Six Reasons to Visit Paris in January and February

Six Reasons to Visit Paris in January and February

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Six Reasons to Come to Paris during January and February

If you ask people what are their favorite months to travel to Paris, more than likely they’ll tell you April, May, June, September, and October or during the Christmas holidays. The reality is they’re missing a good thing. It’s worth taking a chance on the weather in the winter and coming to Paris in January and February. Here are six reasons and, as usual, there are more:

Hotels & Apartments

You’ll have substantially more choice if you come to Paris when the weather is supposed to be less than optimal. Prices are lower and, with some apartments, there’s some wiggle room when it comes to negotiating what you’ll pay. A few landlords will categorically say no, but others are of the persuasion that 90% of something is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing. Please remember to turn down the heat when you leave the premises and turn off the lights. Electricity is expensive and it’s only polite to cut those costs unless you’re being charged for usage—and then, you’ll be sorry.

CDG awaits winter travelers. Photo by Serge Gordei

CDG awaits winter travelers. Photo by Serge Gordei

Airfares

There are promotional fares, and planes tend to be less crowded. If you’re not flying non-stop, try not to change planes at airports in cities that are known for snow. You’ve seen pictures of people camping on airport floors waiting for them to reopen. You don’t want to be one of them.

If you’re redeeming miles for your flight, there are more seats to be had when others stay put at home. There are usually fewer families traveling when school is in session, which means your flight may be quiet. Needless to say, there are no guarantees when boarding a plane even if you fly first class—but at least there’s hot and cold running liquor. But come to think of it, many business travelers and road warriors chug-a-lug water since they view flying as transportation, a time to work and sleep so they can deplane and hop into meetings.

Louvre in winter. Photo by Ramon Morales.

Louvre in winter with room to view without mobs. Photo by Ramon Morales.

Museums

Even though the French are passionate culture vultures and frequent museums and exhibitions as an integral part of their lives, the lines are shorter because there are fewer tourists. Don’t assume you’ll have the Mona Lisa to yourself …but there are a few other paintings in the Louvre.

Even if it’s cold and rainy, the interiors of museums are kept warm (not hot) and you’ll probably want to check heavy coats. Don’t get complacent and assume you’ll be able to snag the best seats at the opera or the ballet, because most tickets are sold as a series. Still, you’ll have more of a chance of seeing stellar productions when there are fewer tourists competing for them.

Cafe Deux Magots in February. Photo by Rita Crane Photography

Your choice of tables at Café Deux Magots in February. Photo by Rita Crane Photography.

Restaurants

There are a few where you’ll have trouble getting a table no matter the time of year, but those are the minority. In addition, you don’t need to reserve as far in advance as you would during the French Open. Many people say French cuisine during winter months is more interesting, which is a matter of taste but worth factoring into the equation. Who really wants to eat cassoulet when the temperatures are soaring? Plus, numerous Parisian restaurants have fireplaces, which adds more than a certain je ne sais quoi.

Another place where it’s good to be flexible: There tend to be more cancellations during bad weather since some people come down with colds and don’t want to venture out to eat a meal they won’t be able to taste and wine they won’t be able to sniff.  Leave your name with the person in charge of the front of the house and tell them you’re willing to come running at the very last minute. Another tactic is to call before lunch or dinner and ask whether or not you can be accommodated.

Soldes at nearly every store. Photo by Reel Aesthete.

Soldes at nearly every store. Photo by Reel Aesthete.

Sales

The second Wednesday of January is the day the sales begin and last for five weeks. Shoppers are in heaven scoring bargains. Don’t tell, but some of the sales don’t quite end on the appointed day. If you like a specific boutique, discreetly ask the salesperson if there might be some items left in the back that need liberating. You might be surprised. Lord knows, I’ve been. And pleasantly.

Eiffel Tower in February amber light. Photo by reyfocus.

Eiffel Tower in February amber light. Photo by reyfocus.

Feel Less like a Tourist

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist, and if it weren’t for them, Paris wouldn’t be the thriving city it is. On the other hand, it’s nice not to be surrounded by groups of people who are following a leader carrying a flag, fighting for space in a museum or, for that matter, even on a sidewalk. There are some warm weather activities you won’t be able to do when the temperature is in the single digits (that’s Celsius, not Fahrenheit). No bathing on the Paris Plages or walking around in Bermuda shorts. But, there’s so much you’ll be able to do that you won’t go home feeling cheated.

Just be sure to dress for the weather: Bring a lined raincoat or a heavy coat, but not the type you’d need to wear in New Hampshire. Don’t forget waterproof shoes, warm socks, a hat, gloves and a scarf. Most important, pack layers. A thermal undershirt takes up very little room in suitcases and could come in handy. On the other hand, you may be able to sit outside at a café and look up and grab the rays. If it’s sunny and chairs are cascading the sidewalk, you’ll invariably be surrounded by locals… and gas heaters.

Paris is not cold by the standards of Boston or New York or Chicago—far from it. Please remember, if you’re from the northern American cities, the Nordic countries or Alaska, you’ll think Paris is downright warm. And you’ll be able to look at pictures without having to stand on your tiptoes to see them, to stop in the middle of the sidewalk without getting blind-sided by foaming-at-the-mouth tourists, and sit in a café without a neighbor’s elbows making the acquaintance of your ribs. You might leave singing, “Winter in Paris…”.

PHOTO CREDITS: Flickr photos published per Creative Commons 3.0 license with photographer credit in captions

Karen Fawcett

27 COMMENTS

  1. We are planning to visit Paris January 2016. Please help whether this is the right time to visit Paris along with family.

    We have already planned 19 Jan to 24 Jan.

    Kind Regards

    • Hi Subhash

      I am visiting at the same time. I visited earlier this year and learned it’s a good idea to see the attractions/museums first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds and have the latter part of the day to wander around the city.

      I recommend purchasing ticket to the Eiffel Tower in advance to avoid lines. If your budget allows there is an Opera performance at the Palais Garnier.

      I also took time to check the distance from my hotel to each of the attractions and restaurants I want to visit as well as time needed at each place. This allowed me to coordinate seeing the attractions and restaurants in the same area on the same day – more effective use of time.

      Anyway that’s my advice – hope the recent attacks don’t change your mind about your trip – Paris needs our love and support!

  2. We too are visiting Paris in January 2016. I will have my nine months old girl and seven year old son with me, and of course my husband. we will be there for a day. I still don’t know if its a good decision to take the baby in this time of the year. Need suggestions. Thanks in advance.

    • hi Payel, i hope you will read this post. my family will go to Paris on January 2017, I also have my 8 month old daughter and 7 yr old son, we will visit for only 1 day (layover). I’m wondering if you went this early this year and what attractions and time spent on each with 2 kids? how was it?
      Thanks….

  3. Headed to Paris the week of Valentine’s Day 2017. Hope the weather will be great. Anything going on that week?

  4. I’m planning my 20th date with my partner on Feb 17th 2016. Hoping to do Eiffel Tower Any good ideas on afternoon shows/matinees?

  5. I am going Feb 2018. Am I too early to book flights? I would like to hear from thjose who went in Feb this year. Did you enjoy it? Thanks!

    • Hey Brent, even i am planning for my honeymoon for Feb 2018.. what i have got to from the agents is, its the most chilliest month as well as the accommodation would be less.. have you found out any? Do connect me at [email protected].. let us check how it works out for us!!!

      • Also going from Feb 19th to 23rd. I’m from Finland so cold never bothers me anyway? And my wife lived there for 6 years so I can just go with the flow.

  6. Brent I have the exact same plan , so would really like to know from people who have been to Paris in Feb, does the rain ruin the holidays ?

  7. I am planning a trip to france Feb 2018. I’ve prepared by buying warm clothing . I’m sure it can’t get any colder.in Feb as it does in utah. I am looking forward to a great time there.

  8. Going the end of February to early March 2018 already got tickets and hotel . Does anyone know if there will be a ton of rain during this time ? Also any where the best shopping might be .
    Thanks so much

  9. Does anyone Recommend hotels to stay in, nicer but doesn’t need to be 5 star. I’ll be traveling end of January.

  10. I was in Paris in last week of January 2017 as well in July of 2017. I actually appreciated Paris much more in January due to less crowding and more affordable stays. If you don’t mind being bundled up and cozing up to your life partner 😁 it’s beautiful! Love it so much going back January 2018!

  11. Hi guys , self and wife r planning to visit Paris , nice, Switzerland and back in jan 18. Can we request the old travellers to throw some light on what all preparations, what all stuff to be carried and places to see pleaseeeee 🙂 . I will appreciate even if someone wants to whtsapp me @ 9862034444… thanx

  12. I’m planning to visit Paris during early February with family,is it right time to visit Paris?? I heard it’s extremely cold during the time .

  13. Will it be okay to visit Paris in Nov end-early
    Dec? I can’t take much cold. Are hotel rooms heated enough? Is it windy outdoors?

  14. We went to Paris in February of 2015 and yes it was cold. We bundled up and we were fine. We went back in February of this year 2017 and it wasn’t near as cold as before. We didn’t need all the winter clothes we had backed. We are going again February 2018. We are not taking as many warm clothes this time around. Sure we will pack some, just in case. We love Paris in February!! Hope this helps.

  15. hi ,

    i am planning to take my 10 years old daughter to paris mid January as it is her dream, it’s her 10years birthday gift 🙂 , any recommendations ? would it be very bad weather that she won’t enjoy paris?

  16. Reem,
    Hi I am planning to take my daughter to Paris for her 10th birthday on Feb 14th 2018 it is also her dream and both of our 1st time.Hope you enjoy it.

  17. Hi, Will be visiting Paris for only three days on Feb and arriving on the 6th. Anyone wants to team up? njia3428 at yahoo

  18. I’m going to Paris in mid January 2018 I was wondering if anyone knows what I can do with my 2 year old apart from Disneyland as we’re going to be spending a full day there anyway this is mine and his first ever holiday and I want it to be special I’ve booked the Eiffel Tower too just looking for more fun things to do with my son to make it even more magical

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