How to Navigate Paris in August
Paris in August is a double edged sword—calm, quiet, and peaceful, while at the same time sometimes frustrating to figure out what’s actually open. I don’t mind that places close—I’m all for minimizing burnout—it’s the lack of communication that can drive me batty. I also think it’s a huge missed marketing opportunity that shops don’t get more creative with their closure signs! (I’ve attempted to share some of the slightly more exciting ones this year).
Personally, I love the August calm where you feel like you own the city and can cross the street without worry. It’s literally the calm before the storm which is la rentrée,”the return” in early September—French back-to-school when students, and adults wrap up their 5-9 weeks of vacation to return to school and work. In August I feel like everyone moves slower and is more present with the company they’re in because people aren’t trying to run and do everything. Not much happens this month, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
August closures and the uncertainty around what and when places are closed is what leaves tourists uneasy if they’re planning a visit to France, but I assure them it all will work out. They hear locals talk about it, but the reality is it affects fewer places that tourists frequent. In fact it’s a good thing that reminds us to appreciate when places are open, and give us a sense of adventure. Every year I’m grateful for Paris by Mouth’s post on What’s Open in August.
While Parisians start leaving town the last couple weeks in July, we’re currently entering the most challenging time of knowing what’s open, given that August 15th is yet another holiday in France, Assumption. The challenge comes more if I’m craving something, like a poulet rotî (rotisserie chicken). One nearby boucherie (butcher) is closed for renovation, and my favorite chicken place is closed for 3 weeks. I’ve got to work on some alternative cravings! Same with a local chocolate shop with multiple locations around the city—they’re closing their doors for an entire MONTH!! (See below for proof; most stores only list the day they reopen, while this sign is fully transparent regarding how long they’re closed.).
I love talking about the subject of Paris in August so much that last week I sat down with Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower for a conversation devoted to it. Oliver is an Australian who has called Paris home for 5 years. He’s curious and has a great sense of humor, which made for a fun conversation. Have a listen here (or anywhere you tune into your favorite podcasts). In it we prove what a small world Paris is!
On the episode I explain my strategy for how I figure out if a place is open or not. It can take some serious work! Even if places are open, they may have revised hours. The hours at La Poste (Post Office) cracked me up: 1pm to 7pm Monday to Friday, and 9pm to 1pm on Saturdays for an entire month. Only in France.
There’s a lot of talk about Paris in August but the best way to really know what it’s like is to experience it for yourself. I’ve seen it change over the years; not nearly is much is closed as was in the past. It’s all part of the fun. It’s heavenly to walk down the street without crowds, and find a seat on the metro every time. It’s also why besides a couple days in the countryside, I’ll spending the rest of August in Paris. It has a certain charm and calmness that you can’t find during most of the year.
Even if we’re talking about Paris in August in the episode, we can’t truly make comparisons without chatting about the things that make Paris what it is year round, so don’t be afraid to have a listen even if you discover this post another time of the year.
We wrap up the episode chatting about my new project Navigate Paris Online. I hope you’ll check it out if you haven’t already! As Oliver says, it really is everything I know about Paris in one place!
Bonne vacances à tous!!! 🌞