What to Wear in Paris Winter: Tips for Packing for Paris in the Winter (+ Packing List!)
The holidays in Paris are magical, but it shouldn’t be the only time you visit Paris in the winter. Once the New Year is over, hotels and flight prices fall. Without the crowds, you can enjoy some of the most famous sights and museums without fighting for that perfect view. However, the weather can be a downer.
I have a free printable packing list for winter in Paris.
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What’s the weather like in Paris in winter?
Although the temperatures do not drop to the extent of some other continental destinations, Paris in the winter tends to be cold. And gray. And mostly wet. Expect temperatures in the 30s and 40s, little sunshine, and a lot of wind, especially along the river.
Snow isn't unheard of, but it rarely sticks for more than a day, so there is no need to bring your ski gear. (If you want to ski in France, consider Val Thorens or one of the great French ski resorts for beginners!)
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. Although naps in the parks and ice cream by the Seine may not be part of the equation, Paris has plenty to offer even on the rainiest of days.
Besides, there is no better time to experience some of the seasonal specialties (hello Chandeleur crêpes and Galette des Rois!) The key to enjoying Paris in the winter is to pack accordingly.
Remember that you will likely spend a good amount of time exploring the outdoors. Even with numerous coffee and wine breaks in cozy cafes, you would be missing out if you were not taking in some of the main sights of the city despite the rain and the wind. Besides, although the days are short and dark, the City of Light rarely deserves its name more than when the glow from the windows and illuminated streets reflect on the wet pavement…
Here is everything you should leave room for in your suitcase when traveling to Paris during the winter months!
5 Tips for Packing for Paris in Winter
Before we get down to the exact Paris packing list for winter, I wanted to share a few overall tips to help you plan your trip to Paris in the winter season.
In winter, as through the rest of the year, French women tend to have a very sophisticated style. You won’t find the puffy ski jackets or brightly colored snow boots on the streets of Paris as you may in the United States.
Parisian winter style is more about layers, long coats, elegant accessories, and neutral colors. You’ll often see Parisian women in dark skinny jeans, ankle-length boots (or knee-high leather boots), and a black coat, with colors popping through to accent and chase away the winter blues.
1. Pick the right shoes
I have said this before in my fall packing list, but I will say it again: the right pair of shoes can make or break your trip to the French capital. During this time of year, it's hard to avoid packing winter boots. They should be waterproof, warm, and stylish – this is Paris, after all.
Knee-high leather boots
Knee-high leather boots in classic black or brown are an excellent choice since they check all the criteria. They are versatile enough to be dressed up or down, and you can wear them with jeans during the day and a dress at night if you go out.
Since you will be living out of a suitcase during your trip to Paris, you want to make the most out of each item you bring, especially one as cumbersome as boots. Wear them on the plane to save some space in your bags.
Make sure they are well broken in and have enough traction since wet cobblestones can be very treacherous. You will be walking a lot, so stick to small to moderate heels. Also, ensure that they fit well with thick socks – something you’re definitely going to want to wear!
Waterproof ankle boots
Waterproof brown or black ankle boots are a good alternative, but they won't protect your calves from the cold Parisian rain. Avoid mesh or fabric sneakers at all costs: there is no faster way to be miserable in Paris than to be cold, with wet feet, and miles away from your hotel.
If you know that you will be going out for a fancy meal or event, don’t forget to bring a pair of dressier shoes. I avoid high heels at all costs during a winter trip to Paris.
2. Bring a good winter coat
Much like your shoes, the kind of outerwear you bring will play a significant role in whether your winter stay in Paris is magical or dreadful. It should be able to stand up to the wet and cold weather you are sure to encounter this time of year in the City of Light.
Besides, since it is probably all you will see in most of your pictures, you may as well put some thought into it or splurge on a new one!
As tempting as it might be to pull out the technical gear, leave your favorite ski jacket at home. Instead, go with a classic wool coat like a peacoat or a belted trench.
Unsurprisingly, the Parisians tend to gravitate towards black, gray, or navy as their colors of choice. In recent years, I have seen more and more slim-cut puff coats on Parisian streets. Again, stay clear of bright colors or sporty cuts if you want to blend in.
While you may see some locals wearing a leather jacket, I personally don’t think it’s a good option for winter as it doesn’t stay warm enough. (Though it’s great for spring!)
It is one of those bulky items that will occupy a good share of the limited real estate in your suitcase, so wear it on the plane. Bring a coat versatile enough to take you from day to night and reasonably waterproof. If your coat doesn't come with a hood attached (and even if it does), don't forget to pack a travel umbrella as well.
3. Don’t forget cold-weather accessories
If the right coat is essential, so are winter accessories. They are your first line of defense for a long cold day strolling through Parisian streets.
Wool hats, gloves, and scarves are a must-have when traveling to Paris in the winter. Unlike a coat, they won’t take much room in your suitcase (roll them into your boots to save space) so don’t be shy about bringing more than one set.
They can change up your entire look and add a touch of color if all those shades of grey and black are a bit too much for you. Remember all those pictures you will be taking? Besides, who wants to wear wet gloves two days in a row?
My love for scarves needs no introduction, but they are indispensable in the winter. Blanket scarves will keep you warm during the day, and they conveniently double up as a blanket or substitute pillow on the plane.
Hats come in all shapes and sizes so you can pick accordingly to your style. A classic wool beanie will do, but you can switch it up with a felt wide brim hat that will also keep the rain away.
Berets may be a French stereotype, but if sporting them in Paris, you may as well carry a giant “tourist” neon sign on your back.
Leather gloves are very chic and reasonably weatherproof (unlike wool ones), but be sure that they are warm enough for the winter weather.
4. Warm clothes are a must
Bringing the right clothes when traveling is always an ordeal, so check my five tips for how to pack for Paris before closing your suitcase.
In the winter, stock up on clothes that will keep you warm. Flowy dresses may look cute in pictures, but you will quickly regret your choice after a long day in the rain.
Instead, go for a warm sweater dress which will also travel very well – who has time to iron clothes while on holiday?
Chunky knit sweaters and cardigans are everywhere in Paris right now. They tend to be bulky, so bring items you can wear with several outfits. A well-cut dark blazer will also dress up a pair of jeans for a meal out.
Match them up with long sleeve tees and blouses, which allow for a little bit more fantasy. Since museums can get warm, make sure you can layer up if you will be spending most of the day indoors. Leave hoodies, university sweaters, and anything too sporty at home.
For bottoms, stick with dark-colored slim-cut pants and jeans you can tuck in your boots. This way, you will avoid soaking the bottom of your pants in the Parisian puddles. You can also dress it up with a knee-length skirt.
5. Appropriate underlayers will save the day
As is often the case when dealing with cold and wet weather, undergarments are almost as important as the clothes themselves. I often bring dark leggings to wear under dresses. They can also come in handy under your pants on a particularly cold day or if you know that you will be spending most of the day outdoors.
Wool socks are great as well to keep the cold out. If it is raining hard, it doesn’t hurt to pack an extra pair in your handbag just in case! Discreet long-sleeve undershirts will add an extra layer without the bulk under a sweater (especially a potentially scratchy wool one) or even a nice blouse or button-down shirt.
Merino wool makes a great base layer during the colder months as it helps keep heat in.
What kind of bag should you pack for a trip to Paris in the Winter?
I'm adding this note because it is always something I struggle with. But after many, many trips to Paris in the winter, I have a few things for you to consider when it comes to selecting a bag (or bags) for your trip. If you take my recommendations above you will be wearing layers.
That means when you do some sort of indoor activity you will be peeling layers and you will need someplace to put them. I recommend that you bring the minimum amount of stuff that you can get by with for your day bag because you will need space to accommodate the aforementioned layers!
This is especially the case in cafes and restaurants where you will have very little personal space (something I wrote about in my Paris dining guide). What I usually end up doing is bringing multiple tote bags that collapse into each other.
I should mention that your bag should also be waterproof. Whether it is rain or snow, it seems like my bag always gets the worst of it so I make sure that it can handle water and closes to protect the items inside.
Something I've written about before as well (French market etiquette) bringing your own reusable bags because any shopping bag will disintegrate when it gets wet. Or worse, one time my Galeries Lafayette shopping bag with black handles got wet and stained the arms of my red Patagonia jacket, 3 years later, I still have these black marks on my jacket!
I have written an entire blog post on the best bags for Paris.
Paris Winter Packing List:
- Knee-high boots (preferably leather)
- Wool winter coat
- Gloves, hat, and scarf
- Long-sleeve sweater dress
- Wool cardigans and sweaters
- Wool blazer
- Long sleeve blouses and shirts
- Slim-cut pants and jeans
- Black leggings
- Wool socks
- Long-sleeve undershirts
Packing for Paris by Season
Fall/Autumn in Paris
Spring in Paris
Summer in Paris
What to do in Paris in the Winter
I have guides to Paris in December | January | February | and March that will give you a sense of what Paris is like in the winter. That to do, see and eat during this time of year.
If you want my FULL Paris Travel Planner with sheets for:
Trip Overview | Travel Budget | Accommodation Tracker | Transportation Tracker | Activities Planner | Pre-Trip Planning | Places to Visit | Itinerary Overview | Daily Itinerary | Arrondissement Guides | Road Trip Planning | Packing List | Outfit Planner | Expense Tracker | Souvenirs & Gifts List | To do List | January-December Planning Calendar | Paris Bucket List Checklist | and Travel Journal Pages
100 pages! Available for $9.99.
How about you? What are the things you cannot travel without when visiting Paris in winter?
Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.
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I’ve read a few of your Paris packing guides for different seasons and they’re pretty cool. I love the illustrations. You hit all the main points on my packing list and then some!
oooh i just love your articles and those beautiful beautiful illustrations so much! 🥰🥰🥰
It would be a dream come true for me to be able to spend Christmas in lovely Paris! Thank you for these tips on what to pack when going on a winter holiday in Paris! Hopefully next year we can be there!
Love the illustrations! And this guide is going to be pretty helpful when I am packing for Paris 🙂
Love your detailed posts on Paris as it really tempts us to visit again and again. Thanks for sharing a very detailed post on what to pack for winter clothing in Paris. I would love to keep more underlayers to keep myself warm and can be adjusted too during day times.
Shoes. Always my biggest conundrum. I want comfortable shoes and boots, but don’t want to use a lot of room in my suitcase. Especially in Europe, comfortable walking shoes are a must. I don’t care if I’m cold, I can buy more hats and gloves, but I need to remind myself frequently that the shoes I pack can make all the difference.
You are prepared for the cold. This is a good packing list for a winter vacation
My Paris trip is still a few years away, but it will take place in February. I plan to bookmark this post so I can refer back to it when the time comes.
I had no idea that Paris got so cold! I know the weather could be rainy, but I didn’t realize they got super chilly weather like here.
Thanks for the recommendations Andi! I’ve been to Paris in the winter and it was substantially colder than London! I was not prepared
My girls and I were in Paris recently. We were there before it began to get cold. These are great tips if we ever go back in the winter.
Paris is one of the top places on my list of place I want to visit. I think it would be so beautiful to be able to go. You have some great lists here too. I love it.
Paris sounds so nice right now. I’ve never been but have always wanted to go. I definitely feel more prepared after reading this!
I just read an article on how the outdoor urinals in Paris helped defeat the Nazis. I was seriously inspired to go back and see the last remaining urinal, now I know what to pack. Seriously though, shoes are always so tough for Paris, because you want to be fashionable, but functional. Paris is such a beautiful walking city.
Would be really practical when we travel there. But I just really enjoyed the post for the fact that I am curious what weather it is in Paris during cold time of the year, and what people wear.
I always want to visit some place warm but I will take Paris in the winter! Even if it’s rainy. Still seems like it’s incredibly beautiful and romantic. Thanks for the packing tips!
great tips. the outfits sounds like they would really work. i would love to go to paris whenever really. i’m not picky on that trip lol.
yes, that pretty much sums up what I would take too. I live in Belgium, so the weather is quite similar to Paris weather.
Great post for people who are traveling or celebrating the holidays in Paris right now!
I always forget a hat! Awesome guide! I love the rec for slim cut pants. Merci.
I’m heading to Paris in late January and these tips are great. My only issue is that I have had bouts of plantar fasciitis and have to be über careful of shoes. So I may have to be the “tourist” and wear my waterproof trail runners as they are the only shoe for winter I trust to walk a lot in. I’m looking for a stylish ankle boot, but not having any luck. But I agree with the rest of your recommendations. Thanks, Andi!
I always forget how cool it can get in Paris so this is really helpful. I remember the first time I went I wore boots with heels because I wanted to by stylish like the French. My feet hated me by a long day of sightseeing. Never again!
I am totally with you that the right pair of shoes can make or break a trip! This is extra true in Paris as I always find we walk so much there! Very useful post!
p.s. I love your illustrations!
Literally loved this packing list! Everything you could possibly need!
I’m a big fan of traveling off peak, but yes sometimes the weather can be less than ideal. Great tips on what to wear for winter in Paris!
Do you do these illustrations yourself? They’re gorgeous!
This is really handy. I’m a California girl so it rarely gets that cold. But this lost is perfect not just for Paris. I would love to visit some cold places, just need to find right gear. Thank you.
I always struggle with packing in winter! I end up bringing too many random shirts haha. Will be saving this 🙂
The right shoes and winter accessories can make or break a winter visit I think! These are great tips for packing for Paris 🙂 Also, I love the sketch drawing!
As a Parisian I can only say that I TOTALLY AGREE with this list! I’m gonna share it with my friends and relatives who’s visiting me for Christmas haha
That’s a great list! Knowing what to wear while visiting a new place is always hard. Getting tips from an experienced traveler takes off a lot of stress from packing.
I’ve visited Paris in December before and some days were very cold even with a big down coat, so I totally agree with all warm weather clothing recommendations! I wish I had brought more warm underlayers as you suggest! I love the illustrations btw!!
What a great list of items for packing. It made me want to go back to Paris
Also, loved your website.
So cold and cool article. Thanks for the list! Nice post.
Great list and I LOVE the illustration! Thanks for sharing!
What a cute illustration and great tips for packing for Paris in the Winter! It’s a beautiful time of year to visit but also freezing so these tips are so useful!