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Paris in May | 14 Fantastic Things to Do You’ll Love

As evidenced by how many people flock to the city every month of the year, Paris is always a good idea. Paris in May may even be a better idea, as you get the perfect balance of good weather without the crowds. 

A free night at the museum, a trail of trees and flora in bloom, the days are longer, and cafés and restaurants await patrons from all over the globe. Sure, May is France’s rainiest month, but the city is teeming with indoor attractions perfect for escaping the drizzle.

If you’re planning a trip to Paris in May, here’s a guide on all things to know before travelling to the City of Lights.

paris in may
paris in may

Weather in Paris in May

May is the month when spring is in full swing and summer is on the horizon. So you’ll be greeted by bright blue skies, sunshine offering plenty of daylight for activities, and chilly days accompanied by chilly nights.

Monmartre Paris
Monmartre Paris

The average temperatures range between 11°C and 19°C. However, the weather can be unpredictable at times, with extremes on either side during the month.

Unfortunately, May is the French capital’s rainiest month. Luckily, the showers are short-lived, but I’d still recommend bringing along an umbrella.

What to Wear During May in Paris

Generally speaking, May in Paris is too hot for winter jackets and too chilly for sundresses and the like. Layers, layers, layers — that’s essentially the only answer for what to pack during your visit to Paris in May. Think oversized blouses with jeans and a scarf, t-shirts with light cardigans, some shorts and a light sweater.

Arc de Triomphe Paris at Sunrise
Arc de Triomphe Paris at Sunrise

That isn’t to say warm wear won’t be necessary, though, especially if you’ll be walking the sparkling streets in the evening. For those cool days, keep a light jacket and a hat (not a beret) on hand. For rainy days, waterproof jackets and boots are essentials, so check out the weather forecast before heading out.

While the Paris cobblestone streets are beautifully inviting, you risk hating them by the end of the day without proper footwear. Ditch your flats for Chelsea boots and trade in your sandals for sneakers or loafers.

What to Pack During a Visit to Paris in May

Knowing what to pack is nearly as important as knowing what to wear in Paris. I believe you already know the essentials (passport, toothbrush, etc.), so I’ll just give you a list of items that will add to your experience.

saint chapelle interior paris monuments
saint chapelle interior

May has several sunny days, so bring sunscreen for safety and sunglasses for styling. A camera is another worthy companion if you want to capture lifelong memories. You could choose to rely on your phone, for which I’d recommend bringing a power bank. Get this universal travel adapter which works with many different plugs.

14 Things To Do in Paris in May

With your outfits planned and travel bags packed, get ready to find out what makes Paris in May so alluring.

1. Museums Night (La Nuit des musées)

Paris is arguably the museum capital of the world, so seeing a museum or two is a must. While they’re incredible all year round, May offers something unique: the La Nuit des musées.

Museums Night takes place annually on the second or third Saturday of May. During the day, many museums in France open their doors to the masses—all free of charge! Yes, this includes places like the iconic Louvre Museum or the more obscure yet incredible Carnavalet Museum.

musee d'orsay paris
musee d’orsay

Expect avant-garde artworks, colossal sculptures, Renaissance paintings, ancient relics, and basically anything your imagination can think of. Unfortunately, some museums have limited space, so you’d need to make a booking far in advance to reserve your spot.

2. The Louvre Museum

The Louvre, as it’s often called, can easily stake its claim to being the most popular museum in the world. It’s for this reason that I say visiting this iconic landmark is a must-do while in Paris, regardless of the month. 

Louvre Pyramids
Louvre Pyramids

If you couldn’t bear the crowds during Museums Night, trust me, paying for a ticket is so worth it. This breathtaking location is home to over 30,000 pieces spanning centuries, including Renaissance and contemporary works.

Take your pick of three wings from Richelieu, Sully, and Denon. Each one has splendour absolutely worth seeing. Here you’ll find permanent displays of Italian paintings, Egyptian objects, and Greek sculptures, as well as temporary exhibits.

Louvre Museum at Night Paris

Children under 18 and EU residents between 18 and 25 enter free of charge, while other adults have to pay €17. The entrance lines can be extremely long, so join a skip-the-line tour that includes a guided tour by an expert. If you are museum-hopping during your May visit, then I recommend getting a Paris museum pass which gives you free access to over 60 museums and monuments.

Tip: Get here early in the morning and experience one of the best sunrises in Paris behind the Louvre pyramids.

3. Bread Festival (La Fête du pain)

Bread is one of France’s most loved foods, so it’s no surprise they hold a festival to celebrate everything bread. From baguettes and croissants to brioche and French sourdough, you’ll find any and all French delights here.

croissants
croissants

The La Fête du pain, as it’s called, is held during the first weekend of May by Notre Dame. If you can’t find it, just follow the delightful aromas of fresh bread. 

During the festival, bakers are invited to show off their creations to anyone who visits to take a bite of delicious bread. Here you’ll find sampling stations, live demonstrations, and stalls teeming with crunchy delights available for purchase.

paris baguettes

While the festival has a lighthearted atmosphere, there’s a heated baguette competition that takes place. The winner gets the opportunity to serve baguettes to the Presidential Palace—so it’s not every day that you can say you ate the same food as a statesman.

4. Taste of Paris

Paris is a gourmand’s perfect slice of heaven, with culinary delights sure to satisfy any taste buds. So, it came as no surprise to me when I heard that the city holds a Taste of Paris annual festival with different cuisines on offer. This is the perfect experience if bread isn’t for you.

paris picnic

This Parisian festival is held in mid-May annually for four days where nothing but eclectic dishes is on the menu. Here you can bite into taster-sized portions of Parisian and international grub in the comfort of chic, pop-up restaurants. These are prepared and served by Michelin-starred chefs and young artisans.

Take a piece of Paris back home with you by joining a cooking class led by Parisian chefs teaching a variety of dishes.

5. Belleville Artists’ Open Studios

While this initiative was launched in 1990, it is only now becoming a renowned May tradition loved by locals and tourists. It’s the perfect stop if you’re a fan of contemporary and avant-garde art created by the modern artist.

paris art galleries

Also known as the Portes Ouvertes d’Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville, this showcase is usually held during the latter stages of May. During the Belleville Artists’ Open Studios, over 100 artists open their studios to just about everyone.

This includes painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrations, and the like who share and discuss their works. Some may add to the fun by including demonstrations, concerts, and more.

6. Paris Jazz Festival

Saint Germain des Prés is a district that blends heritage and culture along with being a mecca for food and shopping. Also on this list is the annual Jazz festival, which attracts hordes of visitors and also has some free concerts.

paris jazz

While held in May, the dates change, so I can’t give a specific date. What I can say, though, is that you’re guaranteed a day full of fun and dancing.

The festival is held across different locations, such as the La Sorbonne university, the Odéon Theatre, and the Musée de Cluny. On stage, you’ll find jazz stars and bands belting out the tunes in harmony.

7. Seine River Cruise

The Seine River is as iconic as it is beautiful, having been featured in paintings and movies as well as having hosted tons of visitors. While riding on the cruise, you’ll be passing by greenery and beautiful architecture.

cruise-boat-seine-peniches

This cruise is especially magnificent in May when the days are sunny. You can catch a glimpse of the sunset before the day is chilly, and the surrounding monuments are also lit up for an incredible sight.

seine river paris
The Seine River

You can add to the fun by going on a sunset cruise tour that includes some soothing music playing in the background. You’ll pass by the Louvre, the Orsay Museum, the Notre Dame, and other monuments you can learn about via the tour app.

8. The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is easily the most recognisable of Paris monuments. This structure is synonymous with the city and is the reason behind it being dubbed the “City of Love”. Lovebirds flock to the city just to take a picture underneath this landmark or have a proposal at the top.

woman in front of eiffel tower posing
Strike a tower pose

However, you don’t need a partner to enjoy your time here. For simple viewing pleasure, The Eiffel Tower is impressive any time of the day. However, it’s especially magnificent in the evening as the lights twinkle, and the crowds disperse.

eiffel tower at night lit up

For those who want to reach the peak, visit when the sun is out, and the sky is blue. From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and its attractions. Step here, and you can see the Seine River, the Notre Dame, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation building.

paris eiffel tower at sunrise

Leave the flight of stairs to the incredibly robust and get access to the Eiffel Tower summit by elevator.

9. Paris’ Green Spaces

While Paris is most renowned for its man-made landmarks, it’s replete with natural splendour to match. During May, in particular, these green spaces become even more alluring as the flora is finally in bloom. Even if the flowers and trees aren’t your cup of tea, you can enjoy a decadent picnic under the verdant greenery.

jardin du luxembourg
jardin du luxembourg

I recommend first stopping by Jardin du Luxembourg. It has trees providing shade on sunny days, scenic views from the Paris Pantheon, and attractions like the Medici Fountain.

The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is another location you should consider. It’s home to a forgotten railway, verdant greenery, and an awe-inspiring waterfall.

Parc des buttes chaumont
Parc des buttes chaumont

The 28-hectare Jardin des Tuileries, teeming with trees and flowers of all sorts, is another location worth stopping by. It also has statues, pools, and fountains on its grounds.

Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin des Tuileries

10. Pere-Lachaise Cemetery

The Cimetiére du Pére Lachaise is a famous landmark in Paris that doubles as an eerie location and green space. Over three million people visit the cemetery annually, some visiting to pay their respects and others coming here to take in its beauty.

pere lachaise cemetery paris
pere lachaise cemetery

While here, you’ll be strolling past the tombs and graves of the affluent and famous underneath verdant trees. Among the people who call the cemetery their last resting place are Jim Morrison, Mano Solo, Oscar Wilde, and Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

11. Parisian Delights on a Café-Terrace

Parisian terraces are as popular as they are magnificent. In fact, the city previously submitted a request to UNESCO to get these café terraces recognised as world heritage sites.

paris cafes

These café terraces are best visited during spring and summer, so a visit to one is a must in May. Pop into one and enjoy bread and pastries, along with your favourite drink as the sun shines down on you. Just be wary of the spring afternoon showers or extremely chilly days.

12. Self-Guided Street Art Walking Tour

Paris is obviously the home of museums, but it also has a bustling street art scene that’s transformed its cobblestone streets into open-air museums. Best of all, you can find these massive artworks in different districts all on your own. May, in particular, is perfect as you won’t have to worry about sweating under the sun or freezing from the cold.

13th arrondissement
13th arrondissement

Paris’ most famous street art arrondissement is the 13th arrondissement, which has had murals and graffiti peppered on its walls since the 1960s. Boulevard Vincent Auriol should be your first stop here as it has over 20 murals to see. What’s cool about this is that they’re all legal.

You’ll also find artwork in the 20th arrondissement in Belleville, some other pieces in Vitry-en-Scène, and a street art trail in the Palais de Tokyo.

If you’d rather be guided to Paris’ best street displays, then join this 13th arrondissement street art tour.

13. The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is where Parisian food and entertainment intersect to delight visitors from all over the world. It’s set in the heart of the French capital and is hard to miss, thanks to the iconic windmill outside the venue. Of course, this is not a May exclusive, but you may as well stop by since you’re already in Paris.

moulin-rouge-at-night

Visit here, and you’ll be rewarded with infinite entertainment brought to you by a variety of acts. Some are there to sing and dance, while others are there to perform feats like juggling, acrobatics, and gymnastics. The cabaret spoils guests with mouth-watering three-course French meals complete with champagne.

Seats are assigned on the day but can be bought well ahead of time. Book now to reserve a spot.

14. Disneyland Paris

This is an added bonus to your Paris trip in May if you’re travelling with kids or love Disney yourself. The month of May presents the low season for Disneyland Paris, meaning lighter crowds and shorter lines.

Despite the name, this famous attraction is around 45 minutes away from central Paris. Unless you’ve rented a vehicle, the easiest way to get here is by taking an RER A train. I recommend booking a return ticket ahead of time to avoid the long queues that await at the station for return tickets.

disneyland paris

Visitors to the park can expect big thrills courtesy of the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain or Marvel’s Flight Force rides. Survive the scares of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or zoom around a picturesque route at the Autopia exhibit.

As many of the attractions take place outdoors, be sure to check out the weather forecast before the afternoon showers ruin the experience.

French Holidays To Be Aware Of

The month of May has several public holidays in France, which are all important to know. Labour Day takes place on the 1st of May. The country celebrates “Victory in Europe Day” on the 8th and Ascension Day 39 days after Easter Sunday. The nation also celebrates Pentecost on the 7th Monday after Easter, which usually falls in late May or early June.

During each public holiday, expect shops and some attractions to be closed entirely while others may be operating at reduced hours.

hotel de ville paris monument
hotel de ville

Final Thoughts on Visiting Paris in May

Exploring Paris in May offers the same fun you can expect all year, as well as some seasonal pleasures you won’t find any other time. Even the unpredictable weather isn’t enough to stop millions from flocking here, and it shouldn’t stop you either.

Whether you’re here to munch on decadent grub, watch an entertaining show, or gaze at the work of renowned artists in the mecca of art, there’s something for everyone.

Learn some facts about Paris, and you’ll be ready to make the most of your time in the City of Lights. Now, book your tickets and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Bon voyage!

arc-de-triomphe-paris-sunset

I covered all of the costs involved in the writing of this post on Paris in May. However, this post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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