Paris in the Summer: Outdoor film, music and dance festivals


Cinema Plein Air
Taking a seat at the outdoor film festival in the Parc de la Villette. Photo: Hannanik

By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—

Summertime and the livin’ is easy… and cheapo if you know where to head in Paris. While every other tourist is heading to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, the city offers an abundance of summertime options that will keep you dancing, bopping or enjoying a free flick.

Here are some of my favorite outdoor festivals happening this summer:

Cinéma en Plein Air
July 19 through August 21, 2011
Web site

The Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement hosts an annual summertime outdoor film festival that’s popular with cinephiles. An enormous screen in the park draws crowds every night of the week, except Monday, to view a variety of movies.

This year the films have been selected from around the world, including familiar French favorites like La Haine (Aug. 13) and Les Triplettes de Belleville (July 23). From the other side of the Atlantic, there will be plenty of English-language favorites as well. Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver will open the festival on July 19th and Woody Allen’s Manhattan will be shown on August 18th.

Keeping in tune with the Broadway musical theme that has pervaded Paris this year, both Singin’ in the Rain (Aug 10) and West Side Story (Aug 21) are lined up. Entrance to this event is, of course, free. Just bring a blanket, kick back and enjoy,

Outdoor Music Festivals

No urban summer would be complete without a concert series. Here are some of Paris most popular outdoor musical performances:

Paris Jazz Festival
Through July 31
Web site

At the Parc Floral in the picturesque Bois de Vincennes in the east of Paris, the annual Jazz Festival will run through July. Every Saturday and Sunday there are concerts at 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. highlighting different types of jazz. Check out the festivals Web site for a schedule.

Classiques au Vert
August 6 through September 25, 2011
Web site

Picking up where the jazz left off in the Parc Floral, starting August 6th, singers and orchestras will be celebrating the Americas with concerts dedicated to their music during the Classiques au Vert. Every Saturday and Sunday there will be groups singing and strumming along, including concerts dedicated to great Broadway melodies (Aug. 13), Sousa marches (Sept. 18) and Hollywood repertoires (Sept. 25).

For those not interested in waving Old Glory during a concert, there are plenty of concerts dedicated to classical music as well, just check the program to discover what’s going on during your time in Paris.

Sadly the concerts during both festivals are not free. They will set you back €5, or €2.50 for children, so you may have to reconsider that second glass of wine. Concerts begin at 4 p.m. each weekend.

Keep an eye out for other garden concerts (click for the entire schedule). It probably won’t be translated into English before most of the events are over, but you can check by district and date to find out what musical performances are happening throughout the city.

Danse Avec Nous
Web site

Finally, why just listen to the music when you can move along with it? Along the Left Bank of the Seine, just behind the Ile-St-Louis, you’ll find all sorts of dancing going on late into the night.

Danse Avec Nous is a club that hosts free salsa, tango and regional French dance lessons in the tiny amphitheaters that line the river. Feel free to jump in with a partner–hopefully one that knows what he or she is doing–for one of the most memorable evenings in Paris.

Just walk along the Quai Saint Bernard near the square Tino Rossi (along the river, walking with your back to Notre Dame) and you’re guaranteed to stumble across the party– just listen for the music. Pack a picnic and the night is yours–free of charge!

Other summertime activities

Read our post about the ‘Paris Plages‘ for more summer fun. Know any other great outdoor festivals happening this summer in Paris? Tell us about them in our comments section.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog:

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