The ultimate guide to visiting charming Paris in the Winter 2023-2024

Paris in summer is delightful, but Paris in winter is truly magic! Dress up in your cosiest winter attire and explore the city of lights on another level with this guide to Paris in the winter. Surely your heart will be captivated while strolling amidst Christmas trees, glowing sparkles from the Eiffel Tower and charming cafes where you can sip a hot drink wrapped in the warmth of a winter blanket. Ready for some enchanting memories? Bon voyage!

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Is it worth visiting Paris in the winter?

Confession time: we’re not the biggest fans of the cold, but Paris in winter? It is worth it; the magic around you makes the chilly temperatures forgettable. Visiting in winter will come with some great perks, such as lower hotel prices and flight tickets, smaller crowds and more availability for the main attractions. Enjoy the freedom! However, we must address that one certain period in December – Christmas and New Year’s! Sure it is a bustling time for Paris and they make sure that the city is showing off magic wonderfully! It does mean for you that the benefits mentioned will be on the backseat, as prices and crowds will increase.

So here’s the deal: temperature-wise, you can dress up for it. Prefer lower costs and crowds? Be flexible to visit in January or February. You want winterwonderland? Then visiting Paris in winter is a must, especially in the late December period for the festive vibes, Christmas markets, decorations and twinkling lights. You won’t regret it!

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Good to know for your Paris winter trip

What is the weather like?

Is Paris cold during winter? Visiting Paris in winter doesn’t mean that it’s always grey, rainy and dark. Some very nice, but fresh, blue-sky winter days can surprise you at any time! Generally speaking the weather in winter (December to February) is cold around 5-10 degrees Celsius. Followed by colder evenings and nights where it can feel like it is freezing. But wait what about snow? After all, that is of course also a possibility! Some years Paris will welcome more snow than others. Besides that, it is also not a guarantee that snow will stay on the ground for a long time. If you are in doubt, bring your umbrella, warm coat, and clothing that you can layer easily to adapt to the weather conditions.

Is Paris cheap in the winter?

Overall, yes it is! You can save money in several ways when visiting Paris in winter time:

  • Affordable accommodations: a lower demand for hotels means reduced prices. The costs for room nights per night can be significantly lower allowing you to maybe even stay an extra night, or upgrade yourself to a bit more fancy hotel! However, Christmas and New Year days will be more challenging for budget-savvy travellers.
  • Flight deals: when travelling within Europe, we often see amazing flight deals end of November/beginning of December and in January and February. Perfect opportunity to visit hotspot cities in Europe with low-cost airlines!
  • Shop till you drop: the winter sales are a real highlight for the travellers who love to have a shopping day as well! In January the winter sales start in Paris. Hit those big department stores or more luxury shops all around the city!

Tip: opt for a weekend getaway in Paris, but consider extending it to a Monday or Tuesday instead of a Friday. This way you can dodge the crowds more!

Where to stay in Paris?

When talking about Paris travel tips, recommendations on where to stay cannot be missed. Below are our general recommendations for visiting Paris:

  • Notre Dame / Latin Quarter: our favourite place to stay in the heart of the city! It has many highlights around and good restaurants as well.
  • Around Le Marais and Les Halles: still in the city centre but on the other side of the water from the Latin Quarter. From here it is easy to visit highlights like the Louvre and Notre Dame.
  • Around Gare du Nord: well, this is not our favourite area of Paris. But it can be highly convenient for you if you visit Paris by train. It is easy to go around Paris from here with the metro and also closer to the Montmartre neighbourhood.

When is the best time to visit Paris in winter?

Paris in December

Of all winter months, December must be the most special one with the festive glow. We already shared more about this, but can go a little more into detail. Besides having all the options like a usual trip to Paris, such as visiting the Eiffel Tower or engaging in other cultural activities. The vibrant spirit from the locals adds a little extra to visiting Paris in December. Streets come alive, people are out and about. The locals immerse themselves in the Christmas vibes, meeting friends at the winter markets, shopping for gifts for the families and bringing out the best winter outfits from their wardrobes. Paris in December is an experience.

Do be aware that there are bigger crowds in December, compared to January and February. If you wish to visit certain attractions or shows, book your tickets online in advance! We have had several times that hotspot attractions and restaurants were fully booked, even when checking for reservations one week ahead.

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Paris in January

January is a true winter month in Paris and perfect for indoor activities. The festivities are over and the city is slowing down for a little while. Especially at the beginning of January, it could result in a more tranquil atmosphere. Nevertheless, this also has a benefit as you can enjoy the streets, activities and restaurants that are usually packed more! And that is maybe something you exactly needed after the busy December month. That hot chocolate or other aperitif might even taste better in the relaxed setting! January is perfect for those wanting to explore the true gems in Paris while saving money. Mainly due to cheaper accommodations, but also with the winter sales in Paris! If you do visit Paris in January, make sure to check the opening hours, as they might differ in the winter season.

Paris in February

Bonjour to another winter month in Paris, February! The start of February is still a chilly one, but coming closer to the end of the month you can see some spring vibes kicking in! February is yet again a great month for your budget: travel and shopping with the Paris winter sales still ongoing. But what makes Paris the ultimate destination for February? Valentine’s Day of course! It is time to bring your loved ones to the famous City of Love for some winter magic. Enjoy the special events, a romantic dinner from a rooftop restaurant with great views and an intimate boat trip along the Seine and sparkling Eiffel Tower. So romantic!

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What to do in Paris in the winter?

Indoor activities in Paris

Spectacular Opera Garnier

Are you ready for this masterpiece? We were blown away by the beauty of the Opera Garnier in Paris. Visiting such a venue might not be your usual thing, but we guarantee that you will not regret it at all! The architecture with royal touches, sweeping staircases and grande auditorium is without a doubt perfection. The history of this building is visible in every detail. The gold, the velvet interiors and the art on the ceilings will make you stare endlessly. When visiting Paris in the winter it’s even more special with the Christmas decorations. You can book yourself a guided tour, or visit on your own. Do you want to do it bigger? See if you can attend a performance!

Visit the famous museums of Paris

Who doesn’t know that Paris is home to world-renowned museums? If you are into art or cultural experiences, the three museums that we highly recommend you visit the museums mentioned below.

  • The Louvre: obviously this one is listed first. The largest art museum in the world with over 35.000 art pieces! Mona Lisa is the ultimate highlight many know. But there is much more such as Egyptian antiques.
  • Musee D’Orsay: in a unique building, a former railway station, you will encounter multiple famous artists’ masterpieces. Such as Van Gogh and Monet. But the art is not the only delight, the building itself is also one great piece of art.
  • Centre Pompidou: A completely different building and museum compared to the two mentioned above. With modern architecture and contemporary and modern art, it is a unique venue for exhibitions and live performances. Creativity is key here!

Tip: Avoid disappointment and plan your visits ahead. Get your skip-the-line tickets – especially when visiting in December!

Cafe hopping

Croissants, coffee and pastries… some of the things we think of when dreaming of Paris! Surely you should add a few café visits to your days. Even if is just to warm up, or let your legs rest a bit from the long distances. You might even opt for a table outside under the terrace heaters and blankets. In fact, it might even surprise you how many people are outside in Paris in the winter! A few cafe hotspots to not miss out on are Café de Flore (Instagram famous), Ob-La-Di (in vibrant Le Marais), Shakespeare and Company Cafe (bookstore!) and Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole (unique interiors).

In many areas of Paris, you will find unique places. The areas of Latin Quarter, Le Marais and Montmartre are very diverse in the ambience. If you want to really get into the macarons, éclairs or pastries, you shouldn’t skip a visit to Odette. Famous for Creme Puffs and outstanding views over the Notre Dame.

Moulin Rouge

Oh oh, Moulin Rouge! It’s a different world in Paris. The cabaret show has been giving Paris a glamorous vibe since 1889 and it is still a must-visit for many travellers! Everything is extravagant. First of all the iconic outside of the venue, followed by the performances, the customers and the red and glitter all around. Entertainment guaranteed!

French cuisine cooking class

Ready for some culinary highlights? Want to taste that baguette or Macaron you made yourself? French cuisine is known for its specialities, which you can also master soon when following a cooking class! Have a great experience in a charming Parisian kitchen, fresh ingredients, an expert chef and maybe other travellers for great conversations. Create dishes you never expected to cook and discover the local food culture a little more!

Galleries Lafayette & department store shopping

Feeling like a big shopping spree? It’s a great indoor idea when visiting Paris in the winter. You can do so in the chique avenues of Paris, or the well-known department stores. The most elegant of them is Galeries Lafayette. Besides finding all kinds of luxury and stylish items, the spectacular winter wonderland scenery is a must-see on its own. The holiday decorations all around with the Christmas tree and sparkling lights create the festive vibes you were waiting for. They also have special events, like a visit of Santa Claus. Another great place to visit is Le Bon Marché or Printemps Haussmann.

Cabaret show: “How to become Parisian in one hour”

We were looking for a fun night out on New Year’s Eve, and we found it! “How to Become Parisian in One Hour” is a funny show where all Parisian stereotypes are discovered. The way of talking, walking, dancing… you name it! Due to the small size of the theatre, it is also very intimate to enjoy it to the fullest. Besides that, do not feel personally attacked if they are bringing up some comparisons to other nationalities in the room. Laughter is guaranteed when visiting this show! Perfect for an evening out after a lovely dinner. The shows are all year round, so book those tickets!

Hot chocolate at famous Angelina’s

Very close to the Louvre Museum, you will find the historical café that is famous for its hot chocolate: Angelina! And that is not the only reason to visit. Because the historic tearoom is already an experience due to its interior. Enjoy a good hot chocolate during your trip to Paris in Winter, accompanied by their famous Mont-Blanc pastry. Surely you will find yourself in chocolate heaven for a little while.

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Outdoor activities in Paris

Romance at the Eiffel Tower

What to say about the Eiffel Tower? Isn’t that the first iconic symbol that pops up in your mind when hearing about Paris? During the day it is already an awe-inspiring building. Followed by the true magic at night when all the lights sparkle brightly in the dark. After all, it is a symbol of romance! You can visit the Eiffel Tower by taking the elevator or climbing to the top. The panoramic views are totally worth it. However, do note that it can be chilly when you visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris in the winter. If you do not want to go up, but like to see different angles, you should continue your walk to Trocadero. From here you will also have spectacular views.

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Picturesque Montmartre

Cobbled streets, historic charm and all about artists. Montmartre is a unique area in Paris on its own with the famous Sacré-Coeur Basilica and Place du Tertre. Besides the iconic attractions in Montmartre, you can also enjoy some very cosy bistros of cafes. They have a much more bohemian style here. From the stairs of the Basilica, you also have nice views all over Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. Some also recommend you to come over here for New Year’s Eve fireworks, as you can see all around. Combine all that with the winter vibes, making it visit-worthy!

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Winter River Cruise on the Seine

Jump aboard! You can walk along the Seine, but what about a river cruise? A little warmer with a warm blanket and and relaxing activity. The Seine River cruise brings you to some of the most famous places, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. You can also do it at night, which is a romantic ambience guaranteed. If you want, there are even dinner options or special events during Valentine’s Day, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Wouldn’t it be fun to do the New Year’s countdown with a glass of champagne, on a boat next to the Eiffel Tower? Do note that the fireworks are not (always) at the Eiffel Tower!

Visit the vibrant Christmas Markets

Festive decorations, many food stalls, ice skating and other fun things to do. Welcome to the Christmas Markets in Paris! You can visit the Christmas markets mostly from the end of November until the first days in January. However, this might differ per location. Christmas markets are all around Paris such as the Champs-Elysees, the Eiffel Tower and Hotel de Ville. There is entertainment for everyone, no matter what age or what kind of activities or gift shops you like.

The Christmas market that was most fun was the one in the Tuileries Garden. A big Christmas tree with all the winter and Christmas vibes are present here. Think of ice skating, a Ferris wheel, many other adrenaline attractions and many types of food stalls offering a wide variety of local specialities and wines. Gosh, did we bring back many pastries and snacks?

New Year’s Eve fireworks

Every year they show the countdown and fireworks from main cities all around the world on TV. It was time to see the Paris fireworks show with our own eyes! Now don’t be mistaken like us about the location of the fireworks. In contrast to usually planning things pretty well, we now discovered late that the fireworks are not at the Eiffel Tower (not sure why we just assumed it) but at the Arc de Triomphe! Many people gather together at the Champs-Elysees for the countdown at 12. Be on time to get a good spot, and dress warmly and comfortably as you might need to wait for a long time. Are you ready for a colourful show? It is worth it!

Tip: if you want to avoid the BIG crowds of the Champs-Elysees. Go and stand on the other side in “Avenue de la Grande Armee”. You won’t see the countdown displayed on the side of Champs-Elysees but might be more comfortable with the number of people around you.

Ice skating

Want to warm up a bit in a winter wonderland? In that case, ice skating is a must when you visit Paris in the winter. Several rings around the city give you the opportunity to have some active fun with great picturesque scenery around you. No matter if you are experienced or not, anyone can do it! Rent your skates and get going! Some great locations to enjoy ice skating are on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette (do check if it’s still there every year), charming in front of the beautiful Hotel de Ville, at the Christmas Market in Tulleries Gardens and Champs de Mars with the Eiffel Tower.

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Food tour in Paris

More food? Yes, we want! You could of course figure out a trip yourself, but what if you can have a local guide with you? The winter time is known to just enjoy all the delicious treats available without feeling guilty. So keep that spirit also when visiting Paris right? If you do decide to find some special locations yourself, try out Paris’ most famous Falafel place: L’as du Fallafel. Located on Rue des Rosiers, in a great area in Paris for more shopping and food options. You will find it easily due to the long lines outside. YUMM!

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Paris Winter Sale 2024

Did you bring an extra suitcase to Paris? The winter sale of 2024 is around the corner and will not disappoint you! The sale starts from 10 January 2024 until 6 February 2024. The winter sale, together with the summer sale, are the only moments in Paris where you will find these great discounts as it is regulated by the government. If you prefer to go outlet shopping rather than the luxury department stores, you can also visit The Paris Outlet Mall: La Vallee Village.

Fun for families, friends and couples in Disneyland Paris

Holiday or winter cheers in Disneyland Paris. Undoubtedly a dream coming true for many travellers! Visiting Disneyland Paris in winter is, even if it’s colder, recommended! The park is already great with its decor. Imagine adding a winter wonderland to it! Do check the seasonal events schedule. There might be special events or shows or adjusted visiting hours. Bring your layered outfit as well so you can adjust to any circumstances. We have not visited Disneyland in winter, only in the summer period. It was rather busy, so we can imagine you will enjoy shorter lines for all the attractions!

Day trips from Paris in winter

In case you feel the need to escape the city life of Paris, you can always do a day trip! The transportation in the area is great, especially with trains. You can for example visit the Palace of Versailles, or even take it further to Christmas village Colmar. See below a selection of day trips that you will love!

Are you ready to visit Paris in the winter? We are looking forward to hearing more about your experience!

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