First, let’s be clear: There is no bad time to visit Paris. I’ve lived in the French capital city during every month of the year, so I can say on good authority that you can’t go wrong when booking a trip to the City of Light. January, February, and March are the chilliest months, but this is also the quietest time in Paris. You can bundle up in a chic coat and walk across the snow-dusted Pont Neuf to the Latin Quarter, tuck into a cafe for a warming glass of red wine, and experience Paris as the locals do.
The spring (April and May) brings blossoms to Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg. And June, July, and August, while quite warm and crowded, have exceptionally long days (the sun doesn’t set until after 10 p.m.), making it a great time to sip cocktails at one of the outdoor brasserie tables lining the sidewalk. September and October are arguably the best months to be in Paris — a brisk breeze seeps into the air, Paris Fashion Week is in full force, and turning leaves line the city’s most scenic jardins. Finally, November and December bring seasonal cheer, French delicacies, and galette des rois in shop windows.
While every season in Paris has its perks, we’ve made a quick guide to the very best times to visit this exquisite French city.
High Season in Paris
The high season in Paris is from June to August — tourism peaks in July. Travelers are drawn to Paris in the summer because of the long days and sunny weather. It’s a stunning time to see the sights, from Sacré-Cœur to Versailles, and the laid-back atmosphere at cafes and along the Seine is a treat.
There are some downsides to summer in Paris. First, large crowds make exploring popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre more time consuming, plus you’ll need a reservation at the top restaurants in the city. Hotel prices, too, will inevitably climb in the summer months. It’s worth noting that Paris is not known for its air conditioning. In fact, AC isn’t as common in Europe, and in Paris, where temperatures can often reach the high 80s in July and August, it can be rather noticeable. (Fortunately, most hotels have air conditioning.)
Shoulder Season in Paris
Shoulder season strikes twice in Paris. In April and May, you’ll inevitably encounter some rain, but you’ll also have temperate, almost-summer weather without the summer crowds. The other shoulder season option is mid-September to November. Once the Labor Day and Fashion Week rushes conclude, Paris quiets down and the weather begins to get crisper. You’ll have full run of the city until the crowds return in December for romantic, winter getaways.
Best Times to Visit Paris for Holidays and Festivals
Whether you’re planning to be in Paris for a specific celebration, or trying to avoid the crowds that fill the streets on certain holidays, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Let’s start with sports: the Paris Marathon is typically held in April (though it was postponed to October in 2021), the French Open begins in May, and the Tour de France starts in Paris in July.
In the summer, Paris’ iconic Fête de la Musique happens on June 21 and Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14. Other summer events include Paris Plages (when the city opens “beaches” along the Seine), La Nuit des Musées (wherein certain museums open their doors in the evening free of charge), and the Paris Jazz Festival toward the end of September.
For the stylish traveler, Fashion Week comes to Paris twice a year, as is the case with all the global fashion capitals. Fashion Week for spring styles happens in the fall — Paris Fashion Week is usually held in late September. And Fashion Week for fall styles happens in late winter — Paris Fashion Week usually falls in February.
Finally, at the end of November and all through December, the Champs-Élysées lights up with Christmas lights and holiday markets pop up on the streets of Paris. Some of the best Christmas markets in the city are those at Hôtel de Ville and Saint Germain des Prés, which run from mid-December until the beginning of January. And the Magie de Noël market in the Tuileries opens in mid-November and closes in early January. Lastly, the Feast of the Epiphany happens on Jan. 6, which is when you can buy king cake (or galette des rois) all over the city.
When to Visit Paris to Avoid Crowds
Pre-pandemic, Paris received more than 30 million tourists each year. You’ll experience crowds from May to September, but encounter the most people in July (followed closely by June and August). We’d recommend visiting between October and April if your main objective is to avoid crowds. For the warmest temperatures, October and April are the best times to visit Paris sans crowds. While visiting in December around the holidays is also a charming time, the concentration of tourists tends to increase from mid-December through the end of the year.