When July rolls around, Paris unbuttons its shirt and lets its hair down. The weather tends to mix periods of intense heat, dry spells, and humid days, while the bright sunshine shows off the city at its most dazzling. Read on to discover what makes the Paris weather so appealing for visitors, and how the month compares to other times of year. Find out how to make the most of the climatic conditions when you next pay a visit to the City of Light in early to mid-summer.
It's no exaggeration to suggest that the weather in July could mark the annual peak of the French capital's climate. The rain showers of spring and the intense humidity of August are generally lacking, and obviously the chill of winter is far away. Instead, July is when the sun shines brightest on the boulevards, with an impressive average of 10 hours of sunlight every day. And while the sun shines reliably, the heat rarely becomes too much. As we'll see, Paris and July go together like red wine and camembert - it's a match made in heaven (or, at least, France).
How hot can the weather really get?
When you visit Paris in July, expect warm but not stifling temperatures. This isn't Madrid or Rome, where by July the streets are baking hot and sightseeing for more than three hours at a time can be tiring. Instead, Paris weather is much less energy sapping. Temperatures at the start of the month average around 65 to 70F, rising to 77 to 85F by the end of the month. If the weather stays true to form, it shouldn't tax people who hate intense heat, while shorts and T-shirts are vacation essentials. Sometimes though, the temperatures can soar, with 100F registered on numerous occasions. So be prepared for a heatwave (and check forecasts just before you go - they should be fairly reliable).
Will the weather bring much rain?
July is the month when students flock to the city parks to picnic, street art gets into gear, and open-air music can be found all over town. But the strange thing is, it's actually one of the wetter months - at least statistically. With an average rainfall of 57 mm, it's higher than May (56 mm) and August (55 mm). But it's not that much higher. None of these figures are especially high by international standards. For instance, New York receives 114 mm of rain in May, making Paris seem like a desert by comparison. There may be the odd downpour in July, but Paris generally enjoys unbroken stretches of dry weather. Sure, you'll need some form of wet weather gear, but don't expect much precipitation during your stay. And don't hang back from organizing outdoor activities due to the fear of rain.
How reliable is the weather in July?
The great thing about the weather in July is how predictable and reliable it is. July is almost always a relief from the changeable months of April and May, when showers can appear from nowhere. And the chance of a storm in August is much higher as well. Cloud cover is also reliably thin during that month, ensuring the highest concentration of sunshine hours in the capital's annual calendar. So you can count on Paris to deliver in July, unless there has been an exceptional weather event.
Are you weighing up different times of year, or even different destinations, for your next French vacation? It's definitely a good idea to find the right time of year and location for you, as every traveler is different. Some people respond naturally to sunlight, and can't get enough of 85-degree weather. Others prefer something cooler, and there are even some who enjoy the sensation of rain. In Paris, the weather has an added dimension: the way the city looks. The spring rain can create atmospheres and cityscapes that can't be seen in high summer, while winter's frost adds another perspective that can make the city seem irresistible. So take some time to consider your options.
How does July compare with August?
For those considering a summer vacation to Paris, it's probably going to come down to a choice between the weather in July with conditions in August. As we've seen, July is pleasantly warm and dependably sunny, and the rainfall level isn't disastrously high. In August, expect temperatures to increase a little, and the humidity levels to be noticeably higher. Parisians tend to take their own summer vacations between the last week of July and the second week of August, a major factor being the desire to escape the heat. It's not a huge problem for many visitors (hey, it's not Bangkok), but those who feel the need for cooler conditions will prefer early July. And the city can be relatively quiet in August; some may like this, but it might make the experience feel less atmospheric for others.
And what about May to June?
Alternatively, you might want to compare the weather in July with April, May, and June. All of these months have their moments, but they tend to be less popular than July, for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, the spring months feel windier and rainier (even if the statistics don't bear this out). Cloud cover is often constant, although the odd warm sunny day peeps through during almost any vacation. July is much sunnier and reliably warm, offering the ideal weather for Parisian sightseeing. However, you might find cheaper air fares and hotel rates in May or June, and the crowds at some attractions won't be so thick. So if you think that the basic sightseeing experience outweighs the weather, spring will be ideal.
Comparing Paris with other French destinations
Then there's the question of how the weather compares with other vacation options. Paris averages around 75F in July - pretty impressive by most people's standards. But the south coast of France is much warmer, generally registering 85F or more every day. It's no coincidence that Parisians split their own breaks between destinations such as Antibes or Cannes and the northern resorts in Brittany or Normandy. In the south, Mediterranean weather prevails. In the north, you can expect 70 to 80F on most days as well, with refreshing sea breezes taking the edge off the heat. In Paris, things can seem more sultry, but July is a great time for a week or two to see the sights. For a relaxing summer break, however, the coast or places like the Loire might be the places to look.
Now that we've got to know a bit about what to expect from the weather, it makes sense to prepare for arrival. What kind of tourist activities are available in the month of July? What events mark July as a time to visit the City of Light? And, just as importantly, what should visitors pack to be ready ? Answer these questions, and you have the blueprint for an amazing Parisian vacation, so let's try to do so.
Pay a visit to some of Paris' gorgeous châteaux
Firstly, July is a fabulous month to dive into the vast array of historic attractions in and around Paris. Most obviously, the Palace of Versailles looks incredible when bathed in summer sunshine. July is probably the finest month to tour its huge gardens, with the flowers in full bloom and the fountains strutting their stuff. But it's not the only stupendous château to visit. Fontainebleau is another unmissable castle, and you can wander its 1,900-room layout for hours. Back in town, the Luxembourg Palace is similarly grand (as is the boating pond where Parisians try out their model vessels), and its gardens rival Versailles for aesthetic appeal. With the sun out, these châteaux are hard to resist. Just remember to book ahead wherever you go and get there early to avoid the summer queues.
Does the weather suit a visit to Disneyland Paris?
If touring castles doesn't seem exciting or you have a few youngsters to entertain, Disneyland Paris will almost certainly enter the frame. But is July a good month to visit Mickey, Donald, and friends? The answer is, it depends. The weather in July means that you probably won't be soaked, there should be plenty of entertaining parades, and the night-time Illuminations will be at their best. But you'll also have to be prepared for heavy crowds during your visit. July is one of the peak months for visiting the amusement park, so queues are almost guaranteed. If you visit, be sure to get hold of a Fast Pass ticket; and try timing your visit for the tail end of the day. After 7:00 pm, the queues start to shorten considerably, and you can often walk straight on.
Some great Parisian attractions to explore
Aside from palaces and Disneyland, Paris has so much more to offer during July. The top priority of many visitors is to visit as many museums and galleries as possible, and there are plenty to choose from: From the world-famous Louvre and Musée d'Orsay with their stunning art collections to lesser-known gems like the Musée des égouts de Paris (the museum of sewers). All of the major museums are covered by the handy Paris Museum Pass, which costs 74 EUR for six days and dramatically cuts the cost of sightseeing. When you're not absorbed by museums, why not take an open-top bus tour? There's no better month to board a double-decker as it cruises past the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Champs-Élysées.
If you really want to take your vacation to another level, why not take some inspiration from Parisians and explore how locals enjoy the fine Paris ? July is a month when Paris becomes the center of attention for the whole nation for a variety of reasons. On one hand, there's Bastille Day on the 14th, when the nation celebrates its Republican revolution and fireworks dominate the night sky over the Champs de Mars. At the end of the month, the Champs-Élysées becomes the setting for another annual ritual: The surviving riders of the Tour de France cycle race whizz down the boulevard, seeking the yellow jersey and victory. Then there's fashion. Summer doesn't see the release of new collections, but it can be a good time to snag bargains, with many boutiques scheduling seasonal sales. If you need a new dress or shirt, there's surely no better place or time to shop.
What do Parisians eat and drink during the summer months?
Dining out is another thing that comes into its own in July, with al fresco venues coming to the fore. The cafés and bars lining watercourses like the Canal de l'Ourcq start to buzz with students as they munch gourmet burgers or down craft beers. Bistros open up their courtyards to upscale dining crowds, cafés spill out onto the street in Montmartre, while chic rooftop bars are thronged with revelers until the early hours. There's even a thriving pop-up scene in Paris these days, with food from Vietnam, Latin America, and Japan vying for attention.
Great local festivals
July is also one of the finest months to join Parisians as they relax at events on the city's festival calendar. For instance, there's a much-loved annual cinema festival at the Parc de la Villette, where a huge, open-air screen shows classics and the latest releases. Kids will adore the Fête des Tuileries, which turns the Tuileries gardens into a beautiful and action-packed traditional funfair. There are also world-class music events to enjoy, such as a French offshoot of the Lollapalooza Festival. For something quirkier, there are the theatrical happenings of the Quartier d'Été Festival, where circus acts are the star of the show. We might even have been hasty about dismissing Paris as a sunbathing destination: Paris Plages turns the Seine into a mini-resort complete with bathing pools, deck chairs, and live music. There's plenty going on, that's for sure.
What to wear
Finally, you'll probably want to know how to dress like a local during a summer vacation to Paris. Well, despite their reputation for haute couture style, Parisians are generally pretty pragmatic about handing the Paris weather. Light clothing is usually preferred, so skirts or linen pants are a good idea, and breathable footwear is also handy. But don't even think about flip-flops. A good pair of smart-casual sneakers or brogues, or a comfortable pair of smart sandals, will avoid any fashion disasters. And try to take your shirts or tops up a notch. Sportswear isn't favored by Parisians, and it tends to mark visitors out from the crowd. Why not head to some local stores to find some outfits that you can enjoy during your break and when you get back home?
As you can see, the Paris weather in July is an appealing time of year when the sun shines almost every day, rainfall isn't a daily companion, and temperatures are high - but not overwhelming. Head to the French capital before the French vacation season for mild weather and plenty of cultural highlights. Enjoy the Parisian lifestyle the way it should be lived - outdoors, with fine food, wine, and the freedom to appreciate some of the finest things life has to offer. July is a great time to go, so find the ideal hotel and make that booking today.