Last Updated on 2nd March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau
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, including insider tips to know before your visit!
Please note that Monday the 1st of January is a public holiday. New Year’s Day is not really celebrated with any specific events. However, during this public holiday, most shops will be closed, and the supermarkets which are open will operate at reduced hours.
- Why you must visit Paris in January
- Paris weather in January
- What to wear in Paris in January
- What to do in Paris in January
- Enjoy the winter sales
- Frequent a museum (or two)
- Go ice skating
- Visit the Christmas Markets
- Paris fashion week
- Sample some local French delicacies
- Take a macaron cooking class
- Enjoy Paris cocktail week
- Discover the Hidden Passages of Paris
- Galerie Vivienne
- Passage des Panoramas
- Passage du Grand Cerf
- Enjoy a Seine River Dinner Cruise
- My favourite date night bistros in Paris
- Where to stay in Paris in January
- What to wear when exploring Europe
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Why you must visit Paris in January
If you’re pondering the question: ‘Is January a good time to visit Paris,’ then it’s worth noting that the answer is entirely dependant on what you wish to get out of you visit! After all, the weather is much colder than the rest of the city, meaning fewer crowds than at any other time of the year.
As such, 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 (this vegan one is warm and cosy), 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! I particularly love the dresses from this brand.
Though most people (especially those working in the tourist industry) speak a good level of English, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language, which in this case is French. Bring along a French phrasebook like this one to help you get by. Next, you’ll want to bring along a travel adapter like this one to keep your electronics charged on the go.
As well as layers, you’ll want to bring along a crossbody bag like these ones. After all, backpacks leave you at risk of pickpockets and crossbody bags are ever-so-useful for carrying all the essentials. Finally, you’ll want to bring along a camera… It is Paris, after all!
What to do in Paris in January
Enjoy the winter sales
Though things have started to change in the past few years (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. Typically, the January ‘soldes’ begin during the second week of January and last for two to three weeks. The dates are regulated by the French government.
In 2024, ‘Les soldes d’hiver’ (winter sales) will take place from Wednesday the 10th January until Tuesday 6th February. For an even more luxurious shopping experience, consider heading to La Vallée Village shopping outlet on a day trip from Paris.
Frequent a museum (or two)
Due to fewer crowds than the rest of the year, there’s perhaps no better time to soak up a little Parisian culture than during January, when most museums are emptier than other times of the year.
And between the grand and imposing Louvre to the smallest of off the beaten path museums such as the Musée de la Vie Romantique, there’s a museum for everyone!
With this being said, I still highly recommend booking a skip-the-line ticket in advance if you’re planning to visit the Palace of Versailles or the Louvre Museum. Purchase your Louvre Museum ticket here and purchase your Palace of Versailles ticket here.
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.
Visit the Christmas Markets
While Christmas Markets are obviously more of a December activity, it’s worth noting that a number of the largest and most popular Christmas Markets in Paris remain open into the first few days of January.
Paris fashion week
Paris fashion week is often shortened to ‘PFW’ and 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.
During this time, be sure to reserve top restaurants in advance as they are more popular and can often be booked up fast. Check this website to learn more about PFW, the dates, and the events surrounding it.
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.
Take a macaron cooking class
It may surprise you, but the top selling cookie in France is actually the macaron! And when the days are still drawing in early and the weather isn’t particularly great, then a great way to spend an afternoon is to take a Paris cooking class like this one.
Enjoy Paris cocktail week
Taking place over the course of nine days, over fifty bars and restaurants in Paris are taking part in the annual event known as ‘Shake Cocktail’, which is otherwise known as Paris cocktail week.
There are alcoholic and non alcoholic options available and the event sees classes across the city, as well as special cocktail menus. For more information about Paris cocktail week, check the official website.
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:
Constructed in 1823 and close to the Jardin des Tuileries, the covered passage of Galerie Vivienne features amenities like bookshops, eateries, and even wine cellars. Nearby, an early year stroll through the Palais-Royal is always ever so magical and you’ll surely want to bring your camera along!
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.
Enjoy a Seine River Dinner Cruise
There are several options available, including this Early Evening Dinner Cruise on the River Seine. Finally, for those with time constraints who wish to simply see the sights of Paris on the water, this 1-Hour Illuminations River Cruise is short and sweet!
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 neighbourhood of the city, 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! The door handle of Le Refuge des Fondus is even in the shape of a baby bottle!
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 some of the prettiest cobbled lanes and vintage shops in the city, the chain also now has HANK pizza, a fully vegan pizzeria.
Where to stay in Paris in January
With such cold (and often rainy- check here for how to spend a rainy day in Paris) weather outside, there’s perhaps no better excuse than to cosy up in a wonderful hotel with chic decor and beautiful surroundings. Here are some of my personal recommendations for where to stay in the city;
Luxury experience: The Hoxton: For those who are looking for the ultimate luxury experience when staying in Paris, The Hoxton has it all. Charm and several beautiful communal guest spaces including a stunning bar and restaurant, other highlights of the hotel include breakfast options, WiFi, and room service. Check prices and availability here.
Mid-range boutique stay: Hôtel Fabric: As you might gather from its name, Hôtel Fabric is set against the backdrop of a former textile factory and simply oozes charm. Beautiful and with friendly staff, this four-star hotel is welcoming and is located just a fifteen-minute walk away from Le Marais area of the city. Check prices and availability here.
Affordable chic: Hôtel Chopin: Located within one of the covered passages of Paris, in the 9th arrondissement, and close to all the action (the nearby Grands Boulevards are full of bars and restaurants), Hôtel Chopin is a small hotel offering affordable rooms. Amenities include a restaurant and spa on site. Check prices and availability here.
Budget hostel: Generator Hostel: Those in search of an affordable option, Paris has a number of hostels which are fairly conveniently located. This hostel is situated close to the lively area of Canal Saint Martin and offers mixed-sex and female-only dorms. Check prices and availability here.
What to wear when exploring Europe
In the summer, you can’t go wrong by pairing a cute midi dress with classic white tennis shoes for a laid-back smart casual look that’s just as chic for walking around a city’s cobbled lanes as it is for wandering coastal paths. I love this dress and have it in several colour ways. In terms of tennis shoes, this is my go-to shoe.
When it comes to winter in Europe, most places (with the exception of a few islands) can get pretty cold and so warm layers is a must. I find that cute ankle boots like these ones are the perfect mix of practical meets cute.
Shoulder seasons (spring and summer) in Europe tend to come with a mix of rainy and sunny days and so, again, layers are a must. Trench coats and sneakers are the best uniform to explore the continent in.
Finally, a cross-body bag like these ones is a must. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility. As well as being convenient and compact, it’s one of the safest ways to transport your valuables, all the while looking chic. I also recommend bringing along a travel adapter like this one so you can charge all of your electronics during your stay!
Enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Paris in January? Pin it now, read it again later:
Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently splits her time between Paris and London. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.
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