38 Things To Do in Paris In Winter In 2024

Sacre-Coeur overlooking Paris rooftops in paris in winter

Paris in winter can be cold, wet and dark, but there are still plenty of enchanting things to do that have shelter from the elements.

If you are planning to visit Paris in Winter, you will be able to explore the city, but some things will be less pleasant due to the cold weather.  For example, the viewpoints that are higher up may be bitterly cold, and the less sheltered areas, such as along the River Seine, might have a biting wind.  And of course, it could rain or snow, limiting your choices about how to spend your time.

I’ve been to Paris a lot, and I recently worked out I’d been there in winter more than any other season. I’ve been there multiple times in December, January and February, so I have a good impression of Paris in winter. And the good news is, I also have plenty of recommendations of great things to do in Paris in winter, when it’s cold, wet or dark.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.

Paris in Winter: What to Expect

Paris In Winter: Weather

Paris in the winter months has the following weather averages, according to the Met Office and worlddata.info.

December

  • Average highs of 7°C (45°F)
  • Rainfall of 86mm
  • Daylight: 8 hours & 21 mins

January

  • Average highs of 7°C (45°F)
  • Rainfall of 56mm
  • Daylight: 8 hours & 47 mins

February

  • Average highs of 8°C (46°F)
  • Rainfall of 46mm
  • Daylight: 10 hours & 16 mins

To summarise, Paris in winter is likely to be fairly cold, especially in December and January; a bit wet, especially in December and it will have short days, especially in December and January. By comparison with my home city, London, Paris is generally a degree or two colder; drier, and has marginally more daylight.

In my own visits to Paris in winter, I have not yet encountered snow (it does snow in Paris, but it won’t be snowy all winter or anything), but I’ve experienced very cold temperatures, wind, rain and fog. It’s definitely coat + scarf + gloves kind of weather.

steps between buildings in Paris
Paris in winter

Paris In December

I’ve been to Paris in December several times and I really love it. Even with short dark days, bare trees and freezing weather, Paris is so festive that it’s worth getting cold for! The streets light up at night, the department stores make a special effort, with some spectacular displays; and there are Christmas Markets dotted around all over the city. It’s a really lovely time – I highly recommend Paris in December!

Paris In January

There might be the odd set of Christmas lights that remain in Paris in January. But by and large, the festive buzz is gone, while the cold temperatures and grey days remain. However, there is one massive benefit to visiting Paris in January, which is that there are far fewer other visitors around. If you don’t like crowds, this is a great time to visit Paris.

But be warned that some businesses reduce their opening hours or days in January, so it’s worth checking the places you want to visit are open on the days you’re there.

Paris in February

You might spot the first signs of spring leaves and flowers by the end of February, but it’s best to prepare for it to still feel quite wintery: it can remain pretty grey and cold in Paris throughout February.

However, February has Valentine’s Day, so if you’re in the market for a romantic trip, the good news is that there are lots of things to do in Paris for couples.

cobbled square with domed building
Paris in Winter

Things To Do In Paris In Winter

To avoid being disappointed by Paris if you visit during the winter, get prepared with this list of great things to do.

Visit A Museum Or Gallery

First up is a classic indoor activity that will give you shelter from the elements. And, of course, Paris has some world-class museums, as well as fascinating art galleries.

If you think you will go to more than one or two museums in Paris, it might be worth buying a Paris Museum Pass, which covers 60 of the top museums and monuments in and around Paris, including the Louvre (though you still need to book your timed entry slot).

1. The Louvre

Winter is the perfect time to visit The Louvre because it is so big, with much to explore – why would you spend all that time indoors if the weather is wonderful outside?

Renaissance buildings and modern glass pyramid at the Louvre museum in Paris
The Louvre, Paris

The Louvre is arguably most famous for exhibiting Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which some people (myself included) make a beeline for, but there’s so much more to discover in the Louvre. It exhibits artworks and artefacts covering 10,000 years of history and is said to have approximately 38,000 objects exhibited over an area of 72,735 square meters. So if it is wintery in Paris, you can stay warm and dry in the Louvre for hours! 

Everyone needs a ticket but tickets are free for under 18s and under 26s if you’re resident in the EEC – but the rest of us need to buy Louvre tickets.

2. Musee D’Orsay

Another great museum you could consider is the Musee D’Orsay, which has an incredible exhibition of art, housed in a gorgeous building, which was originally built as a train station.

The fifth floor is my favourite – it has a huge clock window, through which you can see Paris, plus a wonderful collection of impressionist art.

ornate arched interior with gold clock and various statues displayed at musee d'orsay in Paris
Musee D’Orsay’s grand interior

You can buy Musee D’Orsay tickets in advance, or use your Museum Pass.

3. Musee L’Orangerie

One of my favourite museums is Musee L’Orangerie, which showcases some of Monet’s waterlilies beautifully. The main exhibit has two rooms showing a series of eight paintings. However, this won’t keep you warm for long, as it’s a relatively small museum. But it is a real delight – I’ve been here a couple of times.

wide panoramic painting of waterlillies in a white oval room at musee de l'orangerie in paris
Musee d’Orangerie

Again, you can buy tickets in advance or use your Museum Pass.

4. Carnavalet Museum

If you have an interest in history, you must visit Musée Carnavalet. It has an extensive set of exhibits which cover the history of Paris from antiquity to this century. They have ancient Roman remains, room sets made up with the elaborate décor and furniture of the 17th and 18th centuries PLUS detailed documentation of the French Revolution and the various republics & empires.

There’s a lot to see and learn here, so it is a great option in Paris in winter, especially if the weather is wet. I spent a good couple of hours here escaping the rain once!

artefacts in a white room at musee carnavalet in paris
Carnavalet Museum

The Carnavalet Museum is located in the heart of the Marais area and the good news is it is free to explore the permanent collection.

5. Pompidou Centre

The Pompidou Centre is rather interesting from the outside because it was designed to have all its workings on the outside, rather than hidden within. However, if it is cold outside, you might be more tempted by its interior, which is a gallery of modern art (tickets available here).

exterior of a building made up of beams and pipes
Pompidou Centre

I can also recommend the top floor restaurant, which has lovely views over Paris.

6. Musée Gustave Moreau

A new one I discovered recently is perhaps more of an acquired taste and somewhat off the beaten path in Paris: the Musée Gustave Moreau exhibits the work of the French 19th Century symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. The fantastical artwork is certainly interesting, and the building itself is also stunning, especially the spiral staircase between the 2nd and 3rd floors, which I absolutely loved.

iron spiral staircase in a room with many paintings on the wall
Musée Gustave Moreau

7. La Conciergerie

La Conciergerie is known for being a prison during the French Revolution. Its most famous prisoner was Marie Antoinette, who was held there before her execution in 1793. However, it was built as a medieval palace under King Philip The Fair – and it has a lovely example of a Gothic vaulted ceiling inside, which was my favourite feature.  

arched stone vaulted ceiling
La Conciergerie

You can buy tickets for La Conciergerie here.

8. Archaeological Crypt

The Archaeological Crypt is a small underground museum which has two main exhibits. One explores the Roman remains of a settlement called Lutetia, which existed before Paris was founded. This is quite interesting because you can see the remains of structures and also stones which once marked the banks of the river, now way below the street level.

old stone remains underground lit with a floodlight
Roman remains underneath Paris

They also have an exhibition about Notre-Dame cathedral (the museum is under the square in front of Notre Dame), focused on how it became popular around the time of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, plus its renovation in the 19th century.

9. Louis Vuitton Foundation

For a modern perspective, the Louis Vuitton Foundation could be a good option. It’s a bit of a trek over to this striking landmark in Bois de Boulogne, but if you like contemporary architecture, it could be worth it. The deconstructivist structure was designed by Frank Gehry and inside there’s gallery space, which shows changing art exhibitions.

Tickets are available in advance.

Tour A Church Or Two

If you’re visiting Paris in winter, there are certain sights and attractions I would recommend you avoid, and at the top of that list is climbing the Eiffel Tower (unless it’s your first time in Paris, in which case, you might not be able to resist!). Having been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in mid-February (it was Valentine’s Day!), I can attest to the extreme chill and brutal wind that you can experience there on a winter’s day!

However, there are some indoor attractions that will not be quite so bracing, including many attractive and historic churches.

10. Sainte-Chapelle

The magnificent Cathedral de Notre Dame sadly has been closed for repairs since its fire in 2019.  However, not far from there is another magnificent church: Sainte-Chapelle is a Gothic chapel that dates from the 13th century and was built to house the holy relic of Christ’s Crown of Thorns.

This place really took me by surprise and I was blown away by the spectacular interior with huge multi-coloured stained glass windows and an inky ceiling strewn with stars.

blue and pink stained glass windows in a gothic chapel with gold trim and chandeliers at sainte-chapelle in paris
Sainte-Chapelle

If there’s one church you visit in Paris, make it this one. Buy Sainte-Chapelle tickets here or, if you want to visit both Sainte-Chapelle and Conciergerie, you can save money with a combined ticket.

11. Sacré Cœur

You can visit the most visible of churches in Paris in winter. The white domes of the Sacré-Cœur sit provocatively atop the butte of Montmartre, overlooking the whole of Paris.

white domes of the Sacré-Cœur church in Paris
Sacré-Cœur

It is possible to climb the 300 steps up into the dome for a stunning view of the city – but it might be too chilly for that in winter. Instead, you might want to simply explore the interior of the basilica.

12. Les Invalides

Hôtel des Invalides (Les Invalides) dates from 1676 and includes a museum and a hospital for war veterans. It is the tallest church in Paris and is recognisable for its Baroque chapel, Dôme des Invalides, which is topped with a gold dome and spire.

tall grand church with pillars and a gold dome
Les Invalides

Since 1840, the chapel’s crypt has contained the sarcophagus and remains of Napoleon Bonaparte, which you can get tickets to visit.

13. Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church

The Church Of Saint-Germain-des-Prés originated in the 6th Century and the current structure dates from the 11th century. It is at in the heart of Saint-Germain, the area known for being the centre of intellectual and philosophical Paris in the 1950s and 60s.   

interior of a chrucj with a blue vaulted ceiling and murals on the walls
Eglise Saint-Germain

The church was once the burial place of the dynasty of Merovingian Kings and now contains the tomb of René Descartes, a 17th century philosopher, scientist and mathematician.  Unlike some of the other historic churches in Paris, this one is free to enter.

14. The Panthéon

The Panthéon’s dome is another one that punctures the relatively flat skyline of Paris, and it is possible to explore the interior of this 18th-century church, which is the final resting place of Victor Hugo.

large church with columns at the entrance
The Panthéon

You can take self-guided tours at the Panthéon.

15. Saint-Sulpice Church

Just south of Saint-Germain, there’s another church of note, Église Saint-Sulpice. As the third largest church in Paris, its size is impressive, and as you look at it, you will notice its two towers are uneven: different sizes and designs.

This is one of those churches that was built and rebuilt a number of times over the centuries. As I understand it, the left tower previously looked like the right one, and both were intended to be redone. However, only one was finished due to the French Revolution interrupting work.

church with two uneven towers
Église Saint-Sulpice and its mismatched towers

Église Saint-Sulpice

Shop Under Cover

I’m not much of a shopper, but Paris is renowned for being a shopping destination.  I guess for fashion… or something?  It’s really not my thing, but I do appreciate some pretty architectural design, and Paris has several department stores and many covered passages that contain both stylish goods and also stunning architecture. Even if you’re not in the market to buy anything, they can be a fascinating place to see this fashionable side of Paris in winter.

16. La Samaritaine

La Samaritaine is one of the five Grands Magasins, or grand department stores, of Paris. It is in the first arrondissement, very near Pont Neuf on the River Seine. Its Art Nouveau building is famous for its large atrium with crisscrossed escalators, and it sells super-stylish luxury goods.

There’s a lovely brasserie on the top floor, which gets flooded with light from the skylight above.

17. Printemps

Printemps is another department store and is unmistakable for its ornate blue and gold domes. It has several locations but the most iconic are the buildings along Haussmann Boulevard. The buildings are linked at various levels, and together provide 44,000 sqm of retail space for fashion, home and beauty.  

View of blue and gold domes, plus Boulevard Haussmann from Printemps's 9th floor terrace in Paris
View from Printemps’s 9th-floor terrace

For me, though, the view from the rooftop terrace on the 9th floor of the menswear building was the highlight – if it’s really cold, you can just pop out there for a few minutes to enjoy the view of the domes.

18. Galeries Lafayette

The king of Paris department stores has to be Galeries Lafayette. This Paris landmark has all the fancy brands and the fanciest of interiors. The central atrium is ringed with gorgeous galleries and the ceiling is an intricate stained-glass dome. It is one of the most instagrammable places in Paris. In fact, I feel a little sorry for the brands that occupy the ground floor beneath the dome because the ceiling is such an impressive distraction!

ornate art nouveau domed interior of Galleries Lafayette department store in Paris
Galeries Lafayette

19. Le Bon Marché

The left bank has its own grand magasin, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche. This store has designer luxury goods and a fancy atrium, like the others. However, what sets Le Bon Marché apart, for me, is the adjoining food hall, La Grande Épicerie de Paris. This place is a foodie’s heaven, with a huge range of delicacies and indulgent goodies. I’ve never seen so much caviar!

20. The Covered Passages Of Paris

If, like me, shopping for high-end fashion and luxury goods is not your thing, don’t rule out shopping indoors altogether. In the late 18th and the 19th centuries, covered passages popped up all over Paris. These are like covered pedestrian streets, all shielded from the elements by attractive iron and glass ceilings.

Some of them are quite run-down these days, but there are some that have been well-maintained, retain their original features and remain filled with interesting independent shops and cafes.

For more inspiration and information, check out this post about the covered passages in Paris. Those that I really like and think are worth a visit include:

  • Passage de Choiseul: a smart passage and rather pretty. It has a mix of shops and places to eat and is long, so there’s plenty to discover here
  • Passage du Grand Cerf: has a quirky personality.  It seems to specialise in craft shops, fabric and nik naks and a red carpet runs through its length.
  • Passage Verdeau: I found lots of books and art in this handsome passage, which also has some eateries.
  • Passage Jouffroy: is directly opposite Passage Verdeau, so you can easily go from one to the other. This one is also attractive and also has books and art, plus posters.
  • Passage des Panoramas is possibly my favourite. Opposite Jouffroy, you may as well take a look at all three passages together. Passage des Panoramas is not as smart as Jouffroy and Verdeau, but its mismatch of tiled flooring and fixtures give it more personality. It has a couple of specialist stamps shops and plenty of cafes.
covered passage with shops and cafes at passage des panoramas in paris
Passage Des Panoramas

If you like the idea of having a guided tour of some covered passages, check out this ‘Secret Passages’ guided tour.

Enjoy Some French Food

If you’re in Paris in winter, more than at any other time of the year, you’ll appreciate some hearty, comforting food. And of course, French cuisine is well-suited to warming you up and lifting your spirits.

21. Take A Cookery Class

If you feel like trying one of the more unique things to do in Paris in winter, consider taking a cooking lesson. You’ll be indoors, which is great, and you can both learn a new skill and enjoy the product of your labours afterwards.

I took a macaron making lesson, which was held at Galeries Lafayette. It was pitched just right for me, someone who isn’t a very advanced cook: the difficult parts of mixing the macaronage were done for the class, more like a demonstration. We then got to pipe the mixture in little round blobs, ready for baking. And then we mixed the fillings and assembled the macarons.

The best bit was, of course, taking home the macarons we made and enjoying eating them!

Other than macarons, cooking classes are available for many types of foods, including french pastries, or even a three-course dinner that comes complete with a market visit and wine tasting.

22. Traditional Restaurants And Bistrots

I will not pretend to know all the best places to eat in Paris, because I imagine only locals have extensive enough experience to have tried them all. However, I have eaten at some great places over my last few trips, so here are a few I have tried myself and loved recently.

  • Moulin de la Galette is a restaurant in an old windmill in Montmartre.  It serves classic French cuisine, and after wandering the streets in the cold for a few hours, I enjoyed every bite of my onion soup and steak frites.
  • Café Des Anges is a popular brassiere in the buzzy Bastille area, in the 11th arrondissement. There is traditional French food on the menu, but also some more international items including burgers, which are served with amazing fries.  The overall feel is like a young, modern update of a traditional brasserie.  
  • Les Philosophes, Le Marais – classic French bistro, where I enjoyed the crème brulee for dessert
  • Le Progrès, Montmartre – a very attractive Art Nouveau-style café with a pretty exterior and interior. I had a messy but delicious French onion soup here
  • Le Pure Café, Sainte Marguerite, was featured in Before Sunset, one of the many movies set in Paris. It is very attractive-looking and quaint and the burger was good
steak and fries on a platter in a restaurant in Paris
Steak frites at Moulin De La Galette

23. Café Bars

Parisian cafes are so attractive with their bright colours and neon signs. A good toasted sandwich sets you up well for a day exploring the streets of Paris. And it’s nice to be sat inside one of these all cosy, when it’s cold outside.

a montage of colourful neon-lit fronts to Paris cafe bars
A collage of Parisian Cafe bars

They’re all over the city, but La Comète is one I tried recently. I really enjoyed my Croque Madame (toasted ham & cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg) here.

24. Brave the Heated Terraces of the Street Cafes

If you’re visiting Paris in winter, you might think you will miss out on that most Parisian of experiences: a drink on the street terrace of a café. Surely it would be unpleasant to sit outside on those cute wicker chairs in the dead of winter?

Well, you might be surprised how many cafes have outdoor heaters and windbreakers.  I guess it enables people to have a cigarette in relative comfort – and it also means you won’t miss out on the ability to people-watch.  I won’t pretend you’ll be toasty-warm on these terraces – even with the heaters on it will be chilly and you’ll need to be wrapped up warm. But a cup of vin chaud or hot chocolate will help make it bearable.

cafe terraces with pink and yellow lights in the streets of paris
Paris cafe terraces in December

You’ll find these heated terraces all over Paris, so don’t worry about where to go for them.

25. Restaurants With A View (From Indoors)

As I mentioned earlier, it can be very cold at the top of the Eiffel Tower in winter, and other outdoor viewpoints will be similarly chilly, as they often don’t offer much shelter from the wind (or rain).

But there are many restaurants that have amazing views of Paris that you can enjoy from the warm interior. In my experience, these restaurants do tend to be pricier, but if you consider you’re getting a view plus good food, it could be worth it. And if you’re in Paris with a loved one, having dinner in a nice Paris restaurant is one of the many romantic things to do in Paris for couples.

Here are a few I’ve been to and recommend:

  • La Tour D’Argent is a very fancy Michelin-starred restaurant on the left bank of the Seine. It is famous for its roast duck breast (which I had) and is quite formal – silver cutlery and suited waiters etc. The best bit is the stunning view overlooking Île de la Cité and the Cathedral de Notre Dame.
  • Le Georges is on the top floor of the Pompidou Centre.  The restaurant has an outdoor terrace which might be too chilly in winter, but there’s also plenty of space inside. The restaurant looks southward over Saint-Jacques Tower, but from the escalator and viewing corridors, you can also get great views of the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur.
View of Sacre-Coeur and paris rooftops from the Pompidou Centre
View of Sacre-Coeur from the Pompidou Centre
  • L’Oiseau Blanc – this restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel has a lovely dining room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. The prices are high, but the food is amazing and the service is perfect.
  • Gout Le Poisson par La Reine Mer and Gout La Viande par Regain are two restaurants on the 9th floor of the menswear building in Printemps. One is a fish restaurant and the other specialises in meat. In summer you can sit outside on the terrace, but in winter you will be more comfortable inside, so come early to get a table by the window, which has views over Haussmann Boulevard toward the Eiffel Tower and also the of the back of Palais Garnier. I really enjoyed some roast salmon at Gout Le Poisson.
  • Terrass Hotel. Many Paris hotels have rooftop terraces and restaurants, and I recently stayed at the Terrass Hotel, which has a view over Montmartre Cemetery, with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. The food was great, too!  Bear in mind, though, that the air can be dense with moisture in winter, which can obscure the view of the Eiffel Tower on foggy overcast days.
foggy view across paris rooftops to the eiffel tower
Terrass Hotel view of Paris in winter

Go to the Theatre

If you’re looking for indoor entertainment when in Paris in winter, the theatre could be a good option.

26. Cabaret

One of the famous theatres in Paris is Moulin Rouge, home of the Can Can and inspiration for the spectacular Baz Luhrmann movie, Moulin Rouge (2001). The theatre is in operation and you can attend a cabaret or a behind the scenes tour. 

bar with a red windmill on top and a sign saying Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge

I haven’t been to either, so I can’t share any experience of it. But from the street, it definitely doesn’t look as glamourous and romantic as the movie!  And it’s worth noting that the area where the Moulin Rouge is pretty seedy: it has lots of sex shops and strip bars and is a bit run down.  

27. Opera

A more high-cultured option could be to go to the Ballet or Opera. The modern opera house Opera Bastille specialises in opera, while Palais Garnier shows a mix of opera, ballets, concerts and recitals.   

Palais Garnier is astoundingly ornate.  It was built by Charles Garnier for Napoleon III and opened in 1875. It was also the setting for Gaston Leroux’s novel, the Phantom of the Opera, making it arguably the most famous opera house in the world. The interior is opulent and decadently decorative, with a mix of ornate styles including baroque and renaissance. The grand staircase is stunning, but the gold-leaf-heavy Grand Foyer will stop you in your tracks.

Even if you don’t go to see a performance, I highly recommend a visit to Palais Garnier anyway, just to explore its exquisite interior.  You can arrange a guided tour, or simply buy a self-guided ticket and explore it at your own pace, which is what I did. It was a great thing to do in Paris in winter!

Go To The Cinema

If the theatre is not your thing, a visit to a cinema might be a better form of evening entertainment when in Paris in winter. France has long loved the cinema. In fact, the first presentation of projected moving images to a paying audience was by the Lumiere Brothers in Paris in 1895, using a machine they made, called the Cinematographe.  

If you’re reading this blog, I can assume you speak English, so might be wondering whether you need to speak French to enjoy a film in a French cinema. The answer is, happily, no. There’s a long history of French national cinema, but non-French films are also widely played. And they are often shown with subtitles in French, rather than dubbed into French.  Angloinfo.com has listings of all the movies you can see in English in Paris. 

However, you might notice many of these cinemas are chains and these cinemas can be fairly unexciting buildings.  If you want a cinema experience with some charm and personality, consider one of the old independent art-house cinemas in Paris. 

28. Studio 28

Studio 28 – the first avant-garde cinema on the right bank opened in Montmartre in 1928. When I was looking at the listings displayed in its windows, an old man passed by and told me it was the best cinema in Paris.  

neon-lit exterior of art deco cinema studio 28 in Paris
Studio 28 cinema in Montmartre

It was featured in the movie, Amelie. They play a mix of movies, including some in English and while the design of the building retains its old Art Deco style, the sound and film system is new. You can find their listings here – just look out for the English or American movies.

29. Le Champo

Le Champo was featured in Netflix’s Emily in Paris (but don’t let that put you off!) It is not just an Instagram-friendly spot; it is a bonafide arthouse cinema which shows a mix of movies, including some English language films.

retro cinema lit up with neon lights saying Le Champo
Le Champo

I saw The Servant (1963), which is an unnerving British drama starring Dirk Bogarde and James Fox. You can find Le Champo’s listings here.

Imbibe A Beverage

30. Do A Wine Tasting

On my most recent trip to Paris in winter, I did a wine-tasting experience – and it was great! There are different kinds of wine experiences available in Paris, but I chose a simple one, which involved tasting 3-4 wines, learning about how to assess wines (visually, but also the aroma and taste), the different French regions and grapes etc. I felt like it had the perfect balance of learning, without overwhelming me with information. Plus I got to taste nice wines and eat cheese, which was right up my street.

two glasses of white wine on a table with pieces of cheese
Wine & Cheese Tasting in Paris

It was in a small wine shop and it took place at a table in their shop window, so I was inside learning about wine and also watching passers-by on the street (I was also feeling a little smug that I was all warm and dry, while it was cold and wet outside). If you’re interested, the one I did is available on Get Your Guide as Paris: Wine & Cheese Tasting.

You could also do a champagne tour. Reims and Épernay are in the Champagne Wine Region and both are amongst the best day trips from Paris by train.

31. Enjoy A Happy Hour Apéro

Apéro is a French tradition of a drink and light bites before the evening meal. And the sun sets early in Paris in winter, so you might feel like you want to hole up somewhere cosy by late afternoon, so an apéro could be the perfect thing for you.

Maybe consider one of the many bars that offer happy hour deals on drinks from late afternoon until early evening. You can often find lower prices on beer or cocktails and many places that do happy hour are traditional bars, which makes the whole experience feel quintessentially Parisian.

And there’s a chain of bars in Paris called 17:45, whch is perfect for pre-dinner apéro. They serve wine and cheese & charcuterie boards where you can select the items you want to customise your board.

cheese board with pickles and bread and a glass of red wine
Cheese & wine at 17:45

32. Treat Yourself To A Cocktail

I don’t think of Paris as being a place where you’d go out for cocktails – to me, it doesn’t have that association, unlike London’s high end hotel bars or Barcelona’s innovative bar scene. I suspect that’s because I think of Paris, and France in general, and being more wine oriented.

cocktail in a coupe glass at little red door in paris
Little Red Door

But I have found some good cocktail bars in Paris, so here are my top four (so far):

  • Little Red Door was placed number 5 on the list of the World’s Best Bars in 2022. It’s a dark, intimate place in Le Marais that sometimes has a queue, so if you want to avoid that, come early. They take their mixology and their ingredients seriously, but the staff are very friendly.
  • Cambridge Public House, also in Le Marais, has the look & feel of an English pub (which was strange for me, being British, but in Paris for the French things). However, it’s not all pints and fights: the cocktail menu and service style are both very smart and they have some good mocktails, too.
  • Bluebird, in the young, hip Bastille area, has an overly-complicated approach to the menu, but the cocktails are good.
  • La Villa Batignolles – this was the best place I tried in a neighbourhood with many cocktail bars. The place has a nice vibe and I really enjoyed my tequila and chartreuse cocktail.

Indulge In A Luxurious Hotel

Paris can be cold and dark in winter, and even if you’re doing lots of indoor things, as I’ve suggested above, you can’t escape the elements entirely. At the end of a day of exploring, you will want to retreat to a warm, comfortable room.  Therefore, if there’s ever a time to splash out on a luxury hotel, it is in winter.

33. Five Star Luxury

As well as the luxurious comfort you get when you stay in a fancy hotel, there’s another benefit, which is you get to experience a little of old-world Paris. Paris has plenty of luxurious 5-star hotels, many of which have been around for more than a century, and retain their original architecture, style and impeccable service.

grand old hotel in Haussmann style of architecture with a gold statue in front of it
Hotel Regina Louvre

On a solo trip in Paris in winter, I stayed at the 122-year old Hotel Regina Louvre, which is located on Rue de Rivoli, just opposite the Louvre. I arrived in a taxi, wearing, let’s say, ‘very casual’ clothes and trainers, with a rain jacket on – I certainly did not look chic, like their other guests! But I was immediately treated with seamless service: someone came out to pick up my suitcase and they pushed the Art Nouveau revolving door for me to enter the lobby.  Once inside, the check-in was smooth and helpful, my room was amazing – and I even had a view of the Eiffel tower.

I did a lot of exploring while I was in Paris on that trip – and it was really lovely to be able to come back to such a gorgeous, comfortable space afterwards. I was only in Paris for one night, so a fancy hotel didn’t feel like too extravagant an expenditure.

art nouveau style foyer with lots of white Christmas lights and trees at the Hotel Regina Louvre
Hotel Regina Louvre foyer at Christmas

As you can see, I stayed at the Hotel Regina Louvre at Christmas time.

34. A Room With A View

It’s the dream, isn’t it? A room with a view of the Eiffel Tower or some other iconic Paris landmark. When it’s cold outside, the ability to see something wonderful from the inside is even greater.

On one visit to Paris in January, I stayed at the Terrass Hotel, which is a very comfortable 4-star hotel in Montmartre. I was especially looking forward to my stay here because I splurged on a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

breakfast on a table next to a window overlooking Paris including the eiffel tower in the distance
View from Terrass Hotel in winter

For more hotel recommendations, including many with a view, I have a whole post on the best places to stay in Paris for first-timers.

In December, Enjoy The Festivities!

If your Paris winter visit is in December, you’ll be in for a treat because Paris does Christmas well!

35. Admire The Decorations

There are some stunning examples of Christmas decorations in Paris, with none better than Galeries Lafayette, which adorns its already splendid dome with extravagant decorations at Christmas time. It really is worth a look, though be prepared for it to be crowded with people admiring the spectacle!

36. Enjoy The Street Lights

I think the streets of Paris are wonderful all year round, but they are especially gorgeous at Christmastime. You can also find some magical light displays dotted around Paris including the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which has lights in all the trees that line the boulevard.

Other streets that are good for Christmas lights in Paris include:

  • Avenue Montaigne
  • Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
  • Rue Royale
  • Boulevard Haussmann
two sparkly christmas trees and a circular light display on a smart building in paris
Place Vendôme Christmas Light

However, I think the most spectacular ones I saw, are at Place Vendôme, where there were large Christmas trees and light displays on the buildings.

37. Visit A Christmas Market (Marché de Noël)

There are a few Christmas Markets in Paris, the most central one being in Tuileries Gardens, near the Louvre: La Magie De Noël Aux Tuilleries.

There are LOTS of rides here, but what I loved about this Christmas market was how food-oriented it was. There weren’t just food stalls, there were dozens and dozens of food stalls offering a huge variety of tasty things to eat, including raclette (which smelled amazing!), sausages, snails, omelette, pretzels, paella, waffles, onion soup and crepes. There was of course beer and plenty of vin chaud (mulled wine) – but unlike any other Christmas market I’ve been to, this one also had a champagne bar!

The most magical-feeling Christmas Market in Paris, though, has to be at Hôtel de Ville. It’s much smaller than Tuileries, with an old-fashioned carousel, several food stalls and some really amazing lights.

Overall, I personally think Paris has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

In January, Enjoy The Quiet

As I said earlier, January is a quiet month – it feels like there’s less going on in Paris than in December, and there are fewer visitors around.

38. Explore Without The Crowds

If it’s a clear day, take a wander around some of the places that get especially crowded in peak season in Paris, such as Montmartre.

cobbled street in Paris curving around between buildings
Montmartre in January: no tourists!

This charming hilltop village can get a bit overrun during Summer – and is also quite busy during Autumn and Springtime in Paris. It’s so pretty and popular that it attracts crowds of visitors most of the year. In January, though, there will be very few of them, so you have the best chance to wander in peace.

Take my self-guided walking tour of Montmartre to explore the cobbled streets, pretty cafes and viewpoints in this area.  Along the way, visit some of the restaurants and bars where artists like Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso used to hang out.

Map: Things To Do In Paris In Winter

Here’s a map of my recommended things to do in Paris in winter:

How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one.  If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.

Where To Stay In Paris In Winter

If you’re visiting Paris in winter (or any other time, for that matter), here are some options for Paris hotels that I have stayed at myself recently, and happily recommend:

  • 5-star: I already mentioned the grandiose Hotel Regina Louvre, which is very luxurious and stylish, a real treat to stay in!
  • 4-star: Terrass Hotel in Montmartre is great because it combines a viewpoint over Paris with a comfortable place to stay, plus the food is really good.
  • 4-star: Hôtel Diva Opéra is a boutique hotel in Fauberg-Montmartre, close to several of the best covered passages in Paris and also Boulevard Haussman
  • 3-star: the La Finca Hôtel & Spa, is close to the trendy Bastille area and has small but comfortable rooms and a simple breakfast is available.

What To Pack For Paris In Winter

I recommend you pack warm layers, water protection and wind protection. On a typical day exploring Paris in winter, I will wear:

  • Doctor Marten boots because they’re comfy enough and good at keeping my feet dry when it rains
  • Jeans
  • T-shirt / top, woolly jumper and a thick winter coat, with a hood
  • Scarf and leather cashmere-lined gloves
  • and I’ll have a mini umbrella in my bag, too.

The Last Word

I hope you enjoy your time in Paris during the winter! 

If you’re planning your first visit to Paris, do check out my guide to Paris for first-timers. And if you are there for a short time, I have itineraries for exploring Paris in one day, Paris in two days and also Paris in four days!

If you are thinking about travelling to Paris alone, read my guide to solo travel in Paris – but if you’re going as a couple, I have a list of romantic things to do in Paris for couples.

Finally, if you want some other ideas for travel in December, have you considered the Luxembourg Christmas Markets, easily reached from Paris by train?

Wrap up warm and enjoy Paris in winter!

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