6:59 AM on March 29, 2010

Lyon should have a similar problem to Paris, in that most of the locals will have left for their vacations. But you're right, the food in Lyon is amazing and it is a very lovely city.
posted by nprigoda at 7:25 AM on March 29, 2010

When we went to Paris three Augusts ago, it wasn't unbearably or even noticeably hot. Shopwise, maybe we're not big enough shoppers to have been affected/help you, but at the very least, it didn't ruin the vacation; we were able to eat, and shopped for eyeglasses, so not everything is closed then. The stores on the Champs-Elysees were open, among others, and the big mall (Lafayette?) was only closed on Sunday, as it usually is. What is it you hope to shop for?
posted by troywestfield at 8:18 AM on March 29, 2010

Best answer: I wouldn't go to Paris in August. Many businesses that serve Parisians are closed for weeks at a time. Favourite restaurants, in particular, enjoy their vacations. The city isn't deserted by any means, and there's a healthy tourist business. But it's going to be hot and less charming, not the best month to be there.
posted by Nelson at 8:25 AM on March 29, 2010

Best answer: You'll have to do extra research to figure out what is not closed.

- The Michelin Guide (you said you love food) is pretty good about not only opening and closing times but also listing which places will be open in August.

- Different publications (some linked here) provide a list of what will remain open as well.

The city isn't completely shutdown. Big department stores, major restaurants, chains etc. are mostly open. But its fair to say that thats not what people come to Paris for. That cute neighborhood bistro or patisserie you read about? Almost certainly closed.
posted by vacapinta at 8:30 AM on March 29, 2010

Former Lyon resident here. With notable exceptions, I think Lyon is somewhat overrated for food.

By which I mean there are some good top end restaurants, a few decent bouchons if you know where to go, but the average restaurant is pretty... average.

I hate to be parochial, but you might do better catching the Eurostar north to London if you want to some interesting cuisine.

As long as you don't go on a Sunday, when it's hard to find signs of life outside Vieux Lyon, Lyon is a great city to spend a couple of days in though.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:11 AM on March 29, 2010

Best answer: Big cities north of the Mediterranean will be empty... and the Mediterranean and south Atlantic coast will be full. Because that's where something like 85% of French city dwellers go on their vacations, and that percentage is only partially anecdotal (I don't have time to look for hard stats).

It is muggy in Paris and Lyon in August, yes, but, uh, the "breeze from the Mediterranean" hardly makes 100+ temps much more bearable. I lived in Lyon for a year, and have lived in Nice for ten years now. It gets HOT here, and very muggy when there isn't a breeze, which is often since we're surrounded by mountains (the Alps). August is kind of funny — all of a sudden, the city empties of locals and fills up with Parisians, Germans, English and Americans.

I kind of like Paris in August because it's easier to get around. Museums and major sights will be open, since they know full well that tourists from elsewhere will visit, but it's true some smaller stores will be closed or on limited hours.
posted by fraula at 10:00 AM on March 29, 2010

I wouldn't travel to Paris in August. As well as many of the smaller shops and a whole lot of restaurants being closed, you'll also be dealing with massive crowds of tourists. I lived in Paris and August was my least favourite month by far.
posted by hazyjane at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2010

re: Weather.

I went to Paris a few years ago in July and I would describe the weather as slightly chilly. I cannot image that a month later the air would be unbearably hot and muggy. Maybe my experience was atypical.

I have not been to Lyon, but Nice, which is further south, was warm and beautiful in July.
posted by AtomicBee at 10:28 AM on March 29, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I guess we'll nick that idea and go back some other time.
posted by reformedjerk at 10:59 AM on March 29, 2010

Best answer: Paris is great in August.
There are so many bistros and restaurants at every street corner that even if half of them were closed (and I don't think it's the case), you would have too many choices.
Paris is not a village. The city is very much alive. The markets, food stores and fashion boutiques are open. Paris is never deserted. You'll have better service everywhere, less gridlock in the streets, less crowded metro, shorter lines in museums.
The weather is great, the sky is blue (most of western Europe North of Lyon is gray from October to March). Two weeks will pass in a blink.
With the TGV, you are 1h or 2h from Champagne, Bourgogne, the Loire Valley. Great cheap wines, great food in simple local places, castles, medieval villages, flowers everywhere.
You'll love it.
I would go.
posted by bru at 1:45 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with bru. It's a different place in August, but for the tourist it can be in many ways a nicer one.
posted by Wolof at 5:48 AM on March 30, 2010

>Bru is dead on. Paris is great in August. Actually, I kind of wonder how people can bear Paris the rest of the year. Be sure the place you're going to stay at is near the center, so you'll be able to go back and have a shower... and enjoy !
posted by nicolin at 11:53 AM on March 31, 2010

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