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Paris in Winter
Wondering what to do in Paris in winter? This evergreen article is the result of many cool winters in Paris, despite the cold temperatures and sometimes bad weather. We’ll share our Winter Paris Bucket List, a list of 30+ awesome things to do in and around Paris in December, January, and February, and our best tips to have fun in town!
Weather in Paris in the Winter
How bad is the weather in Paris in the winter? To be honest, winter in Paris is not harsh if you compare it with other cities in Northern Europe. Expect daily highs of 8°C and nighttime temperatures near freezing. You are most likely to see rain: with 15% of average rainfall, winter is tied with spring in Paris for the rainiest seasons.
Snow in Paris is rare but not unheard of. Paris under the snow is as beautiful as chaotic and it is nice to walk around the city and admire its main sights and parks covered with a blanket of snow.
READ MORE- Europe in Winter is a good idea
Paris Winter Travel
In Paris, winter is considered the low season, the best season to go to Paris for budget travelers.
According to Skyscanner, the best month to fly to Paris is in January when tickets are 29% cheaper than the yearly average price. In winter, there are also more accommodation opportunities, interesting Paris deals & special offers and all this without the crowds!
However, there are notable exceptions and trips to Paris during events like Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Saint Valentine’s should be booked well in advance.
Best Things to Do in Paris in Winter (by Month)
Paris is a beautiful city at all times of the year but there’s no time like winter in Paris. Paris is one of the most amazing European cities on the planet around Christmas with the Christmas lights, Christmas Markets, and beautifully decorated shop windows. Paris at Christmas time is also the time for ice skating, small museums with the kids, winter festivals, and cozy cafes savoring a hot chocolate or a cup of tea.
1) Ice Skating
Parisians love ice skating in Paris during Christmas and spending an afternoon skating at an ice rink (patinoires in French) is something you simply cannot miss when visiting Paris at Christmas time.
Our favorite skate rinks in Paris are the ones under the glass cupola of Grand Palais and on the first floor of top of the Eiffel Tower. Prices usually range between 10€ and 15€, and skate rinks normally remain open from late November until early January.
2) Christmas Markets in Paris
Every December, a number of Christmas Markets open in the central Arrondissements of Paris with an array of wooden cabins to sell Christmas decorations, handicrafts, hot wine, typical French products, and cheap eats. These markets are usually surrounded by winter-themed activities for the whole family, including ice-skating.
The most famous Christmas Market in Paris is the one located at the Tuileries Gardens. Other Christmas Markets in Paris that you may want to visit are the following:
- Christmas Market at Quai Branly, from Alma Bridge to Bir Hakeim Bridge, Paris 7
- Christmas Market at Suffren Bridge, Paris 7
- Christmas Village at La Défense
- Noël dans les étoiles – Christmas Market at Les Halles, Paris 1
- Christmas Market at Paris Notre Dame, Paris 4
- Christmas Market at Saint Germain des Près, Paris 6
- Alsatian Market at Paris Gare de l’Est, Paris 10
- Christmas Market at Abesses in Montmartre, Paris 18
3) Festival du Merveilleux (Festival of Wonder)
Le Musée des Arts Forains is a museum dedicated to ancient fairground artifacts, theater and music-hall objects and other curiosities. This museum is usually open for private events, with a couple of exceptions like Le Festival du Merveilleux.
Le Festival du Merveilleux (the Festival of Wonder) is a winter festival great for kids and adults. During ten days, this year from December 26 2019 to January 5 2020, Le Musée des Arts Forains hosts storytellers, magicians, aerial silk dancers, funambulists, musicians, and puppeteers to celebrate the festive season. Apart from the shows and performances, visitors can also go on the wonderful carousels and visit the different fairground stalls, just like a hundred years ago!
4) Paris Festival of Lights at Jardin des Plantes
In 2018 the Jardin des Plantes hosted the first edition of the Festival of Lights – Espèces en Voie d’Illumination – and it was a real success.
The Paris Festival of Lights is a magical stroll lit by monumental lanterns set in the alleys and pitches of Jardin des Plantes and Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes. The exhibition aims at raising awareness about the importance of protecting the endangered species and the environment in general and it is great for kids and adults.
This year the Festival of Lights is back from November 18 2019 to January 19 2020, with the exhibition Océan en Voie d’Illumination (Illuminated Ocean). Through this a magical moonlit stroll, visitors will discover the wonders of the oceans and its inhabitants grouped in different water worlds: the splendor of the warm seas, the mysterious universe of the abyss, and the frozen seas of the poles.
5) Salon Noël Gourmand
Salon Noël Gourmand, in Paris 2, is a Food Festival in Paris dedicated to all the products somehow related to Christmas and New Year celebrations in Paris: traditional French food, French pastries and of course lots of wine and champagne.
6) See the Christmas Window Displays of the Parisian Department Stores
Another thing that we love about Paris at Christmas time is the animated Christmas window displays of the most famous department stores in the city. These wonderful window displays, created and designed by expert craftsmen and decorators, are definitely worth a short visit to Grands Boulevards, even if you’re not interested in buying anything.
Galeries Lafayette, Printemps Haussmann, BHN Marais, and Le Bon Marché have the most popular Christmas window displays in Paris but, in general, all the shop windows in the city have nice Christmas decorations during the holidays.
January in Paris /February in Paris
After celebrating the New Year in Paris, the crowds leave and things get definitely quieter in the city. January in Paris is an excellent month to explore the big museums, like the Louvre Museum and Orsay Museum, or to enjoy a winter festival.
7) Winter Festivals in Paris
If you are visiting Paris in February, you’re in for a treat! February in Paris comes with the New Chinese Year and the New Year’s Parade and Chinese New Year food in Paris 13 is something not to miss.
The Carnival is another fun event much awaited in the city. Despite the cold outside, festive costumed parades are organized, with people displaying colorful dresses of all kinds.
Probably, the most romantic couples will prefer to visit Paris during Saint Valentine’s and there’s no place like the City of Love for a romantic getaway for two.
8) Food & Wine Festivals
This winter, Paris food lovers and foodies in general, will have the opportunity to keep their belly happy with cool events like the Crêpes Day, the Paris Cocktail Week, or Montmartre’s Scallop Festival. Paris food festivals are always a good opportunity to taste delicious food & wine and do some good shopping whilst having fun.
TIP: Want to ensure your wine makes it home? Check our wine tote bags and wine suitcases quick guide
Other Cool Indoor Activities in Paris during Winter
This is our proposed list of things to do in Paris in the winter, mostly indoor activities in Paris, to have fun during the coldest days of the year. Also, most of them are also a good “plan B” for a rainy day in Paris.
10) Drink the best “chocolat chaud” (=hot chocolate) in Paris at Angelina’s.
11) Enjoy the fascinating world of model railroading at Gare de l’Est‘s underground halls (only on Saturday afternoon).
12) Treat yourself to a steamy Hammam at Mosquée de Paris.
13) Curious to know how locals do in Paris? Book the hilarious one-man show “How to become Parisian in one hour” (all in English), the funniest show in Paris ever!
14) Explore the Covered Passages of Paris for beautiful architecture, cute cafes and good vintage shopping.
16) Swim some laps in the beautiful “Art Déco” pools of Paris.
17) Get ready for summer rock climbing at Blockbuster CNIT, La Défense.
18) A platter of aphrodisiac oysters + wine, sun or rain, is always a good idea (well, only from September to March!).
20) Visit one (or two) of the FREE Museums in Paris. Some of them are not well known but they are very cool!
21) Need to warm your heart? Head to La Rhumerie (Paris 6) for the best rum in Paris and a beautiful atmosphere.
22) Spend a quirky half day among the beasts at Galerie de l’Evolution, in Paris 5.
23) Attend a free reading session at Shakespeare & Company (check their upcoming events).
24) Wrestling in Paris, anyone? Tequilas and Open ring (with a funny Sumo foam suit) at La Lucha Libre Ring Bar.
25) If you live in Paris or you have rented a Paris furnished apartment, invite your friends for a fondue dinner: it is easy to prepare and always fun.
Best Fondue Sets in the Market
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26) Discover the world of perfumes, and buy your next favorite one, at little Fragonard Musée du Parfum
27) Enjoy a night at the Opera at Palais Garnier or Opéra de la Bastille.
28) Not very original but, why not? Most of the films at Bercy Village are in English, with subtitles in French.
29) Go on a Food Tour or a Cooking Class to taste the best food in Paris.
30) Alternatively, join a wine tour to learn about the best wine regions in France and taste some of the best wines.
31) Eat your weight in viennoiseries and other Paris sweet treats. Go out of the box, forget the macarons for a while, and venture out in the street to find the best Parisian desserts, those 100% born and perfected in Paris!
32) Go on a winter walk to compensate #29, #30 and #31. Walking around on a chilly, misty winter day may not sound like your idea of fun, but you’ll be pretty much guaranteed there won’t be many people about. The atmosphere of Paris in winter is always magical, even if the weather is not the greatest!
What to Wear in Paris in Winter
Paris in winter, what to wear? If you need some help with your winter in Paris Packing List you are in the right place! Have a look at our winter packing lists: whether you are a man or a woman we have you covered!
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Have you visited Paris in December, January or February? What is your favorite activity in Paris during Winter?
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