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Updated: March 23, 2023
When is the best time to visit Paris?
The best time to visit Paris depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and activities. Generally, the most popular and pleasant time to visit Paris is during the spring and fall months, specifically from April to June and September to October.
During these periods, the weather is typically mild and enjoyable, with temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 75°F (24°C). Springtime in Paris is particularly charming, with blooming flowers in parks and gardens. Fall in Paris offers beautiful autumn colors and a cozy atmosphere.
Visiting Paris during these months also allows you to avoid the peak tourist season, which occurs during the summer months (July and August). The summer can be quite crowded and hot, with temperatures reaching up to 85°F (29°C) or higher. However, the city is lively during the summer, with many events and festivals taking place.
The off-peak season, which runs from November to March, offers fewer crowds, shorter lines at popular attractions, and lower prices for accommodations. However, the weather during this time can be colder and wetter, with temperatures ranging from 35°F (2°C) to 50°F (10°C). If you don’t mind the colder weather and occasional rain or snow, the off-peak season can be an excellent time to explore the city without the large tourist crowds.
Weather: The most pleasant weather in Paris is typically from April to June and September to October. During these months, the temperatures are mild, ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 75°F (24°C), and rainfall is moderate. This is an excellent time to enjoy outdoor sightseeing, parks, and sidewalk cafes.
Shopping: Paris hosts two major sales events called “Les Soldes” each year, which are regulated by the government. The winter sales run from early January to mid-February, while the summer sales are from late June to early August. During these periods, you can find significant discounts at many shops and boutiques.
Honeymoon: If you’re planning a romantic honeymoon, consider visiting Paris during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to October) months. The weather is mild and pleasant, and the city’s gardens and parks are in full bloom or display beautiful autumn colors. The city is less crowded during these periods compared to the peak summer months, making it easier to enjoy romantic strolls and intimate dining experiences.
Avoiding crowds: To avoid the largest crowds, visit Paris during the off-peak season, which typically runs from November to March. During this time, you can expect fewer tourists, shorter lines at popular attractions, and lower prices for accommodations. However, the weather can be colder and wetter, with temperatures ranging from 35°F (2°C) to 50°F (10°C), and you may encounter occasional snow or rain.
Museums: The best time to visit Paris museums is during the off-peak season, from November to March, when there are fewer tourists and shorter lines at popular attractions. Weekdays, especially Tuesday through Thursday, tend to be less crowded than weekends. For pleasant weather, consider visiting museums during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) or fall (September to October), when temperatures are mild and the city is less crowded than in the summer months.
Versailles: The best time to visit Versailles is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and fall (September to October), when the weather is pleasant and the gardens are at their most beautiful. To avoid large crowds, consider visiting on weekdays rather than weekends, especially during the off-peak season (November to March). Summer months (July and August) offer more events and activities but can be crowded and hot.
Disneyland: The best time to visit Disneyland Paris is during the off-peak season, from mid-January to mid-March, mid-April to mid-June, and September to early December, when crowds are smaller and lines are shorter. Visit during late spring or early fall for pleasant weather, with temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 75°F (24°C). Special events like Halloween and Christmas celebrations offer unique experiences, but expect larger crowds during these times.
Paris Weather by Month
Paris Temperature by Month (high in Celsius)
Paris Rain by Month (mm)
- Paris Weather in January: January is the coldest month in Paris, with daytime high temperatures generally in the single digits. Clouds and rain are likely (though snow is rare), so a warm coat and waterproof shoes are essential. Days are short, with sunset around 5pm. (Average Max Temperature: 7°C. Average Precipitation: 18mm.)
- Paris Weather in February: February continues chilly and damp, with occasional bursts of rain. On dry days, you’ll want a hat and gloves for outdoor sightseeing, though it can also be a great time of year to stay warm and dry inside museums, galleries, and cafes. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Paris Weather in March: There’s a gradual warming of the air this month, but days are still more likely to be chilly than warm, and as always there’s the possibility of an occasional cloudburst. The first bulbs of spring are up and blooming by month’s end, and days are lengthening – expect the sun to set between 6:30 and 7pm. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 24mm.)
- Paris Weather in April: Springtime in Paris can be a bit of a mixed bag, weather-wise – you’re equally as likely to wake up to a cool and rainy day as a sunny and warm one. Still, the average temperature is rising to the mid-teens Celsius, days are getting longer, and trees and springtime flowers are in full bloom. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- Paris Weather in May: May in Paris generally sunny and mild, with daytime high temperatures averaging at 20°C. Around one-third of this month’s days will see rain, and mornings and evenings can be chilly, so packing layers and an umbrella is still a good idea. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 26mm.)
- Paris Weather in June: Paris heats up as summer approaches, and daytime highs now generally fall in the low to mid 20’s Celsius. Warm, sunny days are the norm, but mornings, evenings, and overcast days can still be a bit cool, so it’s wise to pack light layers. Summer also brings lengthening days, with the sun setting over Paris near 10pm this month. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 24mm.)
- Paris Weather in July: July is generally very warm and sunny, with daytime high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 20s. Overcast days can feel quite a bit cooler, however. Light layers are still advised. At times, high humidity can make the warm temperatures feel quite uncomfortable – heat-sensitive travelers will want to ensure that their lodging has air conditioning. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Paris Weather in August: August continues hot and sunny, with highs in the mid-to-upper 20s and considerable humidity at times. Rain tends to be infrequent, and comes and goes in short bursts. As the heat bakes the city, locals head for the cooler coast. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 21mm.)
- September Weather in Paris: Many travelers consider September to be the ideal month for a Paris trip. Rain is infrequent, and it’s generally warm (but not too hot) with gradual cooling throughout the month. Leaves remain green and on the trees, and there are still plenty of flowers to be seen across the city. Days are shortening, with sunset around 8pm. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 16mm.)
- October Weather in Paris: Paris sees significant cooling as autumn arrives. Early October’s mild and sunny weather transitions into overcast and wet days as the month progresses. Late October tends to be cloudy and cool. Most flowers are past their peak, but autumn foliage is at its most spectacular toward the end of this month. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- November Weather in Paris: Temperatures continue to drop throughout November, with highs averaging in the low teens, and drizzly rain becoming more common. Expect and plan for cool, wet, and windy, though you may be surprised by a few days of pleasant sunshine. (Average Max Temperature: 11°C. Average Rainfall: 22mm.)
- December Weather in Paris: December is the wettest month in Paris, though it generally drizzles more than it downpours. It’s colder too, with high temperatures falling within the 5-10°C range. The sun sets around 5pm, and the short days provide ample opportunity to experience the City of Lights at its most seasonally festive. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Rainfall: 26mm.)
Paris Events and Festivals
Paris in January
- Grande Parade de Paris – Marching bands, dancers, parade floats, and clowns ring in the new year along the Champs-Elysees: from Place de la Concorde to L’Arc de Triomphe and back again. Beginning at 2pm, New Years Day.
- Festival du Merveilleux (The Festival of Marvels) – For a short time at the end of each year, the private Museum of Fairground Arts (Musée des Arts Forains) opens its doors to the public, offering a rare hands-on experience of its spectacular collection of antique carousels and amusement park rides. Held in late December through early January at the Musée des Arts Forains in Bercy, 12th Arrondissement. Reservations required.
- Ice Skating – Rinks at the Trocadero, Champs-Elysees, and the Grand Palais close during early January, but you can skate at the Eiffel Tower through mid-February and at the Hotel de Ville until March 1.
- Les Soldes (Winter Sales) – Bargains (and crowds) abound during this semi-annual retail sales extravaganza. At shops across Paris from early January through mid-February.
Paris in February
- Carnaval de Paris – Parisians dance away the winter blahs in this colorful parade that winds through the city from Place Gambetta to the Hotel de Ville on the first Sunday in February.
- Chinese New Year – A vibrant celebration of Paris’ French-Chinese community, with concerts, cultural events, and multiple parades across the city. (The most notable are in the Marais District, Belleville, and the 13th Arrondissement.) Dates change yearly according to the lunar calendar.
Paris in March
- Paris Fashion Week – The fashion industry caps off its global tour at the Carrousel du Louvre, where the best designers in the world show off their fall collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties. Early March.
- Carnaval des Femmes – Expect elaborate costumes, dancing, and great people watching at this annual parade-style celebration of women, started centuries ago by the laundresses along the Seine. Takes place mid-Lent, with the parade route beginning at Place du Chalet.
- The Foire de Chatou Antiques Fair – Semiannual flea-market festival in nearby Chatou, France. 35,000 visitors eat, drink, and haggle with more than 700 antiques and collectibles dealers from across France. Takes place over 12 days in mid-March.
- Cinéma du Réel – Documentary film festival showcasing over 200 films by experienced directors and first-timers alike. Takes place over 10 days at the Pompidou Centre and various participating theaters across Paris in mid to late March.
- Orchestres en Fête – A 10-day national festival of classical music, with renowned orchestras performing at Théâtre du Châtelet, Cité del la Musique, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and other venues across France. Late March.
- Printemps du Cinéma – Nationwide 3 day budget film festival. Over 5,000 movie theaters across France drop admission prices to €3.50 per ticket. Late March.
- Art Paris Art Fair – The Grand Palais plays host to over 140 international galleries in this celebration of contemporary European visual art. End of March.
- Banlieues Bleues Festival – A springtime jazz festival featuring live acts from across the globe at venues across Seine-Saint-Denis, just northeast of Paris. March and April.
Paris in April
- Paris Marathon – 37,000 runners from across the globe make their way past some of Paris’ most beautiful landmarks, looping through the heart of the city from the Champs-Elysées back to the Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday in April.
- Galloping Sundays – The races at Longchamps are especially family-friendly on April Sundays, when visitors will find a carousel, treasure hunt, and pony races for kids, plus free admission for the 18-and-unders.
- Foire du Trone (Fun Fair) – The oldest fair in Paris. Eight weeks of rides, games, food and family-friendly entertainment at the Bois de Vincennes in April and May. General admission is free and you pay for each attraction.
Paris in May
- Le Printemps des Rues (Street Art Festival) – A weekend-long celebration of street performance, with dozens of singers, dancers, clowns, magicians, and puppeteers entertaining crowds along the Canal Saint Martin the 10th Arrondissement.
- The Great Paris Steeplechase – Widely considered the premier equestrian event in France, this steeplechase-style horserace is kicked off by the popular Defile des Drags, a parade of glorious horse-drawn carriages from the Arc de Triomphe down Avenue Foch. Held in mid-May at the Hippodrome d’Auteuil in the 16th Arrondissement.
- European Museum Night – Dozens of the best museums in Paris stay open until midnight, and offer special events, concerts, and children’s activities – most free of charge. Takes place on the Saturday closest to May 18th.
- We Love Green Festival – An eco-friendly celebration of rock, pop, and electronic music, along with organic food, local produce, and sustainable partying. Takes place on the last weekend of May in Paris’ beautiful Parc de Bagatelle.
- Open-Air Theater at Jardin de Shakespeare – From May through September, this romantic garden in the Bois de Boulogne plays host to a series of outdoor theatrical performances, most of them Shakespeare, many in English.
- French Open (Roland Garros) – Internationally renowned grand slam tennis tournament held on the clay courts of the Stade Roland Garros. Late May /Early June.
Paris in June
- Festival Saint-Denis – An annual four-week series of classical music concerts held at the gothic Saint-Denis Basilica and the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in the nearby town of Saint-Denis, just north of Paris.
- Carnaval Tropical – A parade of dancing, calypso, and colorful costumes, from the Place de la Nation through the streets of the 11th arrondissement and back. Exact dates change by year.
- Paris Pride – A festive parade from the 15th Arrondissement to the Place de la Bastille culminates in a giant street party during this colorful celebration of GLBT folks and their allies. Mid-June.
- Champs-Elysées Film Festival – Annual juried film festival focusing on American independent and documentary film, as well as French and American film premieres. Takes place at theaters on the Champs-Elysées in mid-June.
- World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) – On the longest day of the year, the French celebrate music (and the making of it) with live bands and free concerts across the streets of Paris and beyond. Held on 21 June, participation encouraged.
- Chopin Festival – The Orangerie at la Parc de la Bagatelle provides a lush backdrop for this series of outdoor classical concerts, performing and honoring the work of the famous Polish composer. June/July.
- Paris Jazz Festival – Enjoy a picnic in the park while listening to world-class jazz music at this weeks-long festival at the Parc Floral de Vincennes. Concerts are free with park admission, but get there early, as these show are extremely popular. Saturdays and Sundays, Mid-June through July.
- Les Soldes (Summer Sales) – Bargains (and crowds) abound during this semi-annual retail sales extravaganza. At shops throughout Paris from mid-June through July.
Paris in July
- Bastille Day (la Fête Nationale) – Paris kicks off the French national holiday early, with music, food, drinks and dancing at the popular Fireman’s balls, held at fire stations across the city on the night of 13 July, from 9pm-4am. Celebrations on the 14th include a morning military parade down the Champs-Elysées, a free concert on the Champs-de-Mars, and fireworks off the Eiffel Tower at 11pm.
- Paris Plages – Every summer, the sea-side comes to Paris when the right banks of the Seine are transformed into a series of sandy beaches. Complete with deckchairs and umbrellas, the plages offer sunbathing, boules and sandcastle competitions, and family-friendly beach activities from mid-July through mid-August. Who needs the coast? Open daily from 9am through midnight, free.
- Tour de France – Spectators cheer as participants in the world’s most prestigious bicycle race pedal their way through the streets of Paris to the finish line on the Champs-Elysées in late July. If you want a view of the riders without the huge crowds park yourself near the Musée d’Orsay on the Left Bank.
- Cinéma en Plein Air à La Villette – Pack a picnic: it’s a month of free outdoor classic and contemporary films in the Parc de la Villette in northeast Paris, with all films shown in their original language and subtitled in French. Movies begin nightly at sundown, weather permitting. Mid-July through mid-August.
- Quartier d’Eté Festival – A month-long series of dance, music, and theatrical performances held at various indoor and outdoor venues across Paris, many of them free. Mid-July through Mid-August.
- Cinema au Clair de Lune – Free outdoor film festival held at various iconic parks and gardens across Paris. Late July through mid-August.
Paris in August
- Feast of the Assumption – Religious Parisians and pilgrims from across the globe celebrate this Catholic holy day with an evening river procession on the Seine on 14 August, followed on the morning of the 15th by a special mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame and a grand procession through the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis.
- Rock en Seine – Dozens of world-renowned acts perform across 5 stages within an historic park setting during this 3-day rock music festival at the Domaine national de Saint-Cloud, just West of Paris. Late August.
Paris in September
- Jazz à la Villette – A popular ten-day celebration of jazz and fusion music, with concerts by celebrated and up-and-coming musicians, as well as film screenings, exhibitions, master classes, and kids’ events. Held in early September in the Parc de la Villette, northeast Paris.
- Festival d’Ile de France – Throughout September, historic locations across the Ile de France play host to about 30 classical, contemporary, and world music concerts, which are supplemented by guided tours, workshops, and masterclasses.
- Le Grand Feu de Saint-Cloud – 90 minutes, 23,000 spectators, Europe’s largest and most spectacular fireworks show. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and consistently sell out. Held in mid-September at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, on the western outskirts of Paris.
- The Paris Autumn Festival (Festival d’Automne à Paris) – Multidisciplinary arts festival showcasing the latest in global theatre, music, dance, visual arts, and film. Held from mid-September through December at various venues across the city.
- Techno Parade – The streets of Paris become a giant dance club during this celebration of electronic music, with floats carrying dancers and DJs, techno music echoing off city buildings, and 350,000 revelers dancing in the streets. Held in mid-September, the parade travels north through the city from the Place de la Nation to the Place de la Bastille.
- European Heritage Days (Journees du Patrimoine) – Historic buildings, monuments, and sites that are usually not accessible to the public open their doors once a year for touring. Most sites are free, though many require advance reservations. Held on the third weekend in September at various sites across the city.
- Paris Garden Festival (Fete de Jardins a Paris) – Two-day celebration of Parisian horticulture, with guided tours, show gardens, special events and workshops, and over 150 parks and gardens open for touring – including many which are generally closed to the public. Held in late September across Paris.
- Paris Fashion Week – The fashion industry caps off its global tour at the Carrousel du Louvre, where the best designers in the world show off their spring and summer collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties. Late September/Early October.
- The Foire de Chatou Antiques Fair – Semiannual flea-market festival in nearby Chatou, France. 35,000 visitors eat, drink, and haggle with more than 700 antiques and collectibles dealers from across France. Late September/Early October.
Paris in October
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Europe’s most prestigious horse race, held on the first Sunday in October at Longchamp racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne.
- Nuit Blanche (White Night) – Museums and galleries across Paris extend their hours, and concerts, installations, and special events take place into the wee hours during this all-night-long celebration of art and culture. Held in early October across Paris.
- Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival – A popular weekend-long celebration of wine in the 18th Arrondissement, with a street parade, fireworks, concerts, dances, and guided tours of the Montmartre vineyards. Early October.
- La Semaine Du Gout (Tasting Week) – Many of Paris’ best restaurants offer specially priced menus or two-for-one offers during this nationwide culinary celebration. Mid-October.
- International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) – Thousands of artists from around the world display their work within the stunning backdrops of the Grand Palais and Cité de la Mode et du Design. Late October.
- Pitchfork Music Festival – Three days of international indie music shows at the Grande Halle de la Villette in northeast Paris. Late October.
Paris in November
- ATP World Master’s Tour 1000 – The tennis world converges on Paris for the final event of the international men’s tennis season. Held at the Palais Omnisports in Bercy in early November.
- Armistice Day – On this anniversary of the end of the First World War, France’s fallen and wounded soldiers are honored in a sober ceremony and vigil on the Champs-Elysées. 11 November, 9am.
- Paris Photo – International art fair, showcasing 19th century and contemporary photographic works from more than 100 exhibitors at the Grand Palais. Mid-November.
- Africolor Music Festival – A music festival showcasing the work of African and Caribbean artists through a series of concerts, workshops, and master classes. Held in mid-November through late December in various venues across Paris.
- Ice Skating at the Champs-Elysées – A sure sign that winter is approaching, this iconic rink next to Place de la Concorde on the Champs-Elysées opens in mid-November.
- Seasonal Decorations and Displays – Paris’ Christmas lights and department store window displays begin to make an appearance around mid-November, and are generally kept up through early January.
Paris in December
- Ice Skating – The rink at the Champs-Elysées is open throughout December. The elevated rink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower generally opens in early December, and those at the Hotel de Ville, Grand Palais, and Trocadero pop up around mid-Month.
- Seasonal Decorations and Displays – Christmas lights and spectacular department store window displays create a festive seasonal atmosphere across all of Paris’ 18 Arrondissements. Must-see displays include the lights along the Champs-Elysées and Avenue Montaigne, the windows at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and the traditional village charm of Montmartre.
- Marches de Noel (Christmas Markets) – You’ll find gift items galore, as well as snacks, hot cocoa, and mulled wine, at Paris’ seasonal markets, generally going up during the first weekend of December. Notable markets include those at the Champs-Elysées, Trocadero, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montparnasse Tower, and Montmartre.
- Paris Courts Devant – Annual festival of short film, showcasing works from international renowned and up-and-coming directors. Held in mid-December at venues across the Montmartre District.
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Fireworks displays at the Eiffel Tower are only held on certain years, but you can always join the reveling hordes at the Champs-Elysées, as they ring in the New Year by watching the show over the Arc de Triomphe.
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Got stuck on your post and now wanting to plan a trip.
We want to take our 1 and 9 year old to Paris the last week of February during school winter break. Is it possible to enjoy Paris during this time with kids?
We’re pretty low key and don’t mind the cold weather.
Thanks so much,
Paris is a great year-round destination for families. No, you won’t be biking around Versailles or picnicking on the Seine. But the museums are quieter and more kid-friendly without the large crowds. Restaurants, cafes, and bakeries are always great. And the Eiffel Tower and river cruises are fun anytime of year (just dress warmly).
Hi Dave I am planning to visit Paris in February specifically around Valentines day, any suggestions on romantic restaurants or romantic areas where I can stay in a hotel? Also would it be smart to get some type of a city or museum pass if I also plan on going to majority of the touristy attractions to save some money wherever I can? Thanks so much, Colleeen.
Parisians don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day the way they do in other countries, but there are definitely lots of romantic things to do while you’re there. For restaurants, it depends on your budget. An obvious but pricey choice is the restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower – Jules Verne. Or for views of the Eiffel Tower try L’Oiseau Blanc in the Peninsula Hotel or Les Ombres. A more low-key place is Le Grand 8 in the hills of Montmartre. Tucked away behind the Sacre Coeur, tables inside have a panoramic view of Paris. Montmartre is also one of the most romantic areas in the city. It has a charming village feel with winding lanes, a working vineyard, and lots of hills which offer great views of the city. Definitely get some sort of pass as you can score better deals with them and save yourself some time as many allow you to “skip the line” . If you mostly want to focus on musuems, get the Paris Museum Pass. For 54 euros, you can visit more than 60 museums including the Louvre, Versailles, and Centre Pompidou. Another option is the Paris Passlib which offers museum access to over 50 museums, unlimited bus, metro, and RER transport, a 1 hours boat cruise with Bateaux Parisiens, and unlimited access for travel on the L’open Tour bus for one day. A 1-day pass starts at 40 euros and you have the option to include a skip the line Eiffel Tower ticket for another 15 euros.
Hello we are planning a trip to Paris the week of the French Open. Any reason we should change the dates with regards to larger crowds than normal? We do not plan to attend any tennis matches.
The French Open has almost no effect on hotel rates and crowds in Paris.
My friends & I want to travel to Paris during New Year’s Eve to see the fireworks around the Eiffel tower. Is this a good time to visit Paris for the first time as we don’t like the crowds? Also, we want to go to Disneyland, can we have a good time at Paris Disney during winter holidays?
Paris is very pretty at this time of year with all the festivities and Christmas decorations still up through early January. It won’t be crowded in general, as Parisians typically go away for the holidays, but there will be lots of tourists visiting the usual landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, etc. If you don’t like crowds, just avoid those areas and you should be fine. Be warned though that many restaurants and smaller mom and pop shops will be closed around this period too. As for Disneyland Paris, the crowds are lowest between mid-January and mid-March, so if you’re only able to visit at the beginning of January it will be fairly busy. Your best bet is to go on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
Would love to see Paris during the Christmas holiday, is it true the hotel cost go up? What dates are the best for viewing Christmas lights in Paris. We hope to find a nice hotel on the left bank that’s not too costly. We’re retired military.
Yes, hotel prices do go up a bit around the holidays but if you book early you’ll still be able to get some good deals. The priciest areas on the Left Bank will be in Saint-Germain so if you’re looking for value try the 5th or the parts of the 7th not near the Eiffel Tower. You’ll have to ask the hotel directly if they have any special rates for former military – it’s more the international chains like Best Western that offers such pricing. The Christmas lights go up roughly in mid-November and stay up until shortly after the new year. There are tons of places around Paris that do special lighting and you should check out the Champs Elysees for decorations and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré for chandelier lights made by Baccarat. Others are the chic avenue Montaigne and stately Place Vendome. You also need to visit the animatronic window displays at Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. They are one of the highlights of Christmas in Paris and are a big hit with kids and adults alike.
Hi Dave, we are planning to visit Santorini in May celebrating our 40th anniversary. I have booked the Chromata Hotel for our stay. The reviews are mixed that I have seen. Some complain about the rooms are small. Too many stairs to climb. Nicer rooms are not worth the price. I have researched for the best Four or five star hotels and this one was listed as Five star. Can you give me some insight on this hotel and are all the hotels high up on cliffs and require climbing stairs? Also, is it better to stay in Oia or Fira? And in most photos for the Chromata none had the magnificent sunset they talk about. I am confused as to where to stay. Can you give me some info?
Chromata is wonderful, but yes there are many steps to get in and out from the hotel (like most hotels). Chromata does not have a direct view of the sunset but that’s only a 3 minute walk away if you want to see the sun set into the sea.
Hi, we’ll be there in early September this year. Looked through your list and doesn’t seem like much is happening until mid September. Any suggestions on what we can do?
September is a great time to visit Paris and the beginning of the month is when everyone returns from their month long holiday. Restaurants and shops re-open and the beginning of September is a much better time to be in Paris than say, at the end of August. You’ll have your pick in addition to the usual tourist attractions like museums, the Eiffel Tower, etc. Event wise, there is a lot going on and it’s actually a busy time for Parisians. From the end of August to September 11 there is the annual Jazz A La Villette festival if you’re a music lover. If you happen to be into design, Paris Design Week runs from September 3-10 and the events are open to the public. It coincides with Maison et Objet which showcases all the latest trends in architecture and interior design. You also have a number of outdoor events that occur at this time, taking advantage of the end of summer. In Montmartre, there is the Tréteaux Nomades, a festival which includes a variety of theater, burlesque, music and poetry shows. And if you’re traveling with kids you should check out the family friendly festival Les Pestacles. It runs from June through the end of September and is geared especially towards children. It is organized every year in the Parc Floral in the 12th and beyond concerts they offer workshops and activities by age group.
We will be in Paris for a month mid September to mid October. I have looked at the official info on line for European Heritage Days and have not found a very handy plan. The official one has an interactive map with each site having a number from 1-3 but doesn’t say what that means that I have found. Do you know of a site that lists (writes out) the offerings with times open, price if any, and any other pertinent info? Is this likely to be uncomfortably mobbed with people?
Also about cheese: Is it OK to ask to taste cheeses? Can you recommend a cheese shop with quality, reasonable pricing and personable people? Especially near where we will be staying between Place Bastille and metro Sully Morand. A bakery and wine shop with the same criteria would also be helpful.
PS I was in Greece last June for 3 weeks including Athens, Hydra, Paros, Santorini and Crete where I drove all around. I have not heard much about problems in Greece lately but am concerned. How are things going?
For the European Heritage Days, you might have better luck with the Ministry of Culture’s website or the event’s Facebook page. The Ministry’s page (translated in English) was updated last month and offers some basic info with instructions to consult the site in mid-August for full program information. The Facebook page (in French) will have more general highlights of the events happening all over France. Most of the events are free to the public and you can expect either a long line or specialized events that require booking a spot in advance. Regarding cheese, it depends on the shop. Some will give you a small sample to taste before you purchase so you can always ask. Also keep in mind it’s easier for the cheesemonger to offer samples of the hard cheeses rather than the softer ones they sell whole or by the half or quarter. One place that meets all your criteria (quality, pricing, personable) is the Fromagerie Sanders in the Marché couvert Saint-Germain at 4-6 rue Lobineau in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Run by a lovely woman who goes by the name Twiggy, they speak a little English and treat everyone like regulars. They’ll give you samples if you ask, have a great selection, and reasonable prices. For wine, you should definitely go to La Derniere Goutte. Not only do they have an excellent of selection of natural wines with reasonable prices, all of their staff are bi-lingual and very friendly. And for a bakery, you should really check out 134 rdt in the upper Marais. Baker Benjamin Turquier has placed several times in the best baguette competition as well as won the top prize for the best croissant in Paris. As for Greece, it is much like last summer. Times are tough for locals but the country is wonderful, friendly, and safe for tourists (and your travel spending is the best way to help the local economy).
Just read your post. Informative & Decently elaborated. Got some queries but.
We are planning our honeymoon in Paris, which is most likely to be happening between mid-November to early December. We are thinking of a week’s stay there and then head to Switzerland. First thing to be noted is that we are more keen on exploring the places than on an exquisite stay. Would prefer to go on fixed budget and explore the maximum out of it. Second, we are hardcore foodies and winter-lovers. We are Indians, travel freaks (trekking, road trips, nature lovers). Have no much intention of shopping, but want a romantic time together, in our weird way. And definitely, eating loads!
I see lot of packaged tours (individual or group tours) in different tour management websites. They seem to be costed quite high and only cover the mainstream attractions of Paris. We were thinking of travelling on our own, explore most of the Paris, based on our interests, stay in Airbnb rentals and test on every food that Paris has to offer.
1. How possible is it to explore Paris on our own?
2. I have listed down all the places we wish to visit in Paris, after a thorough research about the place, but it would be hard without a local guide. Would it be possible to find a local guide in Paris, who could be trustworthy and help us during our stay? If a registered tour guides are available, can we establish connection with the person virtually before our travel, so that he can help us plan our itinerary and the ideal locations for us to book Airbnb rentals. We will pay good for such a person.
3. Now, another most important requirement is, as this is our honeymoon, we would want hell lot of pictures to be clicked in the most romantic way possible. Would it be easy to find a local photographer who would accompany us to click for us? If yes, do you have any suggestions? We would carry a DSLR with us. We would only need a photographer.
4. For mainstream attractions like Eiffel, Louvre etc. I read from different blogs that there would be a long queue taking as long as 3 hours or more. Is there any means to avoid this? The tour packages offer queue-free entry to such destinations. How can we get this on our own?
5. Another concern is transportation. My fiance holds international driving license. Would it be possible to hire a car/bike for a week and explore the city with the above mentioned guide? If car rentals of such sorts are possible, do you have any good suggestions?
6. I know that the padlock bridge doesn’t exist the same way anymore. But it was my dream since long to lock our love in Paris (I know this sounds silly, but c’mon!). I read from some other blogs that there are some bridges which currently allows to have locks. Is that true? If yes, could you give the names / locations?
7. How risky is it to roam Paris as tourists, just a guy and girl in mid-20s? I read about the chances of pick-pocketing and similar?
8. Do you have any off-the-beat natural spots / places in mind which would be enjoyed by people like us (hope you got some picture of how we are, by the description)? Anything to do with winter, snow, skiing etc. would be great.
Thanks for any help. And sorry if my queries annoy you much.
You can definitely explore the mainstream attractions on your own such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, etc. but it would be helpful to hire a guide to maximize your week there. Though it sounds like you’ve done a lot of research, a guide can help recommend things that are relevant for you and most importantly cut through the endless options. Especially since you’ve said you are foodies, typical sites like TripAdvisor, though helpful for their reviews and rankings, can often overlook hidden gems which Paris is full of. There are tons of tour companies out there who allow you to hire a private guide for a half day or full day but few that you can book by the week. One person who can help you out is Ian D’haucourt, reachable at email@example.com. He speaks both English and French perfectly, is a long time Paris resident, and specializes in creating food and wine experiences. Once you get in touch he can help you choose the right neighborhood for your AirBnB rentals based on your preferences, help you with your trip planning and be available for the week you are in Paris. For photographers, it’s possible to hire a local one in Paris but much of it depends on budget. I’ve heard of people charging as much as 800usd for a 45 minute shoot. A much more reasonable option is Pictours Paris. They start at 500 euros for a 2 hour session or you can also try searching Kyma which works sort of like AirBnB for photographers. You can browse dozens of portfolios to find the style you like and get in touch with the person directly. They also start around 250 euros/hour. If you want something cheaper you could try posting your own ad on local sites like Craigslist or Le Bon Coin specifying your budget and what you’re looking for. To avoid the long lines, here are a few tips. At the Eiffel Tower, the longest lines are when you first arrive on the ground level. So you can either walk up to the first floor (about 330 steps) where there are no lines and buy tickets there to continue up to the second floor and the summit. Alternatively you can also buy your tickets in advance online on their website. If they are not showing availability you can buy skip the line tickets at GetYourGuide.com. For the Louvre, the museum is open until 9:45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Those are the best days to visit and your best bet to avoid lines is to enter through the Porte des Lions entrance. You can also enter through the underground shopping mall, the Carrousel du Louvre and buy tickets from automated ticket machines. The worst is the main entrance through the Pyramid. Additionally, you’re coming during the off season so it won’t be as crowded. For transportation, you generally don’t need a car in Paris since the city has such a great metro system in addition to taxis and Uber. That said, if you and your fiance want to rent a car or possibly take a day trip then it’s totally worth it. It’s actually better to rent a car through sites like Priceline because many of those offers will give you unlimited mileage. When you rent directly at a French rental car agency they only give you a limited number of kilometers and then charge a penalty if you go over. Similarly, you don’t really need to rent a bike since the city has a great public bike sharing system available called Velib. You can buy a day pass online or at any kiosk for 1,70€ or a 7 day pass for 8,00€. To ensure that people get to use them you’re allowed to take any bike out for 30 minutes and then you either check it back in at a kiosk (any kiosk) or pay 1€ for another half hour. And yes, it used to be a popular thing to visit the Pont des Arts, clip on a lock to symbolize your love and then throw the key in the Seine. Sadly the city has removed the metal grilles and replaced them with transparent panels to prevent people from doing this anymore. Luckily the Pont Neuf, just one bridge over, still allows you to do this. As for safety, Paris is totally safe and you should feel comfortable roaming around and even taking the metro at night. You are right to be concerned about pickpockets though and the most common places you will encounter it are the major tourist sites and in the metro. Be especially mindful when you go through the turnstiles of the metro, when you’re in a crowded train, and in general, when anyone who asks you to sign a petition. For nature lovers, most people go to the Luxembourg Gardens or the Tuilleries but they’re very refined and quite touristy. For somewhere a little more off the beaten path, head out to the Buttes Chaumont, where many Parisians go to picnic, or the Bois des Vincennes and the Bois des Boulognes, both of which are huge and have a range of flora. Unfortunately Paris doesn’t really get cold enough to have snow so any sort of skiing and winter activity requires a trip to the mountains.
We have planned our visit to Paris for the middle of July and will be there a week. I’ve now come to understand that this can be a slow time and perhaps not the best time to visit the city. That said, everything has been booked and there’s no going back. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of our July visit? Places to avoid or things to do to make the best trip possible? Thank you.
I think you should be okay in the middle of July. It’s true the city shuts down in August when many restaurants and shops close up to go on their month long holiday. And it’s true that many of these shops and restaurants start as early as the last week of July (let’s say from July 23 on), so I believe the period you’re talking about will be unaffected. It’s also usually the smaller mom and pop shops that close during this period (vs. big department stores like Le Bon Marche) and many better known restaurants take this time off to give staff a break. But if you’re concerned, a few areas that will always have activity are very touristy areas like Montmartre, Saint Germain, and the Marais. Most of the establishments in these areas will stay open to serve visitors all year round. There are also lots of summertime activities that the city puts on this time of year that you’ll be able to enjoy. The Paris Plage (a temporary beach along the Seine near the Hotel de Ville) pops-up each year and this year it will be from July 18th-August 21. Also starting up around mid-July are free outdoor films shown in the Parc de la Villette. It’s very casual, family friendly, and you can bring a picnic. They range from Hollywood blockbusters to well known foreign films and everything is shown in it original language. Dining out is tricky during the last week of July/August, which I don’t believe will impact you, but if there’s a special restaurant you wanted to book Paris by Mouth does an annual list of Paris restaurants open in summer.
All things being equal when is the single best month to see Paris? And if you had to pick the top neighborhood for a first time visitor where would it be? Or even a particular hotel with a magical location? (We are a couple in their 50s and are keen but unsophisticated lovers of art, history, and food.)
The best months to see Paris would be April and September to avoid the crowds, with the end of April having a slight edge if you want to catch the spring blooms and September being preferable if you want less rain and warmer weather. For first time visitors I suggest the 7th arrondisement since it has everything you think of when you think of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, great restaurants and shopping, and wonderful market streets like the Rue Cler. You’ll be within easy access to all of these things and the area is less busy and more peaceful than Saint Germain. As for hotels, one of the nicest in the 7th is Le Cinq Codet. Though excellent, it is on the modern side and might not be the “magical location” you’re envisioning. The hotels I might suggest are the Shangri-La, a property once the residence of Roland Bonaparte (Napoleon’s grandnephew) and the Saint James, the only chateau-hotel in Paris. Both are stunning properties and would make a magical stay. They are located in the 16th which still makes many sites easily accessible, but a little further away if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing.
Trying to plan a 1 year anniversary/honeymoon trip (we didn’t get a proper honeymoon) and had a few questions:
–What is the best month to visit Paris?
–When is the best time/month to do day trips to the outskirts of Paris? (e.g. Versailles)
–When is the best time to eat outdoors in Paris?
–What are some good restaurants that have fun/lively/beautiful outdoor patios?
For the sorts of activities you are interested in, I’d suggest April and September so that you can still enjoy plenty of outdoor time as well as beat most of the crowds. If I had to choose one period over another, I would probably pick the end of April. The weather is still a bit brisk (typically in the 60s) but you get nearly 9 hours of daylight and the spring flowers will just be coming into bloom. For day trips to places like Versailles or Monet’s garden in Giverny (both less than an hour away) this will make a big difference vs. coming in September. The main advantage of September is the weather is warmer (usually in the 70s) and there are fewer rainy days than in April. The months I would avoid are August when most shops and restaurants are closed for the annual vacation and June and July since it will be the height of the season. Versailles is packed from May to September and especially between the hours of 10am-1pm. Try to come early or late and avoid Sundays and Saturdays if possible. The best time to eat outdoors is of course during the summer, when the weather is warm however most restaurants start to set up their terraces/outdoor dining whenever the weather is nice. One of the nicest outdoor spaces is right next to the Pont Alexandre III bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris. You’ll be directly on the river Seine with a great view of the Grand Palais just across. The terrace of Faust (a restaurant and bar) probably has the best spot but there are a number of bistros, bars, and eateries clustered in this area. Another restaurant with a great outdoor space is Le Perchoir. This is a very popular (and also very difficult to get into) rooftop space. Its main draw is the 360 degree views of Paris. Because of it’s location in the 11th, the crowd trends towards young and hip and you won’t see many tourists. Another suggestion would simply be to pack a picnic. When the weather is nice, Parisians head down towards the banks of the river with a bottle of wine.
When are the best months for picnicking along the Seine? Do Parisians do it any time there is nice weather or are there only certain months that they go there? Any good spots you’d recommend for the “perfect picnic”.
Yes, Parisians go whenever there is nice weather which generally occurs between April to October. The summer months are the most popular and it’s always a very casual affair. Most people simply bring a nice bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese. There are a number of spots to recommend. One of the most popular is the tip of the Ile de la Cite, formally known as the Square du Vert-Galant. It’s been featured in numerous movies as a romantic spot to picnic since you are literally surrounded by the River Seine looking at the Pont des Arts in front of you. The banks of the Seine just near the Hotel de Ville are also a lovely spot and in July and August are transformed into the temporary “beach” known as Paris Plage. This can get a bit busy and touristy though, so if you just want to hang out with locals I’d recommend an area on the opposite side of the river in the 7th. The area just near the Pont Alexander III bridge is beautiful and recently redeveloped by the city with temporary art installations made out of shipping containers and a few other restaurants and bars. The best part is you also have a direct view of the Grand Palais.
We’re planning a trip to Paris during the last week of September. Anything that is a must-do during that time of year? And how’s the weather in late September?
Great info. Thanks.
September is a great time to visit Paris and you’ll be there to enjoy a few fun events. If you happen to be here the third weekend of September, you’ll just catch the Journees du Patrimoine (Days of Heritage) where numerous cultural landmarks and spaces open their doors for behind the scenes access. However, you’ll definitely be there for La Fete de la Gastronomie. This year it is happening from the 23rd to 25th of September and it’s a festival highlighting the world of French food with events happening all over France. In the past they have included things like open demonstrations at Le Cordon Bleu and special events with the biggest names in French food. Updated program information can be found on their website and they also have a Facebook page. Another thing going on while you’ll be there is Tous au Restaurant. During this period between September 21 and October 4 participating restaurants offer you a buy 1 get one free deal. Some even include a glass of wine. There are over 100 restaurants participating in Paris this year. The weather in late September is still fairly warm. In the past few years Paris has had some nice Indian summers and you might get lucky this year. Just in case, it’s always worth packing a few sweaters, light jacket, and an umbrella. One last word of advice is to book all your accommodations and restaurant reservations as soon as possible because this time of year is one of the busiest in Paris. Thousands of people flood Paris for Fashion Week which happens from September 27 to October 5. It’s even worse than high season with most hotels selling out or only the priciest rooms remaining.
We are real foodies and are very excited for our trip to Paris. We’re very flexible and can travel anytime. Is there a “good time” for an eating/food/restaurant oriented trip? Or is one month pretty much like any other? Our plan is to stay in Paris for the whole week but could do a day trip. Is there anywhere near Paris that is a must for foodies?
Michelle and Marvin
If you are foodies then there are definitely a few events to be aware of that happen in Paris. One of the bigger events happens in February and is called the Salon d’Agriculture. It will take place from February 27 to March 6. It’s set up like a trade show, but it’s a massive collection of producers and vendors from all over France and even the “DOM” (the Départements d’outre-mer or overseas territories including Martinique, Guyane, and the Reunion Islands). It’s a once a year chance to try everything from champagnes from small producers to artisanal, award winning saucisson and everything in between. It’s also popular with families since an entire section is devoted to bringing in live animals (sheep, cows, etc) and there are lots of stands geared towards children. If you prefer not to come in February due to the weather a few other events to keep in mind are the Fete de la Gastronomie from September 23-25 and the Salon du Chocolat which will be October 28 to November 1. The Fete de la Gastronomie has numerous events all over France that are open to the public and can include things like sitting in on a cooking demo at Le Cordon Bleu. In terms of restaurants, most months are pretty much the same as any other with the exception of August. In fact, avoid the last week of July, the entire month of August and the week between Christmas and New Years since this is when many restaurants shut down for their holiday. I’d also steer clear of the days around May 1 as places often shut down for a few days to celebrate French Labor Day. It’s not as major as the summer downtime but if you are only in Paris for a week a few days can make a big difference. As for day trips, you should check out the Champagne region and the Loire Valley. Both are roughly within an hour of Paris by train and there are plenty of organized tours (food and otherwise) depending on your interests.
We are planning a trip to Paris for spring – March, April, May, or even early June. I understand that the earlier months have fewer crowds and lower prices. Later months have better weather. We would also like to tour gardens and enjoy the spring flowers. How would you compare these months considering our interest in gardens and greenery (which isn’t an absolute must-do, but would be our preference)?
If you are planning a trip during this period and would like to enjoy the spring flowers, the end of April through mid May is probably the best time for your visit. Weather-wise, March can still be a bit chilly and most parks in Paris don’t see any color until mid or even late April. You’ll also benefit from more daylight hours the later you go, with March offering roughly 6 hours of sunshine versus 9 hours in April and May. At major attractions like the Luxembourg Gardens, where the blooms start to open in late April, May is an even better time to visit when they bring out the boxed trees. The only time to be careful of is the end of May and early June. This is typically when a lot of replanting happens to make way for the summer perennials and tourist sites begin to get more crowded. If you wanted to do a visit to Monet’s Gardens, an easy day trip to Giverny, aagain stick to April and May.
I imagine that June and September have many similarities (weather, crowds) but would you recommend one month over the other for a holiday and general sightseeing?
They are relatively similar, but if you have a choice September is a better time to visit. The weather is still warm and pleasant and depending on the hotel, most pricing starts to drop after September 1. This is not a hard and fast rule though, as many will still charge top rates until the last week of the month. One advantage of travelling in September is that most families (French families included) will do the bulk of their travel when school is out. By the end of August, people are back home preparing for the start of the academic year or “la rentree” as it’s called. One definite time to avoid in September however is Fashion Week. If you are planning to come this year, it starts September 27 (lasting until October 5th). It changes every year, but generally falls around the last week of September and thousands of people descend on the city to participate or cover the shows. It’s a tough time to get a room, restaurants are packed, and you should book everything as early as possible if your travel dates happen to fall near this period.