Whether you’re in search of some hidden history or you’re simply looking for a quiet place to enjoy a romantic dinner, there’s no shortage of beautiful, quirky, and unusual things to do in Paris come the first month of the year. Here’s your complete guide to Paris in January!
Why you must visit Paris in January
Whether you want to avoid the crowds that inevitably flock to the city over the Christmas period, or you’re simply looking to take a romantic weekend break somewhere in Europe, there are plenty of reasons to visit Paris in January.
Some Christmas markets remain open a few days into the New Year, while hotel and flight prices are amongst some of the lowest you’ll find in the entire year. Amongst other things, there’s also no better time to get acquainted with Paris’ coffee culture and indulge in a chocolat chaud (or two!)
Paris weather in January
There’s no getting around the fact that January is the wettest and coldest month of the year. Although the days are starting to get longer and spring will soon be on the horizon, the weather remains quite dreary and rain is common. Average temperatures range between 2 degrees and 6 degrees Celsius.
What to wear in Paris in January
The most important thing to bear in mind when packing for a winter visit to Paris is that January is often the coldest and wettest month of the year. This means that you’ll want to pack a good umbrella, warm jacket, and several pairs of waterproof shoes (I find that even the most ‘waterproof’ of shoes never turn out to work that well!)
You’ll also want a hat, gloves, and a scarf. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time indoors (and I’m guessing you will be doing so if you don’t want to get too cold) then be sure to wear layers. This way you’ll remain toasty while wandering around outside, but not overheat in places like the metro!
What to do in Paris in January
Enjoy the winter sales: Though things have started to change in the past few days (with ‘mid-season offers’ and the like becoming the norm), January is traditionally, and legally, one of only two periods of the year when store’s offer January sales. This means some great discounts in many of the large department stores, as well as smaller boutiques.
Go ice skating: While many of the ice skating rinks are set up in time for the Christmas Markets in Paris, many stay set up well into January. Notable locations include along the Champ de Mars and at the Grand Palais. If you’re looking for the perfect day trip from the city, then you may well want to book a visit to the medieval city of Provins, where you’ll also find an ice skating rink.
Paris fashion week: Held from the 15 January – 24 January, PFW is a staple in many editors’, bloggers’, and writers’ calendars. While the shows are, for the most part, invite-only, parts of the city turn into a catwalk of sorts, with many people congregating in the Jardin des Tuileries and close to the Carrousel du Louvre.
Sample some local French delicacies: When it comes to visiting Paris in January, the bad weather provides the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to some typically French sweets. While many of the cafés in the city continue serving vin chaud (check out my Christmas mulled wine recipe here), you should also be sure to sample Angelina’s hot chocolate if you haven’t already. Other French traditional foods include the Galette des Rois for Epiphany.
Discover the Hidden Passages of Paris
Throughout the city, there’s a network of covered shopping arcades known collectively as the Passages couverts de Paris. These passageways date back mostly to the beginning of the 19th-century and while there were once around a hundred and fifty of them, today only a handful survive. Come January in Paris, the cold and wet weather provides the perfect opportunity to duck indoors and see what these historic quirks have to offer:
Galerie Vivienne: Constructed in 1823 and close to the Jardin des Tuileries, this covered passage features amenities like bookshops, eateries, and even wine cellars.
Passage des Panoramas: By far my favourite covered passage in Paris is that of the Panoramas. The oldest of the passages couverts is situated in the 2nd arrondissement of the city and is home to many boutiques and eateries. Head to Prins Patrick if you want to pick up some authentic vintage postcards for a great price.
Passage du Grand Cerf: If you’re looking for one of the most Instagrammable spots in Paris, then Passage du Grand Cerf is all Haussmannian style architecture and pretty shop fronts. Located in the 2nd arrondissement of the city, the passage is named for the for the wooden ‘cerf’ (stag’s head) hanging in the alleyway.
My favourite date night bistros in Paris
Le Bistrot d’Henri (16 Rue Princesse, 75006 Paris, France): If I were to recommend just one date night location in Paris, it would be Le Bistrot d’Henri. Located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, in the ever-so-chic Saint-Germain-des-Pres, this tiny restaurant serves authentic French food in the smallest bistro you’ve likely ever visited.
Le Refuge des Fondus (17 Rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris, France): Hidden in the heart of Montmartre, this hole in the wall restaurant has just a few long tables and only two options on the menu: meat or vegetables served with fondue. And when it comes to the drinks list, the options are fairly easy to choose from: red or white wine!
Hank Burger (55 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris, France): If you’re a veggie or vegan and are looking to find the ultimate meat-free burger, then you need to look no further than HANK vegan burger. Located in the heart of Le Marais, not far from