25 Ways to Enjoy Paris in Winter

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25 Ways to Enjoy Paris in Winter
“Winter was come indeed bringing with it those pleasures of which the summer dreamer knows nothing…” Proust Paris in January, February, March… the chilled and quiet months that make it possible to slip back easily into the 19th century: Proust’s world of cozy interiors, the Garnier Opera House, and delectable hearty meals. In addition to some of the obvious pleasures of less-trammeled museum corridors, we can warm up with cognac in the plush corners of the grand hotel bars. There are teatimes, cooking classes, les soldes, and the music halls and restaurants of rue de la Gaîté. Why go to Paris in the coldest months? Because it’s affordable, romantic, uncrowded, and full of extraordinary surprises both indoors and outside. Rooftop view of the back of the Palais Garnier from Galeries Lafayette. Photo credit: Ellen A Here are 25 ways to make the most of a winter trip. 1) Catch the lowest airfares January through early March post some of the lowest airfares from North American cities and elsewhere. French Bee has fares hovering around $800 roundtrip from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Newark to Paris Orly airport. Statue of Jeanne d’Arc. Photo credit: Ellen A 2) Choose from a greater range of hotels and apartments To be fair, staying in Paris is never cheap, but many hotels and Airbnbs will be available at a reasonable rate, particularly for longer stays. With an apartment, you can bring pastries, cheeses, paté, and even whole meals from a traiteur back to your place to enjoy. And it’s a rule that if you make the coffee, your partner goes out to get croissants in the morning! Choose a hotel instead if you’d like assistance with reservations, transport, and directions around town. Even two-star hotels can be quite nice, but they may not have an elevator, room service, or strong wifi. Most three- and four-star hotels will have many amenities and staff who speak English. Mid-range prices per night in winter will be about $250 to $400/night for a double. Galettes des Rois displayed at bakeries in January. Photo credit: Ellen A

Lead photo credit : Notre Dame. Photo credit: Ellen A

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Following a long and fulfilling career as a government attorney in California, Ellen retired to France several years ago with her husband, a novelist. They are enjoying a second life here in Paris with their unruly Cairn terrier, and make frequent visits to Normandy, where they are restoring a small village house.


  • Victoria Zebrower
    2023-08-25 04:49:31
    Victoria Zebrower
    I was in Paris in the winter when it snowed as a young person working au pair near Tours. My passport was stolen or lost and I had to go to Paris to the American Embassy to get another one. I walked along the Champs-Elysees as it snowed. This was before this boulevard was redone. I still remember the beauty and the air. I was just standing on a corner and two German speaking women thought I looked lost so they told me that it was the Champs-Elysees. I have only been able to go back to Paris a few more times and always in the summer. I was sad when I brought my husband there for his first visit in July 2019. The crowds were difficult and the city seemed really dirty to me. We tried to go to the Bourdelle museum in the 15th, we were staying in a tiny and very affordable hotel in the 14th, but the museum was so crowded we didn’t even go in. We love a little museum, the Zadkin (sp?). My in-laws, one of whom was French, talked about their visit in the winter to Paris and how much they enjoyed it for a lot of the reasons you mention. I think this is a very inspiring article and a great idea. Thank you Ellen.


  • Patricia A Hacker
    2023-08-25 01:09:14
    Patricia A Hacker
    I was in Paris a few years back and it snowed. The people really don't know what to do with it. My hotel was on rue Mathurins, just a wee bit from Haussman etc.I walked up Haussman and the sidewalks weren't even cleaned off at 11 a.m., not that it was that deep. The only place not with snow was from the edge of the buildings to about a foot into the sidewalk. Then there were the foolish women trying to walk with their fashionable heels in the snow they could have broken something. My mother was born in Millau so I at least am 1/2 French. I love Paris, I love to wander (or used to - I am now 88 and as of about the time the virus started, my travelling days in Paris or France itself is now gone. I have been to Paris about 80 times, all times except the summer, the first couple of times an independent tour and then all on my own even went to Bort les Orgues where my aunt and uncle lived, that's another tale.


  • Jay McCormick
    2023-02-09 07:29:54
    Jay McCormick
    Re music, don't forget the album Place Vendome with the Swingle Singers and the Modern Jazz Quartet...


  • Ed Cobleigh
    2023-01-06 12:28:08
    Ed Cobleigh
    I have some comments. Don't drink Cognac, it will instantly label you as a tourist if you're trying to fit in. 97% of all Cognac is exported. The French drink Bas Armagnac. L'Hotel de la Marine is closed due to a fire. I recommend two books to prepare for a visit, The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris, a novel, and The First Fighter Pilot-Roland Garros, a bio. But I would say that as I wrote them. Take a day trip by RER to Le Bourget airfield to visit L'Musée de la Air et Le Espace. It is the largest and oldest air museum in Europe. You can see exhibits from the dawn of flight to Concorde to space craft. Don't pass up Berthillon ice cream, even in winter. Go straight to the mother church of glacé itself on L'ile Saint Louis and score a coronet.