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Paris in February - Adapting Suggested Itinerary for Winter

My daughter (19) and I will be staying in Paris from February 10th through 14th. I have just ordered the Paris Handbook by Rick Steves, but want to get a head start on planning before we leave the US this Saturday. I felt that Rick's suggested sightseeing itinerary for 3 days hit most of the highlights I was hoping to include. However, I'm not sure if it makes any sense to ride buses or rivers in February? Obviously if it is raining, then that would be a problem anytime of the year. However, are the buses and boats designed for cold weather?

In general, if anyone has any other suggestions about tweaking a 3 day visit to fit the winter season, please chime in! FYI, we are trying to keep costs down, so we will take advantage of the Jeunes Weekend travel pass for my daughter (under 26) on Saturday and Sunday, when we will do much of our metro hopping. I was hoping to explore more of the area we will be staying near on Monday (Opera House, Sacre Coeur, Perfume museum, Monmartre), when many museums are closed, and using a minimum of metro tickets that day.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

Posted by
288 posts

The boats have top decks that are open and lower decks that have windows and are covered, so you can stay out of the wind/rain. If you are dressed appropriately for walking round in the weather there is no reason not to go on a boat tour if it interests you. The thing we found going in November is the days are short with light. Make sure you plan to do things that need daylight when there is daylight. There are of course plenty of things to do after dark in Paris. I don't know where you are from but Paris is not bitterly cold generally. Bring clothes you can layer for walking around. If it is unpleasant take advantage of the metro to get around longer distances. Also a few days before you go, look up the weather if one day looks especially cold or wet compared to others plan indoor activities and try the more outdoor activities on a nicer day.

Posted by
7175 posts

Slightly adapting Rick's suggestions ...

Saturday or Sunday
Morning: Follow Rick's self-guided Champs-Elysées Walk from the Arc de Triomphe down the grand Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Tuileries Garden.
Midday: Cross the pedestrian bridge from the Tuileries Garden, then tour the Orsay Museum.
Afternoon: Tour the Rodin Museum, or the Army Museum and Napoleon's Tomb.
Evening: Dine at a typical Parisien brasserie, or catch the show at the Moulin Rouge.

Saturday or Sunday
Morning: Catch the RER suburban train by 8:00 to arrive early at Versailles (before it opens at 9:00), then tour the château and sample the gardens.
Afternoon: If you plan to do anything once back in Paris, consider Rick's self-guided Left Bank Walk (from RER-C stop: St. Michel).
Evening: Cruise the Seine River (Vedettes du Pont Neuf), then take a floodlit walk by Notre-Dame.

Morning: Follow Rick's Historic Paris Walk, featuring Ile de la Cité, Notre-Dame, the Latin Quarter, and Sainte-Chapelle.
Afternoon: Tour the Louvre.
Evening: Enjoy the Place du Trocadéro scene and a twilight ride up the Eiffel Tower.

Posted by
719 posts

Hey There,
I go to Paris every February/March and I've never found it to be too cold to do anything that I've wanted to do. Sure, picnicking in Luxembourg is out, but dressed in a sweater and windshell I've always been comfortable. Take the earlier advice and plan a museum day if it's raining and then spend the drier days outside. I will likely be gray most of the time that you're there, so don't plan on sun. If you get it, rejoice!


Posted by
1163 posts

I haven't been to Paris that time of year. But if the weather is bad, one option near the Paris Opera Garnier is to visit some of the Covered Passages (one-time streets in Paris that were covered over with glass ceilings). Passage des Panoramas has lots of shops and restaurants, and Galerie Vivienne and Passage Jouffroy are nearby as well. These are a nice slice of Paris that most tourists won't read about or visit.

Posted by
2466 posts

I wouldn't recommend taking a HOHO bus, because the top deck is open and you won't be able to see much if you sit downstairs.
However, I would really recommend a nighttime cruise on the Seine. Bundle up - it's cold even on the downstairs deck - you can buy hot chocolate before you board the boat. You'll be rewarded with something that's right out of a movie set.
If you're not used to very cold weather, you'll have to wear a couple of layers under a water-repellent coat. Umbrellas are useless, because it's normally very windy in February, so a good rain hat or hood is better. You won't need rain boots, it can be damp, but won't rain or snow all day long. Hats, gloves, scarves, warm socks and good, broken-in walking shoes are absolutely necessary.
Wear everything that's heavy on the plane - you'll need it as soon as you land.

Posted by
2466 posts

If you meant taking the regular city buses, they are always slower than the Metro.
For your purposes, I'd forget "sightseeing from the bus" and take the Metro, and go wandering around. You'll see a whole lot more on foot than from a bus window.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all so much for your wonderful advice. I am taking good notes and will use your tips to come up with a plan of action!

Posted by
3201 posts

Hello audetfam:
I was in Paris for two weeks last Feb.; and it was a great time to be there, in winter!
Not so many tourists, and no lineups!
Plenty of cafes to warm up in; and plenty of churches and museums to either spend hours in, or just to duck in out of the rain or wind.
I wore lots of layers, and checked the weather each day before heading out.
Leave your umbrella at home, and wear a hooded jacket .
I wore; a hooded winter jacket, a fleece jacket under it sometimes, a toque sometimes, gloves all the time, a huge blanket scarf all the time, warm smartwool socks,and warm somewhat dressy winter walking ankle boots.
I was never really cold.
I took buses all over, they are great; and walked miles in between.
Download the Ratp app for Paris transport; it's fantastic for planning routes for bus and Metro.
All the bus stops have great maps and directional signs.
I didn't take a river boat, as if you just take the Metro at night to a station near the Eiffel Tower, you get just as good a view of lit up buildings, IMHO.
I'm almost ready to book another last minute trip for the end of this month; just haven't quite made up my mind yet!
Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
3201 posts

Sorry, I meant to add that the weather last Feb. in two weeks ranged from minus 10C to plus 12c; and we had rain, wind, a bit of snow one day, but also plenty of bright sun too.

Posted by
9780 posts

I can assure you that the weather in February in Paris in 2016 never got down to minus 10 degrees celsius!!!

It never even got below freezing. I think it hit zero one day.

Posted by
3201 posts

I keep a note of the daily weather in my travel diary.
Apologies: it was minus 2C on Mon Feb 29, plus a windchill making it minus 10C.
On Sat. Feb. 27, it was minus 1c plus a windchill making it minus 6C.
That was from Weather Network every day, which gives you the actual area or suburb you are in at the time.

Posted by
8173 posts

I'd skip bus and river tours including the overrated bus 69 and focus on the specific things you want to see and do. Personally I think Rodin is the most overrated sculpture of all time and there are many things I would do before the Rodin museum; if you do the Orsay museum, a must IMHO, there is a huge model of his gates and you can get a full dose of Rodin. There is a lot of other sculpture in the Orsay.

I would substitute a trip on the metro 13 to Basilica St. Denis the first gothic church in Europe and where the tombs of the French Kings are; it is really something:
This is IMHO a far more interesting visit. Paris is a great winter city and there are lots of things to do if the weather is awful which is may well be in February. A tour of the covered passages for example is fun on a rainy day. 10 metro tickets are 14.50. I would not bend your travel around metro costs, as it is truly nothing much in the context of the trip. Of course walking is the best way to see Paris and with good weather, you can do more of that.

Posted by
424 posts

I think you've got some great suggestions here. I visited Paris in February with my daughter, who was studying abroad in France. A few notable differences for me compared to my summer visits to Paris: I loved seeing Notre Dame illuminated against the night sky - it never got that dark in the summer before I fell asleep! Try to see the pyramid at the Louvre illuminated. The warm and melty Nutella crepe that I bought from a street vendor was amazing - probably savored even more because it was cold outside! The crowds were definitely easier to manage, and we appreciated that in the Musee d'Orsay Impressionist galleries. A little change we noticed: we were able to take photographs that day in the galleries, while it was forbidden the summer before. That was a real treat for me.

Near the Fragonard Museum and the Opera Garnier is The Paris Story. My husband and I thought this movie was interesting, and I really liked the miniature model of Paris, where you could push buttons and see certain sites and landmarks light up. It gave me a good perspective of the layout of the city. I might not have found it on our own - but it was part of a package that we had purchased with our Museum Pass and Paris Visite cards. Your daughter might like this, too.

If you can get a tour of the Opera Garnier, that is spectacular. If you go to the Orsay, on the main level at the back of the museum is a miniature cutaway view of the Opera Garnier, which we thought was cool to see after having been to the actual Opera. Our kids thought it was interesting - and unexpected to find this in the art gallery. Great connections to Phantom of the Opera...

The Rodin Garden is interesting with many sculptures - not sure how it would be in the winter, but of course the sculptures would still be there! That was inexpensive.

I would skip the Champs Elysses with your limited time.

Hot chocolate and pastries in cafes to warm'll have a memorable time together. :-)

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
8173 posts

Winter is also the time of year cultural events are in full swing. If you love opera definitely see one at the magnificent Bastille Opera House. If you love dance, catch one at the Opera Garnier and enjoy the ornate hall as well. There are evening chamber concerts at Ste. Chapelle and many concerts at venues throughout the city. There are jazz clubs and this was kind of fun:
Be sure to have warm waterproof shoes or boots and layers so you can enjoy walking around on nice but cold days. I always travel with silk long johns any time but summer; they are lightweight and can make all the difference in comfort. Layers are best as the interiors tend to be way overheated in Paris for some reasons e.g. concert halls and department stores and sometimes restaurants are sweltering in winter.

Posted by
8293 posts

The No.69 bus may be over rated, as remarked above, but it is a nice warm retreat on a cold or wet day for a drive past many of the Paris monuments. The 42 is a good one, too. You will be sure to get seats if you board at the route beginning.... or at Champs de Mars after seeing the Tour Eiffel, where both lines have a stop.

Posted by
3201 posts

You are leaving in a couple of days, but I highly recommend a tour with Paris Walks.
No reservations, you just show up, and the guides are so knowledgable.
Check their website for schedules.
I second the silk long underwear! It weighs nothing, but can keep you so cosy.
I had the flu when I was there, and wore it under my jammies to keep warm from the shivers.
I've just booked to go again at the end of February!
Can't wait!

Posted by
9429 posts

Janet, thank you for Le Vieux Belleville... sounds fun, will try to go while we're there in a few days. Was the food good or just ok?

Posted by
50 posts

Our first paris family trip was in february and we enjoyed it. The weather was fine as long as you were dressed appropriately. We enjoyed it so much we are returning this february.

My daughter made a list of things to do for our return trip to paris and her number one item was to go to Notre Dame where we attended a Sunday Mass. She has not been exposed to a ton of religious activities so it was interesting that she would pick this. The church organ and music in particular was inspiring. The roof tour was quite magnificent as well.

My favorite memory was just walking along the Seine. The orangerie (spelling?) is on our to do list for our return visit as that was a favorite memory. Mont St. Michel was an overnight trip but it was spectacular. Unfortunately, it does not fit into our schedule this time. It is a bucket list item to visit though so plan a return visit when you can go there. In february, hardly anyone was there which was great. I wouldn't enjoy it as much during the high season.

Posted by
8173 posts

The food at Le Vieux Belleville was fine but not fabulous; I had lamb shank which is a favorite of mine and it was very tasty and reasonably priced. It was food much like many small cafes we have eaten in in Paris. The ambience was lovely and the sing a long was really fun for my husband who has sun in opera and symphony choruses; the other visitors were mostly French and were very friendly and welcoming to us.