23 reasons to visit Paris in Winter

Our picknick covers are tucked away and with faint regrets we’re bidding farewell to the mild Parisian summer nights. To chilled beers and wine in plastic cups, to pot luck dinners along the Seine and the good company of friends and strangers. Winter is coming (yeah, I know…). It will be cold and probably often grey, wet and windy. But that doesn’t mean that your city trip to Paris in winter is doomed to failure. quite the contrary! Paris offers activities for all seasons, and we summed up the top 23 bucket list for your Paris winter vacation:

1. visit a museum

Thats obvious and so are the famous museums like Louvre or Musée d’Orsay, but did you hear about those ones?

2. put that skates on! – go ice skating

During winter season, several ice skating rinks are installed all around town. For example at the Christmas Markt at Champs Elysée in front of the Hôtel de Ville and, at the Accor Arena (indoors)

3. take some “me time” at a Spa

There is really nothing better on a cold and rainy day than spending a few relaxing hours in a Spa. Personally, I have been a few times to the Lush Spa and I liked it a lot. You need to book well in advance though and well, you need to like Lush. For everyone else and also the more spontaneous traveller I can recommend Massage Concept.  It’s not as fancy but good value for money.

4. explore the Covered Galleries

Escape the rain and the cold with a stroll from one covered passage to the next. Most of them are close by so it’s really a good walk on a wet day. (I found this excellent map, check it out)

exploring the more than 20 covered passages is a good activity to spent a rainy or cold day when visiting Paris in winter

exploring the more than 20 covered passages is a good activity to spent a rainy or cold day when visiting Paris in winter

5. enjoy Paris in Winter from the comfort of a boat: take a trip with a bateau mouche

Despite all the clichés, it is actually a very nice thing to do. I lived in Paris for years when I took a Bateau Mouche for the first time and the change of perspective was simply amazing. Plus, you can sit comfy inside. You could even have dinner there!

6. see the festive Christmas displays at the big department stores

A must-do for many Christmas fans in Paris is the visit of the big department stores. Not only are the facades of Gallery Lafayette, Le Bon Marche, Printemps Haussmann and BHV illuminated. The window displays are revealing whole worlds of Christmas scenes with animated figures, wrapped gifts and everything that goes with it.

The festive decorations at the big department stores are a highlight for every Christmas fan when visiting Paris in winter

The festive decorations at the big department stores are a highlight for every Christmas fan when visiting Paris in winter. Photo from www.pixabay.com

7. Attend a reading at Shakespeare and company or Barkelys

There are quite a few American book stores in Paris and most of them are hosting regularly events like concerts or readings. Check out the programs of Shakespeares and Company or Berkeley Books of Paris, there is always something going on.

8. see a concert

it can be overtaxing to find the good gig, especially in a city like Paris with a uncountable venues, bars and open mic session. Check out the list of Parisian Venues and find the right place for you. Also have a look at the concert calendar, at fnac.fr or ticketmaster 

9. have fun at a Pub Quiz

That tradition is well established in Paris and you find Quiz Nights in basically all Irish, English and Scottish pubs, but also in a hand full of “not UK themed” Bars. For example at The Highlander on Sundays and sometimes as well at le Petit Joseph Dijon

10. put on your coat and have a walk

Winters are cold in Paris but it’s not batshit crazy. Put on a winter coat, a scarf and maybe a bonnet and you’re good to go outside to enjoy the humidity that will crawl up your legs and bones. Nah, don’t worry haha 🙂 Having a walk in Paris in winter along the Seine, the Bois de Boulogne, or Bois de Vincennes is always nice. Or just walk around Montmartre, the Père Lachaise cemetery, or the Marais.

having a walk along the Seine is nice as well when visiting Paris in winter, just wrap up!

having a walk along the Seine is nice as well when visiting Paris in winter, just wrap up warm! Photo from www.pixabay.com

11. see the parades for the Chinese new year

The asian quarter in Paris is the largest Chinatown in Europe. So obviously there are parades for the Chinese new year. The biggest one takes place near Place d’Italie, be there early to get a good spot!

12. go shopping

Sayin’ Paris is decent for shopping is prior understatement. If the weather is not on your side, check out Les Halles, Le 4 Temps at La Defense or La Beaugrenelle, some of the biggest shopping malls in and around Paris.

13. sign up for an Escape Game

It’s not super cheap and you have to book in advance, but it’s a great activity and you have quite some choice in Paris. From Maya Temple, Haunted Manor, Submarine over Japan, Catacombs… you name it. you escape!

14. take a swim at Aquaboulevard

Paris’ water park – artificial waves, 11 waterslides (some are outside though), wakeboard and a Caribbean feeling. Aquaboulevard is a good way to spent a day in the warmth, especially if you are traveling to Paris with kids.

15. have a hot Chocolate at Angelina

A hot chocolate is a remedy for many to counter the cold season. Enjoy it at Angelina; a classic Parisian tea room. They are running a few tea rooms in Paris; but usually it’s quite popular. Think about reserving a table in advance.

16. visit an Aquarium

The Aquarium of Paris, just in front of the Eiffel Tower, is the largest in Paris. Apart from fish and more fish (in 43 fish tanks) you get the full program: workshops, movies, animations, shows, you can even pair your visit with a Sunday brunch.

However, If this is blowing up your budget, you can visit as well the Aquarium Tropical in the Palais de la Porte Dorée. It’s maybe not as spectacular, but it offers everything that the Aquarium of Paris does; just on a smaller scale. For a faction of the entrance fee (11€ for 2 adults and 2 kids; kids under 4 are free). Kill two birds with one stone: the Palais de la Porte Dorée hosts as well the National Immigration Museum

visiting one of the big Aquariums at Porte Dorée or Trocadero is a good activity when coming to Paris is winter

visiting one of the big Aquariums at Porte Dorée or Trocadero is a good activity when coming to Paris is winter, or when it rains. Or when you like fishes 🙂 Photo from www.pixabay.com

17. enjoy the Halloween or Christmas Event at Disneyland Paris

Likely you always dreamt about visiting Disneyland and maybe you have it already on your Paris must-do agenda. But know that they are running special events for Halloween and Christmas that you don’t wanna miss!

18. go wild at winter sales in mid January

No matter if you are preparing for your shopping tour or just randomly checking out stores; Paris is THE city to hunt for some good deals. Check your favourite stores a few days before the Sales begins. They are already prepped for the big day and you will find all items that will be on sale hanging/laying together. Just get back there early on sales day and buy it at a reduced price 🙂

19. have some Arcade Games at “La Tête dans les Nuages”

No matter if you are 5 or 50, everyone likes to play a pin-ball game from time do time, right? “La Tête dans les Nuages” is with more than 100 gaming terminals one of the biggest Arcade Center in Paris and a fun way to spent an (rainy) afternoon in Paris.

20. visit a Christmas Market

Christmas Markets are rather a tradition known in the east of France, but since some years they are becoming more and more popular in Paris as well. The two biggest markets are installed at La Défense and on the Champs Elysee. However, you can find smaller ones although around Montmartre, Trocadero and Saint Germain.

21. take a cooking class

What about a new skill as a souvenir from your Paris trip? Learn how to make Macarons or Croissants, prepare a Magret de Canard, a Filet Mignon or know how to bake an authentic Baguette. The countless Parisian cooking classes have for sure something for your taste (and to impress your friends back home!)

learn how to make delicious Macarons in a cooking class in Paris

learn how to make delicious Macarons in a cooking class in Paris

22. Play some board games at the Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde

Rainy days and board games are just a perfect match. But no worries! You don’t need to sacrifice this queen of coziness activity when visiting Paris in winter! Just head over to the Bar at the End of the Universe, have a Mario Bruschetta, a Death Star Cocktail and pick a board game from their library. Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture on the Iron Throne or a Selfie with R2D2!

23. Go to the Movies

Yes, you could do that at home. But there is more to it than the big and modern cinemas like UGC, Cinema Gaumont or MK2. Paris has a variety of small and/or old movie theatres, that are worth to experience. Have a look at the Cinema Luxor, Le Grand Rex or La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin. If you are not up for a french movie, check for VOST or VO to see a movie in the original language. Or what about a rather artistic approach to cinema? Then you should not miss La Peniche Cinema

Do you need more ideas for your upcoming trip to Paris in winter? Or maybe ideas how to spent those sunny, clear and cold winter days? Check out our 75 insider tips to explore Paris like a local would.

What about you? Did you do any of those activities yet? What are your favourites when it’s cold and rainy outside when being abroad?

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14 Responses

  1. I love your intro and your photos are quite nice too..artsy and unique! You might have even convinced me that I could enjoy Paris in the wintertime! 😀

    • fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com says:

      I might have convinced myself, too haha 😀 I am not fond of winter, really… but there ARE things to do!

  2. Loved these ideas for Paris in winter. Skating and going for a walk to enjoy the season seem like great options to me, but now you’ve got me wanting to take a cooking class and visit the Christmas displays!!

  3. Diana says:

    After Autumn, Winter is my favourite season. I would totally explore the Covered Galleries and have copious amounts of hot chocolate! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Bonita says:

    Winter isn’t really my thing, but the things to do that you have listed really warms up the soul! I would like to try out a cooking class…nice post.

    • fouronaworldtrip@gmail.com says:

      mine neither! 🙂 I would definitely go for the cooking class.. and a spa afternoon just after that 😀

  5. Krupa says:

    Paris is beautiful in each season.. how I wish to be there soon.. thanks for sharing .

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