Is Paris actually BETTER in the off season ?

We came to decide that maybe winter is the best season of all in which to visit Paris. We visited museums without suffering huge crowds, we took our kids up the Eiffel Tower without any lines or wait, we spent time in playgrounds in weather that was much milder than back home in the U.S., and we loved the excuse of cold weather to duck into tea salons for coffee and delicious treats. Oh, and the sales were incredible!

Those are not my words ; they are those of Sara Saint Antoine, a guest with A La Carte Paris.

And you know what? Sara’s right: Off season travel is usually much more fun, as crowds are smaller, lines are shorter and prices lower!

In three visits to the Louvre it was the first time I actually saw the Mona Lisa ! We had a wonderful time.  We enjoyed just walking around, as the museums weren’t too crowded”, added Kathryn McClurg.

When you visit France in the off season, you also feel more like a local, just like Kathryn: “Since there weren’t quite so many tourists and we had an apartment, we could pretend we lived in Paris, for a week anyway…”

And I know what you’re going to say: the weather. Sure, it can get a bit chilly, but the weather is considerably milder than New York or Chicago. Indeed, as long as you bring an umbrella, a coat and a scarf with you, you’ll be fine and people will believe that you belong in the city!

Paris is the winter is not that cold and if it does rain for a day or two, you will still find many things to enjoy indoors… “If we are to be cold, we would want it to be in Paris!” exclaimed an enthusiatic Marjory Butterfield.

Another of our guests, Kathryn McClurg,  wanted to experience paris in off season because “A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway makes Paris in the cold and damp sound very romantic”…

Indeed,“ it can be romantic to stroll along in warm coats, stop at boulangerie for a coffee and beautiful bakery item”, suggests Sharon Drinkall. “We loved the excuse of cold weather to duck into tea salons for coffee and delicious treats”, added Sara Saint Antoine.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Think about it: our most popular (and therefore most expensive) week of the whole year is Christmas / New Year. This just goes to prove that Paris in winter holds great appeal, no matter the chilly weather!

And, last but not least, prices… Sharon acknowledged “cheaper prices and greater availability allowed us more options and better value for money”. Yes, our rental rates are 15-20% lower in the off season… Saving money means you can spend more on restaurants, clothes (especially during the winter sales…), and so much more!  If, like several of our guests, you combine your stay in an apartment with an airfare paid by Miles, as it is often recommended to do so in low or off season, you’ll soon ask us to book a table for you at La Tour D’Argent! Which we’ll be happy to do. Right after we’ve booked you the perfect dream apartment for your party…

Low or off season dates are:
– January 7th to March 14th
– August
– November 1st to December 20th

The appeal of low season is a secret that many first-time visitors are not aware of. So I recommend you do what many savvy Paris regulars do: take advantage of the almost lyrical off-season appeal of Paris, avoid the lines and save money too.

Check our Paris apartment availabilities here and consider staying in Paris’ beautiful off season. Not only will you save 15% to 20% off your stay, but you will also have more choice!

Finally, if you know off season Paris, then I’d love to read your views. What do you think? Please let me know by commenting below.  🙂

14 Comments Add yours

  1. alex says:

    Oh yes! We have grand memories of walking in the Jardin du Luxembourg, admiring the macarons and autumn leaves falling… the light sprinkles of rain… oh so romantic!

    1. Thanks for your feedback Alex. That certainly does sound romantic! 🙂

  2. I have to say I think there may be a “low season” in terms of airfare and savings, but NOT in terms of the beauty of the city. I’ve been there in summer, winter, fall and spring…I don’t think you can have a bad time, unless of course, you want to see what everyone wants to see. If that’s the case, the time to come really is fall/winter (except: BEWARE of the dreaded French school vacations.)

    I think it would be REALLY fun to be there at Thanskgiving, and I keep planning a family trip that keeps falling through because my adult children have demanding jobs. BUT…that is the weekend that Paris puts on her Christmas finery (restrained by American standards, but gorgeous). Can be cold but it’s often quite mild and sunny after the fall rainy season, and it’s just gorgeous (no schoolchildren on vacation, either). And what fun to do some Christmas shopping in Paris! The tiniest little Parisian bibelot is so unexpected and special! I love to go to Fragonard and get their solid perfumes for Christmas stockings (Marie Antoinette wore them!) And Pierre Hermes chocolates, and really cute necklaces from the street vendors, AND Eiffel Tower keychains! I know, kitschy, but at least everyone uses them! You can get a lot of fun stuff in your suitcase, let me tell you! (Sadly, not Berthillon’s hot fudge sundaes with pear sorbetand vanilla ice cream, but the memory will sustain you through those tough times between trips).

    Coming out of Ste. Chapelle after one of their gorgeous concerts, into the fall night, and finding someplace for hot chocolate (or something a bit stronger) and then wandering back to your apartment…life does not get better than that!

    I go to do research at the Bibliotheque Nationale, so I don’t think of myself as a “traditional tourist”, but Paris steals your heart every time, and I think you could live there for years and find new things every day. It is breathtaking even at its most mundane.

    My motto for Paris is “Look up”, because the archtecture is so amazing everywhere, but it is always rivaled by those exquisite shop windows at eye level. So, my darlings, just go whenever you have a free minute! “Bon voyage”, and look up!

    Linda in Portland, Maine

    1. Thank you Linda for your thoughtful and heartfelt feedback. What a beautifully detailed description of the all-season appeal of Paris! 🙂

  3. Harriet Seltzer says:

    My husband and I went to Paris for the first time this past February. It was a trip that we had wanted to take for many years, but this particular opportunity to visit (even though it was February) was something we couldn’t turn down. The pros: we loved Paris. Being New Yorkers, we’re quite used to walking cities for miles, and we did so on the trip, exploring many neighborhoods on foot. There were few lines and they were short. We did notice that there were still quite a lot of tourists at the usual suspect places (Notre Dame, Musee D’Orsay, the streets in St. Germain, near the Eiffel Tower, etc.) We did get to see quite a lot. We had no difficulty getting seated at restaurants. We took the obligatory city overview bus tour and were able to get seats (but not outside on the bus top). The cons: during the five days, the temperature hovered at just a degree or two above freezing, so that being out on the street for the day, got to be quite cold. It rained 4 of the days, it was foggy. It saps your energy to be both cold and wet. Because of the fog, we couldn’t go to the top of Eiffel or Sacre Coeur. The shorter amount of daylight gave us less time to explore different neighborhoods farther away from our hotel (comfort level in traveling in the dark). Almost worst of all, in most of our photos, we were red faced and teary eyed. That said, we did enjoy our first trip, and plan to go back, no longer Paris virgins.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Harriet. Hmmm, sounds like London, as Paris is very rarely foggy! Rain can be a bit of a gamble of course, but I’d say most winter days are dry (especially since the summers seem wetter and the winters dryer now due to climate change). Valid point about the shorter amount of daylight, and I hadn’t thought about the red faces on photos – oh dear!

  4. Mary Hanson says:

    Since I’ve retired (as a French teacher) we’ve been able to travel off-season. I love the fall, when hearty food takes center stage and views open up through the trees. Another advantage to fall/winter traveling is the much improved selection of music, theater and special exhibits at the museums compared to the summertime. That being said, Paris is my favorite city, any time of year!

  5. Susan Carter says:

    I’ve been to Paris 7 times, and in every season, but the first time was in December and it was delightful as the “city of lights” was enhanced with Christmas decorations. That trip convinced me to return. I agree that it’s easier to see things without crowds but each season has it’s advantages and Paris will have many tourists despite the season. I love the outdoor cafe’s, bistro’s and long day light hours in the spring and summer and we had no trouble seeing everything we wanted to this last June & July but have to admit we paid much more than we would have in the winter.

  6. Pat Edson says:

    My last trip to Paris, I decided I wanted to be there in the winter. So, I went in very late November and stayed about 10 days into December. As was Harriet’s experience, it was VERY cold – hovering between 30 and 33 degrees. While I spent my years up to age 10 in the Middle West, I have lived in California for a long time and am not at all used to such weather. I had a lined coat, a scarf, gloves, etc., but those things just couldn’t keep me warm. I took buses when I would ordinarily have walked, and saw some things I had particularly wanted to see such as the Champs Elysée all lit up for Christmas and the Eiffel Tower at Midnight, but I also spent more time than I wanted to in my hotel room. I dearly love Paris, and go whenever I can get together the funds to do so, but, at least for people from warm climates, I suggest they go in early November, for example, as the cold can really make a difference.

  7. Shannon Peck says:

    The first time I traveled to Paris was just luck for me. I was on a tour and it was right before the US Thanksgiving. We spent a few days in Paris and then toured through Normandy, Mont-St-Michel, Chartres, and ended up back in Paris about 12-14 days later. During that time, all the Christmas decorations were put out! It was fantastic! Nobody decks the halls like the Galleries Lafayette! I’ve been back during other times of the year, but I have to say, low season is a misnomer in my opinion. No crowds, no lines, beautiful atmosphere inside and out-, you don’t get hot climbing the stairs at Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, and I didn’t stick out like a tourist quite as much until I spoke. It always remains my favorite time of year in my favorite city of all time!

  8. Chris Owen says:

    Our virgin visit to Paris from Australia was end of May 2011. WE left with two determinations. We MUST return but at the start of a journey not the end. We want to come in off-season when we can a better choice of apartment at a better price. With a big 0 birthday due in mid-October 2013, maybe it’s Paris then. But it doesn’t sound like that’s off-season!!
    BTW why is August listed as off-season in your list in the post Alex? I don’t understand!
    Cheers Chris

    1. Hi Chris, yes August is indeed classified as “low season” in the short-term rental business. I too found this hard to understand when I started the business, because August is high season everywhere else in Europe I believe. Still, bookings are indeed harder to come by in August, and I think I might know why: 1) Paris is very empty in August, with many shops and restaurants being closed for vacations. Although this means that the few remaining Paris locals (I among them) LOVE August, because there are no crowds, no traffic jams, less noise, tourists perhaps see it as a lack of authentic Paris street vibe. No to mention many things being closed. Also, August can be very hot: the most memorably hot August was the much publicized heatwave of 2003, when no less than 50.000 pensionners died, due to a combination of heat and many doctors being away on vacation. A/C is hard to come by in Paris apartments and shops and restaurants – it’s a question of culture and architectural regulations. Having said that, August has been mild and plasant for the last few years, and it looks like a durable climate shift, so August is another well-kept secret if you ask me – I always make sure I’m in Paris for a while in August, as it’s my favorite month. But it’s the market that decides, not me! Anyone here know better why August is considered “low”?

      1. Oh, and another reason why August is “low” is perhaps that many Parisians, going away for a month on vacation, put their apartment on the short-term rental market to earn some extra income. This causes a relative over-supply with respect to the demand, forcing prices down. Even though these apartments, full of personal possessions, are very different to those offered by A La Carte Paris, it has an effect on the whole market.

  9. ellen aragon says:

    I love the low season in Paris, especially late fall and early spring, mainly because it is so easy to book ballet, opera and concert tickets at the Opera Garnier and Bastille (operadeparis online). Wonderful to stay in an apartment where you can have an aperitif of your own choosing, dress up and go out to a performance, then head to a delicious dinner at a superb, but uncrowded restaurant. The stuff of dreams, these off season days and nights, walking home together under a large umbrella while Paris gleams in a light rain…

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