How to Spend your Winter in Paris

paris winter

The City of Light is especially well lit during the holiday season. Not only will there be lots to see, but there will also be lots to do. Find out what Paris might have in store for you this December.

What to do:

Grab your best pair of blades and go ice skating.

If you want to get experience more than just the cold weather during winter in Paris, look no further than the Parisian ice rinks. You can get your skate on at several rinks around Paris, including the Hotel de Ville, the Eiffel Tower Ice Rink, the Trocadéro Ice rink, Rink at Santa’s Village, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Giant Ice Rink at the Grand Palais, and Charlety Stadium “Snow Park”.

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Ice skaters at the hotel de ville in Paris.

Take an evening stroll and check out the Christmas lights.

Paris is well lit for the holiday season, so it’s tough to miss the extravagant light displays. But there are a few spots that you should aim to hit along your nighttime walk. The Champs Elysée overflows with glowing Christmas lights. Avenue Montaigne, a street known for its luxury boutiques, is all dressed with dazzling lights in honor of the holidays, and department stores around the city put up some noteworthy decorations.

The Eiffel Tower lit up for the holidays.

The Eiffel Tower lit up for the holidays.

Stop by a Christmas market

Christmas markets in France and around Europe sell everything Christmas-related: handcrafted gifts, decorations,and  local food and drinks. The markets are decorated accordingly, with Christmas lights and Evergreen branches lining the markets. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, these markets are worth a visit… if only to smell the pleasant holiday aromas of mulled wines, local food, and baked goods. Though there are many Christmas markets throughout Paris, two of the most notable are the Place St. Sulpice Christmas Market (open from Dec. 11-24), outside St. Sulpice Church, and the Trocadero Gardens Christmas Market (open from Dec. 12-Jan. 5), near the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

The Trocadero Gardens Christmas Market in Paris.

Get cultured at the Festival de l’Automne (The Autumn Festival).

This celebration of different art forms lasts from September into December. The festival features all sorts of different art shows, from visual arts, to dance, to theater, to music, to cinema.

What to wear:

The winter weather in Paris ranges from about 35˚F (2˚C) to 47˚F (8˚C). Although it probably won’t be freezing, it certainly will be cold. Since it’s hard to tour Paris without going outside, it’s a good idea to dress for the weather. Bring your warm winter clothing–scarves, hats, mittens and/or gloves, warm socks, close-toed shoes, and a warm jacket. Paris is reputed to be quite fashionable, so you’ll probably want to throw your winter’s chicest into your suitcase. If you’re doing some pre-vacation shopping and you want to fit in with the Parisians, this year’s popular winter items include the tartan coat and high (sometimes thigh-high) boots.

What to bring home:

The French are known for a lot of things… but not all of them are easily transportable. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to fly across the world with a bag full of French cheese. But thankfully, there are a few items that you can bring back for friends and family. Pick up some French wine, champagne, and/or chocolates to enjoy with your friends and family back home. You can find most of these signature French foods at the Christmas markets.

An assortment of holiday themed French pralines… pretty hard to resist.

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