Paris is a beautiful and lovely city regardless of the weather. From having some of Europe’s major landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre museum which is the most famous museum in the world to the most bizarre places like the Catacombs, Paris is definitely a perfect destination to visit at any time of the year.
Though many people prefer to travel to Paris in summer, winter is also a great season to visit. I mean, there are a number of reasons to travel to Europe in winter and Paris is no exception. From enjoying the cozy wintry charm, tasting mulled wine, exploring the covered passages to visiting Christmas markets, there are a number of things to do in Paris in winter.
But before you head out to gray Paris, having an idea of what the weather is like for all the winter months is paramount for better preparations. So here is a detailed guide about the weather in Paris in winter to get a perfect idea of what to expect.
Weather in Paris in winter
Winter in Paris officially begins toward the end of December till the end of March lasting for 3 long gray months. But unlike Scandinavian countries, winter in Paris is not extremely freezing cold or harsh and the temperatures do not drop way below zero.
With the sun rising as late as 9 am and setting as early as 5 pm, the gloomy gray days of Paris become shorter with high chances of rain spanning between 28% to 40% throughout the winter months. And of course, when the chances of rain are that high, it means that the chances of seeing any snow in Paris are low. However, it’s not completely non-existent and if you’re lucky, it might fall when you’re visiting – especially during the months of February and March when the chances of rain reduce as well.
Winter temperatures in Paris average around 7/8 °C (45/46 °F) during the day but can drop as low as 0 °C during the night. This means that even though it’s not as cold as other northern European cities, you’ll still need to pack warm clothes for your trip to Paris in wintertime.
Paris winter weather temperatures
Temperatures in winter in Paris vary according to the month averaging a high of 9 °C (48 °F) and a low of 3 °C (37 °F) but with chances of it dropping to 0 °C during the night.
To give you a clear picture of the weather in Paris during winter, I’ve summarised the average temperatures according to each winter month to choose exactly which winter month you can brave up for to explore the amazing city of lights.
- Paris winter temperatures in December: 4° C ( 39 °F) low and 8° C (46 °F) high
- Paris winter temperatures in January: 3° C (37 °F) low and 8° C (46 °F) high
- Paris winter temperatures in February: 3° C (37 °F) low and 9° C ( 48 °F) high
- Paris winter temperatures in March: 5° C (41 °F) low and 13° C (55 °F) high
But if all this is too much information to take in, here is a summarised graph showing the average Paris winter weather temperatures including the chances of rain.
So now that you know everything about the Paris winter weather temperatures and you’re ready to brave up for the cold and gray days in Paris, let’s look at some of the best things to do in Paris in the winter.
But before we dive in, just like the variation of temperatures across the winter months, some of these Paris winter activities can be done in certain months but not throughout the Paris winter season. So to make it easier, I will be including which month is appropriate for that exact activity.
Things to do in Paris in winter
1. Visit some of Paris’ Christmas markets
Christmas in Paris is such a magical time to visit the French capital. From a number of Christmas markets dotted around the city, to the high holiday spirit, Christmas is a magical season to spend in Paris. Whether it is to explore the Christmas decorations in wooden cabins shimmering in Christmas lights, taste French delicacies at cheaps or just strolling through with a cup of hot chocolate, visiting the Christmas markets in one of the fun things to do in Paris winter.
Paris has a number of Christmas markets you can visit – from the famous La Défense Christmas market which is also the biggest, the Tuileries market to the Alsace Christmas market. A visit to any of these Christmas markets is bound to throw you into a Christmas frenzy hence having a magical time at Christmas even when the temperatures are saying otherwise.
Christmas markets officially start appearing on the face of Paris from mid-November throughout December. So if one of the reasons you’re visiting Paris in winter is to explore Christmas markets, this time of the year will be perfect.
Totally free to stroll through the various Christmas markets but you can move with some Euros to treat yourself to a hot drink or buy Christmas themed souvenirs.
2. Go ice skating at one of the many ice rinks in Paris
When the skies become gray and the temperatures chilly, you know it’s time to pull out your skates and hit some of Paris’ ice rinks to warm up and have some fun. I mean what’s winter in Paris without skating on it’s beautifully sought out ice rinks. Paris has a number of temporary ice rinks but the largest and most famous is the one at Grand Palais.
And if you want to take in the beautiful views of the Eiffel tower while skating, then the ice rink at the Eiffel Tower is the perfect place to get up close with this famous landmark. And with a height of 57 m above the ground, skating at the Eiffel Tower is one the Paris things to do in winter.
But if you want to escape the huge crowds at Eiffel tower ice rink, then drag your skates to the ice rink at the La Défense rooftop. You won’t only enjoy making runs on this rink but also enjoy the breathtaking views of the city given that it is raised 110 meters high. But if you want to go skating on the lowest side of the budget, then Trocadero ice rink is another great choice to ice skate in Paris.
All these ice rinks mentioned are temporary and adorn the streets of Paris throughout the winter months – from December to March.
The price varies depending on which ice rink you go to and the time of the day. But prices can range from 0 € to 7 €.
3. Attend the Paris festival of lights
After the success of the first edition of the festival of lights receiving over 370,000 visitors in just 2 months, the festival has become one of the fun things to do in Paris in winter. With giant light sculptures lighting up the Jardin des Plantes and Menagerie du Jardin in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the festival enchants the young and the old alike.
The second edition dubbed Océan en Voie d’Illumination (translated as Illuminated ocean) is aimed at creating awareness about the importance of protecting the endangered species of the ocean, the ocean itself and the environment.
With shimmering sculptures of the animals that change color every now and then during the show in the alleys of the gardens, a visit to this incredible park is a must to be amazed by the artistic and creative concept behind the show.
Due to the popularity of the festival of lights, it’s better to buy your ticket online to skip the lines – trust me, it’s not fun queuing for so long when it is super cold outside. While you can buy the ticket online, make sure that you choose the exact day and time slot you want to attend as it can’t be rescheduled.
The festival of lights in Paris starts from November 18 to January 19 with the exception of December 24 and December 31.
The ticket goes for 12 €
4. Explore the covered passages of Paris
Winter is the perfect time to explore the unique and charming passages of Paris. On top of admiring the architectural concept of glass roofs piercing through a number of buildings, exploring the covered galleries is a perfect way to escape the harsh conditions of wintry Paris as you hop from one shop to another.
Housing shops, restaurants, and boutiques, the covered passages have mosaic floors and iron latticework that add to the charm and coziness of the alleys. To some people, the covered galleries are some of the secret places in Paris but to others, they provide the most peaceful walks when you want to take a break from the bustling city of Paris.
There are a number of covered passages in Paris but the most beautiful ones to explore include the Galerie Vivienne which is the most iconic in Paris, Passage Jouffroy which has a hotel, museum and a night club in its walls, Passage Verdeau which is perfect for antique lovers, Jardin Du Palais Royal & the surrounding galleries to feel like royalty and so many others. Walking through the covered passages is truly a magical experience and one you should add to the list of things to do in Paris in the winter.
Perfect for all winter months and all year round in general.
Totally free to explore any covered passage but if you want to dine at some of those chic restaurants, the food prices vary. But if you want to stay on budget, you’ll need to resist the urge to shop in some of Paris’ famous and classic stores in those alleys.
5. Cruise on the Seine River
Whether its winter, summer or any other season, cruising on the Seine River is one of the romantic things in Paris that knows no season restriction.
The cruise passes some of Paris’ top attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Grand Palais, and the Louvre giving you a chance to watch the dazzling lights as they’re always lit up during the wintertime. As you take in the incredible views, you can also enjoy either a 3-course or a 4-course dinner.
With a number of companies offering the seine cruise, you’ll be spoilt by choices. You can choose to go for this lunch seine cruise but if you want to take in all the glistening lights from the incredible landmarks of Paris, then I recommend going for a dinner seine cruise.
Any time of the year is perfect to cruise the seine
The price depends on the company you choose and whether you just want drinks on the cruise, a 3- course meal, a 4-course meal or a 5- course meal. This seine cruise with just drinks will cost you around 21 €, this 3- course meal seine cruise will be around 42 € but if you opt for this seine cruise without any accompaniments, then it will cost you just15 €. So in brief, you can budget for around 15 € to 60 €.
6. Visit Paris’ Museums and top attractions
Photo by Xiaoshu.Paris
It is no secret that Paris has a number of Museums, (over 60 to give you a clear picture) with some like the Louvre being the most visited and the most famous in the world.
And the big plus about visiting Paris in winter is that you won’t miss out on exploring the famous museum you see in guide books because most of them are indoors. Whether you are into art and antiques, modern art or just painting, the large collection of museums in Paris has a slice of something for everyone.
So don’t be afraid to make plans to either visit the Louvre museum, the Orsay Museum, or the Pompidou Centre because you won’t freeze to death while admiring Paris’ popular attractions.
I am not going to list down all the museums and other popular places you can visit in Paris in winter as I already detailed them in this post, but be sure that visiting all or some of them is one of the must-do things in Paris in winter.
Pro tip* If you plan to visit all the popular tourist attractions in Paris, I advise you to purchase this Paris city pass that will give you access to almost all the major sites. But if you’re only into museums, then the Paris museum Pass will be a better alternative as it even includes the lesser-known museums. However, please note that the Eiffel tower is not included in the Paris city Pass, so if you plan to visit it (in which case you should), then buy its skip the line ticket from here to avoid the long queues.
Perfect for all winter months and all year round.
The prices vary from site to site but you can check out the ticket prices to some popular sites from below;
- This skip the line ticket to the Louvre museum costs 20 €.
- The skip the line ticket to the Orsay museum goes for 17 €.
- Get fast access to the Arc de Triopne rooftop by buying this skip the line entry ticket at 12 €.
- If you want to explore the “dark” side of Paris, the skip the line ticket for catacombs goes for 30 €.
7. Watch the Christmas lights of Paris
When Christmas comes, Paris puts on the best display of lights you can ever imagine and the nickname ” City of Lights” brings out its true meaning during this wintry Christmas period.
Whether it is at the popular street in Paris and the most beautiful in the world – the champs elysées avenue, or at the Avenue Montaigne, the Christmas lights of Paris will throw you into a Christmas spirit that warms up the cold temperatures of the season.
Regardless of the beautiful shimmering lights of Paris, not all are worth braving up for but in the same manner, some are a must-see. On top of the lights that embroid the champs elysées avenue and the Avenue Montaigne, other Christmas lights and decorations worth seeing include ones at the Galerie Lafayette which are a spectacular sight, the Bon Marché, and the Bercy Village which turns into a magical Christmas forest.
The time varies a bit for each location mentioned above but you can expect to see the first Christmas lights from Mid-November through the first week of January
Free of charge if you stroll through all the places on your own but if you don’t want or can’t walk for so long, you can book a spot at the bus of illumination tour at just 23 euros. The bus of illumination passes through all the iconic landmarks of Paris to be able to enjoy the Christmas lights from the comfort of the bus.
8. Visit Disneyland Paris
Wondering what to do in Paris in winter? Then visit Disneyland. Visiting Disneyland Paris is one of the best day trips from Paris in winter and the wintry season never stops it from being as magical as ever. And if you’re lucky and visit when it has snowed, the snow-capped peaks of the princess’ castle will make it even more magical and a real fairytale out a book that is a picture-perfect postcard.
With the crowds and the long lines of summer gone, visiting in winter will enable you to enjoy the park without the craze of many tourists and to also get a chance to explore as much as possible and at your own pace.
Whether you want to scream your lungs out at one of the 300 rides, take the studio tram tour to go behind the scenes of some of the popular movies, and end the day with an illumination show as the night sky is filled with bursts of color, a trip to Disneyland Paris is a must-do when visiting Paris in the winter
Throughout all winter months for a wintry visit and all year round too.
This skip-the-line entry ticket to Disney costs 56 € only but you can spend as much or as little depending on the activities you want to inside.
9. Attend the Festival du Merveilleux (Festival of wonder)
If you’re not yet ready to end the festivities that come with a winter Christmas, then add the Festival du Merveilleux at the Musée des Arts Forains in Bercy to your winter activities in Paris.
Lasting for 10 days at every end of the year and beginning of the next year, the festival of wonder celebrates the festive season by putting together all kinds of artists from storytellers, magicians, musicians, tap dancers, aerial silk dancers, puppeteers, funambulists, and other artists to put on a fun and a holiday spirited show that excites the young and old alike.
Aside from enjoying the artistry of the entire show, a stroll around the village is possible to soak in all Christmas lights that sparkle in the fairytale village of Bercy.
You can also discover the 4 grandiose places dedicated to the art of the spectacle within the museum. These include the Fairground which has a Carousel of velocipedes and wooden horses, the theater of the marvelous which is a palace of illusion and dream with video show and the Magic mirror which is an old ballroom where live shows are done using reflections and optical effects.
Every end of the year to the beginning of the new year. From December 26, 2019, to January 5, 2020
- Ticket prices go 16 € for adults
- 14€ – Reduced rate (Students, disabled),
- 10€ – Children (3 to 11)
- Free for children under 3
10. Watch a Cabaret show
There is no better way to spend your cold winter evening in Paris than watching a Cabaret show. Cabaret shows in Paris are all about having an evening of fun and entertainment, which can be in the form of dancers dressed in perfectly designed costumes, drag shows, burlesque shows, striptease, one-man shows or just a solo pianist.
The shows normally offer creative musical and theatrical productions that consist of singing, dancing and just having a great time while you enjoy some french wines plus dinner. Paris has a number of venues where you can enjoy a cabaret show and the one you chose depends on the kind of show you want to see. Below are some of the most famous ones with what you can expect to see.
- Moulin Rouge Paris is the most famous place to watch a Cabaret in Paris. You can expect an incredible and amazing show from Doriss Dancers. You can book a cabaret show with dinner or one with just champagne – but regardless of what you opt for, you can be sure that you’ll have an amazing evening.
- Le Lido Paris which is the most famous night club in Paris showcases a more traditional burlesque show with the Bluebell Girls and Lido Boys performing their songs and beautifully choreographed acrobat moves while dressed in perfect costumes. You can book this show if you want it with dinner or this option if you just want to sip on champagne while watching the most exciting show in Paris.
- Le Paradis Latin Cabaret which is the locals’ favorite and the oldest in Paris. You can expect to see the most creative cabaret show which combines perfect sound, music lighting plus a fun and energetic show by the Kamel’s troupe dancers led by Former Miss France and Miss Universe, Iris Mittenaere. If you want to enjoy some French cuisine while enjoying the show, this is the ticket you’ll need but if you just want champagne, then buy this ticket instead.
The shows run all year round!
Ranging from 60 € to 120 € depending on the type of show you choose.
11. Warm-up with Vin Chaud
With France being a wine haven, sipping on Vin Chaud, France’s mulled wine will be even heavenly during the winter in Paris. Vin Chaud is locally made and the locals swear that it’s the best mulled wine you’ll ever taste.
You can grab a glass from one of the many cozy cafes but for an even better experience, buy one from the Christmas markets – and if you want, you can ask the stall attendant to show you how it is made. But if you find yourself at an ice rink, you can also be able to buy a glass of Vin Chaud to warm up.
All the winter months – December through the beginning of March
A cup of Vin Chaud ranges from around 5 € to 8 €.
12. Attend the Paris Fashion week
We all know Paris is the capital of fashion and the Paris Fashion Week brings out all the fashion creativity you can ever think of. And to all fashionistas around the world, this time of the year means flocking to the City of lights.
If you’re also a fashionista or just a fashion enthusiast then visiting Paris in winter – (in February to be exact) will give you an opportunity to see all the big names showcasing their creative designs.
But to warn you, it’s not easy to get invited to this secluded fashion show, but if you follow the right procedure, you might be lucky enough to get an invite. If you’re a big fashion household name, you might get an invitation without even requesting it but if you’re just an “ordinary” girl like me, you’ll need to put in some work.
You can either request to volunteer your way in or request an invitation. Check the official Fashion website to get all the details on how you can request an invitation.
24 February, to 3rd March 2020 for the winter show but there is also another one in spring.
The price is around 479 € – Big budget, right?
13. Take a walk in misty Paris
The beauty of Paris’ winter compared to other Northern Europe cities is that it’s not harsh to the point of being afraid of exploring the outside. In fact, there are days when you’ll be able to get some sun and since the chances of it snowing are low in Paris, taking a walk outside would be more fun than you can imagine.
With a number of pretty streets in Paris, it would be such a shame not to explore them. So layer up and hit the streets as its the best way to experience Paris like a local. The good thing is that you won’t find crowds on the streets and many may opt to stay indoor or visit places that don’t require them to stay out in the cold for so long.
But if you can brave for the cold, exploring Paris on foot will be very rewarding.
Any time of the year.
14. Take a cooking class
What better way to skip the cold temperatures outside than staying indoors and learning how to cook some French dishes. This is a new skill that will stay with you even after leaving France and also another thing you can brag about with your friends.
To make sure you don’t miss out on this French gastronomic activity, book all your classes from here at Getyourguide.
Any time of the year
Ranges from 50 € to 200 € depending on the cooking class you opt for.
15. Grab a hot chocolate at one of the many cafes
If sipping on mulled wine (hot wine with a pinch of spice) is not your thing, then a cup of hot chocolate should do the trick of warming you up.
Paris has a number of cafes that serve hot chocolate but the most famous ones for serving exceptional ones are Angelina and Cafe de Flore.
Perfect for all winter months
A cup of Chocolat Chaud costs around 5 € – 10 € depending on where you buy it from
What to pack for Paris in winter
Given the temperatures of Paris in winter, a bit of preparedness is required so that you stay warm at all times. The first tip to packing winter clothes for Paris is layering – and more layering. So below is a summary of some of the things you need to pack for Paris in winter.
- Lond sleeved Merino wool base layer top: There is nothing that is going to keep you warm in the cold temperatures of Paris like a good merino wool top. This merino wool top for women (this one for men) will keep you warm, dry and perfectly insulated.
- Fleece: As you pack for winter in Paris, you’ll need to pack mid-layer clothes for more warmth. This could be a really warm sweater or a woolen fleece. I recommend buying this Patagonia fleece ( here’s the Men’s version) but some people swear that this Columbia fleece works wonders for them. If sweaters are your gem, then this warm sweater will be perfect for Paris winter.
- A windproof and waterproof rain jacket: Since it rains a lot in Paris during winter, make sure you don’t leave behind this Columbia rain jacket. It is light, warm and breathable – here is the women’s version.
- Leggings: Leggings are a must-have in any girl’s luggage whether it’s packing for winter or summer. The only difference is that in winter, you’ll need to pack the thick ones for utmost warmth and comfort. These thick and warm Merino woolen leggings are the best in cold weather.
- Woolen socks: The Merino wool socks will keep your feet warm and dry at all times
- Knitted cap – This is the one I recommend to keep your head warm.
- Earmuffs: Protect your ears from the cold by buying these cool earmuffs.
- Packing cubes: Even when traveling in winter in Paris, you would need to keep your stuff organized. These packing cubes will keep you organized and help you travel light however hard it might be in winter.
- Scalf: A good quality scarf like this one will add you more warmth. The bigger the better as it can also double as a blanket when you just want to cozy up back at your hotel.
- Gloves: I recommend buying these gloves as they’re not only very warm but also touchscreen sensitive which means that you won’t need to take them off every time you want to use your phone.
- Waterproof winter boots: Winter boots must be comfortable, easy to walk in even on ice, waterproof, lightweight and above all warm. So if you’ve been in the market for such amazing winter boots and couldn’t find any, here are ones that will survive Paris’ winter – and here is the men’s version.
- A Balaclava: In very bad weather conditions, a Balaclava will be a lifesaver in protecting your entire face from the extreme coldness and the intense wind that might hit the city of lights.
- Windproof travel umbrella: Since the chances of rain in Paris during winter are pretty high, it’s better you take this windproof travel umbrella to take shelter when it pours.
- Trave insurance: Well, it’s not that you’re going to physically pack it in your backpack but before you head to Paris in winter – you’ll need to buy travel insurance. The travel insurance I recommend is Worldnomdas because it covers a number of travel items and the claiming process is fairly easy.
- Power Bank: It is a known fact that winter drains the battery of electronics much faster than in summer. So be sure to pack a power bank to charge your phone every time the battery dies out.
These are some of the things you need to Pack for Paris in winter but for a complete list of what to pack for winter, check out my Europe winter packing list.
I hope this post gave you an idea of what to do in Paris in winter and a number of reasons to visit the city of lights during this cold season. Have you been to Paris during the winter? What was your experience? Were you lucky enough to see some snow? Do let me know in the comment section how you liked your winter stay in Paris.
More Europe articles to Inspire your wanderlust
- Cheapest ski resort in Europe
- What to pack for a ski trip
- Where to see the Northern lights in Europe
- Best castles to visit in France
- What to wear in Paris in winter
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