Paris’s well-known nickname is the “City of Lights,” so it would follow that the shorter days and longer nights of winter make it a breathtaking time to visit! When winter comes to Paris, it brings temperatures that, while cold, are milder than most northern cities. It also brings some of the best holiday decorations and light displays anywhere in the world and an excuse to spend time indoors learning Paris’s history and getting acquainted with the delicious cuisine. As they say, “there’s no place like home for the holidays,” so forgo the traditional hotel stay for a much more authentic and homey furnished apartment to serve as your home away from home as you explore Paris in the winter. By the time you hear what winter has in store, you’ll wonder why you never considered it a winter destination in the past!
Illuminate the holidays with a Paris specialty
Scores of twinkling lights are a common sight around Christmas, but in Paris, they get an upgrade! This already sparkling city hosts decorations in some of its most famous attractions that are a worthy sight to see on your trip through Paris. Here are a few of our top recommendations:
- Avenue Champs-Elysées: The Champs-Elysées is a natural choice for installing a light display. Known as “The most beautiful avenue in the world,” the street is bordered by neatly-trimmed rows of trees that are carefully bedecked with lights around the holidays, making for a picture-perfect scene.
- Rue Royale and La Madeleine: The beautiful Roman-style Madeleine church is lit up with special colored lights during the Christmas season, and inside the church a life-size crèche of the nativity scene is unveiled every December with a different design. Make sure to make the trek to La Madeleine via Rue Royale, which will also be decorated with lights and ornaments.
- Notre Dame Cathedral: The famous Notre Dame de Paris also gets in the holiday spirit with a crèche display of its own inside the church and a large Christmas tree out front. If you wish to attend a religious service, we also highly recommend visiting the church on Christmas Eve.
Of course, it’s not only Paris’s monuments and attractions that get to have all the fun—Paris is known for its shopping, and the famous shopping areas around the city use the holiday season to “deck the halls” to the nines! The first place you absolutely must visit is the Galeries Lafayette, which installs a stunning light display on the façade of the building, as well as a Christmas tree that rises several stories inside its glass dome. Be sure to also check out Printemps Haussmann, which has unparalleled holiday window displays that pay tribute to high-end designer fashion. The whimsical displays are sure to delight adults and children alike.
Indulge your Christmas spirit and get the full Paris experience in this 3-bedroom furnished apartment in the 4th Arrondissement. The deep shades of red and the brick fireplace are sure to look right at home with some holiday decorations during the season, which is great because you’ll want to use this apartment to host a holiday dinner! A large dining table and plenty of seating as well as the apartment’s 3 bedrooms are welcoming for a gathering of the entire family or group of friends. Being able to cook with the private kitchen included with this furnished rental will add an extra personal touch. What’s more, when you look out the grand windows in the living area, you’ll look straight onto the Seine River, giving you a holiday experience only Paris can provide!
Wintry weather complements France’s rich cuisine
Foodies visiting Paris in the winter are in luck: the city’s rich signature dishes are practically begging to be consumed in colder weather! One of the most popular drinks is vin chaud, a mulled wine with spices, served warm. If you’d like to warm your fingers with something non-alcoholic, don’t worry; Paris’s chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) is some of the richest and creamiest in the world and can be found at cafes all over the city in the wintertime. Hungry? Be on the lookout for cassoulet, a casserole with pork and white beans that originated in the South of France, or just try a traditional crock of the wildly popular French onion soup. If you want to try making your own French dishes, check out Noel Gourmand from December 15-18. The 4-day festival is a gathering of some of France’s finest artisans selling cheese, wine, spices, oils, seafood, meats and more. Stock up on ingredients for preparing in your apartment’s kitchen!
If you want to sample several dishes in a day, head to one of Paris’s many holiday markets—in addition to artisans selling everything from home décor to jewelry to knit hats and mittens, the markets will also feature numerous food vendors selling soups, sausages, crepes, desserts and more. Try the Louvre/Tuileries market (formerly the Champs-Elysées market), the market at La Défense, Champ de Mars (for views of the Eiffel Tower), or the Christmas market at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Foodies will also love this 1-bedroom furnished apartment in the 7th Arrondissement! The apartment actually has 3 potential dining areas, whether you prefer a formal dinner at the small table in the living area or a quick snack in the eat-in kitchen. Speaking of kitchens, the full kitchen in this apartment comes equipped with an oven, several small appliances and even a dishwasher (if you’re stuck on what to cook, here are a few ideas!). As an added bonus, if you go into a “food coma,” you’ll appreciate the extra cozy atmosphere of this apartment with its neutral color palette, classic furnishings and light-diffusing curtains. Watch a favorite movie before stepping out again—the Champs de Mars will be nearby in case you forget something at the holiday market!
Indoor activities for a chilly winter’s day
As beautiful as Paris is when it’s illuminated for the holidays or blanketed in snow, it’s no secret that the city’s winter weather can sometimes be dreary, especially when rain is common during the season. Never fear, though, you can still see the best of Paris from indoors! Why not visit one of Paris’s most popular museums—The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are essential for a trip to Paris. If you prefer to avoid the crowds and do something a bit more off-the-beaten-path, you can also try one of these more unusual Paris museums:
- The Louis Vuitton Foundation: From October to March, the foundation is hosting a collection detailing more than 200 pieces about the history of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York.
- Musée des Arts Forains: This museum hosts fairground and carnival games and memorabilia including an indoor carousel guests can ride!
- Musée de la Magie: Aspiring magicians will love this collection of exhibits about the history of magic and illusions. There are also magic workshops!
- Musée de Montmartre: Learn about the history of one of Paris’s most famous districts and its art and culture.
- Musée des Vampires: Explore this curious collection of memorabilia, props and books about vampires and their history.
- Musée Gourmand du Chocolat: Just what it sounds like, this museum will walk you through 4000 years’ worth of the history of chocolate (including some tastings!).
Another great way to chase away the cold while still getting out and about is to explore Paris’s covered galleries. The covered galleries or passages are walk-through shopping malls with glass roofs that will keep you warm and dry while you browse bookstores, art shops, tea rooms and more. Try Passage Jouffrey, Galerie Vivienne or Passage des Panoramas, the oldest covered gallery in Paris. And don’t forget—Paris’s annual winter sales start January 10, 2019, giving you something to look forward to after the holidays.
If you prefer to warm up by getting active, try ice skating under the Eiffel Tower! The ice rink at the Champs de Mars is just one of the numerous free rinks around Paris that you can use to stretch your legs and ward off cabin fever.
Stay warm all winter long in this 2-bedroom furnished apartment in the Bastille and Gare de Lyon area of Paris! The apartment is laid out in a comfy and casual loft style, and the fresh design, bright colors and warmth of the wood floors and furniture will chase away your winter blues. Southern-facing windows that overlook the courtyard will let in light even on the gloomiest of days, and the spacious bedrooms are each furnished with a double bed, tempting you to take a cozy winter nap. Why not make a cup of coffee using the espresso machine in the kitchen to warm up after ice skating—there’s plenty of room to lounge in the living area!
Escape hibernation with late-winter festivals and fairs
One of the best ways to celebrate even in the chill of winter is to attend a unique local event, and fortunately Paris has a few to offer! On January 7, feast your eyes on more than 700 antique cars, motorcycles and other vehicles as they drive through the streets of Paris during the Traversée de Paris (Drive Through Paris). The annual event showcases some of the most beautiful and unique vehicles throughout history and is sure to delight car enthusiasts and general audiences alike. You can take to the streets again in February for the Carnaval de Paris! The historic holiday organizes a costumed parade to the Place de la République filled with music and dance in celebration of Mardi Gras and Carnaval. Paris is also a great place to be if you want to take a weekend trip to one of the biggest Carnaval celebrations in the world in Nice! The Eurostar Line will keep you easily connected between the two destinations so you can come home to your Paris furnished apartment.
A stately 2-bedroom furnished apartment is another great way to spend the late-winter season in Paris. This furnished apartment is located directly across from the world-famous Louvre, providing hours of entertainment and culture in your backyard (no need for a long and chilly walk to a metro station!). The apartment is just as dramatic, with high ceilings, chandeliers and classical decorations and architectural details to accent the space. The separate kitchen is large enough to cook a full Carnaval feast, and if you plan on doing some traveling throughout your stay in Paris, the ample closet space will keep all your necessities organized. Finally, getting fresh air and light couldn’t be easier in this apartment, which has tall doubled-paned glass doors that lead to a small private balcony.
One of the most wonderful things about Paris is its beauty in every season and type of weather, and winter is no exception! When you choose to spend winter in Paris, you can enjoy the transition from the holidays to the leisurely pace of midwinter in a way that most tourists don’t get to experience. When you choose to book a Paris apartment, you can enjoy that insider’s look even more! Pour yourself a warm vin chaud and prepare for the most magical winter you can imagine.