Paris is one of those cities that can do no wrong. The art, food, wine, and sheer beauty of the city make you fall in love each time you visit. And while Paris is lovely every season, I have a particular affinity for visiting in the wintertime. When the crowds thin out, prices drop, and you can spend chilly days under heaters at outdoor patios or indoors at some of the most famous art museums in the world.
For purposes of this post, the “wintertime” is referred to as January and February. After the holidays end and before spring begins. So without further ado, I give you 5 reasons (that you really should make a priority) to travel to Paris in the winter months.
5 Reasons to Visit Paris in the Winter
1. Fewer Tourists Visit
Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, welcoming millions visitors per year. If you visit Paris during winter you can expect significantly fewer crowds, as the least amount of tourists visit during January and February. (The peak tourist season is in the summer months).
Of course, with fewer crowds come more affordable hotel prices, less wait times to popular museums, a drop in airfare because demand is down, the list goes on!
2. Prices Drop
As stated earlier, with fewer crowds comes more affordable prices! Tickets to fly to Paris are generally cheaper in the winter because not as many people are visiting. Plus hotel rates can drop significantly. I stayed at a 4-star hotel, in a superior room, for about $140/night. In the summer months that same hotel doubles in price.
If you’re looking to travel to Paris on a budget, don’t overlook Paris in the winter when prices are at an all time low. If you aren’t necessarily looking to travel on a budget, think of it as saving some money to splurge on something else like shopping or a Michelin starred meal!
3. Ability to Get Coveted Restaurant Reservations
Paris has one of the best restaurant scenes in the world with top chefs and Michelin star restaurants scattered throughout the city. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get into some of these coveted restaurants – especially if you’re visiting during the high season. But at low season, with the crowds thinned out, you have a much better chance at dining at some pretty great places. While I still recommend making reservations ahead of time, I found that popular restaurants, like Clown Bar, were open to walk-ins compared to the summer months when they are too busy to accept walk-ins.
Read more: The Best Restaurants in Paris
4. It’s the Perfect Time to Visit the Museums
Can you dream up a more magical day than spending a chilly day inside at a famous art museum? One of the best things about Paris and what attracts a ton of visitors is their world-class museums. However, who wants to visit Paris when the sun is shining and the weather is warm, only to stand inside all day? That’s why visiting Paris in winter is perfect if you want to visit museums like the Lourve, Musee O’rsay, and more.
If you do plan to visit Paris and spend a good amount of time at the museums, I highly recommend purchasing a Museum Pass. The Museum Pass gets you into the National Museums for free and the pass can be good for one day up to six days, depending on which one your purchase. Museum passes can be bought at the airport or at tourist stands around the city.
5. The Sun Rises Later/The Weather isn’t Really That Bad
One of my guilty pleasures is sleeping in, but when I’m on vacation I oftentimes feel bad about it and wake when the sun rises. But when you visit Paris during the winter months, the sun rises later (oftentimes after 8:30am), meaning you can sleep in just a little bit longer.
Not to mention, and this is coming from a Chicago girl, the weather in Paris in the winter months really isn’t all that bad. Sure there are some cold days and when its windy – it’s chilly. But overall temperatures range from about 40-50 F. The perfect enough, balmy weather to walk around in a cute coat and matching hat/scarf/glove set and not be freezing.
What Should You Wear to Visit Paris in the Winter?
The average temperature in Paris for January and February ranges from high 30s to high 40s F. If there’s wind, it can definitely feel cold, especially along the Seine. And these months bring cloudy days making the city feel a bit cooler. However, there are days that the sun is out and it doesn’t feel like winter at all! If you’re planning a trip to Paris in the colder months, you might be at a loss for what to pack. Below you’ll find a list of what I recommend packing, plus a list of my favorite Parisian winter “looks”.
- Matching hat/glove/scarf combination for those extra chilly days
- Heavy-ish coat, preferably something long that will keep your legs warm (you don’t need a down coat or anything crazy warm)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Thermal socks
Because some days can feel cold (when it’s windy and the sun isn’t shining) and some days can feel warm, I recommend packing different layers so that you can take things off or put things on as you feel. For example, I almost always wore a light turtleneck with a blazer/jacket on top, and a coat on that. When I got warm I’d shed a layer and when I got cold I added my scarf, hat, and gloves.
SHOP MY FAVORITE LOOKS FOR PARIS IN THE WINTER
While Paris is magical all year-round, I have a soft spot in my heart for a Parisian winter escape. I hope that this post inspires you to ditch the crowds and head to Paris in the wintertime.
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, don’t miss these posts:
The Ultimate Paris Travel Guide
A Bar and Restaurant Guide to Le Marais
How to Spend a Day in Montmartre – Paris’s Cutest Neighborhood