Best Time to Visit Paris
The American chanteuse, Ella Fitzgerald, summed up the year-round appeal of Paris in her famous song, I Love Paris. The lyrics describe how Paris is wonderful not just in the springtime but also "in the winter when it drizzles" and "in the summer when it sizzles."
Every season in Paris has its special charms, and the city looks as beautiful under grey clouds as it does in bright sunshine. Late spring and summer are the most popular times to visit Paris, however many tourists prefer the fall and winter months, when hotel prices are reduced and there are fewer crowds.
Anytime of year is a good time to visit Paris, but the travel experience will be different depending on the season. Springtime is ideal for strolls through the gardens; summer is perfect for picnics; the autumn brings crisp weather that invites popping into cozy bistros; wintertime keeps the crowds away, and holiday decor gives the city a dreamy quality.
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Best Time of Year to Visit Paris
Many seasoned travelers say the best months to visit Paris are in the spring (April, May, June), the summer (especially June and the first half of July), and early autumn (September and October).
April is in the off season, and hotel prices are reduced. The drawback is that the weather is capricious and can be quite chilly or rainy. Average low temperatures are mid-40 degrees Fahrenheit. With some luck, the weather could be refreshingly crisp and sunny. Average highs are low-60 degrees. On the upside, April offers the chance to experience the magic of early spring. Trees begin to bud their first leaves in the parks and lining the avenues. Daffodils and tulips bloom in the gardens.
In May, the weather is still fickle, with a mix of sunny days and chilly or rainy days. The temperature averages range from high 60 degrees to low 50 degrees Fahrenheit. By early May, trees, burgeoning vegetation, and colorful flowers enliven the leafy grounds of the Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Champs-Élysées, Jardin des Plantes, Parc Monceau, Bois de Boulogne, and the Buttes-Chaumont. On warm days, café terraces come back to life.
June is a delightful time to visit Paris because of the balmy weather and long days. Daytime temperatures are comfortable, with high temperature averages in the low 70 degrees. Thanks to Paris' northern latitude, the sun sets at almost 10pm in June. It seems that the entire city is out and about to celebrate the beginning of summer. The sidewalk café scene bustles, and there is a sense of joie de vivre in the air.
The first two weeks of July are the most exciting time to visit Paris, with Parisians' anticipation of vacation just around the corner. Plus, the weather starts to feel like summer. The entire month of July is a great time to visit because of warm days with average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
July and August are the hottest months of the year in Paris. August also has average high temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, travelers should keep in mind that many shops and restaurants close in August when Parisians leave for summer holidays after the Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) on July 14th.
September is a marvelous time to visit Paris because the weather is still pleasant, yet it is in the off season, so hotels are more affordable, and tourist attractions are less crowded. Similar to the springtime, September promises a mix of weather, with some sunny days and some rain. The average high temperatures are low-70 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures are mid-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another good time to visit is October which is in the off season. October weather can be chilly. The daytime high-temperature averages start to dip into the 60s Fahrenheit and the average low temperature is 48 degrees.
Tips for What to Wear: For a Paris vacation in April, May, September, or October, travelers should pack layers and bring sweaters, a jacket, raincoat, boots, and an umbrella. In June and July, the weather is warm enough for summer dresses and short-sleeve shirts. Packing requirements during the late fall and winter months (November through March) include heavy coats, scarves, wool hats, gloves, warm socks, and boots.
Paris in August
During August, most Parisians shutter up their windows for their month-long vacation. The town has an eerily quiet and empty feel, as if it has been deserted. Where are all the Parisians in August? They head to places like Saint-Tropez and Antibes on the French Riviera, Biarritz on the Southwest Coast, the French Alps, and other summertime holiday destinations.
The streets have noticeably fewer passersby in many of the residential neighborhoods during the month of August. Many shops and restaurants are closed for the entire month. For this reason, some people say that August is the worst time to visit Paris.
Some visitors and residents relish the quiet, relaxing atmosphere. The touristy 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 16th arrondissements are taken over by tourists. Lines at museums and historic monuments are shorter than usual, and the Métro trains are less crowded. The downside is that the real ambience of Paris is absent.
On the upside, the weather in August is warm and sunny. Daytime temperatures average in the high 70s, and August has the lowest chance of rain of any month in the year. Sunshine makes the Seine River banks, café terraces, and gardens resplendent.
Best Season to Visit Paris
Springtime: The number of songs written about springtime in Paris reveals the soul-inspiring effect this season has (and has had) on so many visitors. Springtime in Paris is legendary for its special beauty and ambience. The air feels fresher, and the entire city becomes brighter and cheerier as if waking up after a long winter. Many travelers say that spring is the best time of year to visit Paris.
The first signs of spring are the blossoms of cherry trees in March. The delicate pink flowers of cherry trees bloom at the Champs de Mars and the Jardins du Trocadéro that frame the Eiffel Tower, as well as at the Jardin des Plantes botanical garden in the Latin Quarter.
In April, colorful tulips appear in profusion at the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement, the Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre Museum, and the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. By early May, the first blossoms and small leaves begin to sprout from the chestnut trees in the Jardin du Luxembourg and along the Seine River banks.
Springtime invites strolls through the lush parks and gardens of Paris. The city's elegant tree-lined avenues and boulevards also bring out local residents and tourists alike for leisurely jaunts while admiring boutique storefronts. If the weather is warm enough, the cafés and restaurants serve patrons on their outdoor terraces.
Summertime: Summer months (late June through September) offer the warmest weather and the most sunshine. Although there is still a possibility of rain throughout the summer, the chances are less than at other times of year. This means that summer is ideal for taking long scenic walks, for relaxing by the Seine River banks, and for picnic in the parks.
During summertime, the sidewalk café scene is at its liveliest. The cafés and restaurant terraces are bustling well into the evenings. To experience the most famous cafés, tourists should spend time at the Café de Flore or the Café des Deux Magots on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The Montmartre neighborhood also has many sidewalk cafés and restaurants with outdoor terraces for soaking up the enchanting summertime ambience.
For picnics, favorite spots are the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, Place des Vosges in the Marais district, the Parc Monceau, and the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. The tree-shaded outdoor cafés in the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Jardin des Tuileries are also delightful places to visit on a sunny day in June.
During the summer, Paris is brimming with festivals, music concerts, and other events. In fact, this is the best time of year to experience Parisian culture.
Autumn: In the autumn, Paris has a special character. The light reveals a soft glowing quality, which makes golden leaves glow in the formal gardens. The weather is unpredictable, with some mild, sunny days (especially in September) and some brisk fall days. There is also the possibility of rain showers.
Autumn is a perfect time for strolls through the parks and along the Seine River banks. On the cooler days, the sumptuous tea salons and cozy bistros of Paris seem more inviting than ever. Among the essential things to do on a crisp fall day is ramble through the Jardin des Tuileries and stop for hot chocolate at the Angelina salon de thé (226 Rue de Rivoli) near the Louvre.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is gorgeous in the early fall, and nearby, the Maison Angelina has a casual tearoom and restaurant within the Musée du Luxembourg (19 rue de Vaugirard). The garden of Place des Vosges also looks romantic in autumn. Just a short walk from the Place des Vosges is the esteemed Mariage Frères salon de thé (30 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg), which serves afternoon tea and light meals.
Easter Week: Easter week is a lovely time to visit Paris because of holiday celebrations and springtime beauty. For those who are religious, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre offers religious celebrations throughout Holy Week, including Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
Easter brunch is a popular event at some of Paris' fancy hotels: Hôtel de Crillon, Ritz Paris, Hôtel Lutetia, Le Royal Monceau-Raffles Paris, and The Peninsula Paris. The Ritz, Royal Monceau, and The Peninsula hotels also offer Easter egg hunts to entertain little ones.
During Easter weekend, the expansive formal gardens of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte becomes the scene of a giant treasure hunt and other children's activities. The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is among the top day trips from Paris, and its Easter egg hunt is one of the biggest in France.
Most of the chocolate shops sell handcrafted chocolate Easter eggs. Not to be missed are the creations of renowned chocolatiers: Pierre Hermé (72 rue Bonaparte), La Maison du Chocolate (8 Boulevard de la Madeleine), Jean-Paul Hévin (23 Bis, Avenue de la Motte Picquet), Maison Chaudun (149 rue de l'Université), and Michel Cluizel (201 Rue Saint-Honoré).
These charming, old-fashioned boutiques feature exquisite Easter chocolates: Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées; 21 Rue Bonaparte), L'Atelier du Chocolat (109 Rue Saint Antoine), and À la Mère de Famille (70 Rue Bonaparte; 39 Rue du Cherche Midi; 35 Rue Cler in the 7th).
Christmastime: During Christmastime (Fêtes de Noël) fanciful decorations transform Paris into a festive holiday scene. In mid-November, Christmas illuminations appear on the Champs-Elysées, Avenue Montaigne, and the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and Paris department stores, such as Printemps, the Galeries Lafayette, and Le Bon Marché, begin to unveil their fantastic Christmas window displays. These dazzling shop windows feature magical scenes adorned with animated figures and ornate decor.
As early as mid-November and surely by the first of December, the pâtisserie boutiques of Paris don their holiday facades. Elaborate shop window displays tempt passersby to stop in for a treat and to start thinking about which cake to purchase for Christmas. Decorations might feature handcrafted chocolate sculptures, fancy cakes set in wintery scenes, or mini Christmas trees made of macarons or confections.
All the pâtisserie shops in Paris create a Christmastime dessert called a bûche de Noël (yuletide log), a layer cake with decadent frosting and whimsical forest-themed ornamentation. Little mushroom-shaped meringues, candy leaves, tiny chocolate pinecones, and other creative flourishes embellish bûche de Noël cakes. Every year, the decorations and flavors change to delight and surprise patrons.
Cheapest Time to Visit Paris
Off season in Paris is late fall and winter (November through March). During this period (with the exception of the holiday season), hotel prices are reduced, and tourist attractions are less crowded.
Visitors can leisurely admire the masterpieces of the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in uncrowded galleries without being jostled by other tourists (whereas during summertime, it is difficult to get a good look at many of the famous paintings because of the crowds). The lines at the Eiffel Tower are much shorter, and restaurant reservations (even at famous places) are easy to procure.
The tradeoff for visiting during the off season is the bracing cold weather and high chance of rain. However, snow is very unlikely. In January and February, the average highs are in the mid 40s Fahrenheit and lows are in the mid 30s. March starts to warm up a bit, with highs in the mid 50s and lows in the 40s.
Things to Do in Paris by Month
January: Fashion designers, celebrities, and journalists flock to Paris for Fashion Week in mid-January. New collections of haute-couture are presented in various fashion shows, representing the biggest names in fashion, such as Christian Dior and Chanel. The fashion shows of Fashion Week are trade-only events (not open to the public), but the glamour of the event fills Paris with a sense of excitement.
Starting the second week of January, winter sales are held at Paris boutiques and department stores. This highly anticipated event called "Les Soldes" draws hordes of locals and tourists to the shops in search of amazing deals (up to 70 percent reductions). Top places to shop during Les Soldes are the Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, and Le Bon Marché department stores, as well as high-end designer boutiques on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, and Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
February: The season of classical music and ballet is in full swing at the Palais Garnier, Opéra National de Paris in February. Attending a performance gives tourists the chance to see the opulent interior of the Palais Garnier, as well as experience Parisian culture at its most refined.
March: The jubilant Carnival de Paris celebrates Mardi Gras and Lent with highly entertaining events. The Sunday before Mardi Gras, a musical costumed parade takes place beginning at 1:30pm at the Place Gambetta and led by Pimprenelle, a cow from the Limousin region outfitted in a red dress. (The cow is a tradition since the 16th century.)
The Sunday following the Mid-Lent Thursday, the Carnaval des Femmes takes place. This event is also known as the "Fête des Blanchisseuses" because historically washerwomen (blanchisseuses) organized the parade, which involves women dressed as queens and men dressed as women. The parade begins at Châtelet at 3pm on the Mid-Lent Thursday.
April: The Grand Palais hosts Art Paris, an art fair that exhibits the work of around 150 art galleries from 20 different countries. This event takes place over several days and gives visitors a chance to admire a variety of modern and contemporary art.
April is also a wonderful time to visit Claude Monet's Garden in Giverny, because the daffodils, tulips, and other early spring flowers are in bloom. (However, the water lilies do not appear until July). Giverny is one of the most popular day trips from Paris, so expect tourist crowds on sunny days.
May: As the weather is warming up in May, the city begins to buzz with cultural events. One of the most popular events is the Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés festival. The Saint-Germain-des-Prés Quarter has been a legendary spot for jazz since the 1950s. Today, the festival treats audiences to performances by the best contemporary musicians.
Art lovers will appreciate the Nuit des Musées event held on the third Saturday evening in May, when the museums of Paris offer free admission beginning at dusk and until midnight. The event includes guided tours, workshops, live performances, and music concerts.
June: The joyous Fête de la Musique celebrates the longest day of the year (June 21st) with an exceptional lineup of live musical performances held throughout the city. Performances take place outdoors in public squares and gardens, as well as in churches, restaurants, and museums.
July: One of the most festive moments in Paris is Bastille Day, July 14th. This national holiday (Fête Nationale) celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789. With its traditional military parade and fireworks, the Fête Nationale immerses tourists in an event that is emblematic of the French nation.
The best place to watch Bastille Day fireworks is from the Champs de Mars. The fireworks are launched from the Eiffel Tower at 11pm, and the show lasts for 30 minutes. Other spots that provide an excellent view of the fireworks include the terrace of the Sacre-Coeur basilica, the Observatoire Panoramique in Montparnasse Tower, and the panoramic viewpoint in Belleville.
Every weekend in July (and the first two weekends in August), the Festival Classique au Vert presents classical music performances in the open-air venue of the Parc Floral de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes.
The Été du Canal festival brings entertainment and social gatherings to the Canal de l'Ourcq area of Paris (weekends in July and August). The festival includes boat cruises, music performances, concerts, and parties on the riverside péniches (docked boats).
August: For tourists and locals seeking a vacation scene without leaving Paris, the solution is Paris Plages. Along the Seine River banks, mock seaside resorts stand in for the French Riviera, complete with lounge chairs, swimming pools, and other recreational activities. Paris Plages takes place from early July through August, when everyone in the city needs a way to cool off on hot summer days.
September: For two days in mid-September during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days), France's Ministry of Culture provides visitors with a glimpse of historic monuments that are rarely open to the public. Many of the monuments represent an exceptional architectural and cultural heritage, such as the Opéra Comique, an extravagant theater created during the reign of Louis XIV.
October: On the first Saturday of October, the Nuit Blanche event delights culture enthusiasts with a unique exhibit of avant-garde contemporary art. The artwork is presented at night, accompanied by musical performances and light installations.
In mid-October, the Grand Palais hosts the Foir Internationale d'Art Contemporain (FIAC), an entire week of exhibits devoted to contemporary art.
"Les Journées des Plantes de Chantilly," a day trip from Paris is held within the luxuriant park of the Domaine de Chantilly (a 30-minute drive or 50-minute train ride from Paris). Dedicated to flowers, plants, and landscaping, this three-day festival includes flower shows, a large exhibition of plants, and gardening workshops.
November: The finest examples of French savoir-faire are presented at Le Salon du Made in France, a large trade fair. Over five-hundred exhibitors show off craftsmanship and gastronomy that is authentically French.
December: Lovely Christmas decorations adorn the boutiques and shops of Paris, while the elegant boulevards and avenues feature spectacular illuminations. Besides admiring the glittering decorations, tourists will also enjoy festive holiday dining and seasonal desserts.
At Christmastime, the fancy pâtisserie and chocolate boutiques of Paris look truly enchanting. Some of the prettiest holiday-theme shop windows are found in the 6th arrondissement at Ladurée (21 Rue Bonaparte), Pierre Hermé (72 Rue Bonaparte), RICHART (27 Rue Bonaparte), Pâtisserie Michalak (8 Rue du Vieux Colombier), Maison Mulot (76 Rue de Seine), and La Grande Épicerie (38 Rue de Sèvres).
Holiday window displays also decorate the upscale specialty food shops and pâtisserie boutiques of the 8th arrondissement including Dalloyou (101 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré), Fauchon (30 Place de la Madeleine), and Hédiard (21 place de la Madeleine). This neighborhood also has a few exceptional chocolate shops that sell gift boxes for Christmas: Patrick Roger (3 Place de la Madeleine), La Maison du Chocolate (8 Boulevard de la Madeleine), and the Marquise de Sévigné (16 Rue Tronchet).
From mid-November through December, it is worth checking out the traditional Christmas markets held on the Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Place Vendôme, Les Halles, Quai Branly (overlooking the Eiffel Tower), Square Viviani (a few steps away from the Notre-Dame Cathedral). At these outdoor markets, local artisans sell holiday decorations, regional products, and handcrafted items destined to be Christmas gifts. Quaint decorations and hot beverages add to the Christmasy ambience.
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