Visiting Paris in April: Interesting & Inspiring Things to Do

Last Updated on April 29, 2024

Paris in April at the Jardin du Luxembourg/Pixabay
Paris in April can be absolutely lush– but not in a technicolor way. Pixabay

Are you planning a visit to Paris in April? Congratulations! Hate crowds? Hmm, I may just have to take back my congrats. As you probably know, the month suffers a bit from its own ridiculous popularity– not to mention its idyllic portrayal in Hollywood films. So if you’re intent on enjoying it to the fullest, you’ll have to be tolerant of the pack.

I also recommend that you abandon any and all images you may be harboring in your head that involve, say, Meg Ryan strolling through fields of daffodils with the Eiffel Tower looming behind, accordion music swelling in the background.

Trash the inflated expectations, and open your eyes to the small, and beautiful, details around you. Then, and only then, will you be able to fully enjoy this time of the year in the capital.

April at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, with views of the Louvre Museum. Image credit: Luke van Grieken/Creative Commons
April at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, with views of the Louvre Museum. Image credit: Luke van Grieken/Creative Commons

Read related:  Make Your Springtime Trip to Paris Magical, But Keep it Real  

While April can be enchanting in the surreal, larger-than-life way you may be hoping for, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it can also be expensive, noisy, and quite claustrophobic. High season resumes this month, so hotel stays, flights and train prices all go up.

You’l have to adjust your budget accordingly. Luckily, it’s also a time when being outside, even into the evening, is once again a pleasant prospect, and many outdoor activities are free or inexpensive. The sprawling spaces in certain less-trodden areas will also offer you some relief from the crowds, hopefully– read on for some suggestions.

To put it all rather simply, there are some very good reasons why so many visitors throng on the capital during the month lauded by poets and even by the one and only Josephine Baker.  But when a place (and time)  is too-loved and too-inflated, it can degrade or even cheapen the experience of it.

canal st martin

So don’t “just” be a tourist. Be a true urban and cultural explorer, determined to unearth some quiet or secretive beauty–  even if you spend lots of time in “iconic” places.

Again, look for small details in the familiar postcard scenes. I will pester you with this until it becomes your mantra. Defamiliarize the familiar: that’s how meaningful encounters with a place happen.

But enough pontificating! On to some practical and concrete suggestions for how to make the most of your trip.

The Matter of the Mercury – April Weather & Packing Tips

Jardin des Plantes in Paris/Image by Courtney Traub/All rights reserved
Jardin des Plantes in Paris/Image by Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

In April, daytime temperatures in Paris are generally on the cool to “warmish”– but not truly warm– side. Rain is expected about nine days out of the month, and sometimes it comes down in torrents. The late afternoons and evenings can be pretty cold. A favorite (rhyming) French expression of mine warns of the unexpected chill, too: “En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil” (In April, don’t take off a thread).

As I’ve no doubt noted elsewhere, I find it charming and hilarious that so many Parisians take that maxim so literally, remaining encased up to their chins in thick scarves during the spring. But they do have a point. Layering is always a good idea, as nights are generally chillier, and sometimes even daytime temps can creep back toward winterish ones.

Minimum Temperature: 7 degrees C/44 degrees F
Maximum Temperature: 15 degrees C/59  degrees F (in recent years, warmer highs have been common)
Average temp: 11 degrees C/51.8 degrees F
Average monthly precipitation: 45 mm/1.7 inches

In your suitcase, I’d recommend packing a few good sweaters, a spring coat that’s waterproof, a couple of moderately warm scarves and at least one pair of good, waterproof shoes for walking.

It can get pretty wet at this time of year, and you don’t want to be caught in a deluge unprepared– however romantic it may sound.

Best Things to See and Do in April?

My suggestions here are far from exhaustive, but here are a few inspiring ways to really see the capital in the fourth month.

1. Get out and frolic in some green spaces

Parc Monceau in the spring/Wikimedia Commons
Parc Monceau in the spring/Wikimedia Commons

Ok, so the frolicking part is just a suggestion. This bit of advice is repeated in all of my spring calendars, but it’s unavoidable: who wouldn’t want to spend some time ambling through, or lounging around in, some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in the city?

As long as it isn’t pouring or irritatingly drizzly (the French like to call the latter une petite pluie de merde or “shitty little rain”), I’d recommend spending some time getting to know the winding romantic lanes, quaint ponds, elegant statues, lush trees and flowerbeds at the city’s many lovely green havens.

Parc Monceau (pictured above; Metro: Monceau) is one of my favorites: with a long literary and artistic history, it features statues of writers including Guy de Maupassant (who referenced the park numerous times in his stories and novels), the composer Frederic Chopin, and the poet Alfred de Musset.

Other green spaces I love include the Promenade Plantée, a mile-long garden path built on a defunct railway above-ground and perfect for a long stroll around the Bastille district; the formerly royal Jardin des Tuileries, and the wildly popular but irresistible Place des Vosges in the Marais.

promenade plantee

Related: Idyllic Spots for Picnics in Paris, From Parks to Riverside Quays

Originally built for King Louis XIII and a favorite spot for enjoying a casual picnic of falafel and gelato as soon as spring rolls around, this elegant square is simply idyllic once the flowers bloom and the temperatures creep up. See my related piece on some of the better places for street food in the capital to find out where to procure the goodies I mention above.

Finally, the Parc de la Villette in the far corners of northeastern Paris doesn’t get a lot of footfall from tourists– but its fascinating thematic gardens, science and industry museum and Philharmonic orchestra offer more than mere greenery.

Read more on gorgeous green spaces in the city– and how to take advantage of them in the springtime–here.  

Day Trips From Paris

You may also want to have a look at my full guide to some of the best places outside the Paris city limits for daylong excursions, from the lush gardens at Versailles and Giverny to medieval villages surrounded by sprawling fields or forests.

2. Wander through outdoor book stalls and flea markets.

Bouqinistes (outdoor booksellers) along the Seine have been present in Paris for centuries. Image credit: Amaianos/Creative Commons 2.0
Bouqinistes (outdoor booksellers) along the Seine have been present in Paris for centuries. Image credit: Amaianos/Creative Commons 2.0

Another thing that calls my name once the temperatures creep well above zero is to wander through outdoor book, antique and flea markets. Paris has an abundance of centuries-old stalls and markets that are as much a part of the cultural fabric of the city as its monuments are.

While some are widely known– such as the famous bouquinistes (independent booksellers) along the Seine with their deep green metal stands bursting with reading materials– others are a bit more off the beaten path, and frequented mostly by locals.

A women's monastery built in 630 was once located here. In 1360, King Charles V built an official residence, the Hôtel de Saint Pol, here. The site would serve the Parish of the Kings of France for nearly two centuries.
The Village St Paul is a medieval-era site in Paris that now hosts a lively antiques market. Image/Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

The weekend antique market at the Village St-Paul (pictured above; metro: St Paul) is one example of a quieter, but incredibly vibrant, spot to keep on your radar. Wander through its interconnected passageways on a Saturday or Sunday, and browse through antique coins, furniture, objets d’art and more.

Dating to as early as the 7th century, when the site harbored a nunnery, the Village St Paul was also once home to King Charles V, who had a residence built here in 1360. For the following two centuries, the royal French Parish had headquarters on the site.

A stall at the Puces de Vanves, in south Paris. Image: Schölla Schwarz [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A stall at the Puces de Vanves, in south Paris. Image: Schölla Schwarz [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Otherwise, while many visitors know about the world-famous Puces de Clignancourt flea market to the extreme north of the city, the quieter, but equally fascinating, Puces de Vanves in the far south is arguably more charming (and a tad less overwhelming).

Barter your heart out among the dozens of overflowing stalls at the Vanves flea market, or just amble through and revel in the interesting and sometimes downright-bizarre wares.

From old paintings, creepy antique dolls, records and books to commemorative silverware and porcelain depicting kings and queens of old, outdated gadgets and fine rugs, there’s a wealth of beauty and weirdness to behold.

A word of warning, however, the stall owners WILL often take issue with you photographing them or their items without permission. Sometimes, they refuse outright when you do ask, too.

Getting There: Metro Porte de Vanves (Line 13)

3. Explore less-trodden corners of the city 

The Butte aux Cailles is a residential, fascinating neighborhood in Paris whose art-deco architecture is a real draw card.
Get a bit off the beaten path and wander through some lesser-known, but mesmerizing, Parisian neighborhoods.  Image: Courtney Traub/All rights reserved

Of course, it goes without saying (I hope) that you should extend your wanderings to explorations of as many neighborhoods and quiet nooks of the city as you can manage.

See our full guide on what to see and do in all 20 Paris arrondissements (districts) for in-depth suggestions on places to get away from the crowds and see “Paris au printemps” through a fresh lens.

4. Soak up some art & culture: exhibits & shows in April 2024 

The city is fully emerging from the winter season  at this time of year, so galleries, museums and other major venues start to really get back into gear in April. Here are a couple of shows I particularly recommend in 2024.

“Les Orientalistes” at the Atelier des Lumières

© Culturespaces / C. de la Motte Rouge

The Atelier des Lumières only opened its doors a few years ago, but in that time it’s drawn crowds of thousands to its immersive, “multisensory” shows– melding digital images, light and music to commemorate the work of artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, or March Chagall.

The curators from the group Culturespaces– the collective behind all the shows at the Atelier- are at it again with a new multisensory exhibition exploring the “Orientalism” of the French painters Ingres, Renoir and Delacroix. T

Also on the program this year is a multimedia show exploring the historical legacy, mysteries and cultural practices of the Egyptian pharaohs. Both shows are attracting large crowds, so be sure to book your tickets sooner than later.

When: From February 9th, 2024 through January 5th, 2025 (Book tickets here) or buy timed entrance tickets here (via Tiqets).

“The World as it Is” (at the Bourse de Commerce)

© Luc Tuymans Studio / David Zwirner — Luc Tuymans, Eternity, 2021.

This much-awaited show at the recently-opened Bourse de Commerce (home of the Pinault Collection) explores how some of the globe’s most celebrated artists view, and interpret, contemporary life and events.

{Related: The Best Small Museums in Paris}

The show sees a selection from the Pinault Collection’s some 10,000 works to focus on how contemporary artists grapple with (and in turn shape) the world that surrounds them.

Highlights include a monumental installation from Kismsooja in the museum’s central rotunda, creating a mirrorring effect that engages visitors as soon as they enter the space; works from Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, and Doris Salcedo– among many others– await in the main exhibition rooms.

Other Shows & Events

ArtParis
Art Paris Art Fair at the Grand Palais in 2019

For anyone interested in contemporary art, April is a great month to be in town. The Art Paris Art Fair brings together some 130 galleries from around the world to showcase their acquisitions under a single roof.

Dates: In 2024, Art Paris runs from April 4th through April 7th at the Grand Palais Ephémère, near the foot of the Eiffel Tower on the Champ de Mars. See more info (including on how to buy tickets) here.

For a more complete list of exhibits, shows, and special events around town in April, see this page.

Book Your Trip: How to Prepare?

Especially when traveling in high season, planning ahead is essential. If you’re going by plane, search for deals on flights several months in advance (via Skyscanner). Taking the train? You can book tickets and discount passes at Rail Europe. Also remember to read up on travel insurance options for France.

You can see more on current safety guidelines for Paris, including updated information on current Covid-related travel regulations, at this page. 

Looking for a high-quality tour of Paris that matches your interests? Consider browsing the selection of tours offered by GetYourGuide. They have a wide number of tours that should fit well with any budget and set of interests, from visits to popular museums to day trips, food and wine experiences.

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The full guide to April in Paris, from weather to what to see and do/Paris Unlocked

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