While Paris, France isn’t typically the first destination that comes to mind when planning a winter getaway, the French capital is actually a great option to consider. Sure, the weather might not be ideal, but the city more than makes up for it with all of the incredible activities it offers this time of the year. Not to mention, there are significantly fewer crowds, which means less time waiting in line and more time actually enjoying your vacation. Given this, some people may even go as far as to say that winter is the best time to travel to Paris! To help you plan your own snowy adventures to the French capital, I’ve compiled below a list of the top 10 things to do in Paris this winter!
Since you are here, you probably want to read this post too: The Best Christmas Markets In Paris 2021
1. Skate Through Paris
Winter in Paris wouldn’t be complete without at least a few laps around an ice rink, and thankfully, there is a great option for you to choose from! A location that is a particular favorite among visitors is the ice rink located at Jardin des Tuileries. From November 20, 2021, to January 2, 2022, the 500-square-meter outdoor rink is open for ice skating beneath twinkling lights. It’s suitable for skaters of all abilities, as it also has a section specifically for the younger skaters.
2. Visit a Christmas Market
Christmas markets are a popular tradition throughout much of Europe, and this holds true in Paris as well. Between November and January, you’ll be able to find several of these festive markets spread throughout the city. Offering a variety of Christmas decor, souvenirs, and French delicacies, a visit to the Christmas markets is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays! Some of the city’s most popular markets include the Eiffel Tower Christmas Village, the Hôtel de Ville Market, Montmartre Christmas Market, and the Tuileries Christmas Market, which is located next to The Louvre and by far the biggest Marché de Noël within Paris.
3. Admire the City’s Christmas Lights
Paris explodes with festive decorations and colorful lights during the winter months, taking its nickname, “The City of Lights,” to the next level! Everywhere you look, you’ll find stunning illuminations, as buildings, street posts, and trees are adorned with twinkling lights. You can literally walk down any road and discover vibrant displays of holiday cheer. For the most lavish decorations, however, be sure to head over to Champs-Élysées, where over a million lights cover the sidewalks. There’s also the Christmas Tree at Galerie Lafayette, a giant tree that is always decked out in the most elaborate decorations.
4. Check Out the Festival Of Wonder
From December 26th to January 2nd, 2022, Musée des Art Forains, a private fairground museum, opens its doors for Festival du Merveilleux or the Festival of Wonder. Home to one of Europe’s largest collections of fairground objects, the museum brings together a variety of artists and actors to host a festive holiday celebration unlike any other. Featuring magicians, storytellers, puppeteers, dancers, and musicians, guests have the opportunity to witness a variety of spirited shows, explore the illuminated grounds of the museum, and maybe even jump on an amusement ride or two!
5. Celebrate the Chinese New Year
Paris is home to the biggest Chinatown in Europe. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the city’s Chinese New Year celebrations are extravagant, over the top, and definitely worth checking out! Spanning a few weeks between January and February, you’re likely to find a variety of parades complete with drummers, martial artists, and dancers adorned in colorful costumes. While several parades take place throughout the city, the biggest celebration is held in the 13th arrondissement’s quartier asiatique, which also happens to be home to the largest Asian community.
6. Attend Paris Fashion Week
It goes without saying, but Paris is the capital of fashion, and one of their fashion weeks just so happens to occur in March. During this time, you’ll have the opportunity to watch the biggest names in fashion as they show off their latest designs on the runway. While gaining admissions can be difficult, unless you’re a famous fashionista yourself, there are a few means by which you can get your foot in the door. You can purchase a ticket – there are even a limited number of free standing tickets, if you’re fast enough to grab them – or you can sign up to volunteer for the event. Either way, you’re sure to have an unforgettable view of the latest and greatest in fashion.
7. Take a Cooking Class
French cuisine is renowned worldwide, and winter is the perfect time for baking – so it only makes sense that you’d take this opportunity to learn the ins and outs of French cooking from Paris’ very own chefs. If you’re a fan of sweets, you can try a macaron or pastry class. For savory options, consider signing up for a soufflé or filet mignon course. There are even cooking courses for baguettes, croissants, and Bûche de Noël, the French Christmas log. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your taste buds!
8. Explore the City’s Covered Passageways
Dispersed throughout Paris are several covered passageways that play host to various boutiques, tea houses, and small eateries. Dating back to the 19th century, these historic walkways are known for their beautifully preserved stained glass canopies. While there used to be more than 150 of these hidden passageways spread throughout the city, only a handful remain today. Some of the most popular passages include Galerie Vivienne, known for its elegant architecture, Passage des Panoramas Paris, the city’s oldest remaining passageway, and Passage Jouffroy, which houses a hotel, museum, and nightclub.
9. Hop Aboard a Seine River Cruise
While it’s possible to cruise the Seine River at any time of the year, one of the best times to do so is, in fact, during the winter months, especially if you take an evening dinner cruise. Not only will you be granted incredible views of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Grand Palais, but you’ll also get to see them all lit up with the vibrant colors of Christmas. This reflected off of the waters of the Seine makes for some truly stunning scenery.
10. Visit the Museums
While this is probably the most obvious activity on my list, it’s still worth mentioning, as no trip to Paris is complete without visiting some of the city’s museums. And, with over 60 different museums to choose from, there’s certainly plenty to see! Some of the more famous museums include The Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, and the Museum Of Modern Art, but there are also many smaller museums that are worth checking out. If you plan on visiting several museums, you may want to consider purchasing the Paris Museum Pass, which grants “skip the line” access to most museums in the city.
No matter what you end up doing in Paris this winter, I have no doubt that you’ll have an incredible time! Between the stunning display of lights, the festive celebrations, and the opportunity to explore some of the most famous landmarks in the world, Paris offers a winter getaway unlike any other!
What other fun activities have you found to do in Paris? Let me know in the comment section.