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Long weekend in Paris in January

I am looking to do a long weekend in Paris in January. We are flying from Boston and it's a direct, overnight flight. The plan is to arrive Friday morning and leave Monday afternoon. My questions: is this a decent amount of time for a quick visit? How is the weather? Best area to stay so we are right in the middle? This would be our first trip to Paris. Wish we could do a longer trip but just looking for a quick getaway here. Thanks.

Posted by
27360 posts

Golly, I wouldn't do that. But I'm a weather-obsessed traveler and the thought of January north of the Alps makes me shudder. A bigger issue is the very limited time you'll have. Have you flown to Europe before? Many people find they don't sleep at all on the flight, so their first day is spent in Zombieland, and some folks have issues on Day 2 as well. You'll need to be at the departure airport 3 hours before your return flight, so Monday will not be a sightseeing day.

Is it worth two trans-Atlantic flights for two days and a few hours on Friday (maybe-sleepwalking) in Paris? It certainly wouldn't be for me, but you may disagree.

Posted by
2644 posts

Holy cow, I wouldn't do it either. I see it's only a 6.5 hour flight for you but that's pretty far for just a weekend. I can't comment on the weather in January - I don't like/do cold weather travel to sightseeing cities.

Posted by
20321 posts

Been there for a couple of weekends in January. Generally warmer than Boston. One time every one said "You should have been here last week. We had snow!" But is was gone in a few days. Fewer tourist crowds, but still lots of people in town. Theater and Opera are in full swing. Good time to go IMHO.
I'd say stay somewhere on the Left Bank, walking distance of Luxembourg or St Michele/Notre Dame RER station for quick access to/from CDG, and definitely "right in the middle".

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks for the advice Sam. Yes, we have flown to Europe before, just got back from Italy. The sleep issue is not really a problem for us. The flight time is not a big deal either. And as for cold, we are from Boston. We look at this as an exciting adventure. A weekend in Paris! Trying to bust out of the norm and do things that excite us.

Posted by
7050 posts

If it were me, I wouldn't chance it. I got burned before several times due to not being able to fly out of the East Coast on account of a major snowstorm either in Jan or Feb (always seems to strike around the holiday when you have a day off). So never again. The other problem with a jet setting trip like this is you feel the need to pack in a lot in a very short time, which means you come back totally exhausted and you need another short vacation just to recover. If I was feeling really crazy, I'd only do this if it's a free trip covered by miles (and I would go to Iceland instead just because Reykjavik is a much better fit for 3.5 days than Paris on account of its small, compact size...it would be more relaxing).

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you for the advice. I have been to Iceland, in early March too. I usually take some kind of trip in January/February. Yes, I've been affected by weather before, it's part of the adventure.

Posted by
2494 posts

Go, it sounds like all the reasons others have given for not going are not applicable to you. I think Paris for any length of time would be marvelous. There are so many things to do there in the winter that will keep you indoors if the weather is inclement. Play it by ear and go! It sounds to me like you are up for the adventure.

The last time I was in Paris was in October 2014 and our hotel was in the 7th Arr. near the Eiffel Tower and Napoleon's Tomb and the Rodin Musem. There are Metro stops nearby with a few blocks walk. Others may have better recommendations on where to stay. When you have some ideas of things you want to do, that could be a good guide as to where to stay. That makes sense I think especially if the weather does not cooperate.
Judy B

Posted by
30 posts

Just got back from Paris. I would stay close to Notre Dame in Marias or in the 6th close to the Seine River. You do not want to spend a lot of time getting to places. First day after landing you are going to be tired so do something that does not make you sleepy. I would walk or take a cab to the Eiffel Tower. There are two entrances to the grounds below the tower. I would approach the Eiffel Tower through the Champs de Mars if you walk. There are less people peddling things and it is a beautiful approach to the tower. We took the stairs to the first level, the views are spectacular from there can't imagine going all the way to the top. If you are hungry walk over to the Rue de Cler which is nearby too. After lunch and the Eiffel Tower. I would walk or take a cab to Notre Dame. The grounds and location are beautiful. Take the audio tour (30-40 min). Then head over to nearby San Chappelle and the Concierge for a quick look around. Hopefully, the weather is decent just walking is fun. The next day I would hit the Louvre and the Orsay, and if you have time the L'Orangerie. On Sunday go to mass (or just peek inside) at St. Sulpice and marvel at the church. You can walk around the church while mass is going on. Then maybe go to the Cluny or take the metro out to Chateau Vincennes. Loved the neighborhood around the Metro stop out there. It is a little calmer than Paris. Enjoy.

Posted by
3773 posts

I think you have great idea. If you will be able to enjoy Saturday and Sunday, I say go for it. It will be cold but not as cold as Boston and you will be in Paris. Have a great trip.

Posted by
2494 posts

Hogan's reply reminds me of some of the things I did in Paris that I loved. I went to mass at St. Sulpice and then stayed after to hear the free organ recital, so grand! Then I walked over the Cluny Museum of Medieval Art which was built on Roman ruins part of which you can see. Both of these places are near Blvd St Germaine - I'm sure i have misspelled it.
My hotel was near the Rue Cler neighborhood and I ate at a wonderful sidewalk cafe. This may not work in January.

Enjoy!
Judy B

Posted by
1384 posts

I agree with Sam on the location. Staying near the Saint-Michel Metro/RER Stop, you have access to the RER-B: North & South & CDG, RER-C, East/West-ish & Versailles route & Metro-4, North & South. Plenty of hotels near by, I have stayed at Hotel Europe Saint Severin, http://www.hoteleuropesaintseverin.com. Others have mentioned Hotel Le Regent, http://www.hotelleregent.com/en/. But you will find that folks have their preferred locations & places to stay at in Paris.
Any time or chance to return to Paris I would take it. Enjoy.

Posted by
5697 posts

I used to work with two women who would take 3-day weekends in Paris or London -- from San Francisco! And they loved doing it!! You can sleep when you get home.
My favorite hotel area is in the 5th/6th within walking distance of Notre Dame/Boulevard Saint Michel. We were near Odeon last week, were able to walk to the Louvre, Seine, Opera area -- only used buses to get from and to the train stations; direct RER line from CDG airport to Luxembourg station. Good metro connections to get anyplace in Paris. (Buy a cachet of 10 metro/bus tickets, which you can share.)
We were in Paris in mid-December a few years ago, had waterproof raincoats over down jackets -- and when the rain let up temporarily, we sprinted to take a Seine cruise.

Posted by
28 posts

That's what I'm talking about! Live a little. Life is short and we should enjoy every minute of it.

Posted by
5258 posts

Life is short and we should enjoy every minute of it.

This is true!

If you have the money, or the miles, for a round trip to Paris, why not?
Perhaps you can take a couple of extra days off (work) to really make it worth your while! :-)

Having said this, I wouldn't travel overseas to spend only 2.5 days though... I'd want to go for at least 2 weeks!

If you plan to go up the tower, you can book your tickets 90 days in advance, however, I doubt there will be long queues in January!

Have a wonderful weekend trip!

Edit to add... We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Diana, very centrally located & affordable.

Posted by
28 posts

Just got back from 2 weeks in Italy. Lots of running around. Want to try something new, a quick in and out type thing

Posted by
850 posts

I say you should go for it! Sounds like fun!!!! Weather may be damp and chilly, maybe foggy, short days, but you'll be in Paris! And you're coming from Boston which is not a tourist magnet in January, so why not?

You have many nice neighborhoods to consider. You should think about what you want to do and then pick an area that fits. I like the Marais, also the Left Bank (maybe closer to Notre Dame), also have been happy near the rue des martyrs (nice market as you go up the hill, very busy in the early evening, a cosy feel in winter).

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

In Jan 2007 I did exactly what you have in mind for Paris, landed at CDG ca 11 am on Friday, (even though baggage claim at CDG took way longer than usual, wasted time there), had all day Fri, Sat and Sunday, flew out Monday morning back to SFO. It is logistically doable for a quick visit, just plan ahead and reserve you hotel.

Weather wise I was lucky, it was in the mid 40s F. day time, no rain. True daylight ends ca 1630, ie too dark to shoot photos. Make sure you set an agenda to track down. Bottom line : I'd do this quick week-end to Paris....go!

Posted by
885 posts

Just spent 5 days in Paris staying on the Ile Saint Louis in Hotel de Lutece. We paid a little more in May to stay there but loved the location. This was our second trip to Paris and were staying there on the end of a 2 week trip through Normandy, Mont St. Michel and the Loire Valley. It was wonderful to be in such a good spot...we did not have to take the metro once....just loved walking around the Marais, eating the falafels, breakfast at Angelina's......what fun.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
2466 posts

If you're in Paris before 5 January, the Christmas decorations will still be up in the windows and on several streets. Well worth wandering around after dark, which is around 16h30.
You might consider take a 1 hour evening cruise on the Seine, to see the city when everything is illuminated.

As far as where to stay - if you like to walk, and want to see the basic monuments, I'd stay in the 6th, near Metro Odeon. This is the area most people imagine when they think of Paris - small streets, Medieval architecture, small shops, interesting places to eat. It's also central and convenient to transportation. Paris is a lot smaller than many people think it is.
Some restaurants and shops might be closed until 6 january, so if you have anyplace you'd really like to visit, you should make sure they'll be open.

Posted by
2466 posts

PS - many shops, and restaurants will be closed either/or Sunday and Monday. Some shops might open around noon.

You can visit the Marais, if you want to shop - rue des Francs-Bourgeois is always teeming with activity on Sundays.

Posted by
3201 posts

I was in Paris for two weeks this past February, and in my opinion: winter is the best time to be there!
The weather went from minus 10C to plus 13 C, to rain, to sun, to snow one day: and windy a few days.
I had a windproof jacket , warm ankle boots, a toque, and tights under my jeans, and a huge blanket scarf; and I was fine.
You will only need carry-on for that short trip, and you'll be wearing your coats and boots on the plane.
I say go for it!
There were no line ups at any of the museums, big or small; lots of cosy restaurants and cafes, and it was so pretty in the cold weather.
Have a great time!

Posted by
9780 posts

what a lot of people aren't realizing here is how easy you have it from Boston -- the flight is so short and easy (if you're not having a snowstorm in Boston!). I loved living there in part because of how easy it was to get to Europe. Come and enjoy!

Posted by
28 posts

I like it! I'm doing it! But I think I'll book it and surprise my wife at Christmas and we'll go in late January. So shhhhhhh, it's a surprise!

Posted by
14580 posts

@ jpfitzy....Provided that no snow storm is going on in Boston, you can absolutely do this long week-end excursion to Paris. If it can be done from SFO, you can do it from Boston. I wouldn't hesitate to go.

Posted by
424 posts

I did this with my daughter before traveling west to Rennes in February. It was cold - but you'll be used to that! One thing I really enjoyed about that time of year was seeing the sights lit up spectacularly when it was really dark (~7 pm in Feb. or so was way darker than I ever experienced in summer in Paris!). One of our first stops was a Monoprix to buy some chocolate - which we enjoyed square by square as we headed to Notre Dame!

Consider getting a 2 day Museum Pass (48 euro) if you think you'd like to explore a lot of places. You can buy it at the airport TI or at the first museum you visit - same price. The pass saves you money if you look at the site/map/list of places. http://en.parismuseumpass.com While it won't be crowded like it is in the summer, the pass is still great for getting you in quickly - and it helped us feel free to stay as little or as long as we liked. Paying full admission tends to make me feel like I need to stay longer to get my money's worth. Check to see if any of the sites have extended hours on the days you're there - that can help pack more into your day. We went back to the Louvre on a late night, and it was such a different experience without the crowds. Same delight with the Musee d'Orsay.

One other thing about the pass - it can enable you to see some places you might not have on your Musts list - and also provide an easy place to pop in to get warm, check out the cafe, use a restroom, etc.

We've stayed in the 5th and 6th and 1st - I liked the 6th around Saint Sulpice and the 5th near the Sorbonne the best.

Have a wonderful whirlwind trip!

Laurie

Posted by
424 posts

Also, think about some of those tried and true jet lag strategies people suggest, if you're worried about that first day in Paris.

I know Rick has mentioned using a partial Ambien tablet. Our family tried Benadryl - which doesn't last as long as a full-fledged sleeping pill. I'm also a big fan of earplugs and a sleep mask and a neck pillow. Great fashion statement, I know.

You also might enjoy checking out restaurant recommendations on Trip Advisor once you choose your hotel. That's how we found the place where we had truly excellent soufflés, and it was walking distance from our hotel. We did make a reservation, just the day before, but it was necessary. We saw then turn away disappointed walk in diners. With your short stay there, I'd definitely put a few plans into place so meals and touring will be as easy as possible. What fun!

Have a great getaway!

Laurie