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Paris in February options

We are planning a possible Paris trip mid February to mid March 2017.

Objective is to intensely enjoy the vibe of the city including Art, music, food and a lot of just exploring the smaller out of the way interesting places that you all might have found worth a visit for someone that has time.
So opinions on weather is it a major restriction.
Non tourist interesting places to visit, could be day trip.
Are outside cafes still operational and street life still relatively vibrant?
This is third trip to Paris but first at this time of year and will be the longest.
Have used Ricks advice and books with mostly great results but exploring a little deeper with your assistance.
We are from Cleveland Ohio and use to cold winters.
Thanks Dave Blosser

Posted by
27409 posts

Where do you live, Dave? I think the impact of weather is a highly individual thing. Have you, in previous travels, found yourselves in chilly, wet weather? Did you soldier on happily, umbrella overhead, or did you really, really want to hunker down in your hotel room for the duration? I, unfortunately, fall into the second category. But what matters is how you and your traveling companion(s) react to winter weather.

I'm sure Paris remains a vibrant, exciting city in the dead of winter.

Edited to add: There's also the issue of much less sunlight, a major problem for some of us but a non-issue for most.

Posted by
3 posts

My wife and I are adventurous 70 year olds from Cleveland Ohio and will explore in moderately inclement weather but will find a cafe or bar if too uncomfortable weather appears. We have the metro pretty well in hand and feel we can get around ok.

Posted by
135 posts

We visited Paris in February a few years ago. It was the best trip we have ever had. Just imagine Notre Dame on a snowy evening. The Eiffel Tower lights twinkling during a flurry. That special quiet when the snow has fallen, the sky clears and the moon comes up. Streets empty except for Parisians carrying warm bread and bunches of flowers.

Yes, sidewalk cafes are open and the heaters are running...and the cassoulet tastes especially fine on a cold winter day. Paris in the winter is awesome. Have a great time. Susan

Posted by
27409 posts

Dave, you had me at "Cleveland, Ohio". I think you'll be just fine!

Posted by
512 posts

Dave,

I'm from Chicago, a city whose temperatures rival Cleveland's for wretchedness. Once I was in Paris in January. I felt like I had landed in Palm Springs. Paris in winter was balmy for me. One day it hit 60 degrees F, though most days it was in the 50s or upper 40s. Given that Chicago was in the 30s and 20s, I felt lucky. If you visit in February, you'll probably feel the same.

The cafes were all operating during my winter visit. Some of them put up temporary enclosures with heating.

Go Cubs!

Posted by
796 posts

I took the Best of Paris tour in mid-February. The weather was variable from just above freezing some mornings to light sweater some afternoons. I had a raincoat with a thick fleece under it, a thick salary and thin gloves. I bought a nice wool hat at a market, very chic and not expensive. A perfect thing to bring home to Alberta! There might have been some rain but I cannot remember that accurately.

I enjoyed that tour and have returned several times on my own at different times of the year.

Enjoy Paris.

Posted by
10346 posts

I second what everyone has written, having both lived here and visited in February. Flurries are unusual, prepare more for water than snow, no Lake effect, and it's the best time of year to visit the museums. The tourist craziness starts up around Easter after you have left.

Posted by
11484 posts

You will have a great time! Not so many tourists, but it is such a lively city. Parisians do not let the weather keep them out of the terraces. We spent a week there in early March 2015 as well as a few days at Christmas 2015, Loved every minute!

We do a lot of walking tours, the self-guided ones in the Rick Steves book as well as guided ones with Paris Walks. Food tour with Paris by Mouth was fun, too.

Posted by
2393 posts

We have been in January several times and absolutely love it! No lines, no waiting, no crowds! The weather can really fluctuate so layers work well. We both like a 3/4 length coat - makes walking outside pretty comfortable. Hats, gloves, and of course the necessary scarf and you're all set!

Google "Paris events February" you'll find sites that list local events. One year we found an exhibit at the Hotel de Ville featuring haute couture through the years - it was very interesting.

Posted by
2466 posts

I've been living in Paris for 10 years. You can never really tell what the weather will be like, since global weather is changing and systems will pass through France very rapidly.
Snow is very rare in February - but really nice when it happens. Most often, there will be freezing drizzle and some light rain - but nothing you can't handle. There might be some ice on the streets in the early mornings, but it's usually gone by noon.
Night falls around 6PM, though there isn't normally much sunshine during the day. The major monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, won't be illuminated until sunset.
Life goes on, people go to work, go out to dinner and museums, etc. The streets won't be deserted at all. The Metro will be full of people until the last trip.

Cafe terraces are required to keep a door or one side of the plastic sheeting open, to ventilate smoke away from their waiters as well as customers. There are overhead heaters which will keep your head warm, but from the waist down, you will be cold. A few cafes provide blankets, but not all do.
If you plan to eat on a terrace, your food will become cold very quickly - it's really best to eat inside.

It seems that your visit coincides with school vacations, which run from 20 February to 7 March. Not many tourists choose to visit when the weather's this bad in Paris, but families who don't go skiing will take kids to museums and expos. There are also visitors from the Southern hemisphere who visit during this time. So while there won't be as many people in line as usual, there will be quite a few.

I would not recommend purchasing advance tickets for the Eiffel Tower, due to the fact that adverse weather conditions will often cause it to close or have restricted access.

If you plan to take a day trip by train, there might be some delays due to bad weather. If your train is delayed, you do have the right to get on the next one with your same ticket.
Provins is an easy day trip and an interesting medieval town:
http://www.provins.net/en/festivals-and-events/whats-on/february.html

Posted by
2466 posts

Sorry - forgot to add this:
"you do have the right to get on the next one with your same ticket"
But you will not be assured of getting a seat. The person who holds the ticket for the current train will get the seat. If there's a seat open, you can take it until someone else shows up with the correct ticket.

Posted by
27409 posts

Thanks, chexbres. You have confirmed my assumption that I would be miserable in Paris in the winter!

Posted by
3236 posts

Hello;

I had a two week trip to Paris this past February, and it was one of my favourite trips!
I'm from the PNW, so used to rain, damp and wind.
I took my winter jacket with a hood, a fleece zipup jacket, a huge blanket scarf for wrapping around me, good warm gloves, and tights for under my jeans.
Also a thinnish toque and waterproof walking boots.
The temps. varied from minus 10 and blowing a gale, to plus 12 and sunny; so I wore everything , and took layers on and off as necessary.
There are so many cafes, inside and out, to warm up in: it was fine.
There were virtually no tourists, and I walked straight in to every museum big and small.
The coldest I felt was inside the big churches! as most cannot afford to heat those huge spaces!
I felt frozen solid the day I went to see Chartres Cathedral, but felt at least that I was experiencing it the way the ancients would have! ;)
I'm in the process of thinking about another winter European city trip, as it really was more enjoyable than fighting the crowds.

Posted by
15675 posts

acraven You have confirmed my assumption that I would be miserable in Paris in the winter!

How could you possibly be miserable in Paris? Paris? Really, Paris? A bit of poor weather or a few Aussie tourists would spoil it for you?

Posted by
27409 posts

I assure you that it wouldn't be the Aussie tourists bothering me! I hate the cold. I'm also really lethargic when the days are short. As a tourist I'm primarily an outdoor wanderer. I'm not much for sitting in cafes between meals since my beverage of choice is water. What it comes down to is that if it's cold (or chilly and wet), I am not having fun. I go to Europe to have fun; it's too expensive to hibernate in a hotel room.

Fortunately, I enjoy smaller cities in addition to the biggies, so even in the middle of summer I have a lot of days when I don't hear any American English.

I realize that for many others, tourist crowds are as bothersome as cold weather is to me. People who can tolerate the cold are lucky.

Posted by
15675 posts

In that case, let me invite you here. February is one of the best months to be outdoors in Israel. Perhaps it sounds strange, but it's spring here. The Galilee is lush green and wildflowers abound. The archaeological sites are a pleasure to visit, usually sunny but pleasantly cool, with temps mostly in the 60's and even 70's.