Why We Love Paris in August

When we announced that we would spend June through August in Paris this year I could see dismay in our friends’ eyes. Even though most were too polite to say anything, I knew they were thinking, “Oh, my God, August in Paris? Really? It’s going to be jungle hot with no air conditioning, it will be jammed with unwashed tourists, and you won’t have anything to eat because EVERYONE knows Parisians evacuate in August. The restaurants will be closed. You poor things. What are you thinking?”

WRONG! None of the above has been true for us. Admittedly, a few days in July were so toasty that I spent one afternoon lolling in our apartment’s big old fashioned bathtub, happily sipping cold rosé while indulging in a good read on my Kindle. But right at the start of August the weather cooled, the tourists moved on to Italy or went home to get the kiddies ready for school, and a large percentage of the locals grabbed their bikinis and headed south with their children, dogs and grandma in tow. The lucky Martins were left behind to mind the store! Here are our top reasons to stay in Paris in August:
2014-08-19-BetterBeach.jpgTHE BEACHES
For a month, which sadly ended last weekend, the City of Paris sponsors an entire beach along the River Seine and traffic-free areas where anyone can spend the day relaxing with their tootsies in the sand, kayaking, swimming in pools suspended over the river, learning to sail, and other delightful activities for people smart enough to stay home. Our favorite was a picnic featuring sensational pates, cheese, fruit, bread and wine with pals as we watched the sun set behind Notre Dame.
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  • Look at the view!
  • Wine, friends and the Seine

SHOPPING
Let me tell you that shopping can be a contact sport in Paris. Between Madame Parisienne, who taps her foot until you remove yourself so she can get on with purchasing a new colander, and the ill-mannered tourist who is screaming loudly in his own language, annoyed by the sales person who has the temerity to not speak English, I usually stagger out of a store feeling exhausted and a little angry. But in August BHV, the big department store on the Rue de Rivoli, is mine, all mine! The upper floors where all the interesting things live is virtually empty, so I am allowed to browse happily, envying the treasures I know I’ll never have room enough to take home but love to peruse.

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CROWDS
All of these people have gone home to Iowa or on to Ibiza, but they’re certainly NOT in Paris! This photo was taken in June when everyone was French Open-crazy. Now we can laze our way through much of Paris with almost no one in our way, except, of course, around Notre Dame or The Louvre.
2014-08-19-Eiffel.jpgFor example, here are my husband and our pals Suzanne and Jeremy sprawling on a bench in the Bois de Boulogne rose garden with hardly another soul in sight!
2014-08-19-sprawl.jpgDINING
“They,” whoever they are, say there are no restaurants open in Paris in August. “They” are mistaken! Things have changed. Many lovely places are open in August, and when we do arrive they are not crowded. We are greeted graciously, seated quickly, and dine very well! We have enjoyed the same excellent quality and good service we expect, even though we do spend a bit more time in advance searching out places that are open. I have a hunch the staff who stayed home to tend the store are happy to see us! They certainly give us lots of attention.

Does this look like starvation rations?
2014-08-19-2014081013.42.56.jpgYou can see how miserable we were.
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WINE
Now, this is obvious. France = fabulous wine, right? It’s even more fabulous when Renaud Vuillermet, of Caves Dargent, which was one block away from our apartment, explained every nuance of the embarrassingly numerous bottles of wine I purchased from him.  He educate my palate about the true wonders of a fresh, bright rosé on a steamy Paris afternoon and the deep luscious pleasure of a Grave 2009 Bordeaux for a late evening treat.  It was so worth lugging those treasures up three flights of stairs!!!

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TRAVEL
We made a quick trip to London to see friends and meet the press with our friends at HomeAway.com, and discovered to our delight that getting a spot on the Eurostar was easy. We think all the French and British people are lazing on the beaches on the Mediterranean instead of vying for tickets to get to London!
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PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Even though some of the Metro lines and buses are still crowded around the big sights, we find we can get around the city with much less company than we’ve endured in the past. In August it’s rare to be jammed right next to other passengers, which is a good thing on SO many levels! Note the complete lack of company at this stop.2014-08-19-metro

SEEING THE SIGHTS
Even the must-see sights don’t seem as crowded. Our pals Mary Lou and Nelson came to visit and when we took them to the Arc de Triomphe it was actually possible to take a photo of the great monument without including several people we really didn’t want to get to know!
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SEEING FRIENDS
This year in Paris a bumper crop of friends, old and new, and readers of Home Sweet Anywhere and this blog came to Paris.  We had some wonderful lunches, dinners, parties, picnics and great visits.  Look at all these smiling faces!

ENTERTAINING
We were so fortunate that our darling friends Andie and Georges allowed us to occupy their apartment for a while, so we were able to entertain new friends, Bonnie and Chuck Headlee, who were enjoying their home free life in Paris, and our long time friends Mary Lou and Nelson for dinner just before we left the city. Here’s what we served:  pasta from the wonderful Ina Garten’s on-line recipes.

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So next time someone rolls his eyes at the very idea of Paris in August, do tell them that it’s entirely possible for the weather to be mild, the waiters charming, the food terrific, and they might just run into the Martins swanning around in their bathing suits at the beach!

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  1. Debby Robinson

    Just when I thought I came up with an original idea, I find I am not the only person that has or is deciding to live my life after retirement, not just waste my days. I am so excited to see your blog and although I am 5 years away from realizing my dream of retirement, I already have the wheels in motion. Downsized to a small condo that I can rent to provide additional retirement income and I am decluttering my life. I will continue to read and learn from you and can’t wait till my August in Paris arrives.

  2. Josie

    I enjoy so much what you write about your travels and your retired lifestyle…have not read your book…but plan on getting it this week…being a retired teacher, mother of 7 and grandmother of 11 encumbers me somewhat to travel to far away places…but I am a dreamer, and I haven’t given up yet!…thank you for sharing your adventures with us!,,continue to do what I kinky dream of doing some day!

  3. Kris Miller

    Hi Lynne, your photos of Paris brought back our wonderful week in June and lunch with you and Tim! We are still telling all our friends how wonderful it was to meet you and get to talk with you. We will definitely try the August trip to Paris soon, now that Terry is retiring at the end of this year. Happy travels, and we hope to cross paths with you again! ~Kris and Terry

  4. Beth Easter

    Thank you for this lively and informative description of your time in Paris. My husband and I had our first VRBO experience in Paris when we rented an apartment on Place Saint Sulpice for the entire month of May in 2010. It was a truly magical time, and we have since gone on to rent homes and apartments in many other places, including Hawaii, New York, and Ventura, CA. We’ve always thought we’d return to Paris for another month-long stay in the autumn, but after reading your post we’re reconsidering an August trip.

    I just finished reading your book (couldn’t put it down!) and find your lifestyle incredibly appealing. My husband and I turned 60 this year and will be fully retired next spring; we’ll be moving from Minnesota to Taos, New Mexico, where we’ve owned a house for ten years. Taos will be our home base, but we intend to do lots of traveling. Inspired by you and Tim and your motto of “postpone nothing,” we hope to see a lot more of the world in the coming years. I hope our paths will cross someday!

  5. Jeri P.

    Hi Lynne and Tim, I appreciate your delightfully informative article on Paris in August. My husband and I were there in August many years ago and even though there were hot days it was worth it , seeing the beautiful city without the crowds.
    I’ve been following your blog since the Wall Street article; and what an inspiration you and Tim are!
    I just finished listening to your book and I loved it, and the way you narrated it. Great work! Thank you so much and keep on travelin’!

  6. Ruth Mabrey

    Dear Lynne & Tim,
    My husband and I have been following your adventures since reading an article in International Living magazine. I got your book the week it came out and gobbled it up! Thanks for giving me hope about a second attempt at enjoying Paris-I was there in April 2010, and between crowds & rude waiters, I’ve been reluctant to go back. My husband and I have been to Italy & frequently to Ireland. He wants to experience France as well since we both retired last year. I’m going to give it another shot! We hope to meet up with you two over wine someday. Ruth & Mike M.

  7. Debra

    Great looking Ina pasta dish, and I see you are wearing a red raincoat (in August!), so it can’t always be stifling heat-wise! Great idea . . . think I’ll do Paris in August sometime!

    Love your blog and pictures!

  8. Nanci LaGarenne

    So inspiring! I am halfway through your book, and there with you on your travels while you describe everything so completely. My husband and I would love to do what you have. Well me, anyway, he likes a home base. I think I could be a gypsy! In style. No backpacks. That ship sailed. We are in our late fifties and almost retired….

  9. Michael and Virginia Zullo

    Very good post, Tim and Lynne. We enjoyed it a lot, also the photos of beautiful Paris. You were so close to the Palace of Versailles – – did you squeeze in the time for a day trip? Keep on truck’in. M and VZ, NYC.

  10. Mary Lou Sartoris

    Lynne and Tim–It was a pleasure and a thrill to spend part of August in Paris with you. Thanks so much for introducing us to your favorite museums, cafes, restaurants, bakery, and of course, Picard’s. With your help, we learned quickly to navigate the bus and metro systems and we really appreciated your introduction to Renaud at the neighborhood wine store. Meeting Bonnie and Chuck was another highlight. Only regret is that we did not get to see Andie and George. You two are such great friends! Hope to see you while you’re back in the U.S. before you take off for your next travel adventure. Thanks for your inspiration! –Nelson and Mary Lou

  11. Future Chen

    Dear Lynne and time,

    I have been reading your blog for long time and can’t remember from when because I am a super busy person. Since I graduated from uni, I worked in one company for two years and started my own business. I have been so busy… When I was kid, i have dreamed that I could travel to the world. It is hard to get visa to USA and Europe being a poor and single Chinese girl, so I need to work much harder than others do. Now I am working on my business and it is going well, so I am confident I could have dream come true when I am retired. When I am tired, I read your blog, it gives me energy again to go forward.

    I have never written any comments to you because I am afraid you couldn’t understand what I write since English is my second language. But I do want to write something to you because your experience give me so much encoragement. Thank you so much!

    Hope you have more great travel and bless you live healthy and healthy…

    Future

  12. Dorry

    Lynne and Tim,
    Love your blog and I just ordered your book. I took a solo trip to Paris in August 2007. I knew very little French and found that the people were friendly, helpful and kind. I walked everywhere and fell in love with the Seine and the 6th. Thanks for all your great tips. Safe and healthy travel to you both.

  13. Donna O'Klock

    How wonderful to have the city almost to yourselves. What a smart move.
    I am blown away by the beach along the quay!
    XO

  14. Deb G.

    I am one of the many you have inspired to seriously consider long term travel! I bought your book and found it full of helpful and confidence-building information. Thought I’m not quite ready to separate from all my “stuff” – I am taking longer and longer trips. I’m leaving soon to spend the last week of September in London, October in Edinburgh, and November in Paris. If our paths happen to cross, I would love to meet you and Tim!

  15. Cory Desoto

    Lynne,

    Nice post. It sounds like Marla and I arrived in Paris a couple of months to early:)

    Thank’s for sharing your travels with us

  16. Bonnie Headlee

    Terrific post, Lynne! (Though I hate to admit it because now we won’t have Paris to ourselves in August…). Thanks again for a delightful visit!

  17. Kathe Foster

    Thanks Lynne and Tim for sharing . . . we will join the “other” Fosters (Linda and Dave) in Paris in August . . . now it will probably be crowded!!

  18. Connie Nice / Connie's Corner

    Lynne, thanks for the great post on Paris. This is a place I have not been yet in my life…but there is still time:) I do enjoy your blog and have been reading your book as well. You inspire me on so many levels and I wish you “suitcases” full of travel blessings. Can’t wait for your next story.

  19. Christine

    Hi Lynne,

    I was so happy to see your post! I completely agree that traveling during an “off season” time period has so many advantages. My family of four started taking annual trips during the December holiday season, and we, too, have experienced all of the great pleasures of not being elbow to elbow with people or having them in our photos! Many people ask us why we choose to travel when it’s cold, and our collective answer is always the reduced crowds. I tell them that it really doesn’t matter whether I am wearing a sweater and coat in December or a sundress in July when I take a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum.

    I have been following you and Time since I first read your article in the Wall Street Journal, and your adventures have been an inspiration to me and my family. I think I have already rounded up some our friends to live the Home Free lifestyle with us in the coming years, as well.

    This holiday season we will be in Budapest and Vienna. If you happen to be in town, we would love to meet you and Tim.

    Thank you for sharing your adventures,
    Christine

  20. Linda Foster

    So excited to read this… I am planning next August in Paris. Thanks Lynne and Tim for paving the way!

  21. Trishia Jacobs

    I am so happy to hear this Paris in August report! I have anxiety issues with crowds. I like to have my own personal space:) April a year ago during the coldest spring in decades I was on one of the subways when folks were wedged in closer than sardines. I had a hot flash and thought I couldn’t breathe. It was so miserable! The Eiffel Tower was crowded and we went an hour before closing. People, people everywhere. An empty Paris sounds parfait to me. Besides, it’s my birthday and anniversary month. I’m going to start the “hints” now.

  22. Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer)

    It looks like you couldn’t have planned a better time to go! It sounds like you had a delightful time in spite of the “dreadful” conditions. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!