Paris in Winter

My wife and I have a week in Paris in January of 2014. Any suggestions of what to see that time of year other than the museums ? I understand that outside activites such as gardens etc are out of the question.
Thanks

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2820 posts

Many outdoor cafes have large heaters, so people do still sit outside in the winter. Of course, you can sit inside if you choose. Cafe sitting is, to me, a Parisian must-do; for the price of one drink, you can sit as long as you like, and it's a great refresher between museums and the like. In addition to museums, there's monuments like the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower, stores, markets, restaurants, theaters, music events, passages, etc. I remember how lovely the sculpture garden at the Rodin Museum was in February. And when it's not raining, the views from places like the Arc or the Eiffel Tower can be very clear. Since Paris doesn't have the weather of Honolulu or Sydney, they've developed quite a range of indoor activities, and as Terry Kathryn said above, the outdoors are not "out of the question" then, just different. Unless you want to see flowers, you won't run out of things to do. Coming from Florida, you may be uncomfortable outside, but Parisians, like New Yorkers and others in cold pedestrian cities, will bundle up and go out walking on the streets, regardless of the temperature. If you don't have cold weather clothes (scarves, gloves, etc), you will need to buy these either in Florida or in Paris. Then, you just bundle up like the natives, and go out walking with them!

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

" And the best part of Paris is just wandering the streets and stopping in the cafes. " Indeed , perhaps one of the best uses of your time in Paris at any season ! The French have a term for this , it is known as " Flanerie " , literally translates to wandering or strolling . It has a deeper cultural meaning , which has to do with taking in your surroundings and slowly enjoying life and what is around you . A Man is a Flaneur , a Woman , a Flaneuse . Part of French culture , not to be missed . P.S. For an idea of what Paris can look like in Winter , look at some of Camille Pissarro's late 19th century Impressionist paintings of Parisian streetscapes !!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

While it may be a bit colder in Jan. I was there in Dec. and the gardens are definitely not out of the question. Luxeombourg Gardens was beautiful with a whole different color pallette than in the summer. The planters were filled with beautiful mums and the trees had a soft warm cast to the leaves that were left. And, without a ton of tourists it's easier to view and enjoy the whole area. I know Giverney is out, but wish there was a way to get in as I think there are lots of beautiful looks to gardens... not only in full bloom. Also, went to Versailles and it was enjoyable as well. Lots of the plantings there are everygreen. And the best part of Paris is just wandering the streets and stopping in the cafes. The markets will still be happening. Just dress warm and in layers and enjoy a whole different side of Paris.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Paris is a year-round city, no doubt about it. Gardens are not out of the question. As others have noted, outdoor cafes often have big heaters, and if they don't, either don't stop there, or keep your coat on. So my suggestion for what to see at that time of year is... everything! We go to Paris every year around Christmas. I haven't been there in the summer since 2000. I just love it in winter, and I predict you will too.

Posted by Charles
Vero Beach, Florida, USA
2 posts

I thank those who sent the very thoughtful and helpful replies.

Posted by Cathy
Sacramento, CA, USA
63 posts

Thank you so much for posting all this wonderful information! I'll be spending Christmas and New Year's in Paris and a week before in London. Cannot. Wait.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Cathy, this is SLIGHTLY off-topic, but since you mentioned next Christmas in London, I have to RAVE about London at that time of year. Don't know if you have been then before, but it is EXCELLENT. The lights on Oxford Street and St. James and Regent Street are amazing. Carnaby Street has awesome rock 'n' roll-themed decorations. Every pub has a cute tree and is festooned with lights. The pantos are on! The stores are crammed with festive stuff. It is GREAT. Have a wonderful time!

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1687 posts

This year, however, they let Marmite sponsor the Oxford Street lights so there were regular appearances of an elf apparently vomiting into his hat after eating the product.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8731 posts

Marmite sponsor the Oxford Street lights yes, wasn't that just lovely? - NOT.

Posted by Cathy
Sacramento, CA, USA
63 posts

Oh my, well that must have been quite a sight! I've been to London once before, but only for a couple of days and I've heard wonderful things about London in December. Really, am QUITE excited! I can only hope the new addition to Shakespeare's Globe is complete so I can see a play :) If not, I'll just go see Les Mis.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Nigel, I thought the Marmite lights were hilarious! Diff'rent strokes, I guess. :-)