Are you planning to visit Paris in December? For many, traveling to Paris is a bucket list item.
But due to its popularity being in the top three list of most visited cities in the world, it can get quite crowded and can be an expensive place to visit.
Traveling to Paris in December is a better option if you want to avoid the peak season crowds and experience something truly unique during the holiday season!
So, what can you expect from Paris when visiting in December?
First, we can start with the obvious–the weather (much like the rest of Europe) is brisk and cold in Paris during December. But don’t let that deter you from visiting! There’s still a ton of cool stuff that happens in the winter season!
In December, you’ll see many Christmas festivals, shows, and displays in Paris to keep you busy for days. And perhaps the best reason to travel to Paris in December is to visit the city at a quieter time when there aren’t so many crowds.
If you still haven’t jumped ship from your decision to visit in December, keep reading and allow me to try and convince you of why December is still a magical time to visit the magical city of Paris!
To help you prepare for a December trip to Paris, we’ll dive more into the weather conditions, things to do, and annual events in Paris in December.
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What Can You Expect From Paris In December?
Paris is a beautiful city, and while most tourists flock to Paris to enjoy the spring and summer months, some prefer the quiet and tranquility of visiting the French capital in winter. Visiting Paris in December has several advantages, from fewer crowds to cheaper accommodation/flights.
But if you aren’t a fan of the cold, Paris in December will not be the greatest experience for you.
In addition, Paris does tend to attract many people from the middle of December to the end of the year. While the crowds at this time aren’t as many as in summer, they can make visiting tourist attractions a bit more time-consuming.
The beginning of the month is considered low season in Paris, with better prices in transportation and accommodation, while the latter half of the month (especially Christmas week) is considered high season.
Overall, if you don’t mind the cold and can manage your way around some tourists, Paris is a beautiful place in December. So, here is everything you can expect from Paris when visiting in December, during one of the coldest months of the year.
How Is The Weather In Paris In December?
- Temperature Lows: 37° F | 3° C
- Temperature Highs: 46° F | 8° C
- Average Temperature: 41° F | 5° C
You can expect cold, brisk weather in Paris in December. The average temperature hovers around 41° F (5° C). This is quite cold and will be an adjustment for anyone coming from more moderate temperatures.
Fortunately, most malls, hotels, and cafés in Paris have indoor heating, meaning that you won’t be freezing while inside. In fact, it can get quite warm indoors when the heaters are on, so you can rest assured you won’t need to stay bundled up all day in your winter coats and scarves.
Snow in Paris in December is rare. Historically, there have been an average of 1.8 snowfall days in December. If snow does happen to fall, it tends to melt in a matter of minutes, thanks to the city’s above-freezing temperatures.
What you are likely to experience are cloudy days and regular rainfall.
We recommend bringing comfortable water-resistant boots, sweaters, and thermals if you intend to spend a lot of time outdoors. Paris is a cold place during December, but the scenery is worth braving the cold for.
Is Paris A Good Destination To Visit In December?
There are many advantages to visiting Paris in December.
First, Paris sees fewer crowds in December compared to the summer months of June and July. While more people are coming to Paris at Christmas time, you shouldn’t have a problem getting a reservation at a restaurant or visiting some of the top tourist attractions.
In addition to dealing with fewer crowds, you can also expect to find more affordable accommodation options during December in Paris. Hotel prices will increase the closer it gets to Christmas and New Year, but they still won’t be as high as they are in the peak season.
Furthermore, there are plenty of sightseeing activities in Paris in December. You won’t have to wait in as long of lines as you would in June or July, and the top tourist attractions won’t be as busy in December. You can therefore have a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
Let’s also not forget about the many Christmas markets available in Paris in December! If you’ve never been to Europe during the holiday season, you can’t miss this opportunity!
Overall, we’d say December is an excellent time to visit Paris if you aren’t intent on seeing Paris in spring or summer. The scenery is just as pristine, and you’ll enjoy more of the peaceful side of Paris.
What Can You Do In Paris In December?
There’s a lot to see and do in Paris in December.
See Paris’ World-Famous Attractions
First, you can visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and many of the smaller museums and art galleries in Paris during this time. You can also enjoy all the usual cafés, street performers, and music shows in Paris as you would any other time.
Don’t forget to visit the Eiffel tower at night for the light show. It’s just as spectacular in the winter months as it is in the warmer months.
Despite fewer crowds in December, it still makes sense to book tickets for Paris’ most popular attractions ahead of time. Here are the ones you’ll want to book in advance:
- The Eiffel Tower
- The Louvre Museum
- Palace of Versailles
- The Catacombs of Paris
- Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Dinner Cruise
- Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show & Dinner – includes Christmas dates!
- Disneyland Paris
Holiday Lights and Decorations
You can also see Paris’s many holiday lights and decorations for Christmas. A very notable one is the Galeries Lafayette Christmas Tree–an honored tradition at Galeries Lafayette since 1976!
In addition, you’ll have the unique opportunity to go ice skating in the city and visit one of the Christmas villages set up across Paris in December.
There are also many Christmas and holiday markets all around Paris where you can find unique trinkets, souvenirs, and Christmas gifts to bring home.
Each year, you can expect about 15 to 20 different Christmas markets to appear across the city of Paris. And that’s not counting the shorter-lived pop-up markets that exist for a few days, or the small neighborhood holiday markets offering specialty foods and small gifts that appear seemingly randomly each year!
Traditionally, these must-see markets start popping up about 4 weeks before Christmas. As such, you can expect to see these holiday markets from mid-November to mid-December. Here are a few major ones to check out:
- The Magic of Christmas: La Magie de Noël at Tuileries Garden – endless market stalls, huge Ferris wheel, carnival rides, ice skating rink, Champagne bar, hot soup and mulled wine stands, and more. (Located at Jardin des Tuileries)
- Marché de Noel Notre Dame – expect high-quality artisan crafts made in France, fancy gourmet foods, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, musicians, and more. (Located at René-Viviani Sqaure on Quai Montebello)
- Eiffel Tower Christmas Market – shopping underneath the Eiffel tower, skating rink, free performances, French traditional products. (Located at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, Parc du Champ-de-Mars)
New Year’s Eve Events
Finally, you can even spend New Year’s Eve in Paris, where you will enjoy fantastic light shows and enjoy some local Parisian New Year’s Eve traditions and celebrations.
Then there are the lovely concerts at La Sainte-Chapelle for all the classical music fans out there.
Visit Alsace’s Christmas Markets
If you are interested in visiting the famous Christmas markets in the Alsace region, you’ll want to book your train tickets and accommodations as soon as possible! Strasbourg, Colmar, and the other Alsatian villages are easy to get to from Paris and are very popular destinations for travelers visiting Paris in December.
Ultimately, the biggest benefit of visiting in December is that, in addition to seeing all the usual sights Paris has to offer, you can also enjoy some of the more unique holiday displays and traditions of the French!
Are There Any Annual Events In Paris In December?
During this time of year, the biggest draw to Paris is the annual Christmas markets and holiday decorations! If you like lights, they do it big in Paris.
And as you can expect, many Christmas and New Year’s concerts and events are held annually in and around Paris.
For example, Saint Eustache Church, Saint Sulpice Church, and Madaleine Church all have annual Christmas concerts. You can also see the Nutcracker performed in many theaters across Paris, including the Champs Elysees Theater.
Furthermore, there are various annual New Year’s Eve concerts taking place around the city, so you’re sure to have an event-filled trip to this city.
While there aren’t any annual fashion shows or art exhibitions in Paris in December, there are enough holiday-themed events to make anyone feel like they are in a Christmas movie!
Of course, Paris isn’t without fashion, music, and culture. Therefore, you’re sure to spot some pop-up exhibitions and fashion shows if you pay attention. Paris is a dream destination for anyone who loves the holiday season, and you’ll likely want to make it your annual Christmas spot after experiencing it once!
What to Wear in Paris in December
The key to staying warm in Paris in December is to get yourself a warm winter parka or jacket. I am someone that tends to run cold as it is, and I’m usually able to stay pretty warm when I wear a high-quality down jacket.
If you need recommendations, below are my favorite tried and true options (they’re all meant to keep you warm and shed rain/snow):
- REI Co-op Norseland Insulated Parka – Women’s
- Patagonia Down With It Parka – Women’s
- Columbia South Canyon Down Parka – Men’s
- Fjallraven Skogso Padded Insulated Jacket – Men’s
Under your winter jacket, you’re going to want to dress in layers as opposed to just throwing on one big clunky sweater. This is because once you head indoors, it can get quite warm with all the heaters blasting at you.
You should at least have a thin shirt or thermal under the sweater in case you need to remove your sweater while indoors!
December weather in Paris also calls for the following:
- a pair of comfortable and waterproof walking shoes
- for both guys and gals, I’d highly recommend getting a pair of Blundstone boots!
- warm winter socks
- packable umbrella
- hand warmers – there are now rechargeable hand warmers, even better for the environment!
Ultimately, you should check the weather forecast right before your trip (for both the temperature and the chance of rain) and revise your packing list as needed.
How Much Cheaper Are Paris Hotels In Winter vs. Summer?
Paris is infamous for being a very expensive city to visit. But there’s actually good news here if you’re considering a trip to Paris in December!
You can find really great deals on accommodations and flights to Paris in the low season. In many cases, you’ll be paying a small fraction of what they’d cost in the high-season summer months.
For example, in spot-checking a few hotels and comparing their prices in December vs in June, I found that June room rates were at least 43% more expensive than in December. Here are some figures to illustrate my point:
|Hotel Name||Dec: Price/ night||June: Price/night||% more (in June)|
|Hôtel Le Relais des Halles||$230||$390||69%|
|The People Hostel Paris Belleville||$31||$58||87%|
And that’s just the hotels! Chances are, you’ll be able to save even more on the flight when traveling in the winter vs. trying to snag an overpriced summer flight.
The Bottom Line: Is December A Good Time To Go To Paris?
Paris is wonderful in December. Although most tourists visit Paris in spring and summer, the city adopts a different kind of charm in the winter. Therefore, visiting Paris in December is an excellent option if you want to avoid the huge summer crowds and enjoy everything Paris has to offer.
There are many excellent reasons to visit Paris in December, including the beautiful scenery, plentiful Christmas markets, and fewer crowds competing for the same view of the Eiffel tower.
Although the weather is less pleasant in December compared to other warmer seasons, Paris has enough attractions and events to more than make up for the chillier weather.
Closer to Christmas, more people enter Paris to see the Christmas markets, visit Santa’s village, and attend the Christmas concerts held around the city. If you’re contemplating a trip to Paris in December, you really won’t want to miss this.
Overall, despite the cooler weather conditions, December is an excellent time to see Paris!
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