We love May in Paris. It feels like it's the City of Eternal Spring. Walking almost anywhere in the city is a delight. Cultural events are in full swing this month with classical music concerts at Notre Dame; Verdi's Rigoletto at Opera Bastille; and Vivaldi's ever-popular The Four Seasons performed at La Madeleine.
With warmer weather we recommend you to book a day trip to Versailles, Giverny, or the D-Day beaches of Normandy. And don't forget to make time for a nighttime dinner cruise down the most romantic river in the world.
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|Our Fave Day Trips From Paris||The Most Popular Activities||Our Top Food & Wine Activities|
|All The Best Events in Paris||Classical Music, Opera & Ballet||New Exhibits at the Museums|
The lines at the Eiffel Tower are always long, and that's particularly true during the lovely days of May. Since we know you don't want to spend your valuable time in Paris standing in line, we strongly recommend you sign up for a tour that lets you bypass the ticket lines. Click to check availability on readers' favorite Eiffel Tower tour.
May is a great month for a guided cycling tour around the city's most famous monuments and landmarks. Cruise around the ancient and modern streets of the city as you visit the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and glide down the Champs Elysées. Then you hop on a river boat for a nighttime cruise on the Seine.
Think that's a lot to fit into one evening? So do we, but in a good way! Cruise the Seine as the lights of Paris drift by, then take a nighttime tour of the rest of the city. After you have these two good doses of sightseeing, it's over the the famous Champs Elysées for a magical 3-course meal…with wine, of course.
Combine a glamorous dinner in Paris with sights of the city's must-see attractions on this 3-hour evening sightseeing cruise aboard one of the classy Bateaux Parisiens boats. As you dine, the band entertains you with live music while you take in the lights. We recommend the Service Elégance option that includes champagne and wine.
Here's your chance to see the world's most famous cabaret show — you'll find out why it's the number-one rated cabaret in Europe. Moulin Rouge regularly sells out weeks in advance, so book ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Includes transportation to and from your Paris hotel.
Experience the best of Paris in one fun-filled evening. Before your cruise you take time for a leisurely dinner on the Eiffel Tower at Restaurant 58 with its spectacular views of the city. Then, after the cruise, you're whisked to Montmartre for a cabaret show (complete with champagne) at the famous Moulin Rouge. Everything's been arranged for you, just sit back and enjoy.
With nearly 9 millions visitors a year, the Louvre Art Museum is another über-popular site in Paris, which again means long, long lines. But, another great tip is to book a guided tour of the museum, which leads you past the lines and right to the most famous works of art, also allowing you plenty of time to wander. Another tip — these tours sell out, so be sure to book early.
On a warm evening in May take a tour of the dark side of the City of Light. Our readers have loved this walking adventure with an informative guide exploring the winding streets and hidden alleys of the city with over 2,000 years of history. That's plenty of time for lots of legends and stories to arise — about ghosts, the Black Plagues, the wars, and the unexplained.
Make every minute count. This tour plays out like a lovely orchestrated piece of music. Highlights of the Louvre museum — check. Seine River cruise — check. Eiffel Tower lunch — check. The finalé is a skip-the-line visit to the 850 year-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral on the picturesque Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris. Everything is included, from entrance fees, lunch, to Seine river cruise.
This activity takes you on a discovery exploration of Explore the historic Marais district, then get skip-the-line entry to the Picasso Museum. Amble the cobbled streets, stroll over to Place des Voges, one of the oldest and prettiest squares in Paris. Then head to the Picasso Museum where your entry ticket awaits. Tuesdays & Saturdays.
Before we get to our recommended day trips, here is one of our best Insiders tips — pre-arranging transfer from the airport. We find it's comforting to be prepared and to know what's going to happen when you arrive. Readers like these affordable shuttle van services that takes you right to your hotel and pick you up when you're ready to leave. It's convenient and cheaper than a taxi.
But this is our very best tip — arrange to ride into Paris in a luxurious private car. We value the comfort of having our Paris pal and professional driver, Manu, meet us at the arrivals gate to whisk us into the city in his Mercedes S-Class. Really, it's the only way to do it!
The Paris Pass includes free entrance to museums and lets you skip the long ticket lines! PLUS, you get to ride the Metro & buses for free.
Versailles is a symbol both of grandeur and of royal decadence — the chateaux and gardens are don't-miss destinations when you're in Paris. They are so close that it's an easy day trip. Instead of worrying about trains, maps and guidebooks, we recommend you go the royal route. Book a private van with a driver/guide to make the past come alive. Includes transportation to and from your hotel. This is likely to sell out.
73 summers have passed since the Allied Forces arrived onto the D-Day beaches of Normandy. Starting out from Paris, spend the day exploring the beaches, monuments and museums that mark the beginning of the end of World War II. Choose the small group option (8 person max.) and you will be picked up at your Paris hotel and delivered back at the end of the day.
The beautiful Renaissance valley is known for more that just its famous chateaux. The Loire Valley also produces world-renowned wines. This tour gets you guided tours into the 3 most famous castles. It also includes a guided wine tasting of the best varietals from the region — that all happens during a bountiful French lunch. It's like two trips in one glorious day! Did we mention you also get to skip the lines at the castles?
Visit the Land of Bubbly as your private driver picks you up at your Paris address and whisks you away along the route des vins. At Reims, capital of the Champagne region, you tour the historic city, and visit the famous cathedral. There's lunch, of course, plus sampling a lot of bubbly at the famous producers! Can you think of a better way to spend a day? Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
In May the luscious gardens of Giverny are at their peak of perfection and ready for you to explore. Claude Monet created the gardens specifically for his art and for 43 years, he used them as his inspiration. When you arrive you will see his Impressionist world blossom in front of your eyes. The trip is an easy one. You are picked up at your Paris address, driven through the pastoral countryside with plenty of time to visit Monet's pink mansion, rambling gardens and the famous Japanese bridge.
There's so much you can see from Paris in one day, and these suggestions are just the beginning. To learn more, read our complete guide to historic Mont-Saint-Michel, to the World War I battlefields, Disneyland Paris, and even London!
→ Essential Day Trip from Paris…
Now that the warm weather has returned so have classical music concerts at the acoustically-perfect La Sainte Chapelle, the 13th-century gem of a church on Île de la Cité. There's good reason this is travelers' favourite venue for music in Paris. Sitting among the amazing stain glass surrounded by the music of Vivaldi, Pachelbel and Albinoni is an opportunity not to be missed. Highly recommended.
The story of Verdi's Rigoletto is packed full of drama, emotion, twists and turns. The action takes place in the gritty world of northern Italy during the 16th century in the town of Mantua. The Italian libretto has been very popular since its premiere in 1851 and is based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo.
• Opera Bastille
• May 27, 30 & June 2
Austrian composer Alban Berg wrote his avant-garde masterpiece starting in 1914 but didn't finish until the end of World War I. Wozzeck is a powerful story of a soldier tormented by the infidelities of his beloved Marie, told in a series of interconnected musical fragments. The opera's emotional impact is immediate, and will touch you with its desperate and rebellious cry.
• Opera Bastille
• May 2, 5, 9, 15
Pyotr Tchaikovsky's operatic interpretation of Alexander Pushkin's tragic play, Eugene Onegin, returns to Paris, telling the story of vanity, pride, and unfulfilled love. Set in imperial Russia of the 1820s, Willy Decker's stark staging brings the emotions of the characters to the forefront. The opera was first performed in Moscow in 1879.
• Opera Bastille
• May 16, 19, 22, 25, 28
See the best of the American school of dance, by legendary American dancers and choreographers, William Forsythe and Merce Cunningham, (1919-2009). Both shaped the New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre.
• Palais Garnier
• May 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, & 13
Inspired by the music by Maurice Ravel, these three dances are all set to his masterful compositions. The first, George Balanchine's La Valse, is set to Ravel's work of the same name, and shows the end of gaiety in Vienna after World War I. Jerome Robbins' 1975 choreography is lighter with Ravel's jazz-influenced Piano Concerto in G major. The program ends with Ravel's powerful Boléro.
• Palais Garnier
• May 2, 3, 6, 11, 14, 16,17, 20, 24, 25, 26 & 27
Flying buttresses, menacing gargoyles, soaring spires & the occasional hunchback, Notre Dame is also home to one of the world's largest pipe organs. A concert here will be a top highlight to your trip to Paris. Added bonus — only ticket holders are allowed into Notre Dame during the evening concerts.
The church is a powerful legacy from both the last kings of France and its first emperor — Napoleon. Today it's a popular venue for classical music concerts. And, after the performance, you're in the center of Paris ready to explore.
Eglise Saint-Ephrem has had a rocky history. The first church was built on the site in 1335, for Italian students living in Paris. In 1677 Irish priests built a new church here. The curent church was built in 1733, ceased religious activities in 1825, and was gien to the Syrian Catholic Church in the 1920s. Today its also a popular venue for classical music.
This month is a great time to be in Paris to take in a concert at one of the many historic churches and cathedrals that span the city landscape. Choose from concerts performed at La Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, Saint Ephrem, Saint Germain des Prés, or ballets and opera at Palais Garnier and Opera Bastille.
When you're in Paris take the chance to learn about the country's wine regions and taste the wines, with guidance from an expert sommelier. We particularly like the 2-hour grand cru tasting — it provides the rare opportunity to taste some of the finest wines of France. It all takes place in a charming wine cellar very near the Louvre.
Take a walk with an expert culinary guide to learn about the foods that France is most famous for. Start at a traditional fromagerie to learn about the country's cheeses. Move on to freshly baked baguettes. The tour takes in French wine and even foie gras! And, don't worry — any calories you take in at delicious taste samplings are going to be burned off by the walk!
Didn't we just say that Paris and wine went together. Well, how about Paris, chocolate and pastries? Is it a wonder that we (and our readers) like this guided walking tour? It gives you a chance to get behind-the-scenes of Paris dessert specialities, along with plenty of sampling of course, including regional specialities.
Don't you just love activities where you don't have to do anything except eat and drink? Unless, by chance, you decide to look out the window at the lights of Paris passing by. That's exactly why we like taking a cruise down the Seine on a luxury yacht… while dining on a 3-course gourmet meal prepared by a French chef. It's night in the City of Lights — combining romance, fine dining, and a river tour of Paris.
Hone your French cooking skills in small group cooking class in Paris. Sign up to join a local chef to tour a local fresh, food market then return to the Paris apartment to create a stellar three-course meal. You will prepare a delicious lunch — including entree, main course and dessert — and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a glass of wine. Class size is limited to 8.
Next to Bastille Day, May Day is the most popular holiday of the year in France. Most shops and museums are closed to celebrate France's Labor Day. Be on the look-out for lily of the valley flowers which are a symbol of good luck in France. You'll see them for sale at flower vendors on nearly every street corner.
• Monday, May 1
This Grand Slam tennis tournament is the only one played on red clay. The French Open starts during the last week of May at Roland Garros stadium. If you're a tennis fan, this is one of the most dramatic tournament of the year. Expect to see plenty of red clay flying.
• May 22 to June 11, 2017
It's the largest home show in Paris and has been for 112 years. Discover the latest French decorating trends, (who doesn't want in on that one!) More than 3,500 brands in Europe give you a chance to discover all the latest French house and home trends.
• Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles
• Ends May 8
An exhibition organized by choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Natalie Portman's husband.
• Petite Galerie, Louvre Museum
• Ends July 3, 2017
A selection of landscapes by Gauguin, Monet, Klimt, Carr and van Gogh.
Discover What's On When You're There
• March 2017…
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• July 2017…
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