Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Paris is Wonderful in Winter

26

I just spent the past weekend in Paris, my favorite city in the world.  I adore Paris, and though I wasn’t solo on this particular trip, I think it’s one of the best cities in the world for solo female travelers to visit.  This was my fifth visit to Paris, and though I’ve spent so much time in the city, I’ve never been during the winter before.

It was a revelation.  I’ve never been able to stand winter, my New England upbringing notwithstanding, and I try to avoid it when I can.  But Paris was absolutely lovely in winter — as beautiful as always, a bit quieter, and still dazzling in its grandeur.

Here are some things I loved about visiting Paris in winter:

First thing you’ll notice if you come to Paris in January?  All the SOLDES signs.  There are HUGE monthlong sales in the months of January and July each year.  If you want to shop, this is the time to come to Paris!

Another treat you get from visiting Paris in the winter?  Ice skating at the Hotel de Ville.  It’s a lovely backdrop — and if you want to skate with just adults, it’s open until midnight on the weekends.

After you’ve had enough of the cold, head inside to a Museum — Paris has PLENTY of them.  On this trip to Paris, I made my first visit ever to the modern art museum at the Centre Pompidou — also known as Beaubourg.  It’s a fantastic collection with an almost obscene number of Picassos, and well worth visiting for the views from the top alone.

Throughout the cold, you’ll want some hearty meals to keep you warm.  Whenever I go to France, I try to have magret de canard — roasted duck breast — at least once.  This one was served in a buttery fig sauce.  Just heavenly.

No matter what the weather’s like, you’ll get a panorama of the city from the top of Montmartre.

Think the quintessentially Parisian activity of sitting outside at a cafe and drinking wine (not to mention chain-smoking and scribbling in a notebook) is limited to the warmer months?  Think again.  It’s even nicer in the winter because they put out the massive heat lamps.

And this last one may have nothing to do with winter, but I had to include it — we went to see the corner from Midnight in Paris!  I swear I could see an old-fashioned taxi coming up around the bend…

I will say one disadvantage of traveling in Paris in winter — you don’t receive the reprieve from tourist crowds that you would in other cities.  Paris is filled with tourists — always.  January may not be the sweaty mess that August is, but you’ll still be waiting in long lines and struggling to see paintings through crowds.

Don’t let that stop you, though.  Paris is like nowhere else in the world — and seeing it during the winter is a very special experience.

Comments

26 Responses to “Paris is Wonderful in Winter”
  1. Leah says:

    Anyone else reminded of an old Ella Fitzgerald song??

    “I love Paris in the springtime
    I love Paris in the fall
    I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles
    I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles”

    Big ups to the city of lights!!

  2. I’ve been to Paris twice, both times in the winter. I wouldn’t visit any other time if given the choice…

  3. Kat says:

    Kate, I love your note of Paris as a great destination for a solo female traveler — I could not agree more. My first trip to Paris was toute seule, and how I loved it. Now I just need to visit in the winter as well! Love your blog…safe travels.

  4. I experienced Paris during the famous “Big Freeze” of 2009, and GOD it was SO cold. I’m Canadian, and I was freezing! The humidity just went through my bones no matter how many layers I had on. However, the city was truly beautiful – few tourists, gorgeous winter light and shorter queues. I’ll be visiting Paris next week for the 4th time in total, but 2nd in winter – can’t wait to experience it with warmer weather!

  5. tunimaal says:

    For me (I am from France and used to live 2 years in Paris) it’s funny how people can love Paris…. It is definitly not my favorite cit in France. It’s maybe even the worst one … To live…. It’s an amzing and great city to travel to, but to live there it’s not that nice at all. But I am glad that you really enjoy it and have fun while there, just keep travelling there and never live there and I am sure you will always love it :)

  6. Elle Croft says:

    Oh, it sounds like you had a lovely time! I am heading over in February, so will sadly miss the sales, but these pictures have got me excited for my trip!

  7. John says:

    Looks wonderful! Does Paris see much sun in the winter or does it stay overcast and grey? I guess that sort of sets the mood for a Paris winter scene though…

  8. Paris is great in the winter — as are almost all European cities. The tourists are gone and there aren’t those long lines at the museums. Try Amsterdam and Berlin when it gets cold and wintery — you’ll probably love them too.

  9. Megan Eileen says:

    I’ve actually only been to Paris in winter. The first time in February where it was sort of crowded and the other time right before Christmas. Other than the tourist destinations it was really desolate, which I loved! Glad you enjoyed your trip :)

  10. Edna says:

    I’m impressed you packed so much into a weekend ;) Thanks for all the food recs while you were here; I’m definitely going to try magret de canard!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I love Paris in the winter. It looks like you’re in an old black and white movie. I can’t get enough of Paris, looks like you feel the same way!

  12. stacie says:

    Where is the corner from ‘Midnight in Paris’? I must go the next time I’m in the city!

  13. EL says:

    Hello Kate!

    Congrats on Amazing adventures! I can’t wait to visit France and especially Paris .. but I really think that I won’t ever leave if I do : )

    Have you ever walked with African Lions in the wild? … I highly recommend it if you haven’t ..

    love & light

    EL

  14. Christine says:

    My mom and I went to Paris every January I was at college because we could get such cheap tickets there–$500 RT in 2006! You highlighted many of the reasons why I love it–we used to do heaps of shopping at the soldes, snuggle up into cafes and watch the world go by, and go to Centre Pompidou pretty much every time because it’s my favorite museum in all of Paris! Thanks for reminding me of how much I love Paris in the winter, even if it is cold–jsut another reason to get a fabulous new coat and boots!

  15. Lee says:

    I’ve been to paris ten times, about half in the winter. Agree wholeheartedly with Kate’s appraisal.

  16. Marsha says:

    I’ve never been to Paris, although it was the first place to inspire my wanderlust. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your experience.

  17. Ashlee D. says:

    I’m pretty sure for the food alone, Paris is an amazing city to visit anytime. Love this post! It makes me want to return so much!

  18. Mina Sameh says:

    I’ve never been to Paris but I fell inlove with it by just reading so much about it!! Can’t wait till I visit!

  19. Melodie K. says:

    Kate -

    Paris is my favorite city, too, although I’m usually there in the warmer months – only once in the winter. And so my must-have meal each visit has been salade niçoise. But, your magret de canard looks delicious enough to make me willing to brave the cold again!

  20. I LOVE Paris! Never been in the Winter but would love to.

  21. pat says:

    I too like the winter but Fall is my favorite.. Sept-Oct..

  22. Michelle says:

    I too love Paris, especially in winter. I’m headed there again, this time in May. Afraid it will be much more crowded. I too would love to know where the corner is from the movie “Midnight in Paris.” That movie is well worth watching just for the beautiful scenes of Paris alone.

  23. Ally says:

    Ice skating in paris sounds like it would be lovely
    Ally´s last blog post ..Packing List for Australia: East Coast

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