Let’s get this out of the way at the outset: Paris in January is cold and wet. But hey … it’s still Paris, right?! And anyway, the chilliness means you can wear all the more layers of chic clothing. As for the rain … well, remember Midnight in Paris? A little drizzle makes Paris seem all the more glisteningly nostalgic, non?
See, there’s always a silver lining … or even a golden one. When the city is shrouded in grey sky, its bursts of gold sparkle all the more.
Another pretty lining might be a white fluffy one … because there’s a possibility it will snow in January. A slim chance, true, but if you swooned over the stunning, snowy photos of Paris a couple of Januaries ago, you’ll probably figure it’s a chance worth taking.
So have your waterproof boots packed along with your thermals, scarves, gloves and beanies. And, of course, one great winter coat. And brace yourself for the chilly grandeur of wintry Paris …
Let it Snow …
If you’re fortunate enough to be in Paris when it transforms into the City of White, head straight to the Tuileries gardens, which look especially striking blanketed in snow; when the chestnut trees are stripped of their leaves, you well appreciate the sublime symmetry of this impeccably planned park, lined as it is with criss-crossing allées, dotted with ponds and topiaries, and populated with pale-marble statues that enhance the monochrome elegance of the scene.
Wander, too, around the park by the Eiffel Tower, the Champ de Mars, and see how the lacy-looking trees echo the lattice of the Iron Lady.
And venture up to Montmartre, so pretty amid a whirl of snowflakes that you’ll feel as though you’re in a supersized snow globe. Swoon over Sacré-Coeur from below — see how it looks like a wedding cake iced in fondant and dusted with sugar? — then scoot up the stairs to look back over the newly white rooftops of Paris.
From here, wander around the back streets of this historic neighbourhood, which seems all the more whimsical when viewed through a snowy filter. You’ll have many of the old cobbled streets to yourself and feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
Have Long, Lazy, Lavish Lunches
This is the perfect season in which to revel in rich Gallic comfort food like French onion soup, cheesy soufflés and fondues, croque-monsieur, pot au feu and ratatouille. Look for bistrots and brasseries whose lush interiors match their luscious dishes — say, Bistrot Vivienne (4, Rue des Petits Champs, 75002), the more modern Champeaux at Les Halles (12 Passage de la Canopée, 75001), or Le Calife, the quaintest (and least touristy) restaurant barge on the Seine.
Or settle into a red banquette at Café de Flore, and scribble away in a notebook while you nibble on Welsh Rarebit. And always make sure you have a good book in your bag to help you while away your restaurant time, or keep you company whenever you need to nip into a café and warm up with hot chocolate or mulled wine.
Shop the Sales
The winter sales kick off (in shiny heeled boots, naturellement) on Wednesday 8th January, with reductions plummeting to 70 per cent. That’s a pretty great excuse to spend a day (or more) in the department stores. Start at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, before flipping over to the Left Bank, and riffling through the stylish racks of Le Bon Marché.
If you’re in Paris towards the end of January, you’ll find further fashion inspiration in the form of the haute couture catwalk shows, which in 2020 run from 21st-24th. While they’re trade-only events, the fashion action spills over onto the street. Hang around the Tuileries, the Grand Palais, Place Vendôme and the Palais-Royal, and you’re bound to spot models, designers and all sorts of stylish types.
For Art’s Sake
Paris is a city of museums, many of which get overlooked in warmer weather, which entices you to enjoy picnics in parks or stroll by the Seine. But these cosy, arty interiors are an ideal escape from the winter chill. Take the opportunity to visit the smaller museums you might otherwise miss — such as Musée Jacquemart-André (above), Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and Musée des Arts et Métiers. And check which exhibitions will be showing when you’re in town; in January 2020, don’t miss Marie-Antoinette: Métamorphoses d’une Image at the Conciergerie.