Ongoing strike action in France Find out more

This summer, Paris is tapping into its resilient spirit. And with good reason: thanks to leafy boulevards, riverside perches and myriad terraces, the city is the perfect spot to rediscover a certain joie de vivre. Parisians have wholeheartedly embraced the easing of lockdown, but pandemic precautions are still de rigueur here.

Ingeniously, authorities have handed parking spots over to cafés and restaurants. Improvised terraces now spill out onto the street, lending social distancing a certain kind of bohemian charm. Hip eateries have been quick to adapt: why queue for Circus Bakery’s rustic fruit pies and cardamom buns, when you can have them delivered by bike anywhere in Paris?

Masks may be mandatory on public transport and in indoor spaces, but the city is easy to navigate on foot. A stroll from Montmartre to Montparnasse takes just over an hour, and you’ll take in designer boutiques, gourmet streets and cultural institutions along the way. The banks of the Seine are equally pleasant to explore, particularly on a pay-as-you-go bike or scooter. Thrillingly, this might be the best time to hit the hotspots usually teeming with tourists. The Eiffel Tower’s top floor officially reopened on 15 July – so grab an e-ticket and enjoy those iconic views without the crowds.

There’s much to enjoy if you’re travelling with little ones. Ride ponies in the city’s genteel parks, feast on ice cream by the canal or head to the outskirts of the city for a heady dose of fresh air. Disneyland Paris has reopened, too – with digital maps, hand sanitiser, socially distant rides and far fewer queues.

To travel responsibly this summer, it pays to plan ahead. Here are our top picks for a safe, relaxed getaway in Paris – a city that can’t wait to welcome you back.

  • For masterpieces without the crowds: Le Louvre

    Rue de Rivoli, 75001

    Forget queues snaking around the pyramid. If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the Louvre’s 300 rooms of paintings, sculptures and antiquities, now’s the time. Visitor numbers are limited with allocated time slots; it’s best to book online, though some same-day tickets may be available at the museum. Don’t forget to wear a mask – a small inconvenience for a chance to gaze at the Mona Lisa’s smile without raised smartphones ruining your line of sight.

  • For a tropical escape: Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

    3 Avenue de la Porte d'Auteuil, 75016

    At the southern tip of the Bois de Boulogne’s leafy expanse, these glorious greenhouses grow much of the city’s municipal plants. Social-distancing and mask-wearing rules apply, but the off-the-beaten-path location makes it a pleasure to wander through the elegant glass structures and the quiet, well-tended formal gardens. The central building is the most impressive, with its luxuriant collection of palm trees, tropical flowers and papyrus plants.

  • For French flair: Le Bon Marché

    24, rue de Sèvres, 75007

    If you’ve been craving a shopping fix, this iconic Left Bank address is packed with Parisian must-haves. After a thorough clean, the department store has reopened with all the safety precautions you’d expect, including hand-sanitiser stations, protective screens, and regular cleaning of changing rooms and payment points. Once you’ve raided the summer sales (15 July–11 August), pack a picnic from La Grande Épicerie’s tempting food hall – the banks of the Seine are just a 15-minute stroll away.

  • For a family stroll: Jardin du Luxembourg

    Rue de Médicis - rue de Vaugirard, 75006

    These palm-dotted, easy-to-reach gardens have something of a cult following. Locals love it for its picnic-friendly lawns, pétanque pitches and metal chairs just made for soaking up the sun. Groups of more than 10 aren’t currently allowed but, happily, the park’s ponies are still on standby for rides most days during school holidays. Expect under-helmet hair nets, mask-protected staff and delighted little ones.

  • For a memorable dinner: Fulgurances à L’Entrepôt

    7, rue Francis de Pressensé

    This arthouse cinema in the sleepy 14th arrondissement has handed over its boho conservatory and garden to talent incubator Fulgurances. It’s an airy, light-filled space with plenty of room between tables. At the helm until November 2020, Iran-born Minou Sabahi is the first resident chef. Order small plates inspired by her extensive travels: pistachio-flecked sardines, say, or meringue dressed with carrots and cardamom. Book ahead.

  • For a frozen treat: Bachir

    58, rue Rambuteau, 75003

    Queuing for ice cream is a summer pastime for Parisians – even in these socially distanced times. Bachir kept locals stocked in home-delivered treats during lockdown; now, a stone’s throw from the Centre Pompidou, its red-and-white awning provides welcome shade for patient punters. The pistachio-crusted, Lebanon-inspired scoops are worth the wait: sample rose or orange-flower flavours, or opt for seasonal fruit such as apricot or blackberry.

  • For a trip back in time: Montmartre

    2, rue de l'Abreuvoir, 75018

    Usually crowded with tourists, the neighbourhood of Montmartre has gone back to its quaint village roots – at least for a little while. If you’re not quite ready to bust out your own easel on the Place du Tertre, take a stroll around the tranquil cobbled lanes, looking out for the two surviving windmills. There’s no better time for a selfie in front of La Maison Rose. The charming pink restaurant is as popular with influencers now as it once was with famous writers and artists.

  • For drinks with a view: Laho

    5, rue Van Gogh, 75012

    60 metres above ground, this open-air rooftop bar is arguably the most coveted sundowner spot in town. Take your pick from intimate tables, sociable sofas or laid-back bean bags on the lawn. The drinks menu runs from spritzes to natural wines and glasses of champagne. Bar snacks are equally enticing – think oysters, terrines and charcuterie platters. It’s best to drop by early: access is limited to 100 guests at a time, and you’ll need to wear a mask to access and move around the venue.

  • For a great meal on a budget: Bouillon Pigalle

    22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018

    Cheap, trad and cheerful, the bouillon – an eatery serving old-school, no-frills fare – has had something of a renaissance of late. Top of the class is Bouillon Pigalle (no prizes for guessing its location), a classic of the genre in a lofty space dressed with red banquettes and reassuringly spaced tables. The menu (cod brandade, duck confit, peach melba) is equally comforting. If you’d rather eat out, the set takeaway lunch is a steal at €10 for three courses.

Five more must-tries


The practicalities


  • Don’t forget to pack face masks or coverings. They’re mandatory for over-11s in indoor spaces (including shops and covered markets), on public transport and in taxis and Uber rides
  • Avoid public transport if you can. Paris has thousands of pay-as-you-go bikes and e-scooters for hire and the city’s put in place 50km of temporary cycling routes
  • Official advice is to stay at least one metre apart from other people. For now, la bise is best avoided
  • Contactless payments by smartphone or card are encouraged, so don’t expect to pay in cash. The limit is now €50 per transaction
  • You’ll find new safety measures in place in shops and supermarkets, from hand sanitisers and protective screens to one-way and socially distanced queuing systems. Look out for signage and floor markers
  • At restaurants and cafés, tables are at least a metre apart, sometimes on new terraces or pavement seating areas. You’ll need a mask for entering and moving around the restaurant, though not at your table. With restrictions on numbers, it’s best to book ahead where you can

Image credits: © Sénat L.Poyet; © Sénat L.Poyet; © Antoine Mongodin; © Paris Tourist Office Amélie Dupont; © DR; © Laurence Revol; © Etchola; © Etchola; © Magna Presse