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Paris - May or June?

My wife and I spent a wonderful week in Paris last year in mid-Septemberr. Now, we are planning a return visit for 2013 and trying to plan the "when" for trip.

1. In terms of the crowds, tourists and Parisian establishments being closed, is June comparable to September? I know many residents and restaurants are closed in August and I think Paris is typically crowded in July & August with tourists. Can mid-June be like July / August or is probably more likely to resemble our experience last time in mid-September?

2. Do I need to worry about the French Holidays as a tourist? I expect that banks and government will be closed but no idea if some restaurants, shopping, museums, transportation may be closed as well.

Thanks for any advice you are willing to offer.

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  1. My opinion only, l find September and October the best two months to be here, in terms of weather, crowds or their lack and available activities, as temporary museum exhibitions, food shows, and antique shows. In May there is a holiday in 4 of the 5 weeks and thus is closed more often than most other months. June starts getting hot, this year also there was a lot of rain in May as well also limiting activities. The crowds now in early June seem far greater than in the early fall and to walk near St Michel this past weekend was an exercise in futility.

    1. French schools let out the first week of July, and start up again the first week of September -- so either May or June are typically smaller crowds, as Parisian families don't head off on vacation until after school is out...so the crowds are a little heavier than September, as some countries are on summer break by mid-June, but definitely not the summer crush yet.

      It all depends on which holiday it is as to what's closed -- but there are usually no holidays in June. (once in a while Pentecost drifts from May, but that's not too common).

      12 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Indeed May has a lot of holidays. There are a lot of local European and French tourists in Paris in June.
        I wouldd therefore pick June for the reason above, and for the fab weather, plus the great fruits coming into season.

        1. re: Parigi

          Thank you all. Another thought about June is the French Open (from late May / early June) which will end next year on June 10. The 2012 French Open is ongoing right now.

          Are the tourist crowds that come to Paris during the French Open significant enough that I should weigh that in my plans and delay my 2013 travel to Paris until after the Open is over on June 10th? Or is the French Open crowds so small to make them a non-factor?

          1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

            "Are the tourist crowds that come to Paris during the French Open significant enough"
            No.

          2. re: Parigi

            oh heavens, yes -- Sunday I lugged home sweet Gariguette strawberries, Charentais melons (I served the first one with some gorgeous Bayonne ham, and the other one is perfuming my kitchen as I type), and the first apricots I've seen (okay, I jumped the gun on those a little - they'll be better in a couple of weeks, but they're pretty tasty!).

            The cherries will be here soon, then the full rush of peaches and abricots and nectarines, followed by a parade of plums in every color you can imagine (I'm weird for plums - see my avatar)

            That, plus more strawberries, and raspberries...plus the tomatoes....

            You can eat iike a king in Paris in the summertime without ever turning on the stove.

            1. re: sunshine842

              You will weep, you will perish if you taste the mara des bois "Anaïs", and after you taste and weep and die, you can't go back to gariguettes.

              1. re: Parigi

                we just haven't gotten mara de bois yet....soon!

                I forgot to ask those of you who've been here longer than me -- is it just me, or was it really, really weird to see cepes in the market at this time of year? They were an off-color - still brown, but muddier, not that lovely golden-brown that I'm accustomed to...and at only €15 a kg a good price, but they struck me as so bizarrely out of season that I shied away. (I could just barely see the sign above the box, so I didn't see where they were from)

                We've had such a weirdly wet and chilly spring that I suppose it's possible, but cepes are late September in my mind.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  sunshine, i know you are outside Paris but i saw mara des bois at the marché saxe-breteuil in the 7th this weekend... there's also a strawberry labelled "fraise des bois améliorée" which I've always presumed was the same as mara des bois... but maybe not

                  I'm pretty sure that you can find cèpes almost year round now but june to november seems the normal season for those from the region parisienne. ...btw, my grandmother was recently tut-tutting that they were selling mushrooms from (gasp!) poland at the marché bastille

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    It's not just mara des bois. Has to be mara des bois Anaïs.

                    I know what you mean re cèpes. I am used to seeing it coming into season in late August, and September and October.
                    I hope France does not become another country where the same fruits are available year round and beautiful and insipid. Shudder.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      I agree....and I'll be curious to have another look this weekend and see if they're still available, and if so, from where. If they're local, I just might grab a few - 15/kg is a deal (and they were big ones -- but the out-of-season, and the different color threw me)

                      I also spend an inordinate amount of time and percentage of my shopping at the cuillettes of Chapeau de Paille - there are a half-dozen around me, and they carry all sorts of local products from small producers.

                    2. re: sunshine842

                      The first thing to do in that case is try to find out where they're imported from. Probably not from the Northern hemisphere, though the price in any case also remains an enigma.

                      It is possible to find cèpes in forests, in the right weather conditions (and I think we've had them), in the Summer (July, even late June) but this still seems awfully early. In normal conditions they'd appear in August. But they are never plentiful enough to be commercialized before September.

                      Are you really sure these were cèpes?

                      1. re: Ptipois

                        Cepes are currently appearing in California. Late rains. Cool weather.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          They were labeled as such, they were the right size and shape, and other than being more of a brown than a golden-brown, looked just like cepes.

                          Out here, some of the market vendors do sell stuff that's been harvested locally...the only reason I don't know where they were from is because the Sunday morning market -- well, you know -- and I'm short. I couldn't see the sign, and was in a little bit of a rush, so didn't ask. (we had dinner plans that night anyway)

              2. May in 2013 has 4 public holidays/ long weekends. There are some closures. Even worse, neighbouring countries have almost the same holidays so there is a sudden and huge influx of tourists from Germany, etc. The period between Pentacôte (50 days after Easter so changes from year to year) and Corpus Christi tends to be especially popular for visiting Paris.

                Because school summer vacations don't start in Europe until mid-July, holiday-less June is usually relatively quiet except for the surge in American and Asian tourists.

                The weather is never predictable. Last year, early summer was idyllic. This year, who knows?

                Public transport runs 7/7 365 days a year. Reduced schedules on holidays but waiting 10 minutes for a bus rather than 7 is no big deal.

                1. I love seeing all the flowers in May, but the two times I've been in May it's been both more crowded and cool and rainy. I prefer early October, few tourists and nice crisp sunny weather...and game is on the menu (if that matters), Oh and mushrooms.

                  1. One point no one has raised(unless I missed it) is that the days are much longer in June (than Sept/Oct). It can stay light until almost 10pm; it gets dark much earlier in the fall. More time to enjoy Paris in its full glory.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: boredough

                      Tru dat. Last night went to bed while still light out.