The Best Things to do in Paris, France in May

The 10 Best Things to Do in Paris in May

The weather in Paris in May is perfect. On the best days, temperatures can reach highs of 20°C (68°F), and while it’s not scorching, I’d say it’s preferable to the stuffy summer weather that’s soon approaching, particularly if you’re here for sightseeing. 

Make sure you’ve got a jacket, of course, but May in Paris is a time for long walks along the banks of the River Seine, bike rides to the Palace of Versailles, and balmy evening strolls through the city. May is also a time for fairs (France’s largest traditional fair is held here in May), as well as the Fete du Pain (Festival of Bread), and public holidays like Labor Day. 

With so many things to see and do in Paris in May, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Paris for you. Stick to these fun and unique May activities, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring the French capital!

The 10 Best Things to Do in Paris in May

1. Cycle Through the Streets of Paris 

Best Things to do in Paris in May: Streets of Paris

With the sun shining and the wind in your hair, nothing quite beats a bike ride through Paris in spring. Go all out and pretend you’re in the Tour de France as you tackle the cobblestones of the Arc de Triomphe, or rent one of the city’s many hop-on, hop-off Velib bikes to get from one sight to the next.

You could also join an organized bicycle tour, which, as a keen cyclist and sightseer, is one of my favorite ways to see Paris. Several local companies organize bike tours throughout spring and summer, with itineraries that include classic Parisian sights like the Eiffel Tower, long rides along the banks of the River Seine, and cycling trips to the Palace of Versailles.


2. Break Bread at Fete du Pain 

Cool Things to do in Paris in May: Fete du Pain

Fete du Pain is one of the best local events in Paris in May. Staged in mid-May, this unique festival pays homage to Saint-Honore, who, as you might expect, is the patron saint of bakers.

This is a celebration of baking and bread (Fete du Pain means Festival of Bread), and it’s held in the main square in front of the Cathedral de Notre Dame. Here you’ll find bakers and bread makers demonstrating the intricate art of baguette making, a skill honed through the centuries. 

Gorge on artisanal French cheeses, enjoy a glass of wine, and dig into the best bread in Paris!  

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3. Visit the Foire du Trone Fair

Unique Things to do in Paris in May: Foire du Trone Fair

If you’re wondering what to do in Paris in May with the kids, then let me suggest a family outing to Foire du Trone. A rustic (and much cheaper) forerunner to Disneyland Paris, this is the capital’s annual fair, and local historians believe that it’s been held since 957 AD.

That makes the Foire du Trone over a thousand years old, and between April and May, the fair sprawls across the Bois De Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement. This is the largest traditional fair in France, and you’ll find everything from crepes to roller coaster rides. A highlight of the fair’s calendar is the Labor Day Fireworks, which are let off on May 1. 


4. Sample Local Brews During the Paris Beer Festival

Fun Things to do in Paris in May: Beer Festival

If you’re looking for boozy things to do in Paris in May, attend the Paris Beer Festival. Held in May each year, this festival is all about celebrating local craft beer.

You’ll find all sorts of local breweries and establishments participating in the festival, while the finale is held at Ground Control – a former rail depot turned food, arts, and culture venue – where you can expect over 60 local and international microbreweries!

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5. Stroll through Jardins de Tuileries

Paris in May Bucket List: Jardins de Tuileries

Adjacent to the Louvre Museum, one of the best places to visit in Paris in May is the beautiful Jardins de Tuileries. Lining the northern bank of the River Seine, the most popular public park in Paris has a history dating back to 1564.

The gardens were created by Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France, and while they were originally intended to be the domain of French royalty, things changed after the French Revolution, when the grounds opened to the public.

Jardins de Tuileries was the scene of one of the world’s first successful hot air balloon flights, the site of concerts held by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the gardens have survived revolution and war. Today, they remain one of the most enduring sights in Paris, especially in the spring. 


6. Sip Wine at the Musee du Vin de Paris

Must do things in Paris in May: Sip Wine at the Musee du Vin de Paris

I doubt that I need to introduce you to the delectable taste of French wine. Be it a lovely glass of Cotes-du-Rhone or a brooding Bordeaux, I’m sure you’re already well acquainted with the vintages of the world’s most famous wine-making nation.

Of course, Paris isn’t known for its vineyards, but the Musee du Vin de Paris in the 16th arrondissement does offer an excellent opportunity to delve into the gluttonous past of French wine. This also happens to make a great rainy-day activity!

The museum is home to over 2,000 exhibits telling the long history of viticulture. Head down into the cellars, and you’ll see where monks once stored their wine. Now, those same cellars are home to one of the most impressive collections of vintages in Paris. 

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7. Marvel at the Fountain Shows at Versailles

What to do in Paris in May: Fountain Shows at Versailles

Situated on the outskirts of Paris, the Palace of Versailles is glorious in May. While the gardens are no longer free to visit, a May visit allows you to see the seasonal Musical Fountains and Musical Gardens Shows while listening to Baroque music. Plus, you won’t have to contend with the massive summer crowds, though Versailles is still extremely popular in spring! 

This vast royal palace was built by Louis XIV in the mid-17th century, and even today, it’s one of the most lavish spectacles in Europe. The scene of royal intrigue and politics through the centuries, Mozart has played here, and the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I was signed in the Hall of Mirrors. 

Explore stately rooms and delve into the past at the Museum of the History of France, but save the bulk of your time for a May walk through the equally gorgeous gardens that surround the Palace of Versailles. 


8. Venture into the Catacombs of Paris 

Paris in May Things to do: Catacombs of Paris

Below the chic streets of Paris, you’ll find a little-known subterranean world that’s begging to be explored – especially on a rainy spring day. The Catacombs of Paris, some 20 meters (66 feet) below the city, consist of an elaborate network of tunnels, ossuaries, and old quarries carved into the Parisian bedrock. 

You can join a spooky tour through the catacombs, which I will warn you, are the final resting place for millions of Paris’ medieval citizens. The 1.5-kilometer-long (0.9-mile-long) tour involves descending some 131 steps down and another 112 steps up, but it’s a unique addition to your itinerary and perfect for a rainy day in May. 

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9. Picnic Along the River Seine

Best Things to do in Paris in May: River Seine

The River Seine has long defined Paris, and I can’t stress how much fun it is to cruise along its glorious banks. But if you want to do as the Parisians do, head over to a local market, pick up a bunch of hors d’oeuvres, a bottle of wine, and some paper cups, and take a seat along the river’s banks.

While you’ll find locals and visitors alike basking in the sunshine during the day, it’s well worth whiling away the hours to catch a late spring sunset over the River Seine.


10. Take a Night Tour of Paris 

Best Things to do in Paris in May: Night Tour of Paris

With balmy evenings, a night tour is one of the best things to do in Paris in May. The city is famed for its nighttime illuminations, and in May you’ll still find iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe dazzle once the sun has set. 

Join an open-topped bus tour and enjoy the lights in style as you’re given a Night Tour of Paris. Alternatively, join a Paris Ghost Tour, and uncover tales of murder, mystery, and the supernatural after dark – if you dare! 

There you have it! The 10 best things to do in Paris in May. What’s your favorite thing to do in Paris?


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About the Author:

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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