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Paris, je t’aime. Winter, spring, summer, and fall, Paris is pretty idyllic. From stunning architecture to world-class museums, it is a must-visit city in the world. And if you are planning to visit Paris in January, you’ve come to the right place.
I lived in Grenoble, France for 5 months, and definitely made plenty of trips to Paris during that time (including a trip to Paris in May). The first time I ever visited Paris was in January, and while it may not be the place to go to escape the cold and snow, it certainly is a wonderful time of year to go!
So bundle up and let’s talk about traveling to Paris in January!
Table of Contents
- 1 What to Pack for a January Visit to Paris
- 2 Come to Paris in January for the City, Stay for the Fashion
- 3 Enjoy the Warm, Hearty Winter Comfort Food in Paris
- 4 Plan Indoors Activities in Paris During Winter
- 5 Be Prepared for Less Sunlight in January
- 6 Catch the End of the Paris Christmas Markets
- 7 Enjoy the Best Time to Visit Paris to Avoid Crowds
- 8 Perfect Day Trips from Paris in January
- 9 Where to Stay in Paris During Winter
- 10 Other Tips for Visiting Paris in January
What to Pack for a January Visit to Paris
This may be a no-brainer, but Paris in January can be quite chilly. And as this is a city that you’ll be doing plenty of walking around outside, dressing warm is essential.
The temperatures in Paris during January can average 43ºF (6ºC) during the day and be as low as 33ºF (1ºC) at night. It can also feel quite chilly as it is overcast many days with drizzle and rain. All of this is something to take into consideration when packing for Paris in January. Here is a quick list of things to bring (I have a full Europe in winter packing list to refer to as well):
Female January in Paris Packing Guide:
- Warm boots
- Fuzzy, warm socks
- Tights or long underwear to wear under jeans on cold days
- Cute sweaters
- Warm jacket (I am a big fan of my coat from The NorthFace)
- Earmuffs or hat
Male January in Paris Packing Guide:
- Men’s waterproof boots
- Warm socks
- Long underwear to wear under jeans
- Pull-over or nice sweaters
- Warm jacket
- Earmuffs or hat
If you can’t tell, layers are key when traveling around Paris during the winter months. And while it is the perfect time to museum-hop, you’ll find that walking around is a great way to see Paris. So dress for the weather and you’ll be in great shape when you’re wandering the streets of Paris!
Come to Paris in January for the City, Stay for the Fashion
One of my favorite things about January in France is a little thing called Soldes. It essentially is a twice a year sale in both January and July. When I first moved to Grenoble, I was surprised to see so many amazing sales. I got a great deal on a Longchamp bag I had my eye on for only $65 USD when it is easily double that price at home.
But in all seriousness, the sales are fantastic. So if you want to get great deals on French fashion, you’ll definitely want to come during January for the sales.
Some great stores to check out include Printemps Department Store and Galleries Lafayette Paris, but even smaller, boutique shops participate in Soldes too.
PS- if you are visiting Paris in February, you can catch Paris Fashion Week!
Enjoy the Warm, Hearty Winter Comfort Food in Paris
Winter in Paris is a great excuse to eat all the melty, cheesy, comfort foods that France is known for. Want to enjoy a tasty fondue? Savor it at Pain Vin Fromages. Craving traditional raclette to smother over potatoes? Le Chalet Savoyard is a must-try.
And while a roast chicken is great any time of year, in the winter it is just perfection. Enjoy the hearty stews like cassoulet or petit sale aux lentilles or sit back with a glass of robust Bordeaux while tucking into a tasty tartiflette (potatoes layered with cheese, onions, and bacon).
That’s right, Paris is the perfect place to enjoy the best winter comfort food.
Plan Indoors Activities in Paris During Winter
While wandering the streets of Paris is great, when it is really chilly, you’ll want to head indoors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see the best of Paris during that time!
This is the time to check out the museums because 1) it’s freezing and 2) there are far fewer crowds in Paris in January. This means you don’t necessarily have to buy tickets in advance to see everything (although I would still get the Louvre timed entry tickets, just in case), and you get a lot of places almost to yourselves!
We loved visiting Museum L’Orangerie and D’Orsay with far fewer people than we would’ve seen in the summer months! For off-the-beaten-path museums like Museum Rodin or the charming Saint Germaine Chapel, you could be the only person there!
Aside from museums and churches, there are gorgeous covered walkways to explore, like Passage Choiseul and Galarie Vivienne with adorable stores to venture around on a chilly, winter day.
And I can’t forget all of the markets like the Marche Des Enfants Rouges (the oldest and most charming covered market in Paris)! Grab brunch or sample amazing French cheese to warm up from the cold.
Check out the Paris Pass while you’re there for access to several museums!
When you need a place to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee or hot chocolate, exploring the various cafes in Paris is the perfect January activity. We love Les Deux Magots for the ancient hot chocolate and its perfect melted-candy-bar richness.
Also, France is known for its cinema! So on days where you aren’t sure what to do and the weather isn’t ideal go catch a great show from one of the best countries for cinema in the world.
Exploring indoor places is perfect when you want to get out of the rain and inclement January weather.
Be Prepared for Less Sunlight in January
Paris is pretty far north, meaning that during the summer months you’ll have daylight well into the late hours of the evening. But in the winter, the opposite is true. You won’t see the sunrise until around 9:30-9:45 am and sunset is around 6:00-6:45 pm.
The good news to this, though, is you won’t have to stay up late to catch the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling at night! The best time to go is around sunset for great photos of the Eiffel Tower and no crowds. I saw the Eiffel Tower lit up a lot during my time visiting Paris during January, but in the summer it was definitely a struggle, as we had to wait until almost 11 pm!
Also, maybe check out a river cruise (dress warmly, though!) right around sunset. But for wandering around Paris in the daylight, you’ll definitely want to plan for only 8-9 hours of it before the sun goes down.
Catch the End of the Paris Christmas Markets
Unlike many German Christmas markets, a handful of Christmas markets in Paris stay open in the early days of January. So if you plan your visit during the beginning of January, you can catch Les Halles Christmas Village, Christmas Market at Hotel de Ville, Bir Hakeim Christmas Market, the Champs de Mars, and the Tuileries Christmas Market which are open until around January 5!
So if you can’t make it for Christmas, January is a great time to extend the holiday season in Paris!
Enjoy the Best Time to Visit Paris to Avoid Crowds
I’ve visited Paris in winter, summer, and fall, and I have to say, winter is the best time to visit to avoid other tourists. Kids are back in school after the holiday break, people are looking for warm-weather destinations to escape the cold, etc.
So if you have the flexibility and can fit in a trip to Paris in January, you will certainly avoid most crowds. I can’t say the same if you plan a visit in July, but when it comes to having museums almost empty compared to summer months, January is a perfect time to visit Paris. Plus, it is cheaper to visit this time of year for hotels as well!
Perfect Day Trips from Paris in January
If you’ve got 4 or more days to spare in Paris, I definitely recommend checking out some fantastic day trips!
However, there are some places like the Monet gardens that are probably not as great to visit in January. Instead, opt for some time exploring the Palace of Versailles, the chateaus of the Loire Valley, or perhaps a Burgundy wine tour for fun day trips to explore during January!
Check out our favorite day trips from Paris here:
Where to Stay in Paris During Winter
Paris has a ton of options for hotels, and when you visit in January, you’ll find amazing deals on any hotel, so if you’re looking to splurge for less, this is the time to do it. Find where to stay in Paris based on your travel style.
But if you want to save extra money, definitely check out Airbnb. If you’re new to Airbnb, get $40 off your first booking!
Best Budget Hotel in Paris: Hotel du Printemps
If you want to stay in the perfect off-the-beaten-path area with tons of great local cafes, patisseries, and bars, the 12th Arrondissement, and the Hotel du Printemps is perfect for you.
It is further from the main tourist attractions in Paris, but for under $100 per night (around $85 per night), it is a great spot close to the metro and has amazing places to eat and drink.
Best Mid-Range Hotels in Paris
Located in the heart of the action near the famous shopping street, Champs-Elysees, the Suites & Hotels Helzear Champs-Elysees is perfect if you want to be close to everything like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, etc. for only $100 per night!
For a great hotel with views of the Eiffel Tower, this is the place to be. At only around $115 per night in January, it has airport transportation, the option for breakfast in the room, your own balcony to admire the streets of Paris or the Eiffel Tower, and more!
Best Luxury Hotel in Paris: Grand Hotel du Palais Royal
Feel like a royal here for much less. Starting at $370 per night in January, you’ll love the spa with a Turkish bath, fitness center, restaurant and bar for the perfect post-exploring teatime, and your own balcony. Oh, and you’ll also be steps from both the Louvre and Palais Royal.
Considering this hotel is upwards of $500+ per night during the height of summer, going in January makes this much more affordable!
Other Tips for Visiting Paris in January
- Pickpocketing and petty theft are still prevalent in the winter months. So avoid it by staying vigilant, only bringing what you’ll need for the day and keeping your passport and other credit cards stowed in the safe at your hotel, etc. I also love carrying my anti-theft cross-body bag for extra protection.
- For booking flights, I love checking Skyscanner. It combines a ton of airlines, including discount airlines to find you the best deal. So whether you’re traveling from Lisbon or San Francisco, you can find a great flight to Paris. Book your flight here:
- Trip Insurance is a great idea. We purchase World Nomads travel insurance whenever we travel internationally for those “oh crap” moments like getting something lost/stolen, sickness, etc. Check out a reasonable quote here!
A visit to Paris during the winter months, especially January, isn’t a popular thing to do for many travelers, making it the perfect opportunity to avoid crowds, enjoy a more local feel, and eat all of the French winter comfort foods you desire. If there is one time of year to definitely visit Paris, I can’t recommend January enough!
Want more? Check out these posts:
- Best Time to Visit Paris
- Paris in 4 Days Itinerary
- 1 Day in Paris Itinerary
- Perfect Loire Valley Day Trip from Paris
- Travel to Paris, France podcast episode
Would you visit Paris in January? When would you go to Paris? What is your favorite time of year for traveling? Let us know in the comments!
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