Tag Archives: Paris in winter

Paris in December – Is it Worthwhile?

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I have just received emails from two Sydney readers asking about visiting Paris in December so I decided to answer them in a blog post so that other travellers could benefit from my responses and experienced readers give their opinion.


Marie asks:

Can you tell me how cold it is in Paris in early December compared to our Sydney winter? I want to be sure I am prepared and I want to know if wearing thermal undergarments and jeans and Australian winter coat would be enough to keep us warm.

I have seen snow in Paris in December so it can be cold, i.e. close to zero. Indoors, there will always be heating, sometimes quite high, especially in cafés and museums where people’s body heat adds to the temperature.

The secret is wearing several layers because warm air builds up in-between the layers of clothing which means that two thin pullovers are warmer than one thick one. It also means that you can take off layers if you are too hot.

Thermal underwear or even tights or leggings under jeans should keep you warm. I did not wear thermal underwear in Paris – I would have been too hot – but I find it useful now I am living in a house in the country which is not overheated.

Make sure you have decent hats and gloves. Silk gloves under woollen or leather gloves will add an extra layer. You can buy silk gloves cheaply in sports stores (Go Sport, Decathlon) in Paris as they are used for skiing.


Are the cafes, attractions, museums all opened in December?

Paris is popular venue all year round and nothing closes in the winter as far as I know.

Some sites say (and I may be understanding it wrong) that there is fewer daylight hours during the day. Is this true?? if so can you tell me how many hours I can walk around while the sun is still out.

In the summer, with daylight saving, it doesn’t get dark until 11 pm while in December, which has the shortest hours of the year, it doesn’t get light until 9 am and then gets dark again around 4.30 pm. However, everything is well lit at night so you wouldn’t have to worry about safety issues. It may not necessarily be sunny though. You could find yourself with only pale light all day if it’s rainy or overcast.

Are the supermarkets and groceries similar to Australian products? Are the labels in French or English?

Some products are similar, some are different. It all depends on what sort of food you are looking for. Very often, the ingredients are also in English, but not always. You’d have to go to a special store for Vegemite, for example.

My daughter is prone to getting sick and has asthma. If I had to buy medication would I find brands that I know eg. panadol, codral, vicks. 

Medication around the world is more or less the same these days, but the brand names are different. You need to know the name of the “molecule”. For example, Panadol is paracetamol and comes under the brand name of Doliprane here. Codral, on the other hand, is a mixture of ingredients and is mainly sold in Australia and New Zealand. You should bring a box with you. Vicks is readily available. I always travel with small amounts of the medication I use most frequently. That way, you can take something immediately and then take a sample to the pharmacy. You will find someone to speak English in most pharmacies in Paris, particularly in the tourist areas.


Elaine asks:

My  19-year old daughter and I arrive on Sunday 6 December in Paris. We are having difficulty finding a clean, warm, budget hotel with twin beds and an ensuite.  This is my first trip overseas without my husband and I am a bit nervous about booking, paying and regretting.  I have been considering the Latin district as I think my daughter would fit in as she is a university student. Was hoping around the $1200 mark (750 euro) for the 7 nights, don’t mind paying more or less if location is going to save time and transport hassles.  I’m assuming they would have heating, particularly for this time of the year. 

Yes, there will be heating. Your budget seems a little low to me though I may be wrong. I don’t have any personal recommendations, but I suggest that you consider renting an apartment through AirBnB as it would probably be cheaper for a week. I assume you have read my post on The Best Area to Stay in Paris. Fodor’s forum is also an excellent source when looking for hotels.

Wondering if I should book a shuttle from airport to hotel as we would have been flying for 19 hours and may be very tired. Or perhaps the metro?

There is a high-speed train (RER) from  Charles de Gaulle to the middle of the city. It costs 10 euro per person. It depends on where you’ll be staying. Booking a shuttle could take some of the stress out of the trip.

When we came 10 years ago, the queue at the Louvre Museum was enormous last time and with children was not worth it. 

It’s very easy to buy your tickets in various places ahead of time. Click here for more information.

The Eiffel Tower from Bir Hakeim bridge
The Eiffel Tower from Bir Hakeim bridge in winter

Eiffel Tower – I believe it is not very visible in the winter, so from the ground would be ok Everything depends on the weather.

A clear sunny day in winter is just as good as summer! If you don’t go up, the best view is from Bir Harkeim bridge. Click here for a fun local bus ride from the Louvre.

Segway Paris Tour (not sure if this would be appropriate for December, what do you think?

I don’t have an anwser for this one. Any readers have any experience with segways?

Moulin Rouge Show (Booked Thursday 10 December 9pm) Not sure how to get there? Although we have all day to find our way! 

Very easy – you just take the metro to Blanche on line 2.

Paris Latin quarter walking tour – I think we would love this, although most websites are in excess of $300 AUD before we start shopping, can you recommend anyone? I’ve also read something about the Marais Neighbourhood, do you think we could find these areas on our own?

There are FREE walking tours of Paris. Just give the tip at the end that you think it deserves: http://www.discoverwalks.com/paris-walking-tours/. I haven’t tried one in Paris but have appreciated them in other European cities. The Left Bank tour, for example, is at 11 am and 2.30 pm every day. No need to book – you just turn up at the meeting point. There is a tour of the Marais at 2.30 pm and 5 pm every day but you could find your way there easily yourself. You could check out my post on the Marais.  If you’d like to explore the area around the Louvre, you can also read my Powerwalking posts!  Just enter powerwalking in the search box.

Christmas Markets – Saint-Sulpice etc. Be good to do some Christmas shopping while in Paris.

The Christmas markets have gone very much downhill in recent years. I don’t know the one at Saint Sulpice but my friend Sylvia Sabès, whose judgment I would trust recommends it in a post for Girls Guide to Paris on how to shop the Christmas markets.


La Vallee Village shopping outlet.

I personally think Marne la Vallée is terrible! Here are some other suggestions for outlet tores in Paris.

St-Ouen Flea Market or equivalent.

There are two flea markets in Paris – Saint Ouen, which is a permanent market, and Porte de Montreuil which is only on Sundays. Follow the crowd when you get out at the Porte de Clignancourt metro and watch your purses!

Perhaps a perfume workshop? depending on cost! 

I don’t have an answer to this one either but once again, I can refer you to a post by Pikke Allen on Girls Guide to Paris: Scents and Sensibility – A perfume walking tour of Paris.

In conclusion, all I can tell you that any of my Australian friends who have visited Paris in winter said it was worth it!

AllAboutFranceBadge_bisThis post is part of Lou Messugo’s All About France link-up. For other posts about France by other bloggers, click here.

Photos of the Week – Sun in Paris in Winter

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We have been starved for sun in Paris recently so when it came out at last this weekend, I had a field day!

Reflections of the Louvre
Reflections of the Louvre
Looking down towards Notre Dame from Pont du Carrousel
Looking down towards Passerelle des Arts from Pont du Carrousel 
Looking in the opposite direction from Pont Neuf
Looking in the opposite direction from Pont Neuf 
The newly renovated façade of the Bourse du Commerce
The newly renovated façade of the Bourse du Commerce

The Bourse du Commerce is beautiful inside as well!

The newly renovated area behind the Bourse du Commerce
The newly renovated area behind the Bourse du Commerce 
Late night film of Rosemary's Baby in the Palais Royal Gardens
Late night filming of Rosemary’s Baby in the Palais Royal Gardens 
Who knows where this is?
Who knows where this is? 

From tropical Queensland to Parisian winter

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I hate it when the leaves fall off the trees and the temperatures go down and the days grow shorter. I’m not made for the Parisian winter. I was born and bred in the tropics.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to having to wear shoes every day for months on end instead of going barefoot. And I can remember knitting and wearing my first pair of gloves when I was at uni in North Queensland. It certainly wasn’t cold enough for the thick pullover I knitted to go with them. Or even for the gloves for that matter. It’s so funny when I go back there during the winter and everybody complains that it’s “freezing”. But it’s really only because they leave the windows open all the time, even when it’s 10°C outside. Not that it oftens gets that cold. So I suggest, “how about you close the windows?” “Close the windows? We’ll suffocate! You have to have fresh air mate!” You can’t close a lot of the windows anyway. Most of them seem to be stuck open.

Now, that’s not what happens in Paris, I can tell you. I have to make this big effort during winter to open the windows for a quarter of an hour every day to let the fresh air in. But to do so, you have to turn the heating off because otherwise the thermostat goes crazy trying to increase the temperature to make up for the genuinely freezing air that pours in. If I forget to do it after I first get up, I have to find a strategic moment during the day when I don’t mind being cold for an hour afterwards. That is one of the reasons why I don’t like winter.

The next one is having to get up when it’s still pitch black outside. It means having the light on half the day because not only does it get light late, forcing you to stay in bed in the morning, but it gets dark again by 5 o’clock. You read about these people who get depressed if you don’t have enough light. Well, I think I’m one of them. I don’t ever remember getting up in the dark at home in Townsville and I certainly didn’t come home from school in the dark. I used to feel so sorry for my kids when they were at school here.

But the worst is having to get dressed and undressed every time you set foot outside. You have to put on  your socks and boots and a jumper or a jacket, then a coat and a scarf and a hat and your rabbit-lined gloves because they’re the only ones that stop your fingers going numb with the cold. I was so pleased when I found my first pair. They are soft and silky and WARM.  Of course, there is no way you can keep them for more than a couple of winters. One inevitably escapes when you’re on the metro or in a restaurant or even sometimes in the street because you can’t use an iPhone with gloves on. Well, I can’t anyway. And then the only shops that sell them in Paris must have millionnaires for customers. But I finally found an Italian website that keeps me stocked.

I have Australian friends that actually LIKE coming here in the winter. They say it’s “welcome relief from the heat”. I do not understand them.

It’s amazing how you can’t even remember what being hot is like in the dead of winter.

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