Highlights of a Parisian Summer

by Pascal Fonquernie
Tuesday Jul 19, 2011

When summer heats up, Parisians head to the seaside and countryside to enjoy their holidays. But the capital city is the place to be! There is so much to do and see in Paris during the summer months. Here are just a few highlights of our favorite events.

Gay Pride Paris: More than half a million people took to the streets of Paris for the Gay Pride parade on 25th of June, 2011. We were gladly surprised that major French companies are now supporting the LGBT community, and I was myself very amused to realise the same model I wanted to buy from Renault Republique, 96 rue Amelot, was parading with fancy rainbow colors on its sides co-branding with TETU magazine, France's Biggest Gay Magazine, property of Mr Pierre Bergé, former partner of Yves Saint Laurent.

It made me think I really made the good choice and was honored to see that my favorite car maker was also supporting the gay community.

The political situation in Paris regarding gay life is close to ideal, apart from the fact that equality is not achieved yet - in terms of taxation, adoption and marriage.

It's true that recent surveys confirm that being gay is not a problem at all for 85% of the French, and 55% of them would agree to vote for gay marriage. So even if the French can't have access to real marriage like the Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and Belgian people, they enjoy life as much as they can.

The social-democrat opposition promised equal rights if they succeed in the next presidential election in may 2012, with nearly 80 % of the French wishing to offer a long-time holiday to our current president.

The march ended up at Place de la Bastille. Until dawn streets were packed and the most famous clubs and bars in the Marais such as Raidd, Open Café, Cox, l'Oiseau Bariolé, Quetzal, CUD, Spyce, and Le Tango were crowded as usual.

Le Bal des Pompiers and Bastille Day: Le Bal des Pompiers is one of the most popular parties on the Paris calendar. On July 13 and 14, fires stations across Paris threw open their doors and welcomed Parisians and tourists alike for a hot and hilarious dance party. The fireman are always as sexy as they are friendly, serving up drinks and performing for the cheering crowds.

Paris Fire Brigade was created 200 years ago by Napoleon, the French Emperor. Our favorite fire hall on rue de Sévigné, just in front of the charming Hotel Saint Paul was the first Paris fire station to be open in Le Marais. It used to be the former Hotel de Chavigny built in the 1600’s by Mansart, the architect of Versailles. It keeps getting busier every year with hundreds of people waiting in the long line to get in.

The fireworks display at La Tour Eiffel on Bastille Day, July 14, is one of the most magnificent anywhere in the world. And this year, as the Iron Lady is celebrating her 122th anniversary, the spectacle was one of the best we’ve ever seen.

Paris Plage: If you’re in Paris and can’t make it to the beach in the summer, Paris brings the beach to you!

Paris Plage has been a favorite attraction since 2002. Each summer, the city trucks in tons of sand and sets up a beach right on the shores of the Seine. There’s music, entertainment, and so much to see and do.

Paris Plages will take place from 21 July to 21 August 2011. It will be the opportunity to rediscover the events which make the event successful on the right bank of the Seine and in the La Villette basin.

Ten times more sand than in previous years will await visitors! It will also be possible to play racket sports on the beach. It will obviously be possible to build sand castles with buckets and spaces. The biggest of them will be up to 5 metres high. On the initiative of Disneyland Paris, sculptors will recreate the castle of Sleeping Beauty out of sand.

Your toes in the sand: an ideal position for relaxing under the traditional blue parasols. This year, the Paris Plages furniture, which has been used since 2002, has been replaced. The public will be able to lie on the usual chaise longues or on one of the 200 new blue and white striped beach mats. And this year, 10 giant deckchairs will be spread along the beach. They were designed by the stage designer Jean-Christophe Choblet and each one can hold two adults.

This year, there will be three sites for Paris Plages:
1 - The Georges Pompidou Expressway (in central Paris)
2 - The La Villette Basin (Paris 19th district)
3 - The square in front of the Hôtel de Ville (Paris 4th district)

As usual, Paris Plages will also set up beneath the windows of the main Hotel de Ville. The square will host concerts and sporting activities. The Fnac live Festival will offer free concerts over four days, from 21 to 24 July, and then leave the way clear for beach volleyball and also for children’s pedal boats.

The festival will also be a time for information and prevention. Representatives of the group "Paris Santé", which includes 18 associations combating high-risk behaviour (auditory risks, addictions, sexually transmitted infections, etc.), will move around the square raising public awareness. It will also be possible to meet them in the Vélib’ booth.

Or you may just want to sit back, relax and pretend you’re in a tropical paradise. Enjoy the sun and sand from July 21 to August 21.

The FNAC Live Festival: A total of 24 artists and groups will perform during these four themed evenings. In front of the Hotel de Ville. Moriarty, Catherine Ringer, Christophe, Mademoiselle K, to give a few examples. They represent a plethora of new and well-known talent from Paris, and from Australia to the Americas, and from Africa to the Near East.

Paris is once again becoming a world capital in touch with the sounds of the world.

From 21, 23 and 24 July, from 6.30pm to 11pm and 22 July from 7.30pm to midnight. Admission is free.

"Paris on the Seine" Exhibition At the Hôtel de Ville, the free exhibition "Paris on the Seine - From the Old Quays to Paris Plages" retraces
the history of both economic and social links.

Since 2002, Paris Plages has allowed the capital’s residents to establish an unusual relationship with their river. The 10th event is the ideal opportunity to retrace several centuries of the city’s life on the banks of the Seine.

A free exhibition from 6 July to 17 September, every day except Sundays and public holidays, from 10am to 7pm in the hospitality rooms of the Hôtel de Ville, 29 rue de Rivoli, Paris 4th district (Metro: Hôtel de Ville).

The best part of all is that to enjoy everything Paris has to offer, the summer deals are sizzling too! You can get apartment stays at incredible savings, discover the top classic and contemporary restaurants, and get the ultimate shopping deals in the best boutiques.

Come join us in Paris and Le Marais during the summer season because it is also the season when hotels offer the best deals with discounts up to 50% off.



To prepare for your trip to Paris, you can download the exclusive Parismarais map of le Marais for free.
Be sure to print out both sides A and B of the map by clicking on the following links:

You can also visit the following page where you will find more maps of Paris and le Marais as well as selected places to visit-photos and addresses will "pop up" as soon as you click on the colored dots. Fabulous, n’est-ce pas?

To find out more about cultural events in Paris, discover Paris Update, the weekly English-language Web review of Paris cultural events edited by Heidi Ellison, an American journalist who has lived in Paris for over 20 years.

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Special thanks to all our contributors and media partners all over the world. is a Media Partner of Paris Tourism Office, France Guide/A Tout France, IGLTA - and a correspondent for over 100 media companies in the world.


  • , 2011-07-19 04:13:09

    You forgot that we here in Spain have had equal marriage rights since 2005 and it includes adoption rights.

  • , 2011-07-19 11:46:45

    Thank you for mentioning that. Correction made.

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