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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Cheers, until next time.
Filed under: Paris