Stores show off their goods in Passage Jouffroy
Ian Packham

When should I visit Paris?

You can make a sensible case for summer being the answer to the question ‘when should I visit Paris’. After all, it has the best chance of good weather and the longest days.

But you can also say that spring is a brilliant time to visit since the city is flooded with flower blossom. And fall, when the foliage turns a multitude of oranges. And winter too, because of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Check out our seasonal breakdown to uncover when you should visit Paris, whether you’re looking for great weather, seeking out the calendar’s top events or are keen to discover the most budget-friendly time of year.

Summer

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The summer season in Paris roughly corresponds with June through to the beginning of September. Typically described as the ideal time to visit Paris, the temperatures aren’t the only thing to soar.

As the official start of the high season, so do hotel and flight costs, which are some of the highest of the year. On the plus side, July beckons in T-shirt weather, albeit with an umbrella in hand – there’s a chance of a light shower even now.

This doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of people pouring onto the Champs-Élysées for the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, marked by a grand military parade, fly past and fireworks behind the Eiffel Tower.

From then on, Parisians tend to leave the city for their summer vacations on the French coast. But you don’t have to leave the city to enjoy the coastal feel, with beaches appearing on the quais (banks) of the River Seine, concerts filling the air with music and open-air movie screenings taking over parks late into the night – usually in their original language.

It means that by August a languid air takes over Paris, with no one wanting to do anything very fast – which is just fine for anyone looking to get in the holiday mood. It makes it a wonderful time to cruise along the Seine, people watch from a café terrace or picnic in any of the 150 main parks too.

Fall

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The start of fall sees temperatures drop away a little, and rain showers become heavier than they have been. But beyond that, fall really is a great time to consider visiting the French capital.

Why? Well, it’s still warm enough in September to continue exploring the city’s parks and gardens. They begin taking on fall colors as well as being the sites of two major September events – the city-wide Fête des Jardins (Garden Festival) and the historic Fête à Neuneu funfair in the Bois de Boulogne.

The fall color is usually at its best with the arrival of October. With hotel prices falling away again and visitor numbers dropping alongside the mercury – temperatures peak at 16°C – October is another month great for avoiding the crowds.

The change in seasons is even celebrated at the Fete d'Automne, whilst the Contemporary Art Fair arrives at the Grand Palais to add to the buffet of permanent art collections, from the Musée d’Orsay to the Orangerie Museum.

The start of the low season, November sees some of the lowest visitor numbers of the year, but it’s still not a bad time to visit Paris. Come prepared for the wintery weather, and the city’s charm and authentic feel is sure to keep you as warm as the hot chocolates and the winter restaurant menus.

To brighten the days there are several public holidays and festivals to look forward to – not least the start of the Christmas period.

Winter

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By the beginning of December Christmas is in full-swing. Main avenues shine with festive lights, Christmas markets hum with the sound of Parisians enjoying each other’s company and the arrival of several ice rinks makes for one of the more unusual things to do.

Believe it or not, few travelers get to see any of this exuberant feasting. It makes a Christmas in Paris all the more special.

Kicking off with a very literal New Year bang, January is one of the cheapest months to go to Paris, with some excellent deals on hotel stays. Set firmly within the low season, the city’s major attractions are less crowded than other times of year. However, with 30 million annual visitors, there’s no month that can be described as totally crowd-free.

Wrap up well – temperatures are stable at 2 – 7°C – and you can catch the Festival of Lights at the Jardin des Plantes and an armful of bargains in the winter sales.

Although February has similar temperatures and low season prices to January, it actually has the least rainfall of any month, making it one of the best times to visit Paris on a budget. That said, Valentine’s Day sees low season prices go out of the window for anywhere with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

Spring

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Waving goodbye to winter, March sees a massive increase in the number of visitors, although accommodation prices remain good compared to the summer months.

Temperatures remain on the chilly side, with lows of 5°C and highs of around 12°C. Levels of rainfall are still very much on the low side too. Heralding the warmer months to come, it’s in March that the early spring bulbs begin to flower.

Whilst still in the shoulder period between low and high seasons, spring sees Parisians planning outdoor events with much more certainty than had been possible so far in the year. Step anywhere near the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern outskirts of the city and you’ll be enticed by the bright lights of the Foire de Trône funfair, which traces its history back to AD 957.

April usually also sees the Easter public holidays and the associated arrival of chocolate eggs in storefront windows. Meanwhile, May is another great month to visit Paris – and if the growing crowds in the Louvre are anything to go by, it’s not exactly a secret either.

One of the busiest months of the year when it comes to tourism levels, part of the reason is the ever-improving weather together with hotel prices still substantially below the high season peaks.

A further quirk of visiting Paris in May is the fact it’s technically the wettest month of the year, although there’s not a great deal of difference – just 22 mm or less than an inch – between May and February. No wonder then that May is chosen for the first rounds of the French Open, and not one, but two jazz festivals.

How to save whatever the season

Whenever you decide you should visit Paris you can save on attraction admission to many of the city’s top sights with Go City. Then check out @GoCity on Instagram and Facebook to share your vacation snaps with us!

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