Traveling to Paris in January is admittedly not an obvious choice. I know what you’re thinking – you’ve just spent a fortune on gifts, food and travel over the holiday season, plus isn’t Paris freezing at this time of year? While it’s true that you might have to bring a few extra layers on your trip, there are many benefits to traveling to such a popular destination on the off-season. If you haven’t burned through your vacation time for the year yet, consider buying a last-minute ticket and treating yourself to a week in Paris. Here are a few things to know about visiting the City of Light in the off-peak winter period.
Fewer tourists: Paris is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world, but it gets absolutely packed with tourists during the high season. In January, you’ll have the place relatively to yourself, which means less waiting in line, fewer people in museums and shops, and a more genuine Parisian experience. Seeing how the locals experience Paris is ultimately more gratifying than being wedged in between tour groups as you wander the city.
Les soldes! Beginning on January 8 and running for six weeks, shops across the city slash prices in the biannual, country-wide sales – or soldes. Find items from last season marked down to 30, 50, even 80 percent from the original price. Shop for something specific or just see what you come up with, but definitely take advantage of this much loved French shopping period.
Cheaper flights: Over the winter holiday period, airlines hike prices up to the max. By the time all the flurry of tourism dies down in January, you’ll be left with great deals and last minute tickets for a fraction of the price during the rest of the year.
Ice skate!: Until March 2, the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) sets up its annual ice skating rink. Rent a pair of skates as you sail around, showing the Parisians your best moves. The backdrop of the majestic, illuminated City Hall building will make this ordinary experience unforgettable.
Relax at a heated terrace: Sipping hot cocoa on a Parisian terrace is almost just as romantic as catching a view of the city from atop the Eiffel Tower. Paris cafes now heat their terraces, with many offering snuggly blankets for you to wrap up in while you enjoy your chocolat chaud. But for those sensitive to smoke, you may want to head inside – terraces are often enclosed by a plastic covering to keep in the heat, but they can get smoky at night.
Dress Warmly: Don’t say we didn’t warn you. January in Paris is notoriously cold. Make sure to pack a hat, gloves and scarf, and bring a pair of comfortable waterproof shoes. Paris winters tend to be rainy – and on rare occasions, snowy – and nothing ruins a day of tourism like a sopping wet boot.