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Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and for good reason. The city is home to some of the most iconic landmarks and attractions, not to mention a rich history and culture.
And while Paris can be visited at any time of year, there’s something truly special about experiencing the French Capital during the winter season.
Winter in Paris is always a great idea, visiting Paris in December (during the Christmas season) means you’ll get to experience all of the city’s holiday cheer. From the twinkling lights on the Champs-Elysées to the festive Christmas decorations in Place Vendôme, Paris is even more magical during the holidays. And if you’re lucky enough to visit during a snowfall, it’s truly an unforgettable experience.
If you’re thinking about a Paris winter trip, here’s everything you need to know, from the best things to do and see to where to stay and what to pack.
Why Is Winter The Best Season To Visit The City Of Love?
While some people may disagree, we think winter is the best time to visit Paris. The city comes alive during this festive season with beautiful Christmas lights, decorations, and markets. Not to mention, the cooler weather means smaller crowds at all the major attractions. Here are a few more reasons why winter is the best time to visit Paris:
The Weather Is Cooler
One of the best things about winter weather in Paris is that it’s much cooler than during the summer months. This makes sightseeing much more enjoyable, as you won’t be sweating buckets while waiting in line to see the Eiffel Tower. Plus, since the weather is cooler, you won’t have to worry about your makeup melting or your hair frizzing up.
There Are Fewer Crowds
Another great perk of visiting Paris in winter is that there are far fewer crowds than in summer. This means you’ll be able to get tickets to popular attractions like the Moulin Rouge or the Palace of Versailles without having to plan months in advance. And, you won’t have to fight your way through hordes of people just to get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. While Christmas is the high season, you can definitely avoid the crowds by arriving in early December or staying until early January.
The Christmas Lights Are Magical
One of the best things about winter in Paris is the magical Christmas lights that adorn the city. Every year, the City of Light shines even brighter with twinkling lights strung up around every major square and boulevard. Walking around Paris at night during this time of year is truly a magical experience.
The Christmas Markets Are Fun
If you love Christmas, then you’ll definitely enjoy visiting the various Christmas markets that pop up around Paris in December. These markets are the perfect place to do some holiday shopping, as you’ll find everything from traditional French Christmas decorations to handcrafted gifts and jewelry. Plus, there’s usually a festive atmosphere with music and food stalls, making it a great place to enjoy a glass of mulled wine.
40 Things To Do When Visiting Paris On A Winter Trip
Now that you know why winter is the best time to visit Paris, it’s time to start planning your trip. To help you make the most of your time in the city, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do during a Paris winter vacation.
1. Admire the Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées
The festive lights on the Champs-Elysées are one of the most iconic sights in Paris during winter. Every year, the world-famous boulevard is transformed into a twinkling wonderland, making it the perfect place to take a romantic stroll.
2. Go Ice Skating at the Eiffel Tower
One of the best things to do in Paris during winter is to go ice skating at the Eiffel Tower. The outdoor ice rink is open from November to February and offers breathtaking views of the city.
3. Go Christmas Shopping at the Christmas Markets
Paris is home to some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. From the famous market at Place Vendôme to the smaller markets scattered around the city, you’ll find everything from traditional French foods to handmade gifts and decorations.
4. See the Beautiful Holiday Season Window Displays
During the holiday season, many of Paris’ department stores and boutiques go all out with their window displays. From festive scenes to life-size nutcrackers, the displays are truly a sight to behold.
5. Take a Festive Holiday Photo in Front Of The Eiffel Tower
Who doesn’t love a good festive photo? And there’s no better place to take one than in front of the Eiffel Tower. With the twinkling lights and wintery atmosphere, it makes for the perfect holiday card or Instagram post.
6. Enjoy Some Delicious Seasonal Foods and Hot Chocolate
From sweet treats like pain d’epices (gingerbread) and galettes des rois (king’s cake) to savory dishes like coq au vin, there are plenty of delicious seasonal foods to enjoy in Paris. And don’t forget about the hot cocoa!
7. Enjoy a Traditional French Christmas Dinner
If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris for Christmas Day, then you should definitely enjoy a traditional French Christmas dinner. From roasted turkey to Bûche de Noël (yule log cake), it’s a meal you won’t soon forget.
8. Attend a Midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral
For many Parisians, attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve is an important tradition. If you’re in the city during this time, you can join them by attending a mass at Notre Dame Cathedral.
9. See The Nutcracker Ballet at the Opera Garnier
The Nutcracker is a classic Christmas story that’s beloved by people of all ages. And what better place to see it than at the world-famous Opera Garnier? The ballet is performed every year from December to January, so be sure to catch it if you can.
10. Browse the Holiday Stalls at the Marché aux Puces
The Marché aux Puces is one of the largest flea markets in Paris and is a great place to find unique holiday gifts. The market is open every weekend from November to December, so be sure to add it to your list of things to do.
11. Visit Santa at His Workshop in the Galeries Lafayette
Every year, Santa Claus sets up shop in the Galeries Lafayette department store. Kids can visit him to tell him what they want for Christmas and have their photo taken with him.
12. Go on a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride Through the City
One of the best ways to see the sights of Paris is from a horse-drawn carriage. These carriage rides are available year-round, but they’re especially romantic during winter.
13. Take a scenic stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens
The Luxembourg Gardens are one of the most beautiful places in Paris, and they’re even more stunning during winter. The gardens are open year-round, so be sure to visit them during your stay.
13. Visit Disneyland Paris For Some Holiday Fun
Disneyland Paris is the perfect place to enjoy some holiday fun. The park is decked out in Christmas decorations and there are plenty of festive events and activities to enjoy.
14. Witness the New Year’s Eve Celebration on the Champs-Élysées
One of the best things to do in Paris during winter is to witness the New Year’s Eve celebration on the Champs-Élysées. This is one of the largest and most spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world, so it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss.
15. See the Nutcracker Champs Elysees Theatre
If you’re a fan of the Nutcracker, then you’ll definitely want to see it performed at the Champs Elysees Theatre. The theatre is one of the most popular venues in Paris and the ballet is performed every year from December to January.
15. Marvel at the majestic Christmas tree at the Hôtel de Ville
Each year, the Hôtel de Ville (Paris’ City Hall) is home to a magnificent Christmas tree. The tree is usually around 30 meters tall and is decorated with lights and garlands. It’s definitely a sight to see!
16. See the Nativity Scene at the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris and it’s even more beautiful during winter. The basilica is home to a life-size Nativity scene that is definitely worth seeing.
17. Admire The Holiday Lights on the Pont Alexandre III
The Pont Alexandre III is one of the most popular bridges in Paris and it’s even more beautiful during the holidays. The bridge is decorated with lights and garlands, making it a truly magical sight.
18. Shop for Christmas Gifts at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is one of the most popular department stores in Paris and it’s the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping. The store is decked out in holiday decorations and there is a wide variety of shops to choose from.
19. Take a Festive Holiday Photo in Front of Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris and it’s even more beautiful during winter. Be sure to take a festive holiday photo in front of the cathedral to remember your trip.
20. Go For a Romantic Walk along the Canal Saint-Martin
Paris in winter is the perfect time for a romantic stroll along the Canal Saint-Martin. The canal is lined with trees and cafes, making it a truly magical place to walk.
21. Drink Mulled Wine at a Christmas Market
One of the best things to do in Paris during winter is to drink mulled wine at a Christmas market. There are several markets located throughout the city, so be sure to visit one during your stay.
22. Visit the Musée Grévin to see the lifelike wax statues
The Musée Grévin is a wax museum located in Paris and it’s definitely worth a visit. The museum is home to over 300 lifelike wax statues, including some of the most famous celebrities and historical figures. The museum is also decked out in holiday decorations, making it a truly festive place to visit.
23. Have a Snowball Fight in the Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries is one of the most popular parks in Paris and it’s the perfect place to have a snowball fight if the weather report says you can expect snow. The park is also home to a beautiful Christmas market, so be sure to visit it during your stay.
24. See the Giant Ferris Wheel at Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is one of the most popular squares in Paris and it’s even more beautiful during winter. The square is home to a giant Ferris wheel that offers spectacular views of the city.
25. Visit the Musée d’Orsay to See the Impressionist paintings
The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most popular museums in Paris and it’s definitely worth a visit. The museum is home to a wide collection of Impressionist paintings, making it a must-see for art lovers. Like most Paris museums the Muée d’Orsay is open year-round except on Christmas Day.
26. Enjoy a Traditional Crêpe From a Street Vendor
Eating a crêpe from a street vendor is a great way to experience traditional French cuisine. The crepes are made fresh and they’re usually served warm, making them the perfect snack for a cold winter day.
27. Go Sledding in the Luxembourg Gardens
The Luxembourg Gardens is a large park located in the center of Paris and it’s the perfect place to go sledding in winter if the weather allows. The park is also home to a beautiful palace and several other attractions, so be sure to visit it during your winter stay.
28. Attend a Traditional French New Year’s Eve Celebration
If you’re in Paris during New Year’s Eve, be sure to attend a traditional French New Year’s Eve celebration. The celebrations typically involve music, dancing and fireworks, making it a truly memorable experience.
29. Watch the Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve
If you want to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, there’s no better place to do it than the Eiffel Tower. The tower is illuminated with fireworks at midnight and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
30. Watch the Fireworks display on the Champs-Elysées
Another option to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks is on the Champs-Elysées. The avenue is closed to traffic on New Year’s Eve and it’s the perfect place to watch the fireworks display.
31. Shop for Bargains at the Winter Sales
If you love to shop, then you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the winter sales. The sales typically start in early January and they last for several weeks but sometimes you can find good deals around Christmas time.
32. Visit The Marché de Noël Notre-Dame de Paris
The Marché de Noël Notre-Dame de Paris is a Christmas market located near the Notre Dame Cathedral. The market is full of festive stalls selling traditional Christmas decorations, toys and food.
One of the best ways to see the city in winter is by taking a Paris Winter Night Tour with a Seine River Cruise. The tour takes you around some of the most popular sights in Paris and ends with a cruise down the Seine River.
34. Take a Day Trip to the Palace of Versailles During Wintertime
The Palace of Versailles is a popular tourist destination near Paris and it’s definitely worth a visit during wintertime. The palace is decorated with holiday lights and there’s also an ice rink in the gardens, making it a truly festive place to visit.
35. Go To A Christmas Concert at the Saint Sulpice Church
If you’re looking for a unique way to experience Christmas in Paris, then be sure to go to a Christmas concert at the Saint Sulpice Church. The church is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris and it’s especially beautiful during the holiday season.
36. Listen To A Holiday Concert at the Sainte Chapelle
Another great option for experiencing Christmas in Paris is to listen to a holiday concert at the Sainte Chapelle. The chapel is a beautiful Gothic building located on the Île de la Cité and it’s definitely worth a visit during the winter months.
37. Sip on a Hot Toddy at Harry’s New York Bar
Harry’s New York Bar is a popular bar located in the center of Paris and it’s the perfect place to warm up with a hot toddy. The bar is known for its extensive selection of cocktails and its cozy atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
38. Visit the Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris is a popular tourist attraction located underground and it’s definitely worth a visit during wintertime. The catacombs are home to the remains of over six million people and they’re a truly fascinating place to explore.
39. Have Dinner at Le Train Bleu Restaurant
Le Train Bleu Restaurant is a popular dining spot located in the Gare de Lyon train station. The restaurant is decorated in a Belle Époque style and it’s known for its exquisite cuisine.
41. Enjoy a Christmas Eve and Day Dinner Cruise
One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Paris is by taking a dinner cruise on the Seine River. The cruise includes a four-course meal and live entertainment, making it a truly festive experience.
42. Explore Paris on a 2-Hour Christmas Walking Tour
Another great way to experience Christmas in Paris is by taking a walking tour of the city. The tour includes stops at some of the most popular sights in Paris, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower.
Where To Stay in Paris in Winter
There are plenty of great places to stay in Paris during wintertime and the best place to stay really depends on your personal preferences.
There are some excellent hotels located near the major attractions, such as the Victoria Palace Hotel Paris and the Hotel Regina Louvre near the Louvre Museum. Our top choices are the Shangri-La Hotel Paris, which is located in the heart of the city near the Eiffel Tower, and the Four Seasons Hotel George V, which is located near the Champs-Élysées.
For a more budget-friendly option, there are some great mid-range hotels located throughout the city. Our top choices are the Hôtel des Académies et des Arts near the Louvre Museum and the Hotel Da Vinci near the Eiffel Tower.
If you’re looking for a truly budget-friendly option, there are some great hotels located outside of the city center. Our top choices are the Hôtel Ibis Styles Paris La Défense and the Hôtel Campanile Paris Ouest – Clichy.
Cute Boutique Hotels
There are also some extremely cute boutique hotels located throughout the city, such as the Hôtel des Grands Boulevards near the Grands Boulevards and the Hôtel Grand Amour near the Montmartre district. Another great option is the Hôtel Paradis Latin, which is located near the Latin Quarter.
AirBnBs in Paris
If you’re looking for a more unique experience, there are some great AirBnBs located throughout the city. Our top choices are this charming studio near the Eiffel Tower and this cozy apartment near the Louvre Museum.
What To Wear In Paris in Winter
When packing for your trip to Paris in winter, it’s important to pack clothing that will keep you warm. You might be wondering what people are wearing in Paris during winter and our best advice is: Don’t overthink it! Just dress comfortably and in your own style and you’ll be fine.
When it comes to footwear, our best advice is to pack a pair of comfortable shoes that you can walk in. Paris is a city made for walking and you’ll definitely be doing a lot of it, so make sure to pack a pair of shoes that won’t hurt your feet. Make sure to also pack some nicer dress shoes in case you want to go to a nicer restaurant or bar in the evening or go to a show.
For tops, we recommend packing a mix of both long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts. Paris weather varies and you never know what the weather is going to be like in December, so it’s always best to be prepared. If you tend to get cold easily, then we also recommend packing a sweater or light jacket that you can layer over your shirts.
As for pants, we recommend packing a mix of both jeans and dress pants. Jeans are always a good option for sightseeing during the day, but you might want to dress up a bit more in the evening. If you’re not sure what to wear, then our best advice is to just pack a few different options and you’ll be sure to find something that works for you.
And last but not least, don’t forget to pack a scarf! Scarves are extremely popular in Paris and they’re the perfect accessory for keeping warm during the winter months.
FAQs About Traveling To Paris in Winter
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about visiting Paris in winter.
What Is The Weather Like in Paris During Winter?
The weather in Paris during winter can be quite variable. You might have days where it’s sunny and mild, or you might have days where it’s cold and rainy. The best thing to do is to pack a mix of both warm and cold weather clothing so that you’re prepared for anything.
How Much Rain Does Paris Get In Winter?
Paris gets an average of about 15 days of rain per month during winter. However, the amount of rain can vary from year to year.
Is There Snow In Paris?
There is sometimes snow in Paris, but it’s not very common. If you’re hoping to see some snow during your trip, then we recommend planning your trip for later in the winter months (February or March).
When Does Winter Start in Paris?
The first day of winter in Paris is December 21st and the last day of winter in Paris is March 20th.
What Is Winter Like In Paris?
The winter months in Paris can be quite variable, with some days being sunny and mild and other days being cold and rainy. No matter what the weather is like, though, there’s always plenty to do in the city. From Christmas markets to New Year’s Eve parties, there’s something for everyone in Paris during winter.
Is it Worth Visiting Paris in Winter?
Absolutely! Paris is a beautiful city and there’s no better time to visit than during the winter months. You’ll find that the city is far less crowded than during the summer, and you’ll also get to experience some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
What Are The Best Things To Do In Paris During Winter?
There are plenty of great things to do in Paris during winter. Some of our favorites include going to see the Nutcracker ballet at the Opéra Garnier, enjoying a festive dinner cruise on the Seine River, and exploring the city on a walking tour.
What Are The Best Places To Eat In Paris During Winter?
There are plenty of great places to eat in Paris during winter. Some of our favorites include La Petite Chaise, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and Le Comptoir.
What Are The Best Christmas Markets In Paris?
Some of the best Christmas markets in Paris are the marchés de Noël at the Place Vendôme, the Hôtel de Ville, and the Jardin des Tuileries.
What Is There To Do In Paris On New Year’s Eve?
There are a number of different events and parties that take place in Paris on New Year’s Eve. If you’re looking for something to do, then we recommend checking out one of the many New Year’s Eve celebrations that take place around the city.