Paris in December: who has been there at this time of year?

We're considering taking a vacation to Paris in the first half of December. For those who have been there during that month, tell me first hand about the weather and how it affected your trip. Would you do it again then, or wait until next September? We love getting about on foot. Thanks!

Posted by Kim
Paris
545 posts

Well,I have . . . It just depends, really. It can be pretty cold, wet, and icky, or it can be relatively mild. The one thing that affects how late you'll be able to really enjoy things is that it gets dark so early. You'll find many Helpline travelers whom this doesn't bother at all, but after coming once at Christmas and once in May, my parents vowed never to come again in the winter, because they enjoyed themselves so much more -- and were able to take advantage of the longer days -- in May (they also enjoyed their one visit in September).

Posted by Kenneth
San Diego, CA, USA
36 posts

Hi JP-
I to have visited Paris in December and in the spring, summer, and fall. And I agree with Kim- the days are pretty short in December. The weather was OK , a little windy but not too cold. Up to 65 F one afternoon. Anytime from 1 May to 31 September is better because the weather is much better and the days are a lot longer. Can you make 2 trips? Enjoy...

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I spent 12 days in Paris over Christmas a few years ago. It was cold, but I had the right clothing and walked everywhere, except when it was too far or I wanted to get somewhere quickly. Days are short, but it didn't impact my stay at all. It was wonderful to see all the Christmas decorations, especially the gorgeous department store window displays, which are quite famous. Also attended Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at Notre Dame, something that can't be done any other time of the year. I also loved sitting in the small park behind the Cathedral; the winter light glistened on the nude tree branches and was very beautiful. Had to sit inside during a sunset-time Seine boat ride, but the Eiffel Tower was still exquisite against pink, mauve, golden, and lavender clouds - we barely noticed that there was glass between us and the fabulous sky. I even took many photos through the glass and they came out great. The day we went to Chartres was quite icy, with snow on the ground, but we enjoyed hot drinks in a lovely café across from the Cathedral. The day at Versailles was much warmer and very delightful. Go! I think Paris is fabulous in any season.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

I have twice been to Paris in early December and once in late December. I can only remember one day when the weather bothered us, a windy, wet day it was, too. Other than that it was fine but then, almost anywhere in the world is better than Montreal in December! I am hoping to be in Paris at Christmas this year, too.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3509 posts

I can't imagine a time of year when I wouldn't want to be in Paris. If that's when you can go, go then. I've been there in June and September and had enough rain to put a damper on outdoor activities. Isn't that why they built the Louvre?? To paraphrase: I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles, I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, why oh why to I love Paris? Because IT'S PARIS. Duh.

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1007 posts

Our first trip to Paris was in late December - - no choice, school teacher, daughter doing jr. year abroad in France, had to go when she was there and I had two weeks. High temp every day was 32 F. Skies were gray, never saw the sun. Icicles hung from the gargoyles at Chartres. We had a fine time; but if I had a choice, I wouldn't pick that time of year. I will admit, however, that living in California for decades had made me a weather wimp.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9130 posts

You don't go to Paris in December for the weather. You go for the understated but very tasteful Christmas atmosphere (ie, you won't see any giant inflatable snow globes...)... and because, well, it's Paris. I spent Christmas there several years ago, and the weather was what I expected. No sun, but not too cold. Typical for the maritime-influenced climate of NW Europe.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
956 posts

My husband and I go to Paris almost every year in December or January. We love it at that time of year! The weather, for me, is a POSITIVE thing. Full disclosure: I hate heat and am an easily-sun-burned, grub-white redhead, so overcast and cold are my friends! If you are picky about weather, get grumpy when the sky isn't blue, dislike cold, or object to some intermittent drizzle (or a little hoar frost or even snow) then I would say you should wait for September. That being said, if you know that clouds and cool temps won't spoil your vacation, I say go for it. The crowds are thinner than high summer (although December is a high time for tourism, because of all the fun holiday stuff going on), the lines at big attractions can be shorter, and the city is gearing up for Christmas. And so there is a HUGE and WONDERFUL Christmas market featuring cheap vin chaud and a mind-boggling assortment of food and gifts, and the entire city goes whole hog and blazes with Christmas lights (every neighborhood has a different style and theme - so cool!). The shops are glittering and chock-a-block with wonderful things, there are ice skating rinks at l'Hotel de Ville and Trocadero, and in short - if you don't mind chilly and maybe some damp - it is MAGIC. But seriously, if you don't like winter weather – if it's a downer for you and will spoil things – then please don't risk it spoiling Paris for you! There is no shame in knowing what you like and can tolerate, and going in September, when it's warm and sunny.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
956 posts

@Chani - HAH! Brilliant answer! My thoughts exactly, and WAY fewer words... :-)

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1410 posts

I agree with Chani also. I lived in Paris last year and thought the Xmas holiday season was wonderful. As others have said the outdoor Xmas markets all over town are great. I dressed warmly, like all other Parisians, and went out often. Being from California, I never once hated the weather. Sure, there were a few days when I felt it was too cold to go out, but not many. Lots of activities you can do indoors too! I would never hesitate to go there in the winter.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

You'll love it. Warmer than Indiana in December and more fun, many fewer tourists. I'm sending a pm.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

I never knew the charm of spring I never met it face to face I never new my heart could sing I never missed a warm embrace Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom Holiday tables under the trees April in Paris, this is a feeling That no one can ever reprise I never knew the charm of spring I never met it face to face I never new my heart could sing I never missed a warm embrace Till April in Paris Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart Vernon Duke and EY Harburg 1932 , give it a listen

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2607 posts

I have been three times in Dec. and love it. I did wear the right clothes and layer, some rain so I bought an umbrella, but as everyone else has said Paris is still Paris and it was magic. I have no problem with it getting dark early. You have all day to see the whole scene, but you also have lots more time to enjoy the 'city of lights.' I am not a night owl, so in the summer I am never up late enough to really enjoy it, plus the heat and crowds make it much less desirable.
Christmas market was fun but I did miss the sausage from the German Christmas Market... although someone said there was a booth...I must have missed it. I found the weather to be surprisingly nice given what I was expecting. We sat outside a lot and walked everywhere.

Posted by Melissa
Long Island, New York
45 posts

I was in Paris this past December. It was great. I also dislike heat and summer days in New York. I did layer with my clothing but the weather was not bad. We had a apartment #74 from vacation in Paris. The whole trip was so great, I am doing it again this November. The Christmas markets were like nothing I have seen before. They will be a lasting memory. Would go back any chance I get!

Posted by christie
upland, ca, usa
10 posts

Paris in December? Yes please. Returning this year to where I left my heart. Cold? yes- who cares, buy a coat. Rain? Buy an umbrella. No crowds-walked right into Louvre and Orsay, and Notre Dame.
Waited 4 minutes for Eiffel Tour. Loved every minute of wearing gloves, hat, down jacket, and scarf in the most beautiful city in the world.

Posted by Amanda
Plano, Tx
59 posts

We were in Paris last December and thought it was magical. The holiday spirit filled the streets and the shops. We found things to be a little less crowded as far as lines and museums. The weather did not bother us at all. We had rain one day but we bring rain jackets and shoes and off we go. It did not get cold in Paris until after new years this last year. I love Paris anytime though!

Posted by debbie
phoenix, az, usa
29 posts

I spent 15 days in Paris in December 2012 between Xmas and the New Year. I can't wait to return. Dress in layers, take an umbrella, take your time, enjoy, enjoy.