Paris, France’s capital and main city, is one of Europe’s most iconic cities. No, it is one of the world’s most iconic cities. It is one of the world’s fashion capitals. Its architectural riches match anything you will find anywhere. The museums and art galleries in Paris could keep you occupied for a couple of weeks easily, even before you think about the city’s major landmarks. The nighttime entertainment in the city is certain to satisfy you while the bars and restaurants offer atmosphere and quality.
While the climate in Paris in winter involves plenty of cold days and relatively short hours of daylight, the city’s infrastructure is well-developed. Luxury accommodation, some of the best shopping you will find anywhere, and the best French cuisine make a winter visit a real experience. Beaujolais Nouveau launches in mid-November a French red wine which is eagerly awaited throughout Europe. Soon after that, everyone’s minds turn to Christmas when the shops of Paris fill will shoppers, local, French as well as from abroad. Paris has so much to offer everyone, even in winter, and here are some ideas of what you can do if you jump onto a plane and head to France’s capital.
- 20 Things To Do In Paris In Winter
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Paris In Winter
- 1- Buy A Hop On Hop Off Ticket
- 2- Take A Cruise On The Seine
- 3- Admire The Louvre
- 4- Dine On The Seine
- 5- Enjoy A Cabaret
- 6- Head To The Moulin Rouge
- 7- Eat Dinner At The Eiffel Tower
- 8- Enjoy A Day At Versailles
- 9- Experience The Catacombs
- 10- Enjoy The Views from the Arc de Triomphe
- 11- Amuse Yourself At Disneyland
- 12- Have A Day Looking At Art
- 13- Enjoy A Night At The Opera
- 14- Explore Pompidou Centre
- 15- Take In An Iconic Temple
- 16- Take In Some Culture
- 17- Attend A Wine Tasting
- 18- Marvel At Notre Dame de Paris
- 19- See The Artists Of Montmartre
- 20- Go Fashion Shopping
20 Things To Do In Paris In Winter
- Private Christmas Photoshoot – Treat yourself to a professional photoshoot in the city of lights and romance. It’s a fun activity and a fantastic Christmas present for family and friends.
- Disneyland 1-Day Ticket – A classic for families, get a ticket with reserved access so you won’t have to stand in the line.
- Hop On Hop Off Bus – Choose from one, two or three days. It’s a great way to get around to see all the sights.
20 Things To Do In Paris In Winter
1- Buy A Hop On Hop Off Ticket
A great way to familiarise yourself with Paris is to buy a hop-on hop-off bus ticket that allows you to see the major landmarks.
You can expect a commentary in several languages as you travel from point to point.
Do a complete circuit, and then the second time around, get off to take a closer look at something like the Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower and then get on again.
If you get a ticket with 48-hour validity, you can see plenty of things over the two days in Paris, night and day, without needing other transport.
It would be a mistake not to walk around some interesting neighbourhoods.
2- Take A Cruise On The Seine
The Seine runs through Paris, and many of the city’s major landmarks can be seen from the river.
Book a cruise and learn about landmarks as you pass under several bridges linking both river banks.
Your starting point is perhaps the most iconic landmark of all, the Eiffel Tower, with magnificent views of Notre Dame de Paris, one of several highlights.
Other iconic sights to see from the river are Orsay Museum, Jardin des Tuileries and Place des Vosges.
This is one of the best chances to photograph the Parisian skyline from ground level, and after disembarking, you have the rest of the day to explore the city.
3- Admire The Louvre
One of the most iconic museums in Paris, the Louvre, is busy all year round and the lines can be very long.
Waiting in line for three hours is not unusual but if you buy a timed-entry ticket in advance, there will be no need to line up.
The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo are highlights but there is much more to see, including Renaissance masterpieces within an art collection dating back to the 13th century.
It first opened in 1793 with a relatively small collection but there are around 20,000 works these days.
The Louvre is not exclusively for art, and among the eight departments in the museum are sections specialising in Egyptian Antiquities, Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art and Sculpture.
It has one of the largest collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts, most not publicly displayed, including statues and jewellery.
Another hidden secret about the Louvre is that it has an underground network of tunnels to help move artwork and visitors around the museum.
The tunnels are not open to the public, but they allow for the movement of large groups of visitors and the transport of artworks without disrupting the museum’s daily operations.
4- Dine On The Seine
If you want to see the Seine by night, there are dinner cruises where you can enjoy fine cuisine while seeing the city under lights.
Every seat provides a great view of the river and the landmarks on either bank.
Seats are comfortable, and you can go out onto a terrace to get an even better view of the monuments.
The menu varies by season, with a vegetarian option available.
As an idea of what you might get, think Provençal veal marmite or Bouillabaisse with an excellent range of desserts to finish your meal.
It goes without saying that fine wines are available too.
5- Enjoy A Cabaret
Dinner with a show is a great way to spend a winter’s night.
The winter menu at Paradis Latin Theatre offers fine French cuisine.
A starter such as foie gras or crab might begin your meal, followed by the main course.
Fish figures prominently, cod, monkfish or perhaps a mussel stew?
The desserts are tempting and a fine way to end your dining.
You can expect mineral waters but also fine wines and champagnes.
The cabaret show is excellent, with plenty of colour, song and dance, put together by one of Paris’ top choreographers, Kamel Ouali, who has “invented” a new and modern Can Can for you. Skip the line and reserve your seats here.
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6- Head To The Moulin Rouge
Few cabaret shows anywhere in the world are more famous than the one at the Moulin Rouge in Pigalle.
The show involves around 100 artists, more than half being the dancing girls.
Upwards of 1,000 feather costumes can be used in the show, each with rhinestones and sequins.
The set designs are very imaginative, with a talented orchestra and singers adding to the experience.
Your entrance fee does include half a bottle of champagne. Skip the line and book your ticket here.
7- Eat Dinner At The Eiffel Tower
So many of Paris’ nighttime activities involve food.
While by day you pass the Eiffel Tower and head to the top for some panoramas, there is also the opportunity to dine in a relatively new restaurant in the tower itself, Madame Brasserie.
It is situated on the first floor, which you can access by elevator.
The freshest produce goes into every dish, and the menu should have something for every taste.
The options for this gourmet dinner are the best of French cuisine with the views from the restaurant over the Seine and Paris adding to the experience.
It’s a great night out. Book your table here.
8- Enjoy A Day At Versailles
Louis XIV built the Palace of Versailles just west of Paris on a site that originally held a royal hunting lodge.
These days, owned by the country, some 15 million people visit its gardens and the stunning structure itself.
It was built in several phases between 1661 and 1715.
It was largely abandoned after the French Revolution in 1789 for 40 years before restoration took place.
The UNESCO World Heritage site offers guided tours, where you will see one of the world’s largest palaces and learn more about its rich history while wandering through its opulent halls and royal apartments.
Likewise, hear more about Louis XVI and his famous wife, Marie Antoinette. Book your tour here.
9- Experience The Catacombs
“The City of Lights” beneath the streets of Paris is fascinating and always busy, so buy a ticket in advance to skip the lines of people wanting to see the Catacombs.
An audio guide is available so you can explore at your own pace.
It’s an eerie place with human bones and skulls decorating many rooms.
The maze of tunnels was very extensive at one time, and when cemeteries in Paris were filling up quickly, the dead began to be interred in these catacombs.
Up to six million people were buried within the catacombs that are now on the list of Parisian museums.
10- Enjoy The Views from the Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is an arch in Roman style, 50 metres tall and with a viewing platform offering fine panoramas.
There are 284 steps to climb and it’s worth the effort to see the layout of Parisian avenues radiating out from the arch like spokes on a wheel.
Napoleon ordered the building of the Arc just after winning a battle at Austerlitz but he died before it was completed.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base remembers the 1.3 million French soldiers who died fighting for their country in the First World War, and the eternal flame is revived each evening in their honour. Skip the line and reserve your ticket here.
11- Amuse Yourself At Disneyland
When Disney built a park in Europe, it was no surprise that it decided on France and a site close to Paris.
Disney is synonymous with fun and fairy tales.
You will see your favourite cartoon characters as well as such “landmarks” as Big Thunder Mountain and Star Wars® Hyperspace Mountain.
Adults get as much enjoyment at Disneyland as children, with the best family exhibits arguably the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups.’
Disneyland Paris is enjoying its 30th Anniversary with several events produced to celebrate this occasion.
By night, the lights add to the whole setting, although you should wrap up if you intend to be there in mid-winter. Book a 1-day ticket with reserved access so you don’t have to line up.
12- Have A Day Looking At Art
While the Louvre is the most popular destination in Paris for art lovers, it would be wrong to ignore other museums and galleries full of riches.
Buy an advance ticket to the Musée d’Orsay to avoid the lines, then take your time to see the country’s biggest collection of French art.
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings are both featured extensively, while you will also see some fine sculptures, furniture and photographs.
If you have limited time, these are some of the exhibits you should seek out: the Dance at le Moulin de la Galette by Renoir, Apples and Oranges by Cézanne, and self-portraits of Van Gogh.
13- Enjoy A Night At The Opera
The Baroque Opera Garnier is extravagant architecture, dating back to 1875 and located centrally in Paris.
It takes the name of its architect, Charles Garnier, who designed the largest European opera house.
Your eyes will feast on writhing snake bronze sculptures before you climb the double main staircase.
Mosaics, gold leaf and marble columns create a spectacular setting before you even get close to enjoying a performance.
Check in advance of your visit to see what is on the schedule and, ideally, get a ticket in advance to see this architectural gem.
14- Explore Pompidou Centre
The centre taking the name of a former French President, Georges Pompidou, is a cultural facility that is a great choice for a cold and rainy day.
There is a library, an acoustic centre, a museum, and the cultural content also involves music.
Over 100,000 exhibits include the best of 20th and 21st-century art, and famous artists such as Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, and Pablo Picasso all feature.
It hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, with access to such exhibitions costing an extra amount from the standard entry fee.
There is a rooftop terrace where you will get great views over Paris. Skip the line by buying a ticket in advance.
15- Take In An Iconic Temple
The Panthéon is a former church where several notable people were buried during the French Revolution.
It was the creation of Jacques-Germain Soufflot in the 18th century and it is worth buying a ticket in advance before walking around it.
Soufflot managed to satisfy Louis XV’s wish to glorify the monarchy by designing the Church of Sainte-Geneviève.
From Victor Hugo’s death in 1885 onwards, the Panthéon is the resting place for notable citizens, whether politicians, generals, writers, scientists or clergy.
Voltaire, Marie Currie, Alexandre Dumas, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emile Zola have their tombs in the crypt. Skip the line and get a ticket and self-guided tour.
16- Take In Some Culture
The Rodin Museum, not surprisingly, focuses on the work of François Auguste René Rodin, with the new layout displaying some of the sculptures never seen before.
Rodin, born in 1840 in Paris and died in 1917, is regarded as the father of modern sculpture.
The layout of the building makes it accessible to all, while outside, there are further sculptures in the garden that covers three hectares with a nice terrace, rose and ornamental gardens.
Skip the line and reserve an entrance ticket to the museum.
17- Attend A Wine Tasting
The French are rightly very proud of their wine.
While in Paris, it is worth going on a wine-tasting tour to learn more about French wine.
You can do that during your time in the city, learning about the country’s wine regions and the wine each is known for.
Champagne and Bordeaux, Sancerre and the Rhone are examples of the regions that are covered, whites, reds and the famous “bubbly.”
If you know anything about wine, you will have seen “appellation” many times before.
You can buy each of the wines you taste during the tour, while after the tasting, you are more than welcome to sit down for dinner.
18- Marvel At Notre Dame de Paris
“Our Lady of Paris” is a Gothic cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary on an island in the Seine.
It took almost a century to complete, with modifications adding to the 1260 “completion.”
Everyone recognises Notre Dame when viewing images of Paris, but sadly, fire damaged it in 2019 and restoration work is ongoing.
Approximately 12 million people visited it each year before the fire, and those numbers are certain to return when it opens again; the schedule for the first mass is 2024.
While you cannot go inside currently, you can still marvel at its beauty with a cruise on the Seine, the best way to get close.
19- See The Artists Of Montmartre
Montmartre is one of Paris’ quirky neighbourhoods, a district famous for its artists that paint outdoors all year round, weather permitting.
It sits on a hill 130 m above the river.
It is home to plenty of nighttime venues, the Basilica of Sacre Coeur on its summit and the artists.
It was late in the 19th century when artists first lived and worked in Montmartre.
Although Picasso lived there for a while, Renoir is probably the most famous of them.
These days, it is just a place where ordinary artists go to enjoy painting and the company of other artists.
Join them and admire their work.
20- Go Fashion Shopping
As a “capital of fashion”, Paris is an obvious place to go shopping any time of the year.
There is good shopping throughout the centre, but if you are interested in fashion, you should head to the Triangle d’Or opposite the Eiffel Tower on the other bank of the Seine.
Avenue Montaigne, Avenue George V and Rue Francois 1er define the triangle.
Pre-Christmas, Paris welcomes plenty of visitors from elsewhere in France and abroad; their mission is shopping.
A Christmas shopping tour is a great way to learn about the traditions and festivities in France while getting the inside scoop on the best places to shop.
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