How to Enjoy Paris in Winter


Paris has all but exhausted the superlatives that can reasonably be applied to any city. Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower – at sunrise, at sunset, at night – have been described countless times, as have the seine and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between the Left and Right Banks. But what writers have been unable to capture is the grandness and even the magic.

Paris probably has more familiar landmarks than any other city in the world. As a result, first-time visitors often arrive in the French capital with all sorts of expectations: of grand vistas, of intellectuals discussing weighty matters in cafés, of romance along the Seine, of naughty nightclub revues, of rude people who won’t speak English. If you look hard enough, you can probably find all of those. But another approach is to set aside the preconceptions of Paris and to explore the city’s avenues and backstreets as if the tip of the Eiffel Tower or the spire of Notre Dame wasn’t about to pop into view at any moment.

You’ll soon discover (as so many others before you have) that Paris is enchanting almost everywhere, at any time, even ‘in the summer, when it sizzles’ and ‘in the winter, when it drizzles’, as Cole Porter put it. And you’ll be back. Trust us.

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Visit the city’s famous landmarks With upwards of 12 million inhabitants, the greater metropolitan area of Paris is home to almost 19% of France’s total population (central Paris counts just under 2.2 million souls). Since before the Revolution, Paris has been what urban planners like to call a ‘hypertrophic city’ – the enlarged ‘head’ of a nation-state’s ‘body’. The urban area of the next biggest city – Marseilles – is just over a third the size of central Paris.

As the capital city, Paris is the administrative, business and cultural centre; virtually everything of importance in the republic starts, finishes or is currently taking place here. The French have always said ‘Quand Paris éternue, la France s’en rhume’ (When Paris sneezes, France catches cold) but there have been conscious efforts – going back at least four decades – by governments to decentralise Paris’ role, and during that time the population, and thus to a certain extent the city’s authority, has actually shrunk. The pivotal year was 1968, a watershed not just in France but throughout Western Europe.

Enjoy the dazzling glow of Champs-Elysees. The Paris basin lies midway between coastal Brittany and mountainous Alsace and is affected by both climates. The Île de France region, of which Paris is the centre, records among the lowest annual precipitation (about 640mm) in the nation, but rainfall is erratic; you’re just as likely to be caught in a heavy spring shower or an autumn downpour as in a sudden summer cloudburst. Paris’ average yearly temperature is just under 12°C (2°C in January, 19°C in July), but the mercury sometimes drops below zero in winter and can climb into the 30s in the middle of summer.

Go window-shopping You’ll soon discover (as so many others before you have) that Paris is enchanting almost everywhere, at any time, even ‘in the summer, when it sizzles’ and ‘in the winter, when it drizzles’, as Cole Porter put it. And you’ll be back.

Enjoy the season by trying ice-skating. An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world’s leading business and cultural centres, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science,

Paris by having some hot “choco” The city is also the most important hub of France’s motorway network, and is surrounded by three orbital freeways: the Périphérique, which follows the approximate path of 19th-century fortifications around Paris

But another approach is to set aside the preconceptions of Paris and to explore the city’s avenues and backstreets as if the tip of the Eiffel Tower or the spire of Notre Dame wasn’t about to pop into view at any moment.

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About the Author: Carl Tackett is a travel enthusiast. He has traveled to over 50 destinations all over the world. Currently, he is residing in England. He loves to write about traveling and helping fellow travelers.

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