/ / Paris in Winter: What To Do, The Weather, Where To Stay + What To Pack

Paris in Winter: What To Do, The Weather, Where To Stay + What To Pack

Want to travel to Paris in winter but not sure what to expect? This post will give you all the best practical tips on the weather, where to stay, plus what to do!

There’s something truly magical about the end of the year when the world decides to slow down its work, ramp up the festivities, and truly make the most of the cozy, bundle-up weather that the winter is known for and Paris in winter is genuinely no different!

Though the Spring cherry blossoms and hot summer days are long gone and Paris is wrapped in a coat of gray and rain, there is still a number of things to do in Paris in winter that make visiting the city during this time of year worthwhile.

If you can brave the cold (which is not that cold compared to other cities in Northern Europe), there are so many reasons to visit Paris in winter.

Eiffel Tower in Paris in winter
Eiffel Tower in Paris in winter

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From enjoying the various Christmas markets, participating in winter-themed activities, to warming up with vin chaud, and more, winter in Paris offers much more than you can imagine.

You’ll also get a chance to indulge in the Parisian art scene at galleries, visit Parisian monuments, and museums without the huge crowds while enjoying reduced prices on accommodation and the general cost of travel.

That coupled with enjoying a different side of Paris will make your Paris winter getaway worthwhile.

Ready to discover Paris in winter? Read on to find out the best things to do in Paris during winter, where to stay, what the weather is like, and practical tips to make sure you enjoy your Paris winter escape.

Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit: Practical Quick Tips

WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Shangri-La Paris (9.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)  

Weather in Paris in Winter

Square Rapp is one of the best places to take pictures in Paris

Though the Paris in winter weather is definitely not the most desirable, exploring the city without the swarming crowds that come with summer or spring can be quite enjoyable.

The weather in Paris in winter is cold but not unbearable, for most people anyway, but you can expect a blend of rain and breeze for the most part.

There are also very slim chances of snow in Paris because of the increased rainfall and it’s never too cold to form snow but even if it does, it never stays long on the ground.

During the winter months (December, January, and February), the temperatures progressively drop but they rarely drop below 0°C (32°F), though it can still happen, especially at night.

On average, temperatures oscillate between 3°C (37°F) low and 9°C (48°F) high with a few sunny (but still cold) days here and there.

But that’s not all! Winter time also means short days! Yes, much shorter than Parisian fall.

Though the specific timings vary month to month, in general, the sun rises between 8:40 AM and 7: 35 AM, and sets between 4:50 PM and 6:30 PM, making the nights longer, perfect for enjoying the Paris nightlife while traversing the city of lights in all its glory.

Paris Winter Weather Temperatures

Rue Norvins is one of the prettiest streets in Paris

To better understand the winter weather and how to best prepare for it, let’s get into the specifics about the temperature in Paris during each winter month.

  • Paris winter temperature in December: 8°C (46°F) high and 4°C (39°F) low, with an average of 11 days of rainfall.
  • Paris winter temperature in January: 8°C (46°F) high and 3°C (37°F) low, with an average of 10 days of rainfall.
  • Paris winter temperature in February: 9°C (48°F) high and 3°C (37°F) low, with an average of 9 days of rainfall.

Already know the specific winter month you want to travel to Paris? Then you can check out my individual guides on either visiting Paris in December, how to enjoy Paris in January, or the fun things to do in Paris in February.

Where to Stay in Paris in Winter

For your vacation in the magical city of Paris in the winter, there are several options for you to enjoy a comfortable stay, ranging from budget-friendly options to your own serviced apartment. To help you choose your perfect stay, here are my expert recommendations.

Hotel Eiffel Seine
Hotel Eiffel Seine

Budget Accommodation

Hotel Apolonia Paris Montmartre; Sure Hotel Collection by Best Western: Located in the iconic 18th Arrondissement within walking distance of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the Montmarte Museum, Place du Tertre, and other Montmarte landmarks, this hotel is a great option if you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodation! With rooms equipped with all the basic amenities and the nearest metro station barely 200 meters away, it has everything you’d need without breaking the bank!

>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<

Mid-Range Accommodation

Hotel Eiffel Seine: A bespoke hotel located in the heart of the city with easy access to several of Paris’ famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Trocadero Gardens, and the Seine, Hotel Eiffel Seine will impress you in more ways than one. The property’s contemporary rooms and accompanying facilities offer anything you’d need during your vacation. It also has an in-house café and restaurant that’ll satisfy all your late-night cravings and let’s not forget their buffet breakfast and an onsite gym.

>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<

La Maison Favart Hotel
La Maison Favart Hotel

Luxury Accommodation

La Maison Favart: If you’re looking to holiday in luxury during your stay in Paris in winter, La Maison Favart is the hotel to be at! In a complete 5-star experience, you’ll be surrounded by stylish 18th-century architecture and all the over-the-top amenities you could ever need. The hotel is a short walk from the Opéra Garnier, Daunou Theatre, the Louvre, and other top landmarks. Some of the amenities to enjoy at this hotel include a fitness center, sauna, a swimming pool, and perfectly decorated rooms.

>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<

Apartment Rental/Airbnb

Citadines Les Halles Paris: If you consider yourself to vacation better when you’re staying at an apartment rental and in charge of your own space and food, there are several Airbnb options across the city to choose from and Citadines Les Halles Paris is the best choice. Located in the historical 1st Arrondissement of Paris, within proximity of the Chatelet Theatre, Rue de Rivoli, the Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral, etc, the apartments are equipped with basic necessities, a bathtub, dishwasher, and other facilities. So, if you’re looking for an apartment to stay in while visiting Paris in winter, this aparthotel is an excellent option!

>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<

Does nothing suit you in the above recommendations? Then you can go through my list of Paris hotels that give Eiffel Tower views, these Paris hotels with a swimming pool, these hotels near the Louvre museum, or these hotels in Montmartre if you want to stay in the 18th district.

If a homey stay is what you prefer, I also have articles on rental apartments with Eiffel Tower viewsluxury rental apartments in Paris, or these budget-friendly apartment rentals in Paris. There is a wide variety to choose from!

12 Best things to do in Paris in Winter

Now that you know where to stay in Paris and what the weather is like, here are the best places to visit in Paris in winter plus the fun things to do.

1. Explore the Beautiful Christmas Markets

Shopping around at a Christmas market is one of the things to do when visiting paris in December.
Notre Dame Christmas Market

Out of the several different ways to spend your winter afternoons in the city, exploring the various Christmas markets is for sure one of the things you must do!

With colorful wooden chalets decorated in shimmering lights, fun games, music, and warm hearty meals sold on various stalls, a stroll through the Paris Christmas markets is sure to make you feel the holiday spirit.

You can find Christmas markets dotted around Paris, especially near the famous landmarks but some you shouldn’t miss during this time of year include; the Eiffel Tower Christmas Market, Tuileries Garden Christmas Market, Montmartre Christmas Market, Notre Dame Christmas market, and La defense Christmas market, etc.

At the Christmas markets, you’ll find artisanal goods that you can even buy to take back home as souvenirs, specialty winter French foods, decorations, and so much more.

And, if you have the time to make a weekend trip from Paris to other parts of the country, you can look at visiting Alsace which is known worldwide for its impressive Christmas markets.

So, if you’re Paris winter trip falls around December, be sure to enjoy the festivities that come with celebrating Christmas in Paris.

2. Explore The Parisian Museums without the crowds

Exploring the Parisian Museums without the crowds is one of the best things to do in winter in Paris.
Musée d’Orsay

Though the museums of Paris are a charm to explore all year round, Paris in the wintertime doesn’t attract many international tourists meaning that you’ll be able to leisurely look at art and learn from the displays devoid of any rush or long queues!

There are so many museums that you could spend endless hours getting lost in, but the ones you can’t miss are the Louvre Musem, where you’ll be able to spot the famous Mona Lisa and other legendary artwork from some of the best artists in the world, the Centre Pompidou for a look at contemporary art and design, Musée d’Orsay to admire impressionist paintings including the famous paintings by Renoir, Musée de l’Orangerie to see the large water lilies paintings by Claude Monet, Musée du Quai Branly to admire indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas., and so many others.

Exterior of Louve museum
Louve museum

And it’s not just the big museums, you can also check out lesser-known ones including the free museums in Paris.

If you plan on visiting a number of museums, I recommend buying this Paris museum pass as it will save you a lot of money and give you fast entry to attractions. You can read my Paris museum pass review to see all the pros that come with it.

Alternatively, you can buy individual skip-the-line tickets to various museums. Below are the entry tickets to popular museums in Paris.

3. Go ice skating around the city

Going ice skating is one of the fun things to do in Paris in February

What’s more exciting than putting on your skating shoes and enjoying the cold winter at a skating rink? It is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in winter in Paris.

You can choose from a variety of skating rinks across the city. Some of the popular ones are the rooftop ice rink at Galeries Lafayette, promising you an unparalleled experience.

The other is the Olympic ice rink of Boulogne-Billancourt, where the atmosphere turns from calm in the mornings to festive in the afternoons and party-like in the evenings!

If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a rink at the Eiffel Tower on the first level, where you can skate with a bird’s eye view of Paris and sip on some hot chocolate when you take a break!

4. Bring in the new year with your loved ones

Bringing in the new year in style is one of the best things to do in December in Paris.

With the wintertime comes the end of the year when people slow down their work, the school’s out, and everyone spends time with loved ones; and honestly, there’s no better way to celebrate the end of a glorious year and the beginning of another than in Paris, amongst the twinkling lights.

You can choose from a plethora of different activities depending on your interests and mood.

If you love letting loose, going clubbing in any of Paris’ renowned fancy clubs could be a great way to dance into the next chapter.

But if you prefer smaller and more intimate celebrations, a fine-dining meal at a restaurant with an Eiffel Tower view would be ideal or a picnicking by the Seine with champagne is a brilliant way to rejoice too!

And to crown your new year’s eve celebration, be sure to step out and watch the impressive fireworks above the Eiffel tower to bring in the new year in the best way possible.

5. Marvel at the Christmas lights

Admiring the Christmas lights display is one of the best things to do in Paris at Christmas
Christmas lights at Champs-Élyées

Come wintertime, one cannot but look forward to the city of Paris being bedecked with lights during Christmastime.

This is when you can witness the most amazing Christmas lights on display in the city starting from the departmental stores at Boulevard Haussmann, where you’ll be able to spot animated graphics at the Printemps Haussmann store and at Galleries Lafayette. Be sure to also enter Galleries Lafayette to see the most beautiful Christmas tree in Paris.

Paris during Christmas and the time that follows is a delight to walk through during the long winter nights and particularly a stroll along the famous Champs-Élyées, which is always adorned with the most spectacular display of lights, year after year.

Other places to enjoy the Christmas lights include, Place Vendôme, Bercy village, Le Village Royal, Avenue Montaigne, and so many others.

If you don’t feel like walking the entire city but still want to fully take in the beauty of the Christmas lights, then I recommend booking this Christmas lights Night bus tour that will take you through all the illuminated streets of Paris.

6. Beat the cold with hot chocolate or vin chaud

Keeping warm with hot chocolate or vin chaud is one of the best things to do in Paris during winter.
Vin Chaud

The weather in Paris in the winter can become chilly, especially in the evenings and nighttime, and what better way to warm up than to sip on hot chocolate or some vin chaud (hot mulled wine) that you’ll find at most Christmas markets or cafés in the city.

Some of the top places to get a hot chocolate include; Angelina which is known for its African hot chocolate that you can pair with its world-renowned macarons, Café de Flore, where you’ll find exquisite latte art, La Maison Rose, which is one of the cutest cafes in Paris, Lindt Shop Paris Opera, and many others.

These cafés are decorated beautifully all year round and also decorate for the Christmastime making any visit to any of these quaint Parisian joints a delight in itself!

7. Explore the covered passages of Paris

Exploring the covered passages of Paris is one of the best nontouristy things to do in Paris
Passage du Grand-Cerf

One of the top things to do in Paris in the winter, because the weather can be dicey, is to explore the covered passages of Paris.

Built during the first half of the 19th century, these passages were the first form of shopping arcades in the city and though hidden, they’re some of the most beautiful parts of Paris.

The galleries adorn Parisian architecture, mosaic flooring, glass roofs, and other unique design elements making them an excellent way to spend a winter afternoon of solitude.

Some passages you should explore include Galerie Vivienne Paris, Passage Verdeau, Passage Jouffroy, where you’ll find a nightclub, Passage du Grand-Cerf Paris, and more.

8. Indulge in the winter sales

Shopping during the winter sales is one of the things to do in Paris in January

As the world’s fashion capital, shopping in Paris is truly a must-do, but often, when accompanied by several expensive dinners and excursions, it can get heavy on the pocket.

So, the sales, called les soldes, that happen in the city during winter are a great time to shop.

The sales during this part of the year begin post the Black Friday frenzy (the beginning of December) and go on for 6 – 8 weeks.

If you happen to be visiting in the second half of the winter, you’ll have a great shot at bargaining and getting discounts that rise as high as 75% off!

From the famous and luxurious French perfume brands, jewelry brands, and handbag brands, to lesser-known stores, most shops in Paris participate in the winter sales, so you can buy that expensive something you’ve been wishing for at a discounted rate during this time.

9. Watch a cabaret show

Spending Your Evening Watching a Cabaret Show is one of the best rainy day activities in Paris.

Cabaret shows rose to popularity in the 19th century and have gradually become one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Paris’ nightlife while learning more about its art and culture.

So, if you’re confused about what to do in Paris in winter, don’t miss out on spending an evening at a cabaret to be entertained by talented dancers, singers, and trendy costumes while sipping on champagne and enjoying a meal.

There are four primary venues in the city that you can check out; Moulin Rouge (which you’ve probably heard of before since it became a global phenomenon), Lido Cabaret, Paradis Latin, and Crazy Horse, and your experience at each is bound to be different and exceptional.

If you fall in love with one show, going back to another at a different venue is certainly something you could do to enjoy your evenings in the city with some pomp-and-show!

However, if you want to go to just one, I recommend going to Moulin Rouge. The seats book out fast so you’d need to book a slot in advance. You can either book this Moulin Rouge show with dinner or this one with just champagne to keep the budget in check.

10. Admire the sights at the Festival of Light

Attending the Festival of Lights at Jardin des Plantes is one of the best things to do in December in Paris.

Photo by Andy Hammond/ Flickr

One of the must-dos in Paris in winter is attending the magnificent Festival of Lights that takes place annually at the expansive Jardin des Plantes, which is one of the most beautiful parks in Paris.

Located in the 5th Arrondissement, this festival lights up the entire park and beyond with its perfectly designed lanterns based on a different theme each year, taking you on a nostalgic journey through time.

While enjoying these beautiful sights, you can cherish the garden where the iconic festival takes place, a celebration of art, nature, science, and more.

Each one of the exhibits is a wonder to see and also carries with it a theme that aims to raise awareness about issues that affect our world especially the endangered species.

Book your tickets online in advance as it is a favorite spot to visit during the long winter nights in Paris.

11. Catch an opera show

Catching an opera show is one of the best things to do in Paris during winter.
Palais Garnier

Paris in winter weather can certainly be unpredictable and gloomy some days, making indoor activities and performances the perfect way to shelter away from the cold while still enjoying the city’s charm.

Paris’ art scene is known worldwide for putting up exquisite, delicate, and tasteful performances that charm the audience endlessly, and an Opera show that is the epitome of Paris’ theatre, music, and ballet is bound to be enjoyable.

Catching an opera show at the luxurious Palais Garnier will leave you feeling like royalty.

And if you’re a design and architecture buff, you can arrive earlier than the show for a self-guided tour of the magnificent building!

However, even if you end up not watching a show at the Opera, just a visit to take in its grandiose beauty is worthwhile. Purchase this Opera self-guided ticket to admire its world-famous grand staircase and the shimmers of its grand foyer.

12. Explore the Festival Du Merveilleux (Festival Of Wonder)

Exploring the Festival Du Merveilleux is one of the fun things to do in Paris in winter.

Medelie Vendetta from France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the many magical events in the city in the wintertime is Festival Du Merveilleux, also known as the festival of wonder.

Set in the Pavillons de Bercy and open to the public for ten days post-Christmastime, an ode to the art and culture of the time from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, this festival is a favorite of all ages.

You’ll find carnival foods, games, rides, attractions, and performances from magicians, musicians, tap dancers, and aerial silk dancers that will leave you full of wonder.

A quintessential funfair with Parisian elements, a wintry evening spent here will not disappoint!

What To Wear In Paris In Winter + What To Pack

what to wear in Paris in december

When it comes to what to wear in Paris in winter, the rule of thumb is layering, and below are some of the things you should wear to stay warm.

Beanie: I like this one because it’s very warm and it looks cute.

Earmuffs: For days you don’t feel like wearing a beanie, these earmuffs will be at your service when it comes to keeping your ears warm.

Scarf: Make sure to carry a large one like this which you can also use as a blanket for more warmth.

Winter coat: This is the exact winter coat I have and I can vouch for it. It’s the perfect outer layer for your stay in Paris during winter.

Fleece/ sweater: For your mid-layer, you’ll need to carry a warm fleece like this one or this sweater if you’re not a fan of fleece.

Eiffel Tower view in winter

Long-sleeved merino wool top: You’ll also need a long-sleeved base layer to complete the layering. I like this merino-wool long-sleeved base layer as it is warm, soft, breathable, and sweat-wicking.

A pair of Jeans: When it comes to the bottom, this pair of jeans never disappoints.

Thermals: Jeans might be nice but they’re just not warm enough for winter temperatures and that’s why I suggest taking this pair of thermals.

Woolen socks: These socks are warm enough and they’ll keep your feet dry.

Umbrella: It is bound to rain in Paris in winter whether you like it or not, so you’d rather be prepared by taking this windproof travel umbrella.

Power bank: The cold drains battery like no other and that’s why you need to pack this portable power bank to keep charging on the go.

Universal Travel Adapter: Instead of taking the European travel adapter, I recommend taking this universal travel adapter so that you don’t keep buying a new one every time you travel to a new country.


Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do in Paris in Winter

With so many different festivals and celebrations, weather that makes you want to make the most of the daylight and cozy up with some wine at night time, iconic world-class shows that you won’t stop talking about, and so much more, Paris in winter is truly a great time to visit Paris.

Be sure to prepare well for the colder weather, carry an umbrella in case of some unexpected showers, and take in every moment during your time in the city of lights as you experience Paris from a different perspective.

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Psst… Before traveling to Paris or France in general, make sure that you have Travel Insurance!

I always use World Nomads on all my trips and I am happy to recommend it to you.

However, recently my friends have been raving about Safety Wings as it also covers Cov*d. You can easily request a free quote from World Nomads or Safety Wings by clicking on the buttons below.

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