“Paris is always a good idea,” Audrey Hepburn told us in the 1954 film, Sabrina. I may be biased, but of course, I agree. Winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s never a bad time to come to Paris, just better times for some travelers depending on your budget and what attractions you want to see.
The shoulder seasons, the period in the fall or early spring that’s wedged between high season and low season, might offer lower prices and decent weather, but this doesn’t always mean it’s the best season to go. “I would say that the best time to come to Paris depends on what you want to do,” said Heather Stimmler-Hall, editor of Secrets of Paris and author of “Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City”.
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The Best time to visit Paris on your vacation
Depending on your priorities, budget travelers can win in any season. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of visiting Paris during the four seasons.
I love Paris in the springtime…
Visit in the spring (late March to May) for the Paris that people sing songs about. Sure it can be wet and icky, but once that sun starts to come out and play, Parisians are on a euphoric crash course for the summertime. All of the sins of winter are quickly forgotten.
You can push the picnic season with some wine along the Seine, or at least enjoy a comfortable evening on a café terrace. You can run the Paris Marathon or maybe just cheer (me!) from the sides. The city starts to come alive again, and you’ll be here before the summer prices start to jump.
Just avoid the spring break in April when it seems all of Europe descends upon Paris. Though after Easter, there are a few leftover chocolate eggs at a discount.
Related: 9 Ways to celebrate Spring in Paris
I love Paris in the fall…
Visit in the fall (September to mid-November) for gorgeous weather, thinner crowds, and some great events. The Salon du Chocolat, Journée de la Patrimoine, and Nuit Blanche all occur at this time of the year, allowing you to participate in some of the city’s best events during your stay.
And then there’s the fall foliage in the Père Lachaise cemetery—just try to beat it. Paris feels fresh and renewed as everyone is getting back into the grove after a busy summer (and an August break), and all restaurants and attractions are on a normal schedule.
As for prices, September is still considered “high season” for traveling to Paris, making hotel rates at their peak. However, rates quickly fall as you head into October. (Just avoid fall fashion week, this year Sept 30-October 7.)
The downside? Picnic season is over, weather can go from hot to cold, but that’s about it in my book. At least you can walk all over the city without having to feel guilty about heading into a museum.
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles…
Visit in the winter (late November to early March), and you’ll have to bundle up in Paris. But who doesn’t like scarves, right?
Prices spike around Christmas, but this doesn’t mean you can’t find a deal. The Christmas lights and markets all around town also add a bit of magic to the city during the often frigid days.
Related: Tasty & cheap ways to stay warm in the Paris drizzle
The sky never seems to open up in January or February, but this is primo time for visiting the museums and galleries that help make Paris so famous. Or take in some shopping during the twice-annual soldes (nation-wide sales) that happen in January.
And did we mention the seemingly endless hot chocolate and/or mulled wine options?
Lines for major attractions are virtually non-existent, and hotel rates are at their lowest during the year. (Be sure to avoid spring fashion week when every hotel in town fills up.)
Also, prepare for a crush of people at the stores before Christmas, and a generally disappointing New Year’s Eve and/or Valentine’s Day—they aren’t quite as festive as you’d think! If you can’t make for Valentine’s Day, you can still check into our favorite romantic hotels in Paris at any time of year!
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles…
Hot and sticky, but absolutely delightful, Paris in the summer can really be a treat. The Fête de la Musique keeps buskers and singers out all night on June 21, and Gay Pride seems like the city’s biggest party at the end of the month (this year on June 27, 2015).
The fireworks on July 14th (Bastille Day) are one of the most breathtaking experiences I have witnessed in Paris. Add in concerts, free outdoor cinema, beaches along the Seine, and a sun that sets around 10 PM, and you can’t go wrong.
Ice cream, picnics, and chilled rosé wine are just more reasons to come in the summer. No need for a stuffy museum when you can picnic your days away in any of the green oasis around town or stroll endlessly throughout the city.
The downsides? Prices are generally at their highest for all of the major aspects of visiting, including hotels, flights and trains. May, June and July are particularly busy and expensive, while the city clears out in August, which ushers in a surprising drop in hotel rates. Check for the latest hotel prices in Paris on EuroCheapo.com.
The fact that some hotels and other buildings don’t have AC might also scare some away, but the city is generally pretty cool at night, and you can make up for that by picnicking nonstop. Also, many restaurants and shops close in August for their own summer break, so be prepared for a few disappointments. But I have a feeling you’ll have a memorable experience (and perhaps even come home with a tan!).
Related: Pros and cons of visiting Paris in August
When do you love Paris?
Tell us your favorite time to visit Paris (and explain why!) in the comments section below.