What’s the Best Month to Visit Paris?

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What’s the Best Month to Visit Paris?
Regular visitors to Paris will doubtless have their own favorite time of the year to visit Paris, be it out of choice or convenience to fit in with school holidays or work commitments. For those planning a visit for the first time or those wondering about changing their customary dates and not sure what to expect, here is a rundown of what happens in Paris month by month. (The weather forecasts are based on monthly averages-but we all know how totally unpredictable the weather is. I spend March in Paris and have experienced snow one year and temperatures of over 20 degrees Celsius the next, so be prepared!) JANUARY Average daytime temperature of 7 degrees with an average rainfall of 18mm. January in Paris means fewer crowds and shorter lines at museums and art galleries— an absolute bonus for those wishing to cram in as many museums as possible in a short time. Restaurants and cafés will be pleased to see you and you are more likely to be treated as a resident than one of the thousands of tourists they serve each year. January Fashion Week will be in progress and the winter sales will have started, running through January and half way through February. Ice skating outside the Hotel de Ville is always a special sight and continues until the first weekend in March. If you are quick, ice skating at the Trocadéro lasts until the end of the first week of January. Any time of the year is special for walking through the Luxembourg Gardens or the Tuileries, but with a light frost on the trees or a thin covering of snow brushing the statues, January can be a magical time. FEBRUARY Average day time temperature 8 degrees with an average rainfall of 22mm. Valentine’s Day in Paris! Could anything be more romantic? The city is still relatively quiet although everything is open and there are many special events to enjoy. The Vintage Car Show at the Porte de Versailles is a must for all car buffs. The Rugby 6 Nations attracts crowds and the fabulous Paris Carnaval— starting at Place Gambetta and ending at the Hotel de Ville– is another “must see.” For more parades and exhibitions, take in Chinese New Year in various locations all over Paris. MARCH Average day time temperature 12 degrees with an average rainfall of 24mm. Spring is just teasing us and often the Luxembourg Gardens are already producing more than a hint of the flowers and buds to come. Children are sailing their boats on the bassin or riding donkeys through the park and runners circle the gardens, throwing off the sluggishness of winter. Events are plentiful: La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, when athletes ascend the 1,665 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower; a procession of the Carnaval des Femmes starting at the  place du Châtelet; and the most important book festival in France: the Salon du Livre (the Paris Book Fair) at the Porte de Versailles. More and more tourists appear leading up to Easter and the Bateaux Mouches and tourist buses begin to fill up. Cafés and restaurants open up their terraces and the atmosphere of imminent longer days infects the streets. APRIL Average day time temperature 16 degrees with an average rainfall of 25mm. Easter in Paris. Songs have been sung, films made, and when you see the apple blossoms along the Seine, the glory of the Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries in bloom, it isn’t hard to see why. Tourists are now in full flood; expect to queue longer for popular museums and galleries. Pre-book if possible or arrive early to avoid the worst of the queues. Almost all attractions can be booked online and I would strongly advise you to do this right through until October if you are eager to sample popular attractions like the Louvre, the Orsay, or the Eiffel Tower. Participating in mass at Easter in Notre Dame Cathedral (even as a spectator) is a truly special event not to be missed. As is the Paris Marathon that the passes through Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, Bastille, Bois de Vincennes, and Notre Dame– ending at the Arc de Triomphe. Not a day to be out in a car– often crossing the road in front of the runners is hazardous enough. Try watching from the Promenade Plantée above the road near Place de la Bastille for a great view of the runners and jazz bands. The International Rare Book and Autograph Fair exhibits at Le Grand Palais– indeed any excuse to visit the Grand Palais!– is valid. However if lighthearted entertainment is more your bag, the Foire du Trône, a massive funfair dating back to the 12th century, can be found at the Pelouse de Reuilly in the 12th arrondissement. MAY Average day time temperature 20 degrees, average rainfall 24mm. The St Germain Jazz Festival spills out in historic spots, cafes and theatres throughout the Left Bank. The streets are alive day and night; the city is buzzing. European Museums Night (La Nuit européenne des musées) is the night that museums stay open late with concerts and fun events planned across Paris with free entrance to many museums. If antiques are your passion, the Antiquites Brocante is held at the Bastille, a massive market of 480 stalls specializing in antiques and second-hand items from all over France. Along the…
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Lead photo credit : Flowers on rue Montorgueil, the historic market street in the 2nd. Photo: MW Nicklin

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After some dreary years in the Civil Service, Marilyn realized her dream of living in Paris. She arrived in Paris in December 1967 and left in July 1969. From there she lived in Mallorca, London, Oman, and Dubai, where she moved with her husband and young son and worked for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and freelanced for Emirates Woman magazine. During this time she was also a ground stewardess for Middle East Airlines. For the past 18 years they've lived on the Isle of Wight.

Comments

  • Judy Brinkworth
    2016-09-22 14:19:51
    Judy Brinkworth
    Oh, I wish you had mentioned the Luxembourg Gardens - any month of the year. It is such a magical place! Last time we were there, I sat on one of the chairs and e-mailed my newspaper column back to Chicago - I started it with, "Here I am sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens - and too bad you're not!" Why so magical - that I have not found words for - but it is - just wait and see if you go there - rain, shine - whatever - an emotional and evocative stop, always, for me - and we will be there at the end of October - staying nearby - cannot wait. Thank you for your tips!

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