Paris in the winter is a beautiful time to visit when you can enjoy walking around and exploring all the beautiful sites without being hot and sweaty. During the winter months, Paris is known for its holiday season including Christmas markets and parades. But there is also the annual shopping season as well. The post-holiday winter months are low-season so you can get a lot of Paris for your budget!
One of the most popular things to do in Paris during the winter is visiting the Christmas markets. These are perfect places to get beautiful gifts for friends and family back home. There are also stalls with lots of delicious food like chocolate, crepes, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, and many other treats. You can also find a lot of hand-made ornaments and souvenirs as well as Parisian antiques and “objets d'art”. If you're looking for something more educational, there are workshops where you can learn how to make those crafts yourself!
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The winter Paris shopping season is low key but there are still sales to take advantage of. You can find Parisian boutiques and art galleries to explore as well as department stores like BHV, Fnac and Galeries Lafayette which all offer discounts up to 70%.
Paris is famous for its parades! During the winter months, you will be able to see parades for all the Parisian traditions like Chinese New Year, Santa Claus, and even a chocolate festival! The parades are so fun because you get to see Paris in a totally different way with bright colors and handmade floats.
The winter Paris weather is typically cold and rainy. As the temperature drops, Parisian life slows down. The hustle and bustle of Paris streets are replaced with a cozy calm that makes it easier to take in all the beauty around you. So make sure you pack warm clothes, waterproof boots, and an umbrella so you can stay outside and enjoy it all.
As of spring 2022, a ban on heating open terraces with heat lamps came into effect. Look for places that now offer heated seat cushions (some made by the French company called Cuchot). Look for signs that say “Coussin Chauffant.”
Officially, winter runs from around the 21st of December to the 20th of March (I have included information on visiting Paris for all 4 months) and I've got the breakdown of the best things to do in Paris each month including season events, seasonal foods, and more.
Paris in December
December is an amazing time to visit Paris! The Christmas markets are full of beauty, warmth, and delicious holiday treats. This is a perfect time to explore all the city has to offer so take your time and relax. There's plenty of sights, sounds, and smells to discover!
Christmas markets are open in Paris from late November to early January, but they're at their best during December. They’re full of vendors selling crafts and food (and wine! The French love their wine). You'll definitely want to buy or make some souvenirs while you're here.
Paris is also stunning this time of year because of all the holiday lights and decorations. This is when Paris really looks like a winter wonderland and there are plenty of holiday concerts and exhibits.
Get all the details: activities, events, seasonal foods, and tips for traveling to the city of light in my Paris in December post. And if you want to learn all about the traditional French Christmas, I've got that too!
Paris in January
January is a time of renewal and new beginnings. It's the perfect month to visit Paris. As the Christmas holidays come to an end, Parisians get ready for a slower and more relaxing season. With the cold weather, people tend to stay indoors where they can enjoy friends, food, and family. It is also a good time to enjoy museums, restaurants, and shopping. It is also the perfect time to explore Parisian boutiques and art galleries as well as department stores' sales.
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From a food perspective, early January give you the unique opportunity to try a Galette des rois (King Cake) which is a classic French pastry with puff pastry filled with delicious almond cream (or frangipane) with a unique “surprise” inside, a fève which was traditionally a figurine that represented Jesus, but these days you can find all kinds of fun things inside!
Paris in February
Visit Paris in the month of February if you're looking for something low-key that's still full of fun things to do. Parisians are on the move again, getting ready for ski vacations. It's a good time to enjoy museums and restaurants as well as department stores' sales (they end in early February).
One of the parades you should see during your visit is the Chinese New Year Parade which features lots of incredible, colorful dragons and other characters that are all handmade! You can also experience La Chandeleur where parisians will be making Crêpes. This is basically like crepe day; Parisians will wake up early and make tons of crepes to share with their family and friends.
Get all the details: activities, events, seasonal foods, and tips for traveling to Paris in this month in my Paris in February post.
Paris in March
March is the start of spring in Paris. With its first warm days and shortening nights, it’s also the last month of the low season, and airfare, travel, and hotel prices are considerably lower than in the summer months. If you’re on a budget, or simply want to get a better deal, booking your Paris trip in March—just a few weeks ahead of the Spring season—can help you save hundreds of dollars. You’ll also have your choice of seats and rooms, and may even be able to negotiate for upgrades.
Get all the details: activities, events, seasonal foods, and tips for traveling to the city of light in my Paris in March post.
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What to wear in Paris in the Winter
Pack dark clothes that will keep you warm and dry. Light colors will show dirt (think dirty Pris streets and sidewalks). It's really important to make sure you wear layers because the temperature can change quickly between wet and cold. You need to wear waterproof boots as well as gloves, a scarf, and a hat if you want to stay warm. And lastly, don't forget about an umbrella!
Get more specific info in my what to wear and packing for Paris in the winter with a packing list! Also, I have a free printable packing list for winter in Paris.
Once you decide what month you want to visit, start exploring the individual arrondissement to plan all your activities including meals!
How about you? Have you been to Paris in the fall? What was your favorite thing about it? Do share!
I am married to a French man, lived in France for 3 years, and have been to Paris more than 50 times. I am always a tourist so the information, tip, and tricks I share are created to help you!
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- Look for fares using sites like Skyscanner or Expedia.com.
- For France (Paris) coming from the West Coast, I typically fly Air France or United. From the East Coast, I typically fly Air France or Delta.
- If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. Not only will you have a spot to relax before your flight and charge your devices, but you can eat and drink for free (without paying crazy airport prices!)
- I use Expedia.com, Booking.com, and Hotels.com to find lodging. Always check the reviews on TripAdvisor before booking!
- For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. When traveling in Europe, I use AutoEurope to make reservations. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. I typically book with Sixt.
- For transportation from the CDG airport to anywhere within Paris, consider pre-booking with Get Transfer. It is one way to be stress-free and you can request an English-speaking driver.
- Tours + Atractions
- I book tours with companies like Viator and GetYourGuide. Both have a wide variety of activities for every travel style. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
- If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City.
- Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities.
- If you are looking to buy tickets to attractions, check out Tiquet.
- Don't Forget Travel Photos
- One of my favorite things to do is to get photos taken of me while on vacation. Flytographer is a great option with photographers all over the world.
- Peace of Mind
- It’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. I always travel with insurance and would recommend SafetyWing, SquareMouth or Travelex Insurance are good options.
- Should you have any trouble with flight delays to the extent you feel you deserve compensation, I encourage you to check out and use AirHelp. I used them and for 1 claim I got compensated (transparency: a 2nd claim did not, but I was still glad I tried!).