When is the best time to visit Paris?

Hayley Bosch

With an endless list of attractions, Paris is exciting year-round. Of course, the best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. In the mild winter, you’ll find picturesque ice skating rinks scattered throughout the city — there’s even one on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. The shops and bistros are festively decorated with lights and garland, bringing a whole new meaning to the moniker “City of Light.” And the weather isn’t so bad either: temperatures hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter.
While spring brings lots of rain, summer is beautiful. Days are in the high 70s and the sun doesn’t set until nearly 10 p.m. each night. The numerous gardens are in bloom, and streets are filled with tourists. It’s easy to see why Paris is such a romantic city — no matter the time of year.

  • On July 2, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best neighborhood restaurants in Paris?

    I love living in Montmartre for the abundance of little neighborhood restaurants. For example, rue Caulaincourt is full of restaurants, like Piazzitalia for some amazing Sicilian pizza, or further up the street, La Pizzetta for some more gourmet pizza and a really nice atmosphere. I love Au Rêve for their Tuesday night €5 dinner, made fresh according to whatever ingredients the Chef found at the market that day. 

    Also on rue Caulaincourt is a cute restaurant called Les Novices, where items like risotto and scallops are affordable and delcious. And just around the corner is Marcel, located on the most beautiful street in Paris- Avenue Junot. This tree-lined, cobblestone street is so picturesque, you can't help but fall in love with Paris while walking here. 

    Two of my all time favorite Paris restaurants happen to also be located in my neighborhood- La Rallonge and La Table d'Eugene. These two spots are owned by the same family and are located next door to eachother near the town hall of the 18th arrondissement. Serving entirely different menus, La Rallonge offers incredible tapas to share in a bustling atmosphere and mostly bar seating, whereas La Table d'Eugene is much more upscale offering a daily set menu as well as a la carte dishes for a traditional three-course meal. At either of these places, you must try the truffle rissotto made with little pastas and a creamy truffle sauce- it's to die for! 

    (Featured in the image is another one of my neighborhood favorites for Brunch or a Summer dinner in the garden, Hotel Particulier)
  • On July 2, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What restaurants have the best views in Paris?

    1. Georges: Situated atop the Georges Pompidou modern art museum, this restaurant offers diners a panoramic view above Paris. Open for lunch or dinner, both those seated inside the contemporary restaurant and those on the huge rooftop terrace are privy to a view unlike any other. Looking over the Seine, Notre Dame, the Opera, and many other monuments in every direction, Georges definitely has one of the best views of the city.

    2. Nüba: The newest restaurant to grace the trendy lifestyle epicenter of Paris, known wholy as Wanderlust to most but technically named Les Docks, is Nüba. Nüba is a tri-cuisine restaurant featuring flavours from Sweden, France, and Japan. With a large rooftop terrace and views across the Seine, this restuarant is like a floating paradise. While you may not see typical monuments like the Eiffel Tower from up here, the sunsets along the water and the modern architecture of the restuarant are pretty amazing themselves. 

    3. Printemps: From the rooftop of Printemps, you can enjoy a sandwich and a view all while soaking up some sun. On the 9th floor of the Beauté & Maison building is the Deli-Ciel Café (Sky Deli Cafe) named for its location perched above the rooftops of Paris. What I love about this view is that the Haussmannian architecture and city planning is so evident when you're at this level that you'll come to a whole new understanding of the city.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best boutique hotels in Paris?

    Paris is home to hundreds of hotels, some large luxury hotels and others quaint boutique hotels. Some of my favorites, where I suggest my friends and family to stay, are:

    1. Le Relais Christine- this charming hotel is in Saint Germain, on the left bank, and has just a handful of rooms. Each room and suite at this hotel offers a home-like feel and all of the necessary amenities with a twist of luxury. Several of the rooms also open onto a private garden, a rarity in Paris, where guests are welcome to have breakfast or a pre-dinner glass of wine while enjoying the calm. The hotel also has a small spa and a cosy bar. 

    3 Rue Christine, 75006 Paris

    2. Hotel Arvor- I love this hotel for its location and its warm design. The interior is a mix between modern and vintage, giving it a artsy feel that makes you feel at home. The rooms are laid out like apartments throughout the building and are a great deal for the quality. They have a little restaurant downstairs for breakfast, and it's located just next to Saint Georges, a gorgeous area of Paris in the 9th arrondissement. 

    8 Rue Laferrière, 75009 Paris

    3. Hotel Paradis- This hotel was just recently re-designed by renowned interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon who also designed the bars and restaurants of the Experimental Cocktail Group in Paris. The 38 rooms in the hotel are modern and inviting, and the hotel is located not far from the major department stores, the opera, and the Folies Bergere. 

    41 rue des petites ecuries, 75010 Paris

    4. Hotel Jules & Jim- A boutique hotel hidden on a little street in the Marais, the Jules & Jim is not only a hotel but also an art gallery. The cool blend of the loft-like design, the old stone walls and modern furnishings makes for a typically Marias atmosphere- cool but not pretentious. Their barman is there every night mixing up specialty cocktails and serving glasses of Moet & Chandon for guests and locals alike. The hotel also has rotating art exhibitions and movie screenings in their on-site theater room. Other exceptional services at the Hotel Jules & Jim are private Champagne cruises on the Seine and rides around Paris in a vintage DS!

    11, rue des gravilliers – 75003 Paris
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  • On June 25, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best free museums in Paris?

    Paris is known for its abundance of cultural activities, including museums and national monuments. If you happen to be visiting Paris on the first Sunday of any month, then all of these places are free! Also, it's important to know that if you are under 26 years old then many museums are also free for you with a student ID or your EU passport. 

    Other museums around Paris that are always free are : 

    1. Musée de la Vie Romantique : this quaint and romantic museum in the heart of the Northern 9th arrondissement (on your way up to Montmartre) is free for visitors Tuesday-Sunday while temporary exhibitions are just €3.50. Here, you'll find a paved path leading into a vine-covered courtyard and a museum full of literature, sculptures and paintings from the French romanticism movement. 

    16 Rue Chaptal
    Metro: Pigalle, Blanche

    2. Le Petit Palais : Free for the public from Tuesday-Sunday. You have probably passed this building if you've ever walked across Paris' most elaborate bridge, Pont Alexandre III, heading to the Grand Palais. Located just across the street from the Grand Palais is the Petit Palais, built for the World's Fair in 1900 and now a museum housing several different types of art. From Renaissance and Medieval paintings to a collection of 18th century furniture, you'll find some of France's most acclaimed artists' (Gustave Courbet, Eugene Delacrois, Jean Ingres, etc.) works here. And there definitely isn't a line like at the Louvre!

    Avenue Winston Churchill
    Metro: Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau

    3. Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris : The modern art museum of Paris is free to the public from Tuesday to Sunday. Located in the East Wing of the well-known Palais de Tokyo, the museum houses more than 8,000 works from European and international art scenes of the 20th century. 

    11 Avenue du Président Wilson
    Metro: Alma – Marceau, Iéna

    4. Musée Carnavalet : Open Tuesday-Sunday, this is the museum of the history of Paris located in the Marais. The gorgeous gardens in the courtyard are worth a visit themselves, as is their permanent collection of drawings, photographs, paintings and more, following the transformation of the Village of Lutece and the Parisii Tribes to the City of Light we know today. 

    23 rue de Sévigné
    Metro: Saint-Paul
  • On June 25, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What is nightlife like in Paris?

    Nightlife in Paris is unique. Depending on what you're looking for in your after-hours activities, Paris definitely has something to meet your needs. The way Paris is separated actually dictates what kind of nightlife happens in which neighborhood. For example, if you're looking for the underground music or hipster bar scene, head to the East side of town for music venues like Nouveau Casino and Le Bataclan, and bars like Alimentation Generale and Chez Josephine. Chez Josephine is a new concept bar in Paris, blending equal parts wine bar, artisanal cocktail bar and tattoo parlor into a swanky 20s inspired atmosphere. 

    Nightlife on the West side of Paris is much less underground, as it's where you'll find some of the classic night clubs like Queen and Showcase. At these spots, expect the typical scene of bouncers, bottles and cover charges. 

    Overall, Parisian nightlife ends around 2am, but there are a few places that stay open until 4 or 5am, like Le Carmen, a bar-meets-night-club inside the gorgeous old 9th arrondissement mansion of Georges le Bizet who composed the famous opera Le Carmen in the 19th century. 

    The calmer side of Parisian nightlife can be found in the many classic bars around the city, often characterized by their wooden bar, beers on tap and terraces full of Parisians no matter what the season. Around Abbesses in Montmartre you'll find several of these types of places, one of the best being Chez Camille. Here, nightly cocktail specials and pints of beer during happy hour won't run more than 5 euros, and they also offer a cheese or charcuterie plate. Chez Camille also has one of the best views in Paris from the hill of Montmartre. 

    If you're a 20-something studying abroad in Paris, you'll probably find yourself going out on rue Princesse in Saint-Germain. Here, pints are upwards of 8 euros and the parties goes late into the night.

    No matter what your age, if you're into the speakeasy scene, there are some great spots in Paris to spend a night sipping craft cocktails and enjoying the music, like at Le Ballroom, one of the 6 bars in Paris by the Experimental Cocktail Group. 

    Bar trends in Paris are abundant, and currently the tiki bar is on the rise with the opening of the Pigalle spot The Dirty Dick and the lesser-known Canal Saint Martin bar The Tiki Lounge. 

    My suggestion for hitting the town is to pick one area and stick to it for the night. Grabbing a cab after midnight is tricky (unless of course you have your Uber driver on call!), and the metro closes on week nights around 12:30am and weekends around 1:30am, so bar hopping in the same neighborhood is generally the easiest way to ensure you won't waste precious time getting from one place to the next.
  • On June 25, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best day trips near Paris?

    One of the best parts about visiting Paris is that it is so close to several of France's most beautiful chateaus and quaint village towns. If you are interested in taking a day trip to a chateau, there are three quite close to Paris.

    First, of course, is Versailles, the palace of Louis XIV. Built in the 17th century, this chateau is by far one of the most visited in the world. With Marie Antoinettes private house, the sprawling gardens, impressive fountains and light shows during the summertime, there is plenty to see while visiting the chateau grounds. The town of Versailles is quite nice as well, especially on the weekends when the outdoor market takes place just next to the chateau. 

    Two other chateaus you can easily access for a day trip from Paris are the Chateau de Chantilly and the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte. The Chateau de Chantilly was originally built in the 16th century and was then destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the late 19th century. The chateau itself is impressive, but perhaps moreso are the grounds surrounding the chateau. The acres and acres of forest are littered with chapels, ponds, rivers and grassy areas where the royals' friends or family members would stay. Chantilly is also known for its equestrian culture. The chic event every spring and summer are the horse races, which take place each weekend. 

    The Chateau Vaux le Vicomte was built for the financial superintendant of King Louis XIV in 1661 architect Louis Le Vau. This impressive abode is located just 55 km southeast of Paris, and was built on an elevation surrounded by a garden created by famed French landscape architect André le Nôtre. The interior of the chateau was painted by Charles Le Brun, which marked the beginning of the Louis XIV style combining art, architecture and landscape design. 

  • On May 31, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best fine jewelry stores in Paris?

    Paris is a great city to shop for fine jewelry, as several of the world's most prominent jewelry houses were founded here. Head to the 1st arrondissement to find some of the best jewelry shopping in the city.

    Down rue de la Paix you'll find stores full of diamonds and other precious gems, like Burma, Van Cleef & Arpels, Mellerio Dits Meller, and more, until you arrive at la Place Vendôme, where you'll find the flagship stores of some of the biggest jewelry houses in the world- the new Louis Vuitton fine jewelry boutique, Cartier, Jaeger le Coultre, Van Cleef & Arpels original flagship and jewelry making school, Boucheron, Chaumet, and also a Chanel fine jewelry boutique.

    Hidden off of the Place is a custom jewelry maker who services only the creme de la creme when it comes to clients. JAR, named after its founder and designer, Joel Arthur Rosenthal, has a very discrete boutique open only by appointment. When you arrive at JAR, you can request access by pushing the rose in the wall under the archway leading off the Place de Vendôme. It's so hidden that you could easily walk past it and never know it was there. 
  • On May 31, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best hair salons in Paris?

    Finding a good haircut while traveling is never easy. It took me nearly two years to find a salon I loved, and others that I am looking forward to trying. Here are my tips for the best hair salons in Paris, based on my own experiences and those of my close friends. 

    1. Messieurs Dames: This cool salon is located in the Marais. It's a seriously no frills, no fuss salon, with talented hair stylists and a super cool vibe. I love the line of products they use by Kevin Murphy, and they always seem to get my cut and blow dry perfect. Ask for a rendez-vous with Sebastien or Yumi, they are both amazing (as are all of their stylists I am sure). My favorite place to get my haircut in Paris!

    Meisseurs Dames
    5 rue Charles-François Dupuis, Paris 3ème.

    2. David Mallett: This is one of the most prestigious hair salons in Paris, with a team that treats you like a princess and a price that matches. They are known to be the queen of colouring, and the location is stunning. Located in a private apartment that is nearly 4,000 square feet, this classic Parisian atmosphere makes for the perfect Parisian hair salon experience. 

    David Mallett
    14 Rue Notre-Dame des Victoires, Paris 2eme.

    3. Atelier 7: If you are looking to get your hair coloured, this is another salon to check outm for they treat each head of hair like an artist's canvas. The interior is totally zen, which creates a nice relaxing atmosphere for your hair styling experience. The salon also offers a great head massage and even a mani/pedi if you need it. 

    Atelier 7
    36 rue des Tournelles, Paris 4ème.

    4. Herbert Bauer: Another salon where the head massage is killer and the location makes the experience all the more enjoyable. At Herbert Bauer in the 2nd arrondissement, the hair stylists like Herbert himself pay attention to your every need to make sure that your haircut is the perfect complement to your natural face shape and hair texture. 

    Herbert Bauer
    3, rue d'Aboukir, Paris 2ème.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best places for brunch in Paris?

    Brunch is one of the many things in Paris that has recently taken off thanks to the American influcence in the city today. It's a wonderful meal, and is enjoyed by both visitors and locals alike on saturday and sunday early afternoons. Here are a few of my favorite brunch spots in Paris:

    1. Hotel Amour: This is a really cool hotel located in the 9th arrondissement just off of a market street called rue des Martyrs. It is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, and brunch on Sundays. In the warmer months, the interior terrace is opened up to the outside, making it a little oasis in the middle of the city. The interior is chic and the menu is quite simple, yet it has everything you need for a good brunch. The scrambled eggs and potatoes are delicious, as is their famous cheeseburger. They also make some great salads and a classic croque monsieur. 

    2. Mama Shelter- this is another hotel offering a fabulous brunch, but this time it is buffet style. Don't think of some divey hotel brunch, Mama Shelter is top notch. The location is a bit out of the way, but the expansive brunch offerings and super cool decor make it worth the trek. There is a great patio outside that spans the side of the hotel overlooking abandoned railroad tracks, perfect for brunching in the summertime. They have everything from the classic brunch foods to a pizza bar, a desert section that is to die for, unlimited coffee and even some brunchy cocktails. Just a tip- the sunday brunch is about three times as expensive (and as big) as brunch the rest of the week. You can go to Mama Shelter any morning for a great full breakfast. 

    3. Le Bal- I love this place both for their fabulous coffee and for their great brunch menu. On the weekends, Le Bal is packed with the coffee-loving crowd out the door. The wait usually moves quickly, and the brunch menu is worth it. Plus, while you are waiting, you can explore the art gallery and bookshop that is also at Le Bal, and nibble on a homemade pastry or bread if you're starving. 

    Some other great places to check out for breakfast and brunch in Paris are- Bob's Kitchen in the Marais, a healthy, cool vegetarian spot, Claus which offers amazing homemade baked goods, granolas, and other interesting things, and Rose Bakery, which is another organic spot with flatbreads, inventive salads, and sweets. 

  • On May 31, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What language is spoken in Paris?

    One of the most interesting facets of visiting Paris is the language barrier. Many visitors come to France thinking one of two things: either, everyone speaks English so I don't need to know French, or the exact opposite. It's important to know before you come to Paris that the French people take their language very serously. There is even a governing body called the Academie Française that was founded hundreds of years ago for the purpose of protecting the French language and determining which modern words would be added each year! 

    As for the language barrier, I think the easiest way to determine whether you should assume one way or the other, is to imagine if a French person came to your home state and just began rambling off in French to you, expecting that you could reply back in their language. That is exactly how they feel when a visitor does the same to them in English (or whatever your mother tongue is).

    Before you come to Paris, it's always a good idea to buy a little guide book with commonly used French phrases. They are often spelled out phonetically, making the words much easier for the Anglophone tongue to pronounce.To be courteous, try to learn how to say hello and ask them if they speak English in French before diving in. 

    To put you at ease in case learning even these phrases makes anxious, it's true that most Parisians can understand basic English, but I can't promise that they'll always acknowledge your question. There are also many ex-pats in Paris, and in some of the trendy restaurants in town you are bound to hear a handful of English-speaking patrons.