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A photo of the empty plaza at Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

How To Stay Cool In Paris This Summer

Summer in Paris means a lot of things. Open air concerts and film screenings. Significantly longer hours of daylight. Fireworks off of the Eiffel Tower for July 14th. Summer is an amazing time to be visiting Paris for many reasons. But this is also the season when the temperatures soar, making beating the heat a national pastime. Currently, we are just coming out of our traditional June heatwave. But another one is almost definitely around the corner. So if you’re visiting Paris in the coming months, here are the best ways to stay cool in a city that is woefully lacking in air conditioning.

Show Me the AC

That’s right. Paris is a city that has many things, but abundant air conditioning is not one of them. If your hotel or apartment rental has not explicitly advertised that they have AC, you should assume that they don’t. And even if they do, do not expect the turbo charged power of North American style air conditioning. Instead, AC in Paris is something more akin to a temperature moderator. It will be enough to take the edge off of the hottest days, but that’s about it. This applies to all spaces that claim to have AC, or “climatisation”, so be sure to reign in your expectations.

Head to the Movies

Of course, there are some places with consistent and reliable air conditioning. Museums, for example, have to regulate their temperatures in order to protect the artwork on display. But my personal preference for staying cool during a Paris heatwave is going to the movies. Most movie theatres have quality AC, so when it’s sweltering outside, I like to sit in the dark and watch movies all day. I once saw three movies in a row just because I didn’t want to go back outside. True story.

Time for a Dip

I do realize that not everyone wants to be inside a museum or movie theatre during a heatwave. Some people prefer to be outside when the temperatures start to soar. And while I may not understand this inclination, there are many ways to indulge it. The most refreshing is to go for a swim. There are several outdoor pools located throughout the city where you can go for a dip and cool down. But my personal favourites are the free outdoor pools at the Parc de la Villette. These pools are located right within the canal basin, but they are cordoned off and disinfected regularly. And best of all, they’re free to access.

Playgrounds of Water

If you’re not ready to fully commit to a swim, Paris has plenty of other water-based options to stay cool during the summer. For example, you can frolic through the misters at Parc Nelson Mandela at Les Halles or at Place de la Republique. You can also head to places like the Parc de Choisy, Parc André Citroën, or the Jardin d’Acclimatation, where you’ll find water fountains and jets that are open to play in and run through. And if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can hop into the fountains at Trocadero and splash around like the locals do. This is not an officially sanctioned activity, however, so you didn’t hear it from me…

Head Out of the City

If you really want to do as the locals do, head out of the city and into the suburbs. There, you will find an abundance of activities to stay cool, including full water parks, kayaking on the rivers, and hiking in the mountains and forests that surround Paris. My personal favourite, however, is what my friends and I call a river day, where you pack your bathing suit and a picnic lunch, and head to the beautiful town of Moret-sur-Loing. From there, you find a spot along the Loing River to spread out your picnic blanket, and spend the rest of the day relaxing on the water and going for a swim whenever the heat gets to be too much. It’s my personal slice of heaven every summer.

Important Tip: Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

If you are in Paris during a heatwave, it is crucial that you stay hydrated. I cannot emphasize enough how hot and humid it can get in the city during the summer, and I have seen countless people get into trouble simply because they do not drink enough water. Thankfully, the city has introduced measures over the years to encourage people to stay hydrated. There are free water fountains set up all throughout the city, and new this year, the locations of these fountains are now integrated into Google Maps. There are over 1,200 of them to choose from, so grab your water bottle, fill up regularly, and stay hydrated.

Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.