Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Kelly
Thinking of visiting Paris during the month of December? Wondering if your trip will be “worth it” if you travel during the off-season? Do you want to see Paris during the holidays? I’ve traveled to Paris on four separate occasions, and one of those trips was during the month of December. December was actually one of my favorite times to visit Paris. The whole city was dressed up for the holidays, which added another layer of magic to this dreamy city. In this post, I’ll share 11 tips for visiting Paris in December!
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11 Tips for a December Trip to Paris
After my own trip to Paris during December, I’m sharing my top tips for enjoying Paris during the month of December. I hope these tips inspire you to visit Paris during the winter!
Tip #1: Prepare for the Weather
Because the weather in Paris can be cold and wet during the month of December, you’ll want to make sure you pack some good winter clothes. I recommend dressing in layers so that you can adjust throughout the day as needed. (You’ll probably be walking a lot, so don’t underestimate how warm you can be when you’re moving constantly!)
First, I recommend bringing a good winter jacket that will actually keep you warm. I personally own the KÜHL FROST Parka, which is my absolute favorite winter jacket. This jacket keeps me warm and dry all winter long! I’ve worn this jacket in 19° F and have stayed very comfortable.
There are two things that really make the FROST parka stand out from other jackets I’ve owned. The first is how lightweight it is. While most winter jackets are heavy and bulky, this parka is very lightweight. It allows much more freedom of movement, and I don’t feel constricted at all. The second thing that I really love about this jacket is that it converts into a backpack. When I’m not wearing it, it’s really easy to carry it around the airport, attach it my luggage, or even pack it in my bag. This jacket is a bit expensive, but I think it’s worth every penny.
You’ll also want to make sure that you pack rain gear. Prepare for puddles with a pair of rain boots. I own these rain boots and I’ve found them to be very comfortable. Pack a compact umbrella in case you’re stuck in a downpour, and don’t forget to bring a scarf and gloves.
I also recommend a pair of pants that will keep your legs warm and is water-resistant. Check out KÜHL’s FROST Softshell Pants.
Tip #2: Build a Flexible Itinerary
While you’re planning your trip, build yourself a flexible itinerary. Each day, have a list of activities that would be good for a rainy day or just a cloudy day. If it’s not raining, it might be the perfect time to explore the gardens such as the Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg. But if it’s pouring rain, you might need to pivot and choose some indoor activities like the Louvre Museum, Palais Garnier, or Sainte Chapelle.
It’s a good idea to include a Plan A and Plan B for each day. That way, you won’t be disappointed if the weather doesn’t cooperate. And of course, prioritize the places you really want to see early in your trip. You don’t want to leave Paris without seeing something you really wanted to see just because it rained every day.
Tip #3: Set Expectations
I think this is an important tip for planning any trip. Sometimes we build up an image of what our trip should be, instead of giving space for what it will be. If you’re picturing a trip to Paris in December with a lot of sunshine, you’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, allow yourself to be open to the experience as it unfolds.
I also like to remind myself that sometimes the toughest travel days make for the best stories later! For example, during our trip to Disneyland Paris, we were caught in a flash rain downpour that left us stranded in the middle of a maze completely soaked. Now it’s something we laugh about!
Tip #4: Enjoy Less Crowds
This is probably one of the BEST reasons to visit Paris in December: less crowds! As long as you travel during early to mid December, you can definitely enjoy major attractions without dense crowds. (Although please note that some attractions may be busy during the Christmas holiday.)
I’ve been to Paris during the summer and during the month of December, and let me tell you, Paris is far less busy during December! I was there in early December before the actual holidays, and many of the most famous sights were practically empty!
For example, pictured below is a photo of my visit to the Louvre Museum. Do you see how it’s practically empty? During the summer, this place was crawling with people. There were lines, crowds, and vendors all over the place. During December, however, there was hardly anyone visiting.
If you plan on visiting the Louvre, I highly recommend booking a guided tour that includes your ticket reservation. The Louvre is world’s largest museum, and it can be extremely overwhelming for a first-time visitor. If you go with a knowledgeable tour guide, you’ll be able to navigate the map and see the most important highlights.
Tip #5: Go Shopping and Enjoy the Decor
Paris is simply magical during the holidays! It’s especially fun to go shopping, because some stores really go all out on their decorations. One of the most popular shopping destinations is the Champs-Elysées Avenue. It’s filled with world-famous shops such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Zara. This avenue especially sparkles during the holidays, so it’s a perfect place to stroll and admire the lights. We also recommend that you stop by Ladurée. They’ve been making macarons for over 160 years and trying them is an absolute must when you’re in Paris! (We also recommend buying a box of macarons from their location within the Charles de Gaulle airport. They make the perfect souvenir!)
If you’re looking to go holiday shopping, be sure to check out Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. This upscale department store has been decorating their shopping space since 1976. They are famous for their Giant Christmas Tree and window displays. The Christmas tree is located directly beneath a giant glass dome (coupole), and is a must-see while you’re in Paris during the month of December. Every 30 minutes, the tree will light-up with a special sound and light show, so make sure you stick around long enough to see it. (But honestly, Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is worth visiting just to see the stained-glass dome. It’s 141 feet tall!)
Tip #6: Visit a Christmas Market
Europe is famous for its Christmas markets, and Paris does not disappoint! You’ll find Christmas markets sprinkled throughout Paris, so it’s fairly easy to add this item to your itinerary.
The Christmas markets are open throughout the holiday season, and most of them will be open the entire month of December. December is prime time to visit the Christmas markets! (Although some open as early as November.)
The Christmas markets will be filled with tents and wooden booths selling everything from ornaments (another good idea for a souvenir!), to mulled wine, to roasted nuts.
Some of the most popular Christmas markets in Paris are: Le Village de Noël at Les Halles, Marché de Noël (near Notre Dame), La Magie de Noël (Tuileries Garden), and Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market. If you can manage it, try to visit the Christmas markets on a weekday. They are much more busy during the weekends.
Tip #7: Choose Accommodations Wisely
When I visited Paris in December, I was a college student without a lot of money. My friends and I stayed at a hostel near the Louvre. I have to say that this was not ideal. The windows of our dorm room didn’t close all the way, so the room was freezing. The bedding was pretty limited (just a sheet), and there was no hot water in the morning when I tried to take a shower. These things aren’t too unusual for a hostel, but during the month of December, it was pretty rough. Based on that experience, I’d recommend staying at a nicer hotel. If you really want to splurge, check out these 5-star hotels in Paris. (Or just look it over to dream!)
During out last trip to Paris, we stayed at the Hotel du Louvre. It was a fabulous hotel! It was close to all the major attractions and we experienced excellent service. I can’t recommend this hotel enough. I’ve linked booking information here. You can read our full review of the Hotel du Louvre here.
Tip #8: Take Advantage of Paris’s Indoor Activities
December is the perfect month to take advantage of Paris’s numerous indoor activities. These include the numerous museums Paris has to offer! Some of Paris’s most famous museums include the Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin, and Musée Marmottan-Monet.
If you’ve had your fill of museums, check out some of the palatial buildings. The Palais Garnier is Paris’s famous opera house. You can typically view the inside of Palais Garnier without opera tickets from 10am until 5pm, unless there’s an afternoon performance. The opera house was completed in 1875. It was never a palace, but instead it was called Palais Garnier due to its extravagance. There are 1,979 seats. The interior is famous for its Grand Staircase, Grand Foyer, and chandelier.
We also highly recommend visiting Sainte-Chapelle. This cathedral is located on the same island as Notre Dame, and it’s famous for its numerous stained glass windows. We visited for the first time this year, and I don’t know why it took me until my 4th visit to Paris to see it. Don’t be like me… add this to site to your itinerary right away!
Tip #9: Review Closure Dates in Advance
When you’re building your itinerary, review museum hours of operation closely. Many of Paris’s museums close one day per week. For example, the Louvre is typically closed each Tuesday. The Musée d’Orsay is typically closed on Mondays. It would be a shame to travel to the museum only to realize that it’s closed. (Especially if you’re spending only one day in Paris!)
Tip #10: Enjoy the Food (And a Hot Chocolate!)
Paris is famous for its cuisine! Regardless of the weather, you can head indoors and enjoy the many excellent dishes that Paris is known for. We especially recommend trying croissants, baguettes, pan au chocolat, macarons, choux à la crème, champagne, fondue, crepes, croque madame, and French onion soup.
During the month of December, many restaurants close or have limited hours. I recommend making dining reservations!
I think my absolute favorite thing to do in Paris is to find a bistro or cafe, cozy myself against a small table, and people watch. There’s nothing better than sipping on a hot beverage and nibbling away at a decadent pastry. Or if you’re looking for an alcoholic beverage, try a vin chaud (mulled wine).
December is the perfect time to enjoy a hot chocolate in Paris. Pictured below is a cup of hot chocolate and a mountain of whipped cream from the cafe Carette. (Highly recommend!)
Tip #11: Buy the Go City Paris Pass
Because you’ve visiting during the winter, it’s likely that you’ll be visiting multiple indoor attractions. You can save money by bundling attractions with a Go City Paris Pass. You can choose from experiences such as a Eiffel Tower Elevator Guided Tour, Louvre Ultimate Experience, Macaron Pastry Class at Galeries Lafayette, a Cheese Tasting Tour, and more. You can customize your pass and choose from multiple pass options that work best for your itinerary and budget.
BONUS: Book a Trip to Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is only 45 kilometers from downtown Paris. It’s super-easy to reach Disneyland Paris by taking the train.
During the month of December, Disneyland Paris transforms into a holiday oasis. The entire park is decked with garlands, lights, and there’s even a special Christmas parade. We would love to visit Disneyland Paris during the Christmas season one day!
We’ve written about our best tips for Paris in December here, but click here to see our full list of tips for traveling to Paris.
Paris Weather in December
The first thing you’re probably wondering is “What will the weather be like in December?”
The weather in Paris during December can be quite variable, so you’ll want to prepare for a range of possibilities.
In December, the average high is 47° F (8.3° C), with an average low of 39° F (3.9° C). On average, Paris sees 9 rainy days during the month of December. (So it’s a good idea to prepare for rain!) You can expect it to be cloudy about 73% of the time.
Once you’re within two weeks of your trip departure date, you can start looking up the 14-day weather forecast on Time and Date’s extended forecast for Paris. This will help you plan your trip with more precision.
During the month of December, expect the sunset in Paris to be around 5pm (17:00). Sunrise is around 8:40am. Because there are less hours of daylight, plan your itinerary carefully. (For example, if you want to take daytime pics in front of the Eiffel Tower, make sure to get there during that window!)
When I visited Paris in December, it was dry but quite cold. I wore a large parka, a scarf, and mittens. In hindsight, I wish I would have packed some ear muffs!
Where to Stay in Paris
The hotels that have the highest level of luxury in the city of Paris have Palace designation. We recommend that you stay at Hotel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel. One of the most beautiful aspects of this hotel is its swimming pool, which consists of thousands of gold tiles. Numerous celebrities have stayed at this hotel, all the way from Benjamin Franklin to Jennifer Lopez!
The Westin Paris – Vendôme is centrally located across from the Jardin des Tuileries. The 4-star hotel has numerous amenities and beautifully-styled rooms.
I stayed at a hostel during my first and second visit to Paris years ago. I can’t remember the name of the hostels that I stayed at, but I found it to be an affordable way to visit the city. (Especially when I was a college kid backpacking around Europe!) The hostel St. Cristopher’s Inn Paris – Gare du Nord is conveniently located right by the train station. Perfect for backpackers visiting multiple cities!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is December a good time to visit Paris?
Early to mid-December is an excellent time to visit Paris. There are typically far less crowds during this time period, and you can still enjoy the Christmas markets and holiday lights. The week of Christmas may be a bit more busy, as locals and tourists alike enjoy the Christmas activities.
What’s a good itinerary for Paris in December?
If you’re planning to visit Paris in December, we recommend adding several places to your itinerary: Galeries Lafayette Haussmann to see the giant Christmas tree, a Christmas market such as Marché de Noël, and the Palais Garnier. We also recommend that you head indoors and see plenty of museums, including the Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin, and Musée Marmottan-Monet.
Is December a good time to travel to Paris?
I’ve traveled to Paris during the month of December and I think it’s a great time to visit the city. If you travel to Paris during early to mid December, there will be far less crowds. It’s important to dress warmly and add lots of indoor attractions to your itinerary to make the most of a visit to Paris during the month of December.
Is Paris too cold in December?
In December, the average temperature high for Paris is 47° F (8.3° C). With a good winter jacket, you should still be able to enjoy much of what the city has to offer.
What is so special about Galeries Lafayette?
During the holidays, the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann turn into a magical winter wonderland. In the center of the department store is a giant Christmas tree that is centered directly under the stained-glass dome. The store’s windows are decorated with specific themes, and there’s lots of Christmas treats and gift ideas within the store.
Is France worth visiting in December?
France is absolutely worth visiting in December, you just need to plan your itinerary for the weather. When I visited Paris during the month of December, I dressed in layers and packed a warm winter jacket. I also made sure to bring waterproof shoes. My itinerary centered on indoor attractions such as museums and historic buildings. I thought it was a really magical time to visit Paris!
Is Paris rainy in December?
Historically, it rains approximately 9 days during the month of December in Paris. (That’s about a third of the month.) If you’re planning a trip to Paris in December, be sure to pack rain gear so you can comfortably see the city. Packing a waterproof coat with a hood and wearing waterproof shoes or boots is a must.
Does it snow in Paris during December?
It occasionally snows during the month of December in Paris. Historically, there has been snowfall every few years. However, if you’re hoping to see snow at this time of year, it’s definitely not guaranteed. The chances are more likely that it will snow. However, you can always check the extended forecast before your trip to see the most current and accurate predictions.
Summary: Why You Should Visit Paris in December
Here’s a quick summary of our tips for visiting Paris in December:
- Prepare for the weather
- Build a flexible itinerary
- Set expectations
- Enjoy less crowds
- Go shopping and enjoy the decor
- Visit a Christmas market
- Choose accommodation’s wisely
- Take advantage of Paris’s indoor activities
- Review closure dates in advance
- Enjoy the food (and a hot chocolate!)
- Buy the Go City Paris Pass to bundle attractions
Visiting Paris during the month of December was one of my travel highlights. I visited with several friends of mine, and we had the best time museum hopping and staying warm with hot beverages. Although Paris is beautiful during the summer, it definitely has a more magical feel during the winter. I hope this post inspires you to book a trip to Paris in December!
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