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 May 30, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What should I pack for a trip to Paris?

    Parisians are known for having a chic, effortless style. But let me tell you, their style secrets aren't all that secret, and it's quite easy to copy them when packing for your trip to Paris. Here are the key things to remember when packing your suitcase:

    1. Layers- considering the weather in Paris is unpredictable and rarely follows the rules of the seasons, it's always a good idea to bring clothes that can be easily layered. Light shirts and jackets for spring and summer are always a good choice, while in the winter you'll need to bring some heavier layers. It's always important to remember a rain jacket, as Paris has quite an extended rainy season these days.

    2. Neutrals- one thing you'll notice about a Parisian's wardrobe is that there is little color to it. Here, its all neutrals- from black to grey, taupe to white, and often some navy blue, there isn't anything that can make packing easier than bringing items that are all in the same color family. If you want to limit the shoes you're bringing, try to stick to an all black and white, or an all tan, brown and white color scheme.

    3. Day vs. Night- If you have the luxury of no weight limit on your bags, then it's a great idea to bring some nice clothes for going out and some casual clothes for the daytime. A great pair of jeans, flats or cute sneakers, some comfortable tops, a light jacket and a purse that is big enough to fit your camera and the essentials is all you really need for the daytime. 

    4. Special Occasions- Paris is a quite casual (chic) city, despite its lofty reputation for high fashion. Unless you're eating at Alain Ducasse or something of the equivalent, then there aren't many occasions where you'll need a tux or cocktail dress. If you plan on seeing a performance at the Palais Garnier, you might want to bring a nice outfit, as jeans and sneakers aren't well looked upon. 

    5.Outfit Repeating- One thing that might surprise you about Paris is that the French are known for their talent of wearing the same outift as many times as possible. I suppose it's true that "if it works, why change it?" but it also makes your life a lot easier when packing. Don't worry about bringing a different outfit for every day, instead, refer to tip #1 and remember layering also works when outfit repeating! 

    Bonus Tip #6: Empty Suitcase- Or, you could do as I would love to do, and come to Paris with an empty suitcase and just buy everything here! At least that way you have a much higher chance of not looking like a tourist. On a more serious note, don't forget to pack a weekend bag if you plan on taking an overnight trip from Paris and don't want to lug your big suitcase with you. 
  • On May 27, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best fine-dining restaurants in Paris?

    Yam'Tcha

    This Michelin starred Asian-fusion bistro located in the 1st arrondissement beautifully blends the flavours of Chinese cooking with the traditional techniques of French cuisine. French Chef Adeline Gattard and her Hong-Kong native husband, Chan Chi-Wah, combine their passions for food and drink to produce skilfully balanced dishes complemented by either a wine or tea pairing. Their inventive use of seasonal ingredients is highlighted by the beautiful presentation of the dishes, as well as the modern décor of the restaurant.

    4 Rue Sauval 75001 Paris
    Tel: +33 (0)1 40 26 08 07

    Frenchie

    Chef Gregory Marchand and his team continue to steal our hearts with their seasonal menu highlighting the most beautiful flavours in the epicurean spectrum. During the spring and summer, seafood and market fresh ingredients arrive daily. Located on a cobblestone pathway in the 2nd arrondissement, we suggest booking a table well in advance. Should you not be able to get a table, head across the alley to their wine bar, where similar seasonal menu items and an equally impressive wine list are available sans reservation.

    5-6 Rue du Nil 75002 Paris
    Tel: +33 (0)1 40 39 96 19

    Plaza Athénée

    World-renowned chef, Alain Ducasse, takes entertaining to new heights with his restaurant at the Plaza Athénée. Earning a place among the most revered restaurants in the world with a rating of three Michelin Stars, this restaurant, serves perfectly prepared gastronomic cuisine, with a focus on fresh products. Perfectly decorated in the extravagant style of Louis XV, diners are sure to have an exquisite experience, unlike any other before.

    25 Avenue Montaigne 75008, Paris
    Tel: +33 1 53 67 66 65

    Jean François Piege

    With two Michelin stars and the title of Top Chef France under his belt, chef Jean François Piege, together with his associate Thierry Costes, and designer India Mahdavi bring you a haute gastronomic restaurant in the Thoumieux Hotel. Surrounded by pop colours and plush seating, the relaxing ambiance is complemented by the super refined cuisine. The chef indulges in his culinary visions with the Règle du Je(u) menu, which highlights 1, 2, or 3 seasonal ingredients of your choice in a series of courses.

    Hotel Thoumieux
    79 rue Saint-Dominique, Paris 75007
    Tel. +33 (0)1 4705 4975

    Apicius

    Tucked away in a Haussmannian mansion near the Triangle d’Or is Apicius, the two Michelin starred restaurant of Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato. Every last detail has been accounted for in this fine gastronomic restaurant where simplicity and balance are key. Between the dazzling setting, the selection of fine produce, seafood, meats and cheeses from around France, and the convivial atmosphere, Apicius is both a dining destination and the ultimate luxury experience.

    Apicius Jean-Pierre Vigato
    20 rue d'Artois, Paris 75008
    Tel: +33 (0)1 4380 1966

    Le Grand Véfour

    Located in the gardens of the Palais Royal, where politicians, writers and artists alike have experienced fine cuisine for over 200 years, Le Grand Véfour is one of the most historic establishments for gastronomic dining in the world. Today, under the direction of Chef Guy Martin, Le Grand Véfour has kept up with the modern times while maintaining its historic lustre. This haute gastronomy establishment pays homage to the legacy of French cuisine by offering the best products from around the country in the original setting from 1784.

    Le Grand Véfour
    17 rue de Beaujolais, Paris 75001
    Tel. +33 (0)1 4296 5627


  • On May 26, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best bakeries in Paris?

    Gontran Cherrier

    Not only is Gontran one of Paris’ most charming bakers, but his pastries and breads are out-of-this-world good.  From the classics, like an apple crumble or a raspberry tart, to the unique, like a squid ink baguette with black sesame, Gontran never ceases to surprise. His bakery, located near the beautiful Sacre Coeur church in Montmartre, is the perfect place to stop for a sweet breakfast before you walk up the hill to visit, or as a place to please your sweet tooth on your way back down the hill after a day spent exploring the cobblestone streets.

    Sébastien Gaudard

    The prince of pastries, Sébastien Gaudard, learned from the best while working under Pierre Hermé at Fauchon, followed by the Délicabar in the Grande Épicerie of Le Bon Marché. In 2011, Chef Gaudard opened his own shop, La Maison Sébastien Gaudard on Paris’ right bank. This pastry shop not only produces some of the most beautiful cakes, breads, and chocolates in Paris, but it is a beautifully-designed shop as well. Indulge in your sweet tooth while you explore the eclectic neighborhood just below Montmartre.

    Best Baguette 2013

    Over 203 bakeries submitted their baguettes to this year’s competition for the best in the city, the winner of which receives the honor of supplying baguettes to the Elysée Palace, home of President Hollande, for one year. The little-known bakery, Au Paradis du Gourmand, in the 14th arrondissement was this year’s winner, giving us a good reason to trek down to the South of Paris for some baked goods. If his baguette is the best in Paris, I can only imagine how delectable his other pastries are.

    Du Pain et des Idées

    This bakery near the Canal Saint Martin was the 2012 winner for best baguette in Paris. It's a super charming place to pick up a baguette before heading to a picnic on the canal. Their Chausson au Pommes is known to be the best in the city, as are the classics like the croissant and pain au chocolat. Definitely one of the many bakeries you must visit while in Paris.  
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  • On May 26, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best farmers markets in Paris?

    Marché Raspail

    Three times a week, this charming organic market takes over the pedestrian walkway on Boulevard Raspail. Filled with some of France’s finest artisans, produce growers, and bakers, this is a great place to prepare for a gourmet picnic. Head there on a Tuesday, Friday, or Sunday from 7 AM to 2:30 PM to stock up your basket with some delicious food and drinks. Be sure to bring your own picnic basket or shopping bag.

    Marché Monge

    If you’re in the mood for a typical Parisian picnic in a historical setting, then the Marché Monge in the Latin Quarter is a great place to start. Any Wednesday, Friday or Sunday from 7:30AM to 3PM, head to the cute Square Monge to find some delectable picnic basket fillings. Offering both prepared foods and fresh produce, you can finish preparing your picnic by stocking up on wine or other goodies along the market stree, rue Mouffetard.

    Marché Grenelle

    Each weekend, the pedestrian walkway underneath the metro station La Motte Picquet Grenelle transforms itself into a bustling open-air market filled with a variety of stalls offering fine French foods. Head to this market for a picnic of traditional items, a fresh baguette, some beautiful cheeses, grapes and of course, some wine from a small French producer.

    Marché Bastille

    One of the largest markets in Paris, the Marché Bastille welcomes over 115 vendors each weekend. Spanning from the Place de la Bastille up Boulevard Richard Lenoir, towards the Canal Saint Martin, the Bastille market is a wonderful place to either buy the makings for a picnic, or just browse the stalls and enjoy the smells of the various foods. The merchants offer more than fresh produce at the Marché Bastille, but also some regional prepared foods, like huge steaming pots of couscous and freshly baked meat pies. Here, you’ll also find spices, barrels of olives, fresh fish, saucisses, fresh-cut flowers, African batiks, and housewares.


  • On May 26, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What is the tipping etiquette in Paris?

    Before coming to Paris, you have probably heard rumors that the French don't tip.  While the general understanding is that you don’t have to tip in Paris, the status-quo is actually changing.

    In France, servers are paid a higher hourly wage than in America, but this is supposed to include the tip. While service in Paris can often be quite abrupt, and not ‘worthy’ of an additional tip, it is welcomed and encouraged to leave something for your server to let them know you appreciate their help.

    I encourage diners to leave anywhere from 1€ to 20€ depending on the meal (lunch or dinner?), the type of restaurant (a corner cafe or a nice restaurant?), what you ordered (just a drink or a three-course meal?).

    Tipping in Paris isn’t calculated as a percentage of your total, but rather as a symbol of your appreciation. If you have a fabulous three-course dinner at a restaurant, I suggest leaving upwards of 10-20€ (or more) for your waiter (assuming they were courteous and made your dinner more enjoyable). If you just got a drink at a bar or a quick lunch, an additional tip isn’t really necessary, but of course, always welcomed.

    Servers don't mind answering the question "Is tip included?" because sometimes they are quite surprised by extra tips left by tourists, and have been known to come after you to return the change they thought you forgot to take! 

    Don't forget that tipping is only possible in cash, as credit cards are run directly and there isn't a space to write in a tip on the receipt. 

    David Lebovitz also has some good tips for tipping in Paris
  • On May 26, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best spas in Paris?

    Royal Monceau: My Blend by Clarins

    Inside of the Royal Monceau- Raffles Hotel, newly renovated at the hands of Philippe Starck, is one of the most heavenly spas in Paris. The My Blend by Clarins Spa is unique because the treatments are adapted specifically to your skin’s needs. While waiting for your rejuvenating tri-active facial, such as the Jet-Lag Refresher, or the Luminosity Restorer, take a relaxing dip in their indoor pool, or lounge on their plush canapés. After being treated with the utmost service at the Royal Monceau, My Blend by Clarins Spa, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and renewed like never before.

    Mandarin Oriental Spa

    A stylish sanctuary located just steps from the haute couture heart of the city, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Paris offers a luxuriously holistic experience of pure serenity and rejuvenation. Many of the spa’s unique treatments have been developed with a sense of place. Their wonderful body therapy ‘Paris Passion’ combines a fabulous anti-aging pomegranate and honey scrub with a replenishing wrap, leaving the skin feeling nourished from head to toe.

    Westin Paris Vendôme: Six Senses Spa

    Bamboo has been used in Asia as a massage tool for years, and represents good luck, long life, peace and harmony. Nothing rejuvenates your mind, body, and spirit as much as a warm bamboo massage at the Six Senses Spa. Designed to target specific areas of stress in your body, the bamboo massage will bring relief and rejuvenation in its most natural form. The Six Senses Spa is an amazing zen escape in the heart of the 1st arrondissement. 
  • On May 21, 2013
    Rooksana Hossenally answered the question: Rooksana Hossenally

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Paris?

    Needless to say that there is something for everyone in Paris so choosing one activity is no easy feat. However, if you only had an hour to get the most out of the city, I would recommend heading the picturesque Montmartre neighbourhood. A fantastic place to get a concentrated dose of that iconic Parisian romance, Montmartre is one of the city’s quaintest areas. A small village charged with history dating back to 250 AD, the village built up on a hill in the north of Paris, is crowned by the Sacré Coeur Basilica and was made famous by Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s blockbuster hit film, Amélie.

    Climb up either from Pigalle or Blanche (metro line 2) or get off the metro at Abesses and get lost in the bohemian-chic ambience. Gawp at the spectacular private apartments and houses and pass by the Bateau Lavoir on Place Emile Goudeau, which is where some of the world’s most famous artists roughed it when it was still a squat – although closed to the public today, it isn’t hard to imagine life here with artists Picasso, Matisse and Braque, to name but a few who lived and worked here. As you work your way up the ‘butte’ (another word for 'hill' in French), peer inside the area’s numerous boutiques, restaurants and cafés, which get extremely lively at the weekends. For visitors who like their art, there is the Halle Saint-Pierre, a beautiful art venue located in the middle Saint-Pierre surrounded by shops selling all sorts of fabrics by the roll. Otherwise there is of course, the Dali Museum just off Place du Tertre, a very pretty but very touristy area of Montmartre. Other places to visit include the Ciné13, a small theatre located inside what looks like a private home, and the restaurant, Moulin de la Galette, which used to be a real working windmill in the seventeenth century.

    Another highlight of exploring Montmartre is getting up close to the Sacré Coeur Basilica, which is even more beautiful than from a distance. Best of all though, are the breathtaking views of Paris and the star of the show, the Eiffel Tower, as it shimmies on the skyline.
  • On May 21, 2013
    Rooksana Hossenally answered the question: Rooksana Hossenally

    What are the best indoor activities in Paris?

    Paris is without doubt one of the best cities in the world for art, so I would have to say that the best indoor activities are focused around visiting museums and galleries. However, there are so many events happening throughout the year that it’s hard to choose which one to make the trip over for. If I had to narrow it down, I would choose Monumenta, the annual art installation at the Grand Palais.

    This year the event was suspended but is set to take place in 2014. And judging by the past years’ shows, Monumenta rarely leaves viewers disappointed. Last year, French artist Daniel Buren was invited to create an installation for the impressive 13,500m2 domed glass and iron nave. He created a conceptual garden of coloured plastic shapes and although impactful, the best shows were the previous exhibitions. In 2011 Anish Kapoor with his incredible Leviathan, an enormous undistinguishable organic shape of special boating canvas that changed colour as the sun passed over the nave’s roof from east to west. Before Kapoor, in 2010, Christian Boltanski was commissioned to invest the space, and his eerie atmospheric installation was one of the best ever put on in the city. Centred around the holocaust, the show manipulated sight and sound to create an ambiance that plunged the viewer right at the heart of the cause – that of the disappeared during the Second World War. Next year, the artist to be invited hasn’t been revealed yet, but it’s bound to be worthwhile.
  • On May 21, 2013
    Rooksana Hossenally answered the question: Rooksana Hossenally

    What is the best new restaurant in Paris?

    How would you fancy giving a helping hand to those in need just by tucking into a famous French chef's recipe? At MANGER (24 rue Keller, Paris 11th), the brand new upmarket associative restaurant, when you order the prix fixe 'dîner des chefs' (chefs' dinner), 10 per cent of the price you pay goes towards training people who have been excluded from the job market.

    After three years of hard graft, Thierry Monassier, the Paris-based restaurant consultant, sees his dream become a reality. In 2010, Thierry created the association ‘Toques et Partage’, which lies at the heart of MANGER. Together with Ferdinand, his right-hand man, Thierry recruits candidates who have the potential to work in the restaurant business but who either haven’t had the opportunity to learn a trade, or who have been living on the streets. With 10 places to fill at the restaurant, Thierry gives successful candidates a two-year training contract, which will lead to a permanent position or which will give them the edge to get a job elsewhere “There are 85,000 jobs to fill in restaurants in Paris, so there is plenty of opportunity out there but very few training schemes that are accessible to people who for some reason or other can't get on the job ladder” says Thierry.

    Unlike any other associative project of the sort, MANGER doesn’t just have a worthwhile cause at heart, but the restaurant itself is a remarkable feat. Marie Deroudilhe, acclaimed for her work at Alain Ducasse’s latest restaurants, designed the space, which used to be a Franprix supermarket.
    The result should have been cold and clinical, but instead feels like a homely conservatory. The sky light above a tree planted indoors gives plenty of natural light, significantly lifting the overall mood of the place.

    The reigns in the kitchen are held by the cool, calm and collected young globetrotting chef, William, who whisks up a mean feast laced with international influences picked up on his travels across the world. He uses fresh produce sourced as close to home as possible and makes sure every dish is magnificently presented.

    The lunch menu is divided according to the way of cooking the ingredients (grilled on Tuesdays, roasted on Wednesdays, steamed on Thursdays, and so on). In the evenings, the ‘dîner des chefs’ is the highlight on the menu, with recipes created especially for MANGER and donated by some of the country’s top chefs, including Trama, Alléno and Hache. Ten per cent of the price for the prix fixe menu (55 euros) goes to the association for the rehabilitation training contracts.

    Thierry is overjoyed with the result although too humble to say so, he prefers to focus on the aspects he still wants to develop, but the glint in his eye as he watches diners revelling in the experience, is evidence enough of his satisfaction at seeing his dream finally come together.

    MANGER – 24 rue Keller, Paris 11, +33 (0)1 43 38 69 15 – www.manger-leresto.com. Open Tuesday-Saturday (12:00-2:30pm and 7:30-10:30pm). Booking in the evenings is mandatory.
  • On May 20, 2013
    Lindsay McCallum answered the question: Lindsay McCallum

    What are the best outdoor activities in Paris?

    No matter the season, Parisians love to be outside. Whether dining en terrasse, or playing tennis in the Luxembourg Gardens, there is an abundance of outdoor activities in Paris.

    One of my favorites is strolling the weekend markets, like the organic market on Boulevard Raspail near the Bon Marché in Saint Germain, or the immense market at Bastille. On a sunny day, any season of the year, these markets are so lively and full of amazing produce, cheeses, flowers, and specialty souvenirs, that you can't help but carry the positive energy throughout the rest of your day. 

    Another great outdoor activity, particularly once we shed our winter layers, is picnicking in the park or on one of Paris' waterways, like the Seine or the Canal Saint Martin. As far as picnics go, you can't beat the view from the Western tip of Île Saint Louis as the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower and Pont des Arts. With a baguette, a wheel of brie, and a bottle of wine, you're set for an evening of al fresco fun. 

    We are quite lucky in Paris to have so many parks to choose from on a nice day. When you're looking for that outdoor fix, head to the Buttes Chaumont park to lounge on the sloping lawn, or the Jardin de Reuilly and get a drink from Paris' only sparkling water fountain. The Tuileries is a great park for people watching, as is the Luxembourg Gardens. For a beautiful, sprawling view over Paris, the Belleville park sits atop the 20th arrondissement and has unobstructed views to the East, South, and West.

    Another great outdoor activity is walking down La Coulée Verte in the 12th arrondissement, an over-street walkway that runs from the Jardin de Reuilly to Bastille. Similar to the Highline in New York City, this walkway is a treat. 

    Lastly, grab a vélib, the public bikes scattered around Paris, and explore the city on two wheels. You can reserve on line or use your credit card (it must have a chip in it, fyi) at the stand. Rates are very low for one day or one week passes.



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