How to make the most of Paris in the summer heat

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Oliver Gee - [email protected]
How to make the most of Paris in the summer heat
Chilling out by the Eiffel Tower? Why not. Photo: AFP

Most people try to get out of the French capital when the mercury rises above 30C, but don't let the heat put you off - there are plenty of ways to enjoy the French capital even under a scorching sun.


Grab your water bottle and get out there (but perhaps don't take the Metro at rush hour).
1. Take a swim 
Take a dip (and a shower): Paris canal swimming pools open for summer once again
Swimming pools across the capital are opening late this week to help overheated city dwellers cool off, and there are also some great open air pools. 
We recommend the Josephine Baker pool which is actually floating on the River Seine in the 13th arrondissement. And don't miss the Piscine Georges Hermant in the 19th, an Olympic-size swimming pool featuring a massive retractable roof. And then there's the centre aquatique de Neuilly-sur-Seine which is great for families and those who want to relax.
And if you are feeling flush then why not head to the historic Molitor pool - the birthplace of the bikini.
From July 1 you can also swim for free in the Bassin de la Vilette open air pool (below, which is basically taking a swim in a canal. Lovely and cool though).
Cool rating: 9 out of 10. It will give you exactly what you need and it's fun too.
2. Head to a church
Even if you're not religious, the thick stone walls of Paris' lovely old churches make for a beautifully cool interior.
3. Find some shade in a public park

(Photo: AFP)
Do like the French do - take a book and a bottle of water to one of the city's public parks and sit under a tree. Using a chair for your feet, like in the picture above, is optional. If you don't mind a few tourists, check out the Jardin du Luxembourg on the Left Bank or the caves and waterfalls of Buttes Chaumont in the 19th (though it can be tough to find shade when it's busy).
Or perhaps the best option is head out to the edge of the city whether it's the Bois de Vincennes in the east or Bois de Boulogne in the west. It may cost a few euros to enter the botanical gardens at Vincennes - but it's worth it. 
Cool rating: 7 out of ten. Getting there might mean having to take the Metro but the shade will be a relief once there.
4. Eat ice cream on Ile Saint Louis

(Photo: Ladyous/Flickr)
Cross a bridge to the Ile Saint Louis and find one of the places selling Berthillon ice cream. They're not hard to spot, there's usually a queue out the front. But once the first drop of ice cream touches your tongue, you won't regret the wait. While you're there, wander through the tiny island, and the neighbouring Ile de la Cité which features the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Cool rating: 8 out of 10. The ice cream is cold, but the tourist crowds might be unbearable. 
5. Go shopping at the Grands Magasins (yes really)

(Shopping at the Galeries Lafayette. Photo: AFP)
While the queues and the crowds associated with shopping might be your idea of hell, heading to one of the Grands Magasins might actually be the best remedy for the excessive heat. The biggest ones are mostly air conditioned, and it can be quite pleasant strolling through some of your favourite shops in the cool breeze while the rest of the country sizzles.
If the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are definitely not your thing, you can always do some serious aisle searching in Picard, the frozen food supermarket.
Cool rating: 7 out of 10. You're still shopping, after all.
6. Hire a boat at La Villette

(Photo: AFP)
On the north side of the Bassin de la Villette, you can rent out an electric boat from Marin d'Eau Douce.
The cheapest option is €40 for an hour, but the cost decreases on a per/hour basis the longer you take it. There are roofs on the boat to keep the sun away. And there's normally a decent breeze.
Cool rating: 8 out of 10.
7. Play in the Trocadero fountains
How else to celebrate summer than to splash about in a Paris fountain with gay abandon? A particular favourite is the Trocadero fountains by the Eiffel Tower (pictured above). 
Cool rating: 8 out of 10. This is only a temporary relief - wear sun cream and get some shade.
8. Watch a movie

This is an easy one but highly recommended when it's sizzling. Cinemas in France are almost all air-conditioned and an ideal way to escape the sunshine for a while. But be warned - some films that were originally in English may be dubbed into French for the silver screen. Look out for films marked with "VO" (version originale), which means they'll be in the original language with French subtitles. 
There are also  popular outdoor film screenings at the Ciné de Plein Air at La Villette in north east Paris (see pic above) where hundreds turn up with picnics to catch a film in the cool evening breeze.

And on August 24 where Lost in Frenchlation will be hosting an outdoor screening of short movies and French classic cult film ‘La Reine Margot’ with English subtitles at night.

Cool rating: 10 out of 10. Especially if you catch a good film. 
9. Head to the hotels

(Photo: Le Meurice)
Fancy a gin and tonic in a cool setting? Why not head to one of the nicer hotels in the city? Of course, a hotel like Le Meurice near the Louvre musuem will charge you €28 for a single Gin and Tonic (we found that out the hard way), but some might argue it's worth it, especially with their amazing bar (pictured above). 
Most would argue that there are cheaper and better options available (and certainly cheaper drinks!). 
Cool rating: 9 out of 10. These places are excellent, but pricey. Do not buy a round for your friends.
10. Find a shaded terrace

(Having a drink on a cafe terrace in Montmarte. Photo: AFP)
Why head to a fancy hotel when you can perch yourself in a shady terrace and knock back a citron pressé (a kind of French lemonade)? There are loads of terraces to choose from and you can relax in the shade and watch Parisians struggling in the heat.
Cool rating: 9 out of 10. Make sure to ask for plenty of ice. 
11. Head to a rooftop bar
While sitting on a terrace might still be too hot there is generally more of a breeze a little higher up, which means some of Paris's rooftop bars are ideal locations to hang out in the heat.
Some like one of the three La Perchoir bars - located in the 11th arrondissement, the Marais and La Perchoir de L'Est at Gare de L'Est  - are very trendy an you'll need to get there early normally, but others like La Terrasse at Galeries Lafayettes are easier to access and offer a great view as well as shade.
Cool rating: 9 out of 10. View+shade+breeze - what more can you ask for?
12. Honorable mention - Go deep underground
The catacombs are probably one of the coolest places in the whole city - and as they're underground they're delightfully cold year round. BUT, and this is a big but, waiting times in this season can easily reach three hours, which means unless you arrive very early indeed, "the world's biggest graveyard" might not be the best way to keep cool. 
Cool rating: 6 out of 10, due to the wait. 


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