There's no such thing as a bad time to visit Paris, but winter is a much quieter and more festive time to go. Here’s a short guide on what the season has to offer.
The city keeps its romantic charm all year long, but winter offers its own unique appeal. Trees gleam with twinkle lights, cafes glow with red heat lamps, and department stores go all out with lavish holiday displays. If you live in Paris or go for a lengthy stay, the gray gloom may get old after a while, but it has a seasonal appeal for a shorter stay. Whether you're looking for festive activities to fill up your holiday itinerary, or are wondering what to pack or where to stay, here's everything to know about how to make the most of your trip to Paris in winter.
The weather in Paris averages a high of around 46 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 37 degrees Farenheit from December through February, and you're very likely to get some sunny days thrown into the mix. For the most part, though, prepare yourself for a grayish drizzle or perhaps even a light dusting of snow. Bring waterproof shoes and layers, an umbrella and rain boots, as well as a sturdy winter coat. Just revel in the scenery and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate or a carafe of red wine.
Be aware of holiday closures in Paris. If there are any particular restaurants on your must-try list, be sure to check that they'll be open the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, because many take their winter break at that time. Also keep in mind that many restaurants and shops close on Sundays and Mondays each week, while museums close on Mondays and Tuesdays.
From ice skating to window shopping at festively decorated department stores, there are a wide range of winter activities to enjoy in Paris. Rent a pair of skates and glide around near the backdrop of one of Paris's most beautiful buildings, the Hotel de Ville (City Hall). Stroll through the Christmas markets that spring up all around the city from late November until early January. Vendors in wooden chalets serve up every thing you can think of: hot mulled wine and cider, fresh baked breads, and more. The largest and most famous is by the Tuileries Garden, but there are many more beloved markets.
Beautiful festive window displays are a big reason people love Paris in the winter. With smiling Santas, ornate trees, decorated gingerbread men, these windows are like looking into mini winter villages. Step inside the stores and you'll see more dazzling Christmas trees glittering overhead and twinkle lights decking the halls. Twice a year sales in Paris are also a shopper's dream, with prices slashed on everything from designer clothes to home goods. The winter sales run from January to February, with markdowns increasing as the weeks go by.
If the weather gets too gloomy for a stroll along the Seine, there's no shortage of excellent museums and exhibits to visit all around the city. Whether you're a fashion fanatic or a music and art lover, there's something for every sort of traveler. Another highlight of winter in Paris is the abundance of Buche de Noel, a traditional Christmas dessert that's like a rolled-up sponge cake.
Whether you're looking to splurge on the ultimate luxury experience or keep things more budget-friendly, there's a wide range of hotels to choose from. For a higher-end option, try the Ritz Paris, in the 1st arrondissement (neighborhood). You'll get to check out their elegant holiday decor and the newly redesigned Ritz Bar. If you want a jaw-dropping view of the Eiffel Tower, you'll want to look at Philippe Starck's Brach Paris Hotel in the 16th arrondissement. It also has a rooftop garden with an indoor pool and hot tub that are open 24 hours. For more budget-friendly options, you can't go wrong with Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais. The rooms are on the smaller side, but it is an excellent boutique hotel.
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