Natural Beauty: Winter in Paris, Part Deux

If you want to see an intimate side of Paris, pay a visit during the winter.

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared this sentiment. Last year I shared this post full of my favorite photos from our last winter living in Paris. Every time I look at those pictures, they bring back a sense of calm and peacefulness. Paris felt like it was ours, devoid of tourists and full of true locals hunkering down for a season of chilly weather and overcast skies.

Quiet Sunday morning by the Eiffel Tower

But as I look back on that post, I realized that there is a difference between making a case for the season in Paris when you get to live there and see winter fully unfold over a few months time. You can afford the time to gloss over the wet weather and instead narrow in on that fiery sunset of one particular dusk. As a tourist with limited time, is it wise to take a chance to vacation during its in low season? At the very beginning of December, Michael and I returned to Paris where we did just that (technically the tail end of autumn, not winter, but just humor me and roll with it).

Here’s what I relearned and discovered about the city during a week-long visit, with a tourist's perspective:

Since I am no stranger to Paris, I ended up just walking a lot all over the city during that visit. You might get a sense from some of these photos, but this season brings a stillness that clears the air to get deep in one’s thoughts. It was really helpful in allowing me to disconnect and take a breather from the many distractions of day-to-day life (especially a life that intersects with NYC these days!). 

For tourists like me looking for a little retreat, Paris right now is for you. Paris in the winter is for contemplative heart. And Paris in the winter is for the creative mind. If you are working on some type of creative endeavor, this is the perfect time to sit down in a café and start moving and designing and making. Long summer days tempt procrastinators like myself to go out and play...for hours on end. Winter is a welcome invitation to get things accomplished. 

Along the sculpture garden at Jardin Tino-Rossi

Don't forget to pay a visit to Paris' parks, even in the winter! {Above: Jardin Tino-Rossi / Below: Parc Monceau}

It’s also a time for the visitor with purely vacation plans on the mind. There are endless museums to see, theater and opera shows to entertain, and restaurants to provide warmth. Even on the most gloomy of days, one would be hard-pressed to be bored.

Place Jussieu, Paris

The stripped-down version of Paris - bare trees and iron

No matter what the visitor’s plans are, there will always be tons of options to choose from to fill any amount of time in Paris. The main draw of winter is the ambiance of getting an insider’s taste of this magical city.

The difference between seeing Paris now versus in, say, the height of summer, is like the difference between her hosting a a mere acquaintance as opposed to a loved one. When you host a casual friend in your house, you are likely to really pull out the stops when it comes to presentation and preparations. Paris dazzles her audience in the summer months. But come winter with only a gathering of bosom buddies, Paris shows up without her makeup on and radiates a pure beauty for those close enough to catch her in the moment.

Above: The two views near our rented Airbnb apartments on our last visit | {Left} rue Saint-Charles near the Charles Michel metro station and {Right} on rue Rivoli near the Saint Paul metro station

Winter in Paris is exactly that - seeing an intimate side of the city. It’s a time of squeezing into a cramped bistrot for a hearty meal. It’s gathering en masse at a wine bar to warm up. It’s curling up in a café with a book, sharing apero under a heat lamp on the terrace, eating raclette (a meal of melted cheese over potatoes) among friends. It's a season of drawing warmth and sharing warmth with the people around you.

I love that Parisians sit outside all year long. Even as the weather cools off, you can enjoy apero people-watching under a heat lamp. (Just be warned that you'll most likely be joined by smokers so if that bothers you, you might want to head indoors.) 

Another bonus - apparently the Eiffel Tower is almost completely empty on a winter evening. Dress for some wind and enjoy the (almost) private view!

Catching a glimpse of the Iron Lady from Montmartre

If you want to experience Paris at its most cozy and candid of moments, come knocking at winter. It’s our secret.

Have you ever visited Paris in wintertime? 

Lou Messugo

Linking up with #AllAboutFrance!