Updated: January 29, 2017
When is the best time to visit Paris?
- The best months to visit Paris are May, June, September, and October when the weather is good and the crowds, hot weather, and closed shops of summer are not a problem.
- Best Time for Shopping: Sales in France are state-regulated, and retail discounts are allowed only twice yearly, during two six-week periods known simply as Les Soldes (The Sales). Winter Sales run from early January through mid-February, and the summer Sales extend from late June through July. Because discounts are rare and limited, expect Parisian shops to be extremely crowded and chaotic during these times, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Most stores are closed on Sundays. Crowds tend to lighten as the weeks go by, but so does the stock of discounted goods. Specific sales dates change by year – a quick internet search will let you know when to visit if you want to be first in line, or what dates to avoid if you prefer a quieter, less-frenzied shopping experience.
- Best Time for Museums: January and February are wonderful months for visiting Paris museums and galleries, as the midwinter dip in tourism brings shorter queues and lighter crowds. Travelers at any time of the year can save money and forego admission lines altogether by purchasing a Paris Museum Pass, which grants unlimited access to over 50 museums and monuments in and around the city. To experience the exhibits without being mobbed, consider visiting at night – most museums and galleries are open during evening hours at least once a week, and crowds tend to thin after sundown. Additionally, many museums in Paris offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month – a great deal for those wanting to see art and artifacts on the cheap, but be aware that galleries may be especially crowded on these days.
- Best Time for Flowers and Gardens: Though each year is a bit different, the gardens and parks of Paris usually see their first burst of blooms around mid to late April, when spring bulbs and trees begin to flower. There’s a bit of a lag in blooms as summer perennial beds are re-planted in late May and early June – and these are generally well established by July. Late May and early June also bring about the blooming of the famous rose gardens at Parc de Bagatelle and L’Haÿ-les-Roses. Gardens across the city will continue to be in flower throughout the summer months and into early fall. September can be a particularly wonderful time to visit Parisian gardens, when plenty of blooms remain but the summer crowds have thinned.
- Best Time for Holiday Displays: Christmas comes early to the City of Lights, with festive seasonal displays decorating the city throughout the final two months of the year. Parisian department stores unveil their spectacular windows and put up trees in early to mid-November, and the Champ Elysees is decked out for Christmas by month’s end. Most other seasonal light displays are up by the beginning of December and the marches de noel (Christmas markets) open for business around this time. Christmas displays and markets remain up and running into early January.
- Best Time for Disneyland Paris: As a rule, crowds at Disneyland will be heaviest whenever school is not in session – not only in the summer months and around Christmas, but also on weekends and during the end of October, when many European schools go on break. The best times for shorter lines and lighter crowds are midweek (Tuesday through Thursday) from mid-January through mid-March and mid-April through mid-May. Lines will be shortest in the winter months but you’ll find colder weather and some rides closed for renovation in the off-season – usually no more than 2 or 3 at a time. If you must make the trip during peak periods, your best bet is to go midweek during the February/March school break, as many French families opt for ski trips over theme parks at this time of year.
- Best time to Visit Versailles: Expect crowds at Versailles to be at their most dense during the summer months and on weekends and Tuesdays during spring and fall. During these busy times, plan to visit early in the day – the 9am-10am hour sees thinner crowds even on the most highly-attended days. Pre-purchasing your tickets (or a Paris Museum Pass) online will allow you to bypass the admission queue, though there’s no way to skip the security checkpoint. Those visitors who are particularly interested in experiencing Versailles’ spectacular gardens would do well to avoid the winter months, when the statues are covered and fountains are turned off. Versailles is closed on 1 January, 1 May, 25 December, and Mondays year-round.
- A Word about August in Paris: During the last month of the summer, Paris remains heavily touristed, but most locals have fled to the coast. As such, you may note a distinct lack of local atmosphere during this period – many smaller shops and restaurants will be closed, and most of the people you’ll meet will be tourists. Expect city streets and sidewalks to be quieter, even as the crowds at museums and monuments are at peak density. Strangely, although August marks the highest of high tourist season, hotel rates and capacities tend to drop during this month due to a lack of business travelers.
- High Season (June through mid-September, Mid-to-late December): Paris is most dense with tourists during the summer months, when the weather is balmy and kids are off school, and during the December rush of shopping and seasonal activities. Generally expect long lines at museums and monuments, peak airline prices, and hotels to be at highest occupancy during these times. (An exception to this rule is August, when a lack of business travelers to the city corresponds to lower hotel rates and higher availability.) Book flights, hotel and dinner reservations well in advance.
- Shoulder Season (April through May, mid-September through November): As one of the world’s major tourist destinations, Paris is heavily traveled year-round, and the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are no exception. These periods are your best bet, however, to find that ideal combination of pleasant sightseeing weather and slightly thinner crowds. Though rates remain high, it can be slightly easier to get hotel and dinner reservations during these times, and airfares generally fall into a more reasonable price range.
- Low Season (January through March): Paris sees a decrease in tourism during these months, when children are in school and the weather is most often chilly and damp. Those who don’t mind the drizzle can find great deals on airfare and hotel rates in the off-season, however, and will be rewarded with smaller crowds and queues at major tourist attractions.
Paris Weather by Month
Paris Temperature by Month (high in celsius)
Paris Rain by Month (mm)
- Paris Weather in January: January is the coldest month in Paris, with daytime high temperatures generally in the single digits. Clouds and rain are likely (though snow is rare), so a warm coat and waterproof shoes are essential. Days are short, with sunset around 5pm. (Average Max Temperature: 7°C. Average Precipitation: 18mm.)
- Paris Weather in February: February continues chilly and damp, with occasional bursts of rain. On dry days, you’ll want a hat and gloves for outdoor sightseeing, though it can also be a great time of year to stay warm and dry inside museums, galleries, and cafes. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Paris Weather in March: There’s a gradual warming of the air this month, but days are still more likely to be chilly than warm, and as always there’s the possibility of an occasional cloudburst. The first bulbs of spring are up and blooming by month’s end, and days are lengthening – expect the sun to set between 6:30 and 7pm. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 24mm.)
- Paris Weather in April: Springtime in Paris can be a bit of a mixed bag, weather-wise – you’re equally as likely to wake up to a cool and rainy day as a sunny and warm one. Still, the average temperature is rising to the mid-teens Celsius, days are getting longer, and trees and springtime flowers are in full bloom. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- Paris Weather in May: May in Paris generally sunny and mild, with daytime high temperatures averaging at 20°C. Around one third of this month’s days will see rain, and mornings and evenings can be chilly, so packing layers and an umbrella is still a good idea. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 26mm.)
- Paris Weather in June: Paris heats up as summer approaches, and daytime highs now generally fall in the low to mid 20’s Celsius. Warm, sunny days are the norm, but mornings, evenings, and overcast days can still be a bit cool, so it’s wise to pack light layers. Summer also brings lengthening days, with the sun setting over Paris near 10pm this month. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 24mm.)
- Paris Weather in July: July is generally very warm and sunny, with daytime high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 20s. Overcast days can feel quite a bit cooler, however. Light layers are still advised. At times, high humidity can make the warm temperatures feel quite uncomfortable – heat-sensitive travelers will want to ensure that their lodging has air conditioning. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Paris Weather in August: August continues hot and sunny, with highs in the mid-to-upper 20s and considerable humidity at times. Rain tends to be infrequent, and comes and goes in short bursts. As the heat bakes the city, locals head for the cooler coast. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 21mm.)
- September Weather in Paris: Many travelers consider September to be the ideal month for a Paris trip. Rain is infrequent, and it’s generally warm (but not too hot) with gradual cooling throughout the month. Leaves remain green and on the trees, and there are still plenty of flowers to be seen across the city. Days are shortening, with sunset around 8pm. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 16mm.)
- October Weather in Paris: Paris sees significant cooling as autumn arrives. Early October’s mild and sunny weather transitions into overcast and wet days as the month progresses. Late October tends to be cloudy and cool. Most flowers are past their peak, but autumn foliage is at its most spectacular toward the end of this month. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- November Weather in Paris: Temperatures continue to drop throughout November, with highs averaging in the low teens, and drizzly rain becoming more common. Expect and plan for cool, wet, and windy, though you may be surprised by a few days of pleasant sunshine. (Average Max Temperature: 11°C. Average Rainfall: 22mm.)
- December Weather in Paris: December is the wettest month in Paris, though it generally drizzles more than it downpours. It’s colder too, with high temperatures falling within the 5-10°C range. The sun sets around 5pm, and the short days provide ample opportunity to experience the City of Lights at its most seasonally festive. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Rainfall: 26mm.)
Paris Events and Festivals
Paris in January
- Grande Parade de Paris – Marching bands, dancers, parade floats, and clowns ring in the new year along the Champs-Elysees: from Place de la Concorde to L’Arc de Triomphe and back again. Beginning at 2pm, New Years Day.
- Festival du Merveilleux (The Festival of Marvels) – For a short time at the end of each year, the private Museum of Fairground Arts (Musée des Arts Forains) opens its doors to the public, offering a rare hands-on experience of its spectacular collection of antique carousels and amusement park rides. Held in late December through early January at the Musée des Arts Forains in Bercy, 12th Arrondissement. Reservations required.
- Ice Skating – Rinks at the Trocadero and Champs-Elysees close during the first week of January, but you can skate at the Eiffel Tower through mid-February and at the Hotel de Ville until March 1.
- Les Soldes (Winter Sales) – Bargains (and crowds) abound during this semi-annual retail sales extravaganza. At shops across Paris from early January through mid-February.
Paris in February
- Carnaval de Paris – Parisians dance away the winter blahs in this colorful parade that winds through the city from Place Gambetta to the Hotel de Ville on the first Sunday in February.
- Chinese New Year – A vibrant celebration of Paris’ French-Chinese community, with concerts, cultural events, and multiple parades across the city. (The most notable are in the Marais District, Belleville, and the 13th Arrondissement.) Dates change yearly according to the lunar calendar.
Paris in March
- Paris Fashion Week – The fashion industry caps off its global tour at the Carrousel du Louvre, where the best designers in the world show off their fall collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties. Early March.
- Carnaval de Femmes – Expect elaborate costumes, dancing, and great people watching at this annual parade-style celebration of women, started centuries ago by the laundresses along the Seine. Takes place mid-Lent, with the parade route beginning at Place du Chalet.
- The Foire de Chatou Antiques Fair – Semiannual flea-market festival in nearby Chatou, France. 35,000 visitors eat, drink, and haggle with more than 700 antiques and collectibles dealers from across France. Takes place over 12 days in mid-March.
- Cinéma du Réel – Documentary film festival showcasing over 200 films by experienced directors and first timers alike. Takes place over 10 days at the Pompidou Centre and various participating theaters across Paris in mid to late March.
- Orchestres en Fête – A 10 day national festival of classical music, with renowned orchestras performing at Théâtre du Châtelet, Cité del la Musique, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and other venues across France. Late March.
- Printemps du Cinéma – Nationwide 3 day budget film festival. Over 5,000 movie theaters across France drop admission prices to €3.50 per ticket. Late March.
- Art Paris Art Fair – The Grand Palais plays host to over 140 international galleries in this celebration of contemporary European visual art. End of March.
- Banlieues Bleues Festival – A springtime jazz festival featuring live acts from across the globe at venues across Seine-Saint-Denis, just northeast of Paris. March and April.
Paris in April
- Paris Marathon – 37,000 runners from across the globe make their way past some of Paris’ most beautiful landmarks, looping through the heart of the city from the Champs-Elysées back to the Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday in April.
- Galloping Sundays – The races at Longchamps are especially family-friendly on April Sundays, when visitors will find a carousel, treasure hunt, and pony races for kids, plus free admission for the 18-and-unders.
- Foire du Trone (Fun Fair) – The oldest fair in Paris. Eight weeks of rides, games, food and family-friendly entertainment at the Bois de Vincennes in April and May. General admission is free and you pay for each attraction.
Paris in May
- Le Printemps des Rues (Street Art Festival) – A weekend-long celebration of street performance, with dozens of singers, dancers, clowns, magicians, and puppeteers entertaining crowds along the Canal Saint Martin the 10th Arrondissement.
- The Great Paris Steeplechase – Widely considered the premier equestrian event in France, this steeplechase-style horserace is kicked off by the popular Defile des Drags, a parade of glorious horse-drawn carriages from the Arc de Triomphe down Avenue Foch. Held in mid-May at the Hippodrome d’Auteuil in the 16th Arrondissement.
- European Museum Night – Dozens of the best museums in Paris stay open until midnight, and offer special events, concerts, and children’s activities – most free of charge. Takes place on the Saturday closest to May 18th.
- We Love Green Festival – An eco-friendly celebration of rock, pop, and electronic music, along with organic food, local produce, and sustainable partying. Takes place on the last weekend of May in Paris’ beautiful Parc de Bagatelle.
- Open-Air Theater at Jardin de Shakespeare – From May through September, this romantic garden in the Bois de Boulogne plays host to a series of outdoor theatrical performances, most of them Shakespeare, many in English.
- French Open (Roland Garros) – Internationally renowned grand slam tennis tournament held on the clay courts of the Stade Roland Garros. Late May /Early June.
Paris in June
- Festival Saint Denis – An annual four-week series of classical music concerts held at the gothic Saint Denis Basilica and the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in the nearby town of Saint Denis, just north of Paris.
- Carnaval Tropical – A parade of dancing, calypso, and colorful costumes, from the Place de la Nation through the streets of the 11th arrondissement and back. Exact dates change by year.
- Paris Pride – A festive parade from the 15th Arrondissement to the Place de la Bastille culminates in a giant street party during this colorful celebration of GLBT folks and their allies. Mid-June.
- Champs-Elysées Film Festival – Annual juried film festival focusing on American independent and documentary film, as well as French and American film premieres. Takes place at theaters on the Champs-Elysées in mid-June.
- World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) – On the longest day of the year, the French celebrate music (and the making of it) with live bands and free concerts across the streets of Paris and beyond. Held on 21 June, participation encouraged.
- Chopin Festival – The Orangerie at la Parc de la Bagatelle provides a lush backdrop for this series of outdoor classical concerts, performing and honoring the work of the famous Polish composer. June/July.
- Paris Jazz Festival – Enjoy a picnic in the park while listening to world-class jazz music at this weeks-long festival at the Parc Floral de Vincennes. Concerts are free with park admission, but get there early, as these show are extremely popular. Saturdays and Sundays, Mid-June through July.
- Les Soldes (Summer Sales) – Bargains (and crowds) abound during this semi-annual retail sales extravaganza. At shops throughout Paris from mid-June through July.
Paris in July
- Bastille Day (la Fête Nationale) – Paris kicks off the French national holiday early, with music, food, drinks and dancing at the popular Fireman’s balls, held at fire stations across the city on the night of 13 July, from 9pm-4am. Celebrations on the 14th include a morning military parade down the Champs-Elysées, a free concert on the Champs-de-Mars, and fireworks off the Eiffel Tower at 11pm.
- Paris Plages – Every summer, the sea-side comes to Paris when the right banks of the Seine are transformed into a series of sandy beaches. Complete with deckchairs and umbrellas, the plages offer sunbathing, boules and sandcastle competitions, and family-friendly beach activities from mid-July through mid-August. Who needs the coast? Open daily from 9am through midnight, free.
- Tour de France – Spectators cheer as participants in the world’s most prestigious bicycle race pedal their way through the streets of Paris to the finish line on the Champs-Elysées in late July. If you want a view of the riders without the huge crowds park yourself near the Musée d’Orsay on the Left Bank.
- Cinéma en Plein Air à La Villette – Pack a picnic: it’s a month of free outdoor classic and contemporary films in the Parc de la Villette in northeast Paris, with all films shown in their original language and subtitled in French. Movies begin nightly at sundown, weather permitting. Mid-July through mid-August.
- Quartier d’Eté Festival – A month-long series of dance, music, and theatrical performances held at various indoor and outdoor venues across Paris, many of them free. Mid-July through Mid-August.
- Cinema au Clair de Lune – Free outdoor film festival held at various iconic parks and gardens across Paris. Late July through mid-August.
Paris in August
- Feast of the Assumption – Religious Parisians and pilgrims from across the globe celebrate this Catholic holy day with an evening river procession on the Seine on 14 August, followed on the morning of the 15th by a special mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame and a grand procession through the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis.
- Rock en Seine – Dozens of world-renowned acts perform across 5 stages within an historic park setting during this 3 day rock music festival at the Domaine national de Saint-Cloud, just West of Paris. Late August.
Paris in September
- Jazz à la Villette – A popular ten-day celebration of jazz and fusion music, with concerts by celebrated and up-and-coming musicians, as well as film screenings, exhibitions, master classes, and kids’ events. Held in early September in the Parc de la Villette, northeast Paris.
- Festival d’Ile de France – Throughout September, historic locations across the Ile de France play host to about 30 classical, contemporary, and world music concerts, which are supplemented by guided tours, workshops, and masterclasses.
- Le Grand Feu de Saint-Cloud – 90 minutes, 23,000 spectators, Europe’s largest and most spectacular fireworks show. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and consistently sell out. Held in mid-September at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, on the western outskirts of Paris.
- The Paris Autumn Festival (Festival d’Automne à Paris) – Multidisciplinary arts festival showcasing the latest in global theatre, music, dance, visual arts, and film. Held from mid-September through December at various venues across the city.
- Techno Parade – The streets of Paris become a giant dance club during this celebration of electronic music, with floats carrying dancers and DJs, techno music echoing off city buildings, and 350,000 revelers dancing in the streets. Held in mid-September, the parade travels north through the city from the Place de la Nation to the Place de la Bastille.
- European Heritage Days (Journees du Patrimoine) – Historic buildings, monuments, and sites that are usually not accessible to the public open their doors once a year for touring. Most sites are free, though many require advance reservations. Held on the third weekend in September at various sites across the city.
- Paris Garden Festival (Fete de Jardins a Paris) – Two-day celebration of Parisian horticulture, with guided tours, show gardens, special events and workshops, and over 150 parks and gardens open for touring – including many which are generally closed to the public. Held in late September across Paris.
- Paris Fashion Week – The fashion industry caps off its global tour at the Carrousel du Louvre, where the best designers in the world show off their spring and summer collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties. Late September/Early October.
- The Foire de Chatou Antiques Fair – Semiannual flea-market festival in nearby Chatou, France. 35,000 visitors eat, drink, and haggle with more than 700 antiques and collectibles dealers from across France. Late September/Early October.
Paris in October
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Europe’s most prestigious horse race, held on the first Sunday in October at Longchamp racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne.
- Nuit Blanche (White Night) – Museums and galleries across Paris extend their hours, and concerts, installations, and special events take place into the wee hours during this all-night-long celebration of art and culture. Held in early October across Paris.
- Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival – A popular weekend-long celebration of wine in the 18th Arrondissement, with a street parade, fireworks, concerts, dances, and guided tours of the Montmartre vineyards. Early October.
- La Semaine Du Gout (Tasting Week) – Many of Paris’ best restaurants offer specially priced menus or two-for-one offers during this nationwide culinary celebration. Mid-October.
- International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) – Thousands of artists from around the world display their work within the stunning backdrops of the Grand Palais and Cité de la Mode et du Design. Late October.
- Pitchfork Music Festival – Three days of international indie music shows at the Grande Halle de la Villette in northeast Paris. Late October.
Paris in November
- ATP World Master’s Tour 1000 – The tennis world converges on Paris for the final event of the international men’s tennis season. Held at the Palais Omnisports in Bercy in early November.
- Armistice Day – On this anniversary of the end of the First World War, France’s fallen and wounded soldiers are honored in a sober ceremony and vigil on the Champs-Elysées. 11 November, 9am.
- Paris Photo – International art fair, showcasing 19th century and contemporary photographic works from more than 100 exhibitors at the Grand Palais. Mid-November.
- Africolor Music Festival – A music festival showcasing the work of African and Caribbean artists through a series of concerts, workshops, and master classes. Held in mid-November through late December in various venues across Paris.
- Ice Skating at the Champs-Elysées – A sure sign that winter is approaching, this iconic rink next to Place de la Concorde on the Champs-Elysées opens in mid-November.
- Seasonal Decorations and Displays – Paris’ Christmas lights and department store window displays begin to make an appearance around mid-November, and are generally kept up through early January.
Paris in December
- Ice Skating – The rink at the Champs-Elysées is open throughout December. The elevated rink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower generally opens in early December, and those at the Hotel de Ville and Trocadero pop up around mid-Month.
- Seasonal Decorations and Displays – Christmas lights and spectacular department store window displays create a festive seasonal atmosphere across all of Paris’ 18 Arrondissements. Must-see displays include the lights along the Champs-Elysées and Avenue Montaigne, the windows at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and the traditional village charm of Montmartre.
- Marches de Noel (Christmas Markets) – You’ll find gift items galore, as well as snacks, hot cocoa, and mulled wine, at Paris’ seasonal markets, generally going up during the first weekend of December. Notable markets include those at the Champs-Elysées, Trocadero, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montparnasse Tower, and Montmartre.
- Paris Courts Devant – Annual festival of short film, showcasing works from international renowned and up-and-coming directors. Held in mid-December at venues across the Montmartre District.
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Fireworks displays at the Eiffel Tower are only held on certain years, but you can always join the reveling hordes at the Champs-Elysées, as they ring in the New Year by watching the show over the Arc de Triomphe.