Nine Big Reasons to Love Paris in Winter

Uncrowded and reflective: Paris in winter

Uncrowded and reflective: Paris in winter

With our global family and so many destinations on our ‘we should go there’ travel list, I’m often wishing we could physically be in more than one place at one time. I miss family members, I miss my share of special events, and I miss Paris.

Paris is a favourite destination any time of year. Here are nine big reasons I’m missing Paris in winter:

1. Cheap(er) transportation costs

The Eurostar at Gare du Nord, Paris

The Eurostar at Gare du Nord, Paris

Fares are generally lower in the off-season; for example, London-Paris on the wonderful Eurostar for £69 ($US 115) return (round-trip).

2. The air & the light

Clive in his fuzzy hat last winter

Clive in his fuzzy hat last winter

We would rather walk in cold than in hot weather; even when Paris gets very cold, as it did last year, it’s easy to buy a fuzzy hat to keep your ears warm.

3. Lack of tourist hordes

Bookshop at Petit Palais, Paris

Bookshop at Petit Palais, Paris

Paris understandably draws enormous numbers of tourists, but in winter we’ve noted far fewer hordes (and the buses that carry them).

Whether walking or sightseeing, everything seems so much easier when the numbers are smaller, the lines shorter, and the general atmosphere less frenetic and more peaceful.

Reduced tourist numbers mean bookings are easier as well; we were able to get several last-minute dinner reservations, and attended a free concert at the Petit Palais, which was blissfully not quite full.

4. Being Outside

Luxembourg Garden, Paris

Luxembourg Garden, Paris

The sun shines in Paris in the winter — not every day, but even when it’s cloudy, walking is much easier in the less-crowded streets.

Whether sunny or grey (or snowy, as it was in January and March last year), we still love walking through Paris’s parks in their quieter winter atmosphere.

And when it rains, you can savour …  

5. Anything inside

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Winter offers endless scope for museum-going, church or cathedral-viewing, shop-browsing, and any other indoor sightseeing, usually with short or non-existent lines.  At Sainte Chapelle, the language whispered around us was mostly French. We’re not ‘SOLDES’ (winter sales)-goers, but I love browsing my favourite bookshops in winter. Last month, the BHV basement with its massive array of DIY and hardware goods was the least crowded we’ve ever seen it.

6. A sense of intimacy

Balzac's study, Passy quartier, Paris

Balzac’s study, Passy quartier, Paris

Paris is always romantic. In winter, cafes and brasseries are warm and cozy and can increase the feeling of intimacy — lingering over a hot chocolate or winter stew with dusk falling early outside. Visiting Paris’s small museums can add an additional sense of intimacy (the large museums are also wonderful this time of year).

7. The City of Light lights up earlier

Ben Franklin, early evening at Trocadéro, Paris

Ben Franklin, early evening at Trocadéro, Paris

The shorter days of winter mean the lovely lighting of Paris’s large and small monuments occurs hours earlier than during the summer months. Instead of waiting until 11pm for complete darkness, you can watch the Eiffel Tower shimmering and sparkling at 6pm (and every hour thereafter), or glimpse it through leafless tree branches.

8. Real life

Walking by the Seine

Walking by the Seine

Paris in winter is full of Parisians going about their daily lives. (Many leave for vacation in the summer, especially in August.) With more locals and fewer tourists, it’s easier to feel daily life going on all over the city — residents simply doing errands, going out with their families, and living their lives. Witnessing and participating in a small way in the city’s daily life is a constant thrill to me.

9.  Winter character and moods

Moody winter evening in Paris

Moody winter evening in Paris

Winter offers a side of Paris not always seen, a different aspect to the city’s personality, beauty, and character. It’s buzzing and invigorating in the run-up to Christmas, somewhat reserved and more inwardly-focused in the early months of the new year. I find the winter atmosphere intriguing and inspiring, and it makes me want to spend even more time in Paris. Simultaneously, the days become noticeably longer, with the promise of spring — another intoxicating season in which to explore and appreciate Paris.

No matter what time of year, there are always an infinite number of reasons to love Paris.

Love Paris in winter

Love Paris in winter

Cheers, until next time.

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13 Responses

  1. Carolyn,

    It’s so nice to read some positive comments about winter this year. Thanks for bringing a bit of cheer, and reinforcing all the reasons why I love the seasons…(yes, I really do!)

    Martha in frozen New England

  2. Lovely photographs, Carolyn. I love Paris in winter, it’s my favorite time to visit. It must be great to skip over on the Eurostar instead of having to fly all the way from Australia. Hope you and Clive are staying dry.

  3. Martha B — hello and glad you liked the positive comments — indeed winter this year is crazy, esp. in US and UK! We love the seasons too and are headed your way in the next couple weeks — weather permitting :)

    Elizabeth thanks for your comment and delighted you love Paris in winter. Likewise to you and John — keep safe as we’ve seen so many reports of Cornwall getting hit hard with this wild UK winter.

    Cheers.

  4. Hello Carolyn…yet to be there in winter…one day I will. I have been there spring , summer and autumn..:-)

  5. It has always seemed strange to me that Australians in particular like to visit Paris in the winter, despite the 9 big reasons. I start to live again in April when the days are warmer and the buds are on the trees. But it’s a great post and I shall add it to my Weekly Blogger Round-Up.

  6. Anne, only one more season and you’ll be a year-round Paris visitor :)

    Rosemary, interesting about Aussie visitors and winter! Maybe something to do with the contrast. I agree April / spring is magic in Paris — cheers and thanks for your kind words.

  7. […] Paris is a favourite destination any time of year. Here are nine big reasons I’m missing Paris in winter. Read more […]

  8. We returned 3 weeks ago from 6 weeks in Paris. It was our first winter visit in about 15 years and we had forgotten what a beautiful time of year it is in Paris. You state the reasons very succinctly.

  9. Bill and Lilly, thanks for your kind comment and wow, 6 weeks in Paris — how fantastic (I’m extremely envious!).

    It really is a beautiful time of year there — cheers and happy travels.

  10. What a great picture of Trocadero! Paris is great at any time.

  11. Anda, hello and thanks for your comment. Glad you like the picture of Trocadero! It’s a great place and I couldn’t agree more Paris is great at any time.

    Cheers and happy travels!

  12. I am now debating if I want my first trip to Paris to be in winter or summer. Up until this point, I thought the obvious answer was summer, but you give very valid points for going in winter. I don’t enjoy cold weather (I live in Florida), but I think I may dislike hoards of tourists more!!

  13. palmtreesandpeas, if you have the option for spring or fall I’d recommend one of those. You’ll avoid the worst of the tourist hordes and have warmer temps and longer hours of daylight.

    That said, Paris any time of year will be briliant. Cheers and enjoy.

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