33 reasons why you should visit Paris in Winter
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33 reasons why you should visit Paris in Winter 

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Last updated on 20th of September 2021 by Lena

 

If you are wondering if you should visit Paris in Winter, the answer is YES, absolutely!  I know that traveling to Paris in winter may not sound like the most obvious thing to do at first, but I assure you that winter opens up a completely new set of awesome activities in Paris and you will have a great time.

Don’t get me wrong, winter does have its downsides though. Undeniably, it’s rather cold, often rainy, and night sets in early. However, this means as well, that you have plenty of occasions to enjoy the illuminated city, spend time in restaurants and cozy cafés, stroll through museums and browse the shops.

 

Café de Flore in Winter - The Cafés are open in Paris in Winter
The Café de Flore in Paris – a unique and iconic place, es well in Winter

 

And there are a few more reasons to visit Paris in Winter: It’s less crowded, you are more likely to find cheaper hotel deals and most important: the Christmas season in Paris is magical. Some even consider winter the best time to visit Paris. 

 

 

Paris is Winter – A quick guide to your winter trip to Paris!

When is winter in Paris? Winter starts officially on the 21st of December. However, usually, when traveling to Paris during wintertime, November is considered as well. Not without reasons – the cold season has already started and so has the Christmas season. Paris is already beautifully illuminated in Christmas lights and Christmas markets are open as well.

 

Just keep in mind that Christmas holiday time as well for the French – schools close shortly before Christmas and don’t open again until early January. While winter is generally shoulder season in Paris, Christmas is the high season!

Good reads for your next trip to Paris:

 

Average temperatures and rainfall in Paris during winter

It can get chilly in Paris, without a question. However, December is usually milder than February, even though more humid. Temperatures in winter are on average between 3°- 9°C  (37°- 48°F). But, I already experienced temperatures as low as -10°C (14°F)  and as high as 15°C (59°F)!

 

Can I expect snow in Paris in winter? No, I am sorry! Snow in Paris is extremely rare even in Paris in the winter time. It is simply rarely cold enough, so even if it snows, it won’t stay but transforms into grey mud within minutes. Within the past 15 years, I remember only 3 times where we were granted snow that actually stayed – one time was at easter!

beautiful Paris in winter: Paris in the snow - Paris in winter. Will there be snow in Paris in Winter?
This pictures was taken a few years ago and it was one of the VERY few times that I’ve witnessed snows in Paris

 

What do I need to pack for my Winter trip to Paris? Keeping in mind that the temperatures mentioned above are averages, you absolutely need to pack winter gear! A hat, scarf, fleece jacket, and even potentially long undergarments if you plan to stay longer outside: temperatures can fall far under 0°C (32°F). However, try to dress in layers though – it’s often very warm inside.

 

Winter days are short in Paris! On the shortest days, the sun is not rising before 8:45 am and it can be dark well before 5 pm.

 

But even though Paris’ winter will be cold, and probably often grey, wet, and windy, don’t worry! There are so many things to do in Paris, that whether you travel to Paris during the Winter or Summer, you will never run out of activities.

Check the following 33 ideas to know the best things to do in Paris during winter

 

What are the best things to do in Paris in winter?

Traveling to Paris is always a fantastic experience and winter is especially magical! We collected the best ideas for your trip to Paris, that are perfect for your winter adventure. Know exactly about the best things to do in France in Winter!

 

Luxory shopping in Paris - Paris in Winter, decorations at Place Vendome,
Place Vendôme in Paris – a good address if you want to spend serious money

 

Plan ahead for the top sights!

Before you dive in and get inspired, I want to stress out that it is almost mandatory for many activities in Paris to purchase your admission in advance. I know, it kills a bit the spontaneous, easy-going holiday vibe. But there are a few reasons why you should book your tickets in advance

  1. Popular sights like the Eiffel Tower or the Catacombs are booked out weeks in advance
  2. Covid-19 and social distancing measurements limit visitor numbers. In order to comply, most sights require prebooking.
  3. Some ticket booths on site are closed or require you to queue for hours

Hence, I strongly recommend reserving your entrance tickets in advance in order to avoid disappointment and /or wasting time queuing.

Below, I listed the sights that you definitely need to book in advance. For your convenience, I added a link to my most trusted ticket provider:

 

You also can purchase tickets directly on the sights homepages, however, the downside is that they usually don’t have a cancellation policy. While reserving your Paris tickets with get your guide grants you a 24h cancel and refund policy.

 

 

33 Ideas for your trip to Paris in the winter

Now that you are covered with everything you need to know when traveling to France in winter, let’s check the fun things to do in Paris!

 

Put the skates on! – Go ice skating at the most famous locations in Paris

During the winter season, several ice skating rinks are installed all around town and it’s one of the best winter activities in Paris during winter.

The ice skating rink at the Christmas Market at the Tuileries Garden is open, and so is the little rink up the Galeries Lafayette. The latter is free of charge, however, it is not the usual ice but a kind of artificial surface you slide on.

The nicest ice skating rink usually opens in mid-December in the Grand Palais. It is a stunning location and the biggest ice skating rink in Europe!

Dates for 2021 are yet to be announced.

 

ice skating rink in Paris - Grand Palais, things to do in Paris in the winter
Le Grand Palais des Glaces Crédit photo Didier Lefèvre – Groupe Ludéric Patinoire

 

Take a Macaron baking class

Winter is the best time for baking and there is no place better than Paris to learn how to bake delicious Macarons. There are many cooking schools in Paris that are offering this skill, but the best are the following two:

 

Visit all the museums in Paris

For convenient visits and free entrances think about getting the Paris Museums Pass.

Visiting a museum is an obvious activity when the weather isn’t great. Luckily there are quite a few great museums in Paris: The Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Picasso Museum, just to name a few.

However, you should purchase your tickets in advance, especially for the Louvre. The ticket queues can be a real-time taker, or depending on the Covid situation even closed! Click here for tickets and rates and reserve your spot.

Tip for visiting the Louvre: Don’t take the outside entrance at the glass pyramid – the waiting times are always longer. Head instead to the underground entrance at the Carrousel du Louvre.  It will be warmer as well while waiting for the security check!  (If you wonder though if it’s cold in the Louvre during winter.. it isn’t!)

The Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay are obvious choices when looking for museums in Paris, but did you hear about those ones?

 

Louvre in Winter - the Tuileries are open during Winter in Paris and are a great place for a walk if you are looking for things to do in Paris in Winter
The Tuileries Garden in Paris – The weather can be so sunny, but you see that it’s actually freezing. A lovely day!

 

If you’re on a budget, don’t miss our guide on free museums in Paris!

I recommend to look into the 2 day Paris Museum Pass that grants you “Skip the Line” access to more than 60 Parisian Museums and activities (Louvre and Musée d’Orsay included) – it’s paying off as soon as you visit 2 museums with priority access: it’s a really good value for money and time, especially if you are only a few days in town! Check here for rates or check out Kasey’s review on the Museums Pass.

 

≡ take some “me time” at a Spa

There is really nothing better on a cold and rainy Parisian winter day than spending a few relaxing hours in a Spa. Personally, I have been a few times to the Lush Spa and I liked it a lot. You need to book quite in advance though and well, you need to like the scents of the cosmetic manufactury Lush.

For everyone else and also for the more spontaneous traveler I can recommend Massage Concept.  It’s not as fancy but good value for money. I have been there one time and I enjoyed it. The massage was good, the ambiance nice and the location very convenient in the very center of Paris.

For an authentic Hammam experience, you can also take a look at La Grande Mosquée in Paris.

 

see a cabaret show 

Visiting a cabaret show is one of the big 5 of Paris – a classic “must do” in Paris, especially in winter! Enjoy a show while having dinner and of course: Drink Champagne!

Especially The Dinner Shows at the Moulin Rouge are very popular. Did you know that the more than 125 years old theater is the world’s biggest single buyer of Champagne?

 

 

see the parades for the Chinese new year

The Asian quarter in Paris is the largest Chinatown in Europe. So obviously there are parades for the Chinese new year. The biggest one takes place near Place d’Italie, be there early to get a good spot! Good to know: It’s one of the free things to do in Paris in winter.

 

take a sightseeing tour in a vintage Citroën 2CV!

Winter is not the best season for a classic hop on hop off tour with an open roof bus (to be fair, there are closed ones though) but why not taking advantage of the weather and opt into something special?

Take a private sightseeing tour in a vintage car! ! Click here for more info, rates and options!

 

explore the covered galleries during winter in Paris

Escape the rain and the cold with a stroll through the covered passages. Most of them are close by so it’s really a good-themed walk through Paris on a wet day. (I found this excellent map a while back and did not find anything better since!)

 

indoor activity for Paris during winter time - visit the Galerie Vivienne, good if it's a cold winter paris
The Galerie Vivienne is a covered passage in the center of Paris and a good activity for rainy days in Paris

 

Take a Seine River Cruise: a great way to stay warm and to enjoy Paris during Winter

Click here directly to see all available tours and prices for the Seine River Cruise

Despite all the clichés, a cruise on the Seine is a VERY nice thing to do and probably one of the most romantic things to do in Paris during the cold season. I lived in Paris for years when I took finally a Bateau Mouche and the change of perspective was simply amazing. Plus, you can sit comfy and warm inside. You could even have dinner there! (click here to know more about our own River Seine Cruise experience)

attend a reading at “Shakespeare and Company”

There are quite a few American book stores in Paris and most of them are hosting regular events like concerts or readings. Check out the programs of Shakespeare and Company,  there is always something going on. Even if your visit is not matching one of their sessions, the stores are well worth a visit!

Attend a reading in a bookstore - winter activities for Paris. The reading sessions are happening as well during winters in Paris
The bookstore Shakespeare & Company hosts readings and other events.

 

see a concert

it can be overtaxing to find a good gig, especially in a city like Paris with an uncountable amount of venues, bars, and open mic sessions. Check out the list of Parisian Venues and find the right place for you. Also have a look at the concert calendar, fnac.fr, or Ticketmaster 

 

have fun at a Pub Quiz

Are you wondering what to do in Paris at night when picnics at the Seine are not an option? Go to the Quiz!!! That tradition is well established in Paris and you find Quiz Nights in basically all Irish, English, and Scottish pubs, but also in a hand full of “not the UK themed” Bars. For example at The Highlander on Sundays

If you fear that a Sunday pub night might not meet your expectations when it comes to a party, join a pub crawl! Click here to secure yourself a spot

 

put on your coat and have a walk – a classic activity when visiting Paris in the winter season

Winter time in Paris is cold but it’s not really crazy freezing. Put on a winter coat, a scarf, and maybe a bonnet and you’re good to go outside to enjoy the humidity that will crawl up your legs and bones. Nah, don’t worry haha 🙂 Having a walk-in Paris along the Seine, the Bois de Boulogne, or Bois de Vincennes is always nice. Or just walk around Montmartre, the Père Lachaise cemetery, or the Marais. Just get outside, it’s worth it!

 

things to do in paris winter: a walk along the Seine in Winter in Paris. Just know that Paris winter night falls early and gets pretty chill
A cold winter walk along the Seine. I took this picture in February 2021 – one of the few occasions when we had snow

 

go shopping

Sayin’ Paris is decent for shopping is a vast understatement. If the weather is not on your side, check out Les HallesLa Beaugrenelle, or Le 4 Temps at La Defense. Those are the big shopping malls in and around Paris. If you are at La Defense, you can also visit the Grand Arche!

 

sign up for an Escape Game

It’s not super cheap and you have to book in advance, but it’s a great activity and you have quite some choice in Paris. From Maya Temples, Haunted Manors, Submarines, Japan, Catacombs… you name it. You escape!

(Personally, I am a huge fan of escape rooms and I loved the Assassins Creed escape room and the Japan-themed one!)

 

take a swim at Aquaboulevard

Paris’ Number 1 water park:  artificial waves, 11 waterslides (some are outside though), wakeboard, and a Caribbean feeling. Aquaboulevard is a good way to spend a day in the warmth, especially if you are traveling to Paris with kids.

 

Floods in Paris - Floods in Paris in Winter
Floods are common in Paris in January or February.

 

have a hot Chocolate at Angelina

Hot chocolate is a remedy for many to counter the cold season. Enjoy it at Angelina; a classic Parisian tea room. They are running a few tea rooms in Paris, but usually, it’s quite popular. Think about reserving a table in advance.

 

visit an Aquarium

The Aquarium of Paris, just in front of the Eiffel Tower, is the largest in Paris. Apart from fish and more fish (in 43 fish tanks) you get the full program: workshops, movies, animations, shows, you can even pair your visit with a Sunday brunch. However, If this is blowing up your budget, you can visit as well the Aquarium Tropical in the Palais de la Porte Dorée. It’s maybe not as spectacular, but it offers everything that the Aquarium of Paris does; just on a smaller scale. For a fraction of the entrance fee (8€ and free admission for everyone under 26). Kill two birds with one stone: the Palais de la Porte Dorée hosts as well the National Immigration Museum (closed for works until fall 2022)

 

Enjoy a wine tasting 

France is known to be THE wine country (there is no need to argue about this with any french person!) and Paris is a great place to enjoy a wine tasting. Especially if it’s all cold and grey outside!

Click here for the most popular wine tasting session in Paris and know more about their availabilities

 

Attend a wine tasting course in Paris - a perfect idea if you wonder what to do in Paris when it rains
Paris is a good place to attend a wine tasting, especially when it’s cold and rainy outside!

 

go wild on Paris’ winter sales in mid-January

No matter if you are preparing your shopping tour or just randomly checking out stores; Paris is THE city to hunt for good deals. Check your favorite stores a few days before the Sales begin. They are already prepped for the big day and you will find all items that will be on sale hanging/laying together. Just get back there early on sales day and buy it at a reduced price 🙂

 

have some Arcade Games at “La Tête dans les Nuages”

No matter if you are 5 or 50, everyone likes to play a pinball game from time to time, right? “La Tête dans les Nuages” is with more than 100 gaming terminals one of the biggest Arcade Center in Paris and a fun way to spend a (rainy) afternoon in Paris. Not only in winter 🙂 and not only for kids and teenagers!

 


Do you need more tips on how to entertain your children in Paris? Don’t miss my first-hand tips! Check out  my top 10 activities for kids 

 

take a cooking or pastry class in Paris!

What about a new skill as a souvenir from your Paris trip? Learn how to make Croissants, prepare a Magret de Canard, a Filet Mignon or know how to bake an authentic Baguette!

The countless Parisian cooking classes have for sure something for your taste (and to impress your friends back home!) How about a 3-course Lunch including wine and a market visit? Or maybe you are more up for learning how to bake Macarons?

For more Pastry Classes in Paris, you can check out this post or click here

 

Macaron making class in Paris
Learn how to bake delicious Macarons from a Parisian Chef

 

Play some board games at the “Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde”

Rainy days and board games are just a perfect match. Just head over to the Bar at the End of the Universe, have a Mario Bruschetta, a Death Star Cocktail, and pick a board game from their library. Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture on the Iron Throne or a Selfie with R2D2!

 

Go to the Movies

Yes, you could do that at home. But there is more to it than the big and modern cinemas like UGC, Cinema Gaumont or MK2. Paris has a variety of small and/or old movie theatres, that are worth experiencing. Have a look at the Cinema Luxor, Le Grand Rex or La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin. If you are not up for a french movie, check for VOST or VO to see a movie in the original language. Or what about a rather artistic approach to the cinema? Then you should not miss La Peniche Cinema.

 

What to do in Paris in December?

 

Are you visiting Paris in December 2021 or even planning to celebrate Christmas in Paris?  There are of course Christmas events going on all over town, read on to know what special Christmas-related activities you can do in Paris!

If you are staying over New Year,  know what’s open on New Year’s Day in Paris! 

 

go to a Paris Christmas Market while visiting Paris in December

Christmas Markets are rather a tradition known in the east of France, but since some years they are becoming more and more popular in Paris as well. The biggest Christmas Market in Paris is installed usually at La Défense. However, you can find smaller ones although around Montmartre, Trocadero, and Saint Germain. Visiting a Christmas market is one of the best things to do in Paris in December.

For now, there are now dates announced for the Christmas Markets in 2021.

Did you know that the oldest Christmas Market in Europe – and also one of the nicest – is less than 2h away? If you’re keen to get the full Christmas experience, check this post and know how to take a day trip to Strasbourg!

The Christmas markets are good places to visit in Paris during Christmas
The Christmas markets are good places to visit in Paris during Christmas

 

 

enjoy the Christmas events at Disneyland Paris

It’s likely you always dreamed about visiting Disneyland and maybe you have it already on your Paris must-do agenda. But know that they are running special events for Halloween and Christmas that you don’t wanna miss! For many Disney is a must when visiting Paris around those events.

 

see the festive Christmas displays at the big department stores

A must-do for many Christmas fans in Paris is the visit to the big department stores. Not only because the facades of Gallery Lafayette, Le Bon Marche, Printemps Haussmann, and BHV are illuminated! The window displays are revealing whole worlds of Christmas scenes with animated figures, wrapped gifts, and everything that goes with it. If you are already at the Galeries Lafayette, don’t miss their excellent food hall! Click here to know more about it!

 

see the Christmas tree at the Galarie Lafayette

If you are following Paris-related social media channels, you will notice that there is barely another topic by the end of November than the Christmas Tree at the Galerie Lafayette, and the big question: What is the theme of this year?!

The gigantic tree is always stunning and something you shouldn’t miss at all.

Christmas at The Galerie Lafayette in Paris in December
The Christmas Tree in the Galeries Lafayette is the highlight over every Christmas Season in Paris

 

Learn how to cook a traditional French Christmas Dinner 

Did you ever wish you could cook a french dish as a real French Chef would cook it? That’s your chance! Take a cooking class in Paris and learn from a professional french Chef how to cook a 3-course Christmas Dinner from scratch! Click here for more information

 

Enjoy the Christmas decorations and illuminations all over Paris

During Christmas, many Parisian streets are decorated and beautifully illuminated. The most famous illuminations are along the Champs Elysées, but you find them within every neighborhood. For example in the Rue Montorgeuil or the Rue Daguerre. Those streets are excellent places as well to buy french specialties as they are home to many delis.

 

Christmas Decorations at the Bon Marchè, visiting the decorated shops is one of the romantic things to do in paris in winter
Christmas Decorations at the Bon Marché in Paris

 

What to do in Paris on Christmas Day?

 

If you celebrate Christmas day in Paris, you have many options to make this day a very memorable one. However, know that many sights and museums are closed on Christmas Day, not the Eiffel Tower though!

 

Have a Bûche de Noel

The traditional French Christmas cake! A Bûche de Noel is a Yule log made out of sponge cake with buttercream, icing, or/and ganache.

 

Have a Dinner on Christmas Eve at a Cabaret!

If you are celebrating Christmas Eve in Paris and are looking for a very festive and unique way of spending this special day, check out the Cabarets! Many are hosting special events on Christmas Eve with a festive dinner, Champagne, and of course the famous Cabaret show.

Tip: Those shows are insanely popular and quickly sold out, reserve your spot quick. If you want to be on the safe side, some shows are offering free cancellations up to 24h before the show

 

≡ attend a Christmas concert

During Christmas in Paris, many classical concerts and chorals are taking place in Paris. Click here to know what’s going on where and purchase your tickets.

 

Have a Christmas Dinner Cruise on the Seine on Christmas Day!

A very special way of celebrating Christmas day in Paris – or Christmas eve – is on board of a ship! Take a Cruise on the Seine and enjoy a festive 5-course Christmas dinner while enjoying the beautiful view over the illuminated Paris by night.

This tour got very good reviews last year 🙂

take a walk at the Palais Royal - amazing no matter what season in Paris, but as well if you visit Paris at winter
taking a walk at Palais Royal is nice no matter the season

 

Attend a Christmas Mass in Paris

Parisian churches are obviously celebrating Christmas and you can choose whether you want to go to one of the big churches like the Basilika Sacré Coeur or Saint Sulpice, or attend a service at a local church.

Basilique de Sacré Coeur service times

Christmas Eve

  • 10 pm: Organ concert
  • 11 pm: Sung Christmas vigil
  • Midnight: Midnight Mass

Christmas Day

  • Mass: 7 am, 11 am, 6 pm, and 10 pm.
  • Vespers: 4 pm

Tip: arrive at least 30 minutes early

 

Do you need more ideas for your upcoming winter trip to Paris? Or maybe ideas about how to spend those sunny, clear, and cold winter days? Check out our 80 insider tips to explore Paris as a local would. Don’t miss our seasonal Paris guides either, if you are unsure when it’s best to travel to Paris.

 

If you have any questions about Paris or need some advice and how to plan your trip, don’t hesitate to reach out!  I created a Facebook group for this matter and I am available to help you out! Click here to join the Salut from Paris Facebook group!

 

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost for you – I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I am independent and the opinions expressed here are my own.

 

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Paris in Winter - find the best things to do in December and if you spend christmas in paris

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20 Comments

  1. Victoria B.

    I don’t like the cold at all! Even fall is sometimes too cold for me, and that’s why I went to Paris in the spring some years ago. I hope I get to go again and hopefully do all you suggest during the summer! Thanks for the tips.

    1. fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com

      I can relate to that so much! Spring is the best season to visit Paris!

  2. kathymarris

    I love these ideas for things to do and see in Paris during the colder months. I visited in spring and encountered cold and rainy weather so this list would have come in handy.

    1. fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com

      too bad you were not lucky with the weather … hope you had a good time anyway!

  3. Ada

    As much as I hate cold I do love visit cities during the winter especially when there’s a lot of snow ! It always look so magical! I went to Paris ones in December and it look so beautiful! I loved all those Christmas decorations and seeing people ice skiting. Great post !

  4. ravenoustravellers

    Like I needed another excuse to visit Paris! It looks so beautiful in the Winter, I would love to see the all of the christmas decorations to get me in the mood for christmas! We love christmas markets too so we would definitely visit those!

  5. 8duffels2mutts

    I love your intro and your photos are quite nice too..artsy and unique! You might have even convinced me that I could enjoy Paris in the wintertime! 😀

    1. fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com

      I might have convinced myself, too haha 😀 I am not fond of winter, really… but there ARE things to do!

  6. bruceschinkel19

    Loved these ideas for Paris in winter. Skating and going for a walk to enjoy the season seem like great options to me, but now you’ve got me wanting to take a cooking class and visit the Christmas displays!!

  7. Diana

    After Autumn, Winter is my favourite season. I would totally explore the Covered Galleries and have copious amounts of hot chocolate! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Bonita

    Winter isn’t really my thing, but the things to do that you have listed really warms up the soul! I would like to try out a cooking class…nice post.

    1. fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com

      mine neither! 🙂 I would definitely go for the cooking class.. and a spa afternoon just after that 😀

  9. Krupa

    Paris is beautiful in each season.. how I wish to be there soon.. thanks for sharing .

  10. Erika

    Love this! Not a lot of people think to travel in the winter but there is always so much to do!

  11. amindfultravellerblog

    Theses are all great suggestions. I would live to do a Parisian cooking course!

  12. wordoftravelblog

    wish i knew it when i was in paris previous winter

    1. fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com

      you need to come back ! 🙂

  13. argan oil Morocco

    interesting thanks for your post

  14. Urbansider

    Parisian explorer with a preference for the less known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips 🙂 Thanks a lot !

    1. Salut from Paris

      Thank you for reading and your nice comment! All the best 🙂

Comments are closed.