Paris is a magical city to visit during any time of year. With iconic sites, amazing food, and incredible cultural offerings, there’s so much to do in the City of Light. Winter can be a great time to travel to Paris because crowd levels are lower than in the summer, and you can often find great deals on international flights to France! After living through a winter in Paris a couple of years ago (and visiting several times since), I’m passing on my top tips for a fantastic trip to Paris during the winter months!
Planning your first trip to Paris? Check out my first-timer’s guide to France!
Winter in Paris: What You Need to Know
Weather and What to Wear
Temperatures in Paris range from upper-to-mid 40s to 30 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months. For some, this might not seem super cold, but it does rain an average of 8 to 9 days every month during the winter, so be sure to pack a warm, waterproof jacket and boots! During my winter in Paris, I wore a puffy, water-resistant coat and rubber Chelsea booties with thick socks almost every day to stay warm and dry. Wear layers whenever you can; even though it’s chilly outside, most of the shops and restaurants are well-heated, so you’ll want to shed those extra layers once you get inside.
Things to Do During Winter in Paris
Even though it’s a little chilly in Paris during the winter months, you can still enjoy the best of the city! Just make sure to bundle up before going to the top of the Eiffel Tower! Here are some of the top (indoor) things to during winter in Paris.
Visit a Museum (or Three)
Paris is well-known for its esteemed art museums like the Louvre and d’Orsay, so these attractions are the perfect place to stay warm while enjoying some of the best of Parisian culture. If you’re looking for a more unique museum experience, check out the Palais de Tokyo, the Picasso museum, or another one of the 100+ museums in Paris! For more about these attractions, check out my guide to art museums in Paris, where I go into detail about some of the less-touristy museums (as well as the museums you can’t miss!
Enjoy Food the Parisian Way
One of my very favorite things about France is French food culture, which prizes taking the time to enjoy your meals instead of rushed eating. Settle into a cozy Parisian bistro and enjoy a multi-course Parisian lunch, or sip some wine while you people watch from the comfort of your table. With so much amazing food in Paris, you’ll be sure to enjoy this respite from the cold.
One great food experience that’s perfect for winter in Paris is Bustronome. Bustronome is a luxury dining experience set on a bus that takes you past all the major Parisian monuments. My mom and I went on the dinner tour in Paris in February and it was the perfect way to see the city lit up at night without getting cold! The bus has a panoramic roof, ensuring the best views of the Opera Garnier, Eiffel Tower, and more. As the finale of the 6-course dinner, the bus arrives at the Eiffel Tower just as it begins its hourly sparkle- perfect for a quick photo-op before hopping back on the warm bus. I wrote a whole review of my Paris Bustronome experience you can read here.
Take a Cooking Class
Looking for another indoor activity that combines French culture and food while avoiding the cold? Take a cooking class to learn how to make a classic French dish! I took a macaron baking class at Le Foodist when I lived in Paris, and I loved learning more about this iconic French sweet! Le Foodist also offers classes in wine tasting, croissant and baguette baking, and cooking classes that include a visit to the local market.
Shop Around the Famous Department Stores
Department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marche are the perfect place to shop around when it’s cold. Both of these stores are iconic in their own right. Galeries Lafayette’s flagship location on Boulevard Haussmann is beautiful with its stained-glass ceiling. You can find every major French designer here, and whether you’re looking for haute couture or a simple souvenir to bring home, you can find it here.
Le Bon Marche, located on Rue de Sèvres, is another department store well worth a visit if you love shopping. They have an incredible array of goods, and it is often less crowded than the Galeries Lafayette, which can be swarmed with tourists depending on the time of day. Le Bon Marche is also known for its incredible food department, La Grande Epicerie de Paris. La Grande Epicerie de Paris is every food lover’s dream, with glass cases of beautiful cheeses and shelves of interesting ingredients. I loved wandering through this uber-fancy grocery store and admiring all the breads, pastries, and meats. You can even grab a meal here and eat at a table in the middle of the store.
Visit 1800s Paris in the Covered Galeries
Originally built in 1832, Galerie Vivienne is a functioning piece of Parisian history. Paris used to be full of covered passages that linked streets together with cafes and shops, but only a few of these passages remain today! Check out Galerie Vivienne, located in the 2nd arrondissement, for a dose of Parisian history and window shopping.
Indulge in Cafe Culture
In the 1800s and 1900s, Paris was home to several intellectual and artistic circles that frequented coffeehouses throughout the city. Now, you can relive the old days and walk in the footsteps of Picasso at Cafe de Flore or Sartre at Le Deux Magots. Enjoy a cup of coffee and imagine what life was like when great thinkers and artists hung out in these cafes.
In the mood for something a little more indulgent? Head to Angelina’s for incredibly rich hot chocolate and beautiful pastries.
Visiting Paris during Christmas
Christmas can be an especially enchanting time to visit Paris. With Christmas markets located throughout the city and beautiful lights strung along every street, there so much to see! I personally loved strolling along the Champs Elysees Christmas market with a cup of festive mulled wine to keep me warm. Other fun things to do in Paris during Christmas include checking out the Christmas decorations at Galeries Lafayette, a famous department store, and ice skating at one of the many outdoor rinks.
If you’re going to be in Paris on any major holiday, like Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, make sure to plan your meals and attractions well in advance. Many shops, attractions, and restaurants close on these holidays, and reservations fill up fast, so I recommend booking at least a month in advance if you can.
How to Spend You Winter in Paris
Despite the chilly temperatures, I loved living in Paris during the winter, and it made me appreciate even more everything that this incredible city has to offer! Are you heading to Paris this winter?