August is an unusual month in Paris because such a large number of local people—including those who run my favorite restaurants—have left to holiday somewhere else. All is not lost, however. Consolation for visitors comes in the form of free concerts, outdoor films, and an urban beach along the Seine.
Festival Classique au Vert (August 7-September 26)
Free classical music concerts take place every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the beautiful Parc Floral. This flowering garden inside the Bois de Vincennes (12th arrondissement) is a great place to picnic with friends before and during the performance. Entry to the Parc Floral is €5 ($6.60), but the concerts are free.
YSL Retrospective (through August 29)
This retrospective showing of fashion from designer Yves Saint Laurent has been of the year's most popular exhibits in Paris. This month is your last chance to see the collection of hundreds of gowns, covering 40 years of creation, at the Petit Palais. Avenue Winston Churchill, 8th arrondissement.
Cinéma au Clair de Lune (August 12-22)
The special thing about Clair de Lune is that their films are often screened in strange locations and on the sides of buildings. The shows begin around 9:30 p.m. and entry is free. I've listed a few selections below and you can consult the full program at forumdesimages.fr.
• August 12 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the Place des Vosges (4th arrondissement)
• August 14 – Two Days in Paris in the Parc de Choisy (13th arrondissement)
• August 22 – The Science of Dreams screened against the side of Saint-Eustache cathedral in Les Halles (1st arrondissement)
Fnac Indétendances (August 13-14)
This concert series sponsored by the music retail giant Fnac brings music (and serious crowds) to the banks of the Seine. The big draw for Friday night's show is the English trip-hop musician Tricky, who will perform following the French electro star Uffie and two other supporting acts. The lineup for Saturday night includes Acid Washed, Danton Eeprom, Chloé, Pulpalicious and Mr Nô. Concerts on both nights begin at 5 p.m on the Parvis de l'Hôtel de Ville, 4th arrondissement.
Festival Silhouette (August 28-September 5)
This festival picks up where the Cinéma au Clair de Lune leaves off, screening free outdoor films in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19th arrondissement). The format for this one is short films, which are screened each night at 10 p.m. following free concerts that begin around 7:30 p.m.
Plus, a few great summer events still running in August:
• Paris Plages (through August 20) – an urban beach laid out along the Seine river (4th arrondissement) and along the Bassin de la Villette (19th arrondissement)
• Cinéma en Plein Air (through August 22) – free outdoor films in the Parc de la Villette (19th arrondissement)
• Fête Foraine du Jardin des Tuileries (through August 22) – the city's annual summer fair in the Tuileries gardens next to the Louvre (1st arrondissement)