Travel Tuesday: What Time Of Year To Go


Welcome to the first official post of Travel Tuesday! Today, I'm going to give you my two cents on what time of year to go to Paris, based on my personal experiences. Each week, I will tackle some topic, so if you're into knowing more about traveling to Paris, tune in each Tuesday! Okay, here goes!

I have been to Paris in every season on the calendar, and each has their distinct differences. Obviously weather is a concern, but also there are major holidays to think about, the level of tourists in town, and seasonal closures. Loads of things factor into when you decide to go, so here are my thoughts, season by season.


Spring:
  • Weather: It's true what they say about springtime in Paris... it is amazing. But if you don't like rain and wildly fluctuating temperatures, it's not the time to go! Pretty much anything goes weather-wise in the spring, but you can be guaranteed to see plenty of rain and dramatic clouds. Full disclosure: this is my favorite time to go. Living in Los Angeles, I see more than my fair share of sunshine (I know... it's insane to complain about such things) and relish some real life rain storms, complete with thunder and lightening. Depending on how early in the spring you arrive, you might see the tail end of winter (read: snow!), and depending on how late in the spring you arrive, you might see temperatures reaching summer heats (read: 90's). One thing is for certain though, you will see tons of blooming flowers, humidity so high it'll make your hair perm, and sunsets getting later and later each night. On our most recent trip, the sky didn't get fully pitch black dark until around 11pm. Seriously! 
  • Tourists: With each minute closer to July, add 100 tourists to the population of Paris. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you should keep it in mind when planning your dates because major sites will have significantly longer lines and just generally more people. 
  • Holidays and Closures: There are a lot of national holiday in May, and many institutions, shops, and restaurants are closed from time to time during the month. April and June are pretty safe that everything will be open most of the time, but it's always a good idea to check out something specific in advance of going. 

Summer: 
  • Weather: I have not been to Paris in the meat of the summer, but I have made it there as late as early July, so I'm going to count that as summer. I monitor all things Paris on a daily basis, and I can tell you that as you get deeper into the summer, it can get very hot. Today the highs are in the 90's and they have been in the 80's and 90's for weeks. The heat and humidity I've experienced in the spring has me convinced that unless I'm living in Paris (one day, fingers crossed!) this is not the time of the year to go. I am aware that some people (teachers and students for example) pretty much have to travel during this time of the year, so hey, 90 degrees is better than not going at all, right?
  • Tourists: Yes, there are a ton of tourists in the summer. The ratio of French to tourist dramatically changes as August approaches, which is when many French flee the cities (too hot!) and set up camp on the many shores of France. This means that there are lots of tourists and not so many French, so depending on your priority, this is a good thing or a bad thing. For me, I prefer the French, so I'd rather go when Parisians are in town.
  • Holidays and Closures: Bastille Day is July 14 and is the one day of the calendar year that you are promised big explosive fireworks. So if that is your thing, it's party time in Paris! After that though, as many French leave town in August, many of the smaller restaurants and boutiques close up for the entire month and skip town. This to me would be the last time to go, unless it is your only choice. 

Fall:
  • Weather: The first time I went to Paris, it was September and October, and let me tell you, it was dreamy. This is my second favorite time of the year to go. While we do have more seasons than people give us credit for in Los Angeles, it's not quite the same as say the midwest or the east coast, where there are multicolored trees changing from green to yellow to orange to red. But in Paris, this is exactly what you will see. All the parks are blanketed in gorgeous falling leaves and the weather is crisp and less humid than the spring or summer. You will experience a wide range of weather, much like spring, with some days of rain, some days of sunshine, and depending on how late in the year you go, the looming chance of snow. 
  • Tourists: There are far fewer tourists in town, the later in the fall you travel. Like in the US, most children have returned to school, teachers are back to teaching, and colleges are back in session, so those tourists that are there, for the most part do not fall into those categories. 
  • Holidays and Closures: Unlike spring and summer, this time of year pretty much everything is open. There are no national holidays in September or October, and only two in November, making it a great time of year to go. 

Winter:
  • Weather: If you live in a cold climate already, winter in Paris will be much like what you're used to, but for this Los Angeles girl, I haven't experienced that kind of weather since moving here nine years ago. But the winter we spent in Paris, boy yowza! Did we see weather! Like, blizzard weather. Like, shut down the Metro and all the trains coming and going in and out of the country weather! Was it romantic and absolutely gorgeous though? Yes, yes it was. Watching Parisians during their daily commute on the Metro was giving me flashbacks to trying to get to work on the train and look chic and stay warm and not get soaked, like when I lived in Chicago. But for someone on holiday, it was delightful. Some days were simply gray and some even had the sun popping out here and there. But Paris can get real winter, so don't kid yourself, it was cold! Also, it doesn't get light until around 9 or 10am and it gets dark around 4pm (seriously). Because of this, the days are significantly shorter, so if that deters you from venturing out after dark, this is not the time of year for you. 
  • Tourists: Heading into Christmas and New Year's Eve, the tourist level absolutely rose, but after January 1, it dropped in a significant and noticeable way. The great thing was that all the pretty lights and holiday windows are still up after New Year's Eve, but all the crowds are gone, leaving you to wander in peace. We had the most lovely walks around the city, virtually alone and quiet, and were able to really quiet our minds because of the lack of other people. The parks are virtually empty and all the trees are silhouetted and stunning. It was like living in a black and white photograph everyday. 
  • Holidays and Closures: Everything is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and almost everything is closed the day after Christmas. Likewise on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we found that everything was closed. Much like August, many shops and restaurants closed up shop in January and left us with a few things we wanted to see but couldn't. So keep that in mind when traveling this time of year. 
So when's the best time to go? In short: anytime! Hey, it's better to go than not to go, right? For me, it's a close race between spring and fall, with winter just behind. Each has their pros and cons, and you need to find what is best for your life and budget. Coming up in the next few weeks: how to afford to go, what to pack, and more thoughts that might help dictate when you would want to venture forth!

If you've been to Paris, what's your favorite time to go and why? I'm always looking for more tips, so please share your experiences in the comments! 


All photos taken by me.