Many people come back from their first solo trip to describe the experience as something akin to spiritual awakening. When you travel alone, you have a rare chance to experience the places and people you encounter in your own way, unfiltered by others’ prejudices or expectations. Be your own travel companion and prepare to take an eye-opening journey—you may just learn a few things about yourself along the way.
1. Luxembourg Gardens
|Summer Afternoon in the Jardin du Luxembourg by Jan (CC)|
An urban oasis of lush lawns, neat flower beds, and tree-lined promenades, Luxembourg Gardens has been perhaps the loveliest park in Paris since 1612. Inspired by Florence’s Boboli Gardens and established on orders of Queen Marie de Medici, the park features over a hundred statues, fountains, and monuments. Add the park to your Paris trip planner if you wish to spend an entire afternoon riding carousels, enjoying shows at the puppet theater, or watching the locals play the legendary game of boules. To add a bit of culture to your day, visit the park’s popular museum of art, boasting a calendar packed with special events and temporary exhibits.
2. Île de la Cité
|L’été à Paris by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (CC)|
The Seine is the lifeblood of Paris, and Île de la Cité is one of its two remaining river islands located at the very heart of the medieval city. Known for its cobblestoned streets and landmark buildings, the teardrop-shaped isle provides a perfect setting for a tour through the city’s rich history. Begin your walk at the famed Conciergerie prison, a medieval fortress where Marie Antoinette awaited execution in 1793. Take in the exquisite stained glass windows of 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle nearby, and then complete your tour by heading to another Parisian icon, the cathedral of Notre Dame. From there, explore the narrow walkways and staircases stretching along the river’s edge, or head to the small bridge providing access to Île Saint-Louis, the Seine’s other island and a gathering place for talented street performers.
3. Parc Floral de Paris
|The Valley of the Flowers in the Parc floral de Paris|
by Alexandre Vialle (CC)
Made up of four distinct landscaped areas, Parc Floral de Paris changes with the seasons and guarantees a different experience each time you visit. Part of the city’s botanical garden, the lush park boasts one of the largest playgrounds in Paris, featuring giant climbing webs, slides, and sandboxes. Spend part of your Paris vacation exploring these 30 hectares (70 acres) of pleasant walking spaces, exhibit areas, and stages, used for frequent horticultural events and free summer concerts. The park also features a kid-friendly mini golf course, where each of the 18 holes represents a renowned city landmark.
4. Paris Plage
|16082014-Paris plage-0565 by Jean Luc HEBERT (CC)|
Originally intended for the locals who couldn’t afford a much-needed holiday by the sea, the series of river beaches collectively known as Paris Plage now provides a growing number of foreign visitors with a pleasant escape from the bustle of the big city. The artificial beaches located along the Seine transform several ordinary waterfront areas into relaxing riverside getaways, complete with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and palm trees. Unlike many typical French beaches, these lively retreats do not permit topless sunbathing, making them one of the city’s most popular family-friendly summer attractions. Add one of these riverside spots to your Paris itinerary to meet the locals or enjoy leisurely picnics at sunset.
5. Square du Vert-Galant
|Square du Vert-Galant by [rom] (CC)|
Named after the dashing King Henry IV, one of the most prominent “vert gallants” (lusty gentlemen) of his time, Square du Vert-Galant remains an especially romantic corner of this famously romantic town. Despite its relatively small size, the park ranks among the city’s most popular spots for marriage proposals. A leafy sanctuary on the western tip of the Île de la Cité, the park features an equestrian statue of Henry, a favorite meeting place for young lovers and a departure point for boats touring the Seine. If you need at least one relaxing thing to do in Paris, spend a little while in this verdant riverside refuge filled with shady chestnuts, walnuts, maples, weeping willows, lilacs, and tamarisks.
The City of Outdoor Pleasures
There’s much more to Paris in the summer than the Tour de France and Bastille Day. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, the city offers a range of outdoor attractions sure to fill up your itinerary and provide plenty of activities for an unforgettable vacation. Explore its romantic parks and lively riverfront areas, and discover the charms of a summertime Paris vacation.