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No matter the season, Parisians love to be outside. Whether dining en terrasse, or playing tennis in the Luxembourg Gardens, there is an abundance of outdoor activities in Paris.
One of my favorites is strolling the weekend markets, like the organic market on Boulevard Raspail near the Bon Marché in Saint Germain, or the immense market at Bastille. On a sunny day, any season of the year, these markets are so lively and full of amazing produce, cheeses, flowers, and specialty souvenirs, that you can't help but carry the positive energy throughout the rest of your day.
Another great outdoor activity, particularly once we shed our winter layers, is picnicking in the park or on one of Paris' waterways, like the Seine or the Canal Saint Martin. As far as picnics go, you can't beat the view from the Western tip of Île Saint Louis as the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower and Pont des Arts. With a baguette, a wheel of brie, and a bottle of wine, you're set for an evening of al fresco fun.
We are quite lucky in Paris to have so many parks to choose from on a nice day. When you're looking for that outdoor fix, head to the Buttes Chaumont park to lounge on the sloping lawn, or the Jardin de Reuilly and get a drink from Paris' only sparkling water fountain. The Tuileries is a great park for people watching, as is the Luxembourg Gardens. For a beautiful, sprawling view over Paris, the Belleville park sits atop the 20th arrondissement and has unobstructed views to the East, South, and West.
Another great outdoor activity is walking down La Coulée Verte in the 12th arrondissement, an over-street walkway that runs from the Jardin de Reuilly to Bastille. Similar to the Highline in New York City, this walkway is a treat.
Lastly, grab a vélib, the public bikes scattered around Paris, and explore the city on two wheels. You can reserve on line or use your credit card (it must have a chip in it, fyi) at the stand. Rates are very low for one day or one week passes.
As summer approaches (be it a little on the slow side this year), Paris prepares for al fresco living after having stayed cooped up for the long winter. I personally love to sit on the banks of the Canal St Martin in the 10th arrondissement with good friends, good food and good wine. The atmosphere in the evenings after work or on Fridays and Saturdays, late afternoon, is electric as the locals soak up the sun’s much-awaited rays.
In the park of La Villette (19th arrondissement), an outdoor cinema, the 'Cinéma en plein air' is set up, complete with deck chairs, from the end of July through to the end of August. A mix of recent films and cult classics are shown and best of all, it’s free (save for the deck chair rental, that is). It’s worth noting that films start at nightfall, so around 10:00pm. Films are shown in English with French subtitles unless the original is in French.
I also really love indulging in some of the city’s top home-cooked food on a terrace at the Marché des Enfants Rouges between République and the Marais. Open all year around, this open-air market is a fantastic place to spend the day trying food from around the world; you can sample anything from sushi to Moroccan and French specialities – just make sure to get there early to avoid the rush.