How would you like to spend Valentine’s Day in one of the most romantic cities in the world? Visit Paris in February, and fall in love with its unique charms—some of which you can only experience in this particular month of the year. Truth be told this month requires a positive mindset, determination, and the ability to see beyond the gloomy skies and grumpy residents, but it is most definitely worth it!
This post is being published in February 2020 at which time no one is traveling to Paris (at least not tourists!) but people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for travel towards the end of 2021, so February 2022 IS possible!
I have been to Paris a few times in February (that is Mr. Misadventures’ birthday month) and have never regretted it. Being a HUGE foodie, the Salon de l’Agriculture is one of our favorite things to do – we have been known to head to Paris just for the food events (sometimes they lead you to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or in one case, Lummi Island!). This event in and of itself is enough for the Misadventures family to plan a trip to Paris in February, but there is another, read on to see!
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Why should you visit Paris in February?
Since it’s not the traditional tourist season, you won’t have to compete with huge crowds to enter attractions or get pictures of famous landmarks. There is a big school vacation/break during February (either the 2nd and 3rd week or 3rd and 4th week depending on the zone, Paris is Zone C which usually means the 2nd and 3rd week) where a lot of Parisians head out for skiing. Those who don’t leave town may show up at museums and family-friendly spots, but not in enough numbers to impact your trip!
February is right in the middle of the low season which runs between January and March. Airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and tours are significantly cheaper. There is a bump in hotels and restaurants around Valentine’s Day but if you plan your trip wisely you can absorb the extra cost.
I already mentioned the Salon de l’Agriculture. But you also arrive just in time for the Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, and Valentine’s Day celebrations. There are special events at restaurants and theaters to celebrate this day of romance. There are winter exhibitions in the museums along with other events that take place in February, keep reading to see the whole list.
Stay indoors without the guilt
You do not have to feel guilty being indoors something you may experience if you are visiting Paris in warmer weather! Hit some of those museums, events, palaces, cafes, theaters, and shopping complexes without an inkling of remorse!
Improved weather (sort of)
This is the last month of Paris’ winter. While it’s still cold and rainy, there are more clear days where you can enjoy the outdoors. Just remember to bring waterproof shoes, warm clothes, and gloves!
Paris weather in February
- The temperatures in February in Paris: it’s the 2nd coldest month of the year. It can get as high as 35-degrees F (7 C) and as low as 45-degrees F (2 C).
- Sunrise and Sunset: You can expect sunrise at around 7:30 AM- 8:30 AM and sunset at 5:45 PM-6:30 PM.
- Rain: Expect rain for 9 days throughout the month.
- Snow: It happens! But the snow doesn’t stick around.
Big bargains and discounts
Enjoy huge discounts from end-of-season sales. Stores and boutiques will be giving huge discounts in their final winter sales, as they scramble to clear their shelves of old merchandise before the items of the Spring season arrive. The official sale season (les soldes) happens twice in France, once in summer and once in winter (January through February) and they can be quite tempting! You could save hundreds of dollars on designer items and other luxury goods, and even get rebates or points to use on other purchases.
What can you do in Paris in February?
A lot! Sports, cars, food, fashion, you’d be surprised just how much there is to do. Sure you can take in the usual sites, and they are less crowded at this time of year, but you also have the opportunity to participate in a few events that only take place in February! Here are my recommendations.
Paris Fashion Week
The men got their turn in January. February is for the ladies! There is a long history of couture and fashion in Paris so it is no surprise that Paris Fashion Week is a big deal. However, it is a hard ticket to get and it’s way more fun to hang out near the shows and people watch! The venues are dispersed through the city, but most of the catwalk displays are held at the Carrousel du Louvre, below the Louvre Museum.
Paris Face Cachée
Ever wanted to go behind the scenes at a theatre, restaurant, a sports venue? Well, there is an event for that! Much like the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days) where government locations like the Elysée Palace are open to the public (by the way this takes place in September) Paris Face Cachée does the same but for locations that I think are way more interesting!
For 3 days each year, the 100 sites participating in the Paris Face Cachée opens the door to areas that are normally closed to the public. It’s very cool!
Salon Retro Mobile
Cold weather is the perfect reason to spend the day indoors drooling over the vintage cars at the Salon Retro Mobile which takes place at the expo center at Porte de Versailles. The Misadventures family loves checking out these babies, in particular, the Citroën 2CV and the VW bus, and exploring the history of cars in France and all over the world. When we worked in Switzerland, we quickly learned the Geneva Motor Show (which takes in March) was a not-to-miss event and Retro Mobile is the same!
Paris Mardi Gras + Carnival
Being a former primarily Catholic country, it is not surprising that Mardi Gras or La Promenade du Boeuf Gras (March of the Fat Beef Cow!) is celebrated in a big way in Paris. It is colorful and chaotic, which definitely aids in shaling off some of those winter blues. The parade takes place in the 20th arrondissement starting in Place Gambetta and ends at the Place de la République. The parade takes place on the Sunday before the Tuesday when Mardi Gras occurs.
Although the exact route may change, it generally follows these streets: begins in the Place Gambetta, goes down Avenue Gambetta, turns right at Boulevard Ménilmontant and continues along Boulevard de Belleville, turns left on to Rue du Faubourg du Temple, and ends at Place de la République.
Chinese New Year
Paris is home to home to Europe’s largest Asian community and Chinese New Year is a big deal! (Depending on the year and when Chinese New Year actually falls, the celebrations can take place at the end of January.) There are parades (1 in the Marais and 1 in the 13th arrondissement) and include entertainment such as Lion Dancers, dragons, drums, and firecrackers. Don’t forget the food!
Paris Battle Pro French championship
I didn’t put this in the sports section as I am not sure hip-hop is considered a sport (although it will be an activity during the 2024 Olympics in Paris!), but this annual French hip-hop dance and breakdance championship (it just celebrated its 20th year in 2020) takes at the Théâtre du Châtelet (2 Rue Edouard Colonne).
Truth be told I like sports but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit Paris just to see them. However, I also wouldn’t say no to a warm sports bar on a cold day either!
French Ice Hockey Cup
Bet you weren’t aware that hocket even existed in France. Well, it does! And the French Ice Hockey Cup championship game takes place in Paris in February. See it (if you can get tickets!) at the AccorHotels Arena (8 boulevard de Bercy in the 12th arrondissement).
Rugby Six Nations
If you are into sports, and rugby, in particular, find a bar and watch the annual European tournament called the Rugby Six Nations which takes place in early February. You will make friends fast. Depending on who you root for that is!
Paris Judo Grand Slam
The Paris Grand Slam is the most important international tournament for professionals practicing this sport. If you have an interest in judo check out this annual event also at the AccorHotels Arena.
If you want to do a little bit of your own sport, and not just observe the list above, the ice skating rink put up for the holidays at the Hôtel de Ville (Paris’ City Hall) is still open through March.
Culinary Delights of February in Paris
Oh, you know me. This is always my favorite part! No trip to Paris is complete without a deep exploration of all the eats. You should definitely try the classics, but don’t forget the season as well!
Taste of Paris
Yes, the Salon de l’Agriculture is the big event, but don’t forget the Taste of Paris which takes place in the Grand Palais! Over a 4-day period, chefs from around the country and the world converge for this amazing food festival! You can eat, watch demonstrations and attend workshops with some very big names in the Paris restaurant scene.
One thing is for sure in February you should NOT miss Chandeleur which takes place on the 2nd. It’s not an official holiday (it’s a religious holiday celebrating the presentation of Jesus to the Temple) but a traditional day for eating lots of crêpes!
What to eat in Paris in February
Many restaurants offer season menus so it is always good to know what is actually in season! Paris has many tastes to experience, but during the winter there are some seasonal specialties. If you visit the marchés (farmer’s market) you will see many of these items listed below.
- Fruits in season: pears. Oranges and clementines are a holiday treat that is still available in February along with other citrus like grapefruit (pamplemousses) and lemons (citrons) along with dates.
- Vegetables in season: avocados (avocats), beets (betteraves), cabbages (chou), carrots, Brussel sprouts (choux de Bruxelles), chard, broccoli, potatoes, turnips, squash, leeks, fennel, and endive. In restaurants look for starters with leeks (poireau) and endive. Unlike the U.S. there are plenty of winter lettuce to choose from: rocket or arugula (roquette), watercress (cresson), chicory (chicorée), escarole, and Mr. Misadventure favorite, frisée (curly endive).
- Winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti) are used to make winter soups that you will often see as a starter. Truffles are in season and sometimes you will get a slice or two on the soup, but you will most definitely see truffles in the traditional omelet and pasta dishes.
- Although fish soups and stews are from the south of France, bouillabaisse is popular during the winter months. Of course, a bowl of either pot au feu (stew) and French onion soup is a wonderful way of warming up.
- Seafood is wonderful in February! Look for dishes featuring these in restaurants. This is what is in season: sea urchin, oysters, sole, sea bass, bream (dorade), cod (artic variety), scallops, haddock, mackerel, yellow Pollack or (lieu jaune), clams, and mussels.
- Not seasonal dishes but I prefer to eat them in winter: aligot, cassoulet, and boeuf bourguignon. I haven’t eaten Parmentier (like a shepherd’s pie) in a restaurant, but it is definitely a winter dish we eat in the Misadventures house.
- Did you know that there are seasonal cheeses (fromages)? It’s true! Winter is a great time for alpine or mountain cheeses that “ripened” over the summer! Look for Mont d’Or” (vacherin), Abondance, Salers and Laguiole (spring and summer cheeses that have aged by winter), Morbier, Munster (very creamy in winter); Ossau-Iraty (Basque); all the cheeses used for fondue and raclette: Comté, Emmenthal, and Beaufort (here are my recommendations for the best fondue in Paris).
- Hot Chocolate: Of course, you can get chocolat chaud any time of year, but I think it tastes best in the winter! La Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin and Angelina are world-famous for their exceptional hot chocolate during the cold weather.
Important tips to remember
Dress in layers
The weather can be freezing cold in the morning, then become warmer in the afternoon. So, pack a waterproof jacket and shoes, and clothes that you can layer. Bring gloves, warm socks, a cap, and scarves so you can stay warm. Check out my What to Wear in Paris in the Winter post and packing list.
Prepare for the rain
Yep, part of the packing list, but important to note. Use waterproof bags when you go sight-seeing. Bring extra plastic shopping bags (if you have them). In general, shopping bags from stores in Paris aren’t that great (I talk about this in my Paris for the First Time post). My red Patagonia jacket is forever stained black around the wrist where a Printemps shopping bag handle got wet in the rain and stained it. Bring a folding umbrella, especially if you plan to do a lot of walking around. If your camera isn’t water-resistant or weather-safe, consider getting a protective casing.
Some museums and attractions may have shorter hours during the non-peak season. To avoid disappointment and inconvenience, double-check their policies while you make your itinerary. Not usual (compared to the summer vacation season) but some small businesses may close during vacances scolaires (that school vacation I wrote about in the beginning).
Transportation through Paris in February
There are many public transportation methods to rely on in Paris throughout the day and night. These include RER trains, metros, tramways, regional trains (Transilien), buses, Noctilien (Night buses), taxis, etc.
- Metro: There’s nothing faster and more convenient than the metro. You can get anywhere in Paris by metro. Metros start to operate at around 6 AM and stop at 12:45 AM. Unless it’s the weekend (Friday-Saturday), the metro runs an hour longer until 1:45 AM on weekends.
- Buses start at 7 in the morning and continue to provide services until 8:30 PM. Some are also available from 8:30 PM to 12:00 AM. Although keep in mind, buses can be time-consuming, they wait around 5 minutes at every stop for passengers.
- Night Buses: (Noctilien) Yes, you can travel at night as well with these buses! They start at around 12:30 AM and operate until 5:30 AM.
You can find maps in the metro stations and near ticket counters, along with line directions at the platform’s entrances and exits.
Is February the best time to visit Paris?
Paris is beautiful any time of the year, but visiting in February is a good option for people who want to enjoy the city on a budget. Since it’s low season, you can often get airfare, hotels, and tours at better prices. The traffic and the crowds are more manageable, and you won’t have to wait in line or jostle for a spot for a good picture. While it’s still cold and rainy, dressing in layers and having “a rainy day back-up itinerary” will help you deal with weather changes without missing out on the city’s top sights.
Have you ever visited Paris in February? What was your experience? Did you enjoy small crowds, hot chocolate, and sales? Did you go to any events? Do share!
For a visual summary of this post, check out my Paris in February web story!
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