The simple answer to this question is nothing. Be as still as possible and pray for it to pass quickly. But that’s both boring and impractical, especially if you’re a visitor. Within, find out my best tips for what to do during a heatwave in Paris.
There are a few unique factors about a heatwave in Paris that make it, in my opinion, uniquely unbearable.
France and Air Conditioning: A Complicated Relationship
The entire country of France seems to have a complicated relationship with air conditioning. They think it makes you sick. I don’t know where this notion came from, but it blows my mind. Central air conditioning in apartments is incredibly rare.
The next problem with heatwaves in Paris is it feels hotter than it actually is, and the longer it lasts the worse it gets. With all of the stone buildings and streets, the city essentially turns into a pizza oven that traps heat. Whatever the temperature is (in Fahrenheit) add at least 10 and that’s what it feels like.
This year we also happen to be in the middle of a global pandemic. Masks are required inside, and as of today, also outside in certain places (see where here). I of course agree that masks should be required, but it makes things that much hotter.
What To Do During a Heatwave in Paris
- If you live in Paris, I highly recommend investing in a portable air conditioner. I bought this one last year and it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Not only does it save my life during heatwaves, but I also sleep like a baby during the entire summer. It makes as much noise as a typical ceiling unit air conditioner, but I actually like it because it drowns out noise from the street or neighbors. It vents through the window so I also bought this thing to close the gap.
- Go to a museum. Most museums have air conditioning at least in certain rooms to protect the art. I would go to a bigger museum with a café and make a day out of it. Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée Marmottan Monet all definitely have good air conditioning (the Louvre should have air-conditioning, but I don’t know if it’s good).
- Go to a grocery store. I know, this sounds like the thrill of a lifetime, but at least they’re cold. I spent my entire Saturday morning at La Grande Épicerie. First I had a coffee at the café and then just wandered around taking everything in.
- Go to a church. Because they’re stone they tend to stay pretty cool.
- Picnic. If you can get a spot that stays shady by the Seine you might be able to catch a breeze, otherwise under a tree in a park is a good bet. Be sure to pack cold beverages, of course!
- Go to the catacombs. The average temperature is 57°F (14°C), so it stays pretty cool. Just be aware that it can be humid. Also, buy your ticket in advance to avoid waiting in line.
- Stock up on thermal water and store it in the refrigerator. I shared my two favorites here.
I admittedly spent most of my weekend at home with the air conditioning on. Today I’m back at La Grande Épicerie to give my little portable unit a break. I hope these tips for what to do during a heatwave in Paris are helpful. I’m very eagerly awaiting Thursday when the heat is supposed to break!