As one of the world's dreamiest destinations, Paris will never disappoint. Summer will see the Seine lined with people soaking up the city at its sunniest, while the cooler winter temperatures make it the perfect time to explore museums, galleries and cosy cafes. Whenever you go, you can enjoy all the best things in Paris, from shopping for the latest fashions to seeing the world's most famous works of art. But if you want to find the perfect time to see the City of Lights, follow our guide to when to visit.
High season: June to August
Best time for relaxing in parks and beaches
Summer is the main tourist season, but many establishments close during August as locals flee the summer city heat. Year-round, you'll find locals kicking back all along the banks of the Seine but never more so than on warm summer evenings with a picnic and bottle of wine. While the weather will be great and there’s no better time to enjoy the city’s famed cafe culture, you will be sharing the City of Lights with plenty of other tourists.
Shoulder season: April to May, September to October
Best time for a bit of everything
Spring (especially April and May) and autumn (particularly September and October) are ideal for visiting Paris, as crowds will be thinner, but the weather will be nice.
In the spring, blossoms give way to leaves greening the city's tree-lined boulevards, flowering window boxes splash colour across Paris' Haussmannian facades and florist shops burst with scented blooms. Local street-markets are perfect for picking up picnic ingredients: temperatures are now warm enough to head to Paris' parks and gardens, including the city's most popular, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and along the Unesco World Heritage-listed riverbanks, particularly the Parc Rives de Seine: former expressways-turned-parks on the right and left banks.
In fall, the weather will remain lovely but the crowds will be thinner, making it a great time to go. Autumn colors will begin to seep in and the city will up it’s already impressive cultural offerings.
Low season: November to February
Best time for budget travelers
Sights are quieter and prices lower during winter, making it a great time for budget travelers - but you won’t have to sacrifice everything that makes Paris wonderful. While the weather is mostly rainy and chilly, snow is quite infrequent. But come winter, ice-skating rinks still pop up across the city, including in some truly picturesque spots, such as Galeries Lafayette's panoramic rooftop. Skating is usually free, with a charge for skate hire. In December, the city will light up with Christmas trees and beautifully-decorated shop windows, making it a very magical month.
The frosty first month of the year isn’t the most festive in Paris, but cocktails – as well as the winter soldes (sales) – brighten the mood.
Key events: Epiphany; Louis XVI Commemorative Mass; Paris Cocktail Week; Chinese New Year
Festivities still aren't in full swing in February, but couples descend on France's romantic capital for Valentine's Day, when virtually all restaurants offer special menus.
Key events: Rétromobile; Salon International de l’Agriculture
Blooms appear in Paris’ parks and gardens, leaves start greening the city’s avenues and festivities begin to flourish.
Key events: Livre Paris; Banlieues Bleues; La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel; Foire de Chatou; Cinéma du Réel; La Fête du Cinéma
Sinatra sang about April in Paris, and the month sees the city’s ‘charm of spring’ in full swing, with chestnut trees blossoming and cafe terraces coming into their own.
Key events: Salon du Running; Foire du Trône; Marathon International de Paris; Paris Beer Festival; Foire de Paris
The temperate month of May has more public holidays than any other in France. Watch out for widespread closures, particularly on May Day (1 May).
Key events: La Nuit Européenne des Musées; Taste Paris; Portes Ouvertes des Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville; French Open
Paris is positively jumping in June, thanks to warm temperatures, a host of outdoor events and long daylight hours, with twilight lingering until late.
Key events: Festival de St-Denis; Fête de la Musique; Marche des Fiertés (Pride); La Goutte d’Or en Fête
During the Parisian summer, ‘beaches’ – complete with sunbeds, umbrellas, atomisers, lounge chairs and palm trees – line the banks of the Seine, while shoppers hit the summer soldes (sales).
Key events: Paris Jazz Festival; Bals des Pompiers; Bastille Day; Paris Plages; Tour de France; Cinéma En Plein Air de la Villette
Parisians desert the city in droves during the summer swelter when, despite an influx of tourists, many restaurants and shops shut. It’s a prime time to cycle, with far less traffic on the roads.
Key events: Classique au Vert; Rock en Seine; Silhouette
Tourists leave and Parisians come home: la rentrée marks residents’ return to work and study after the summer break. Cultural life shifts into top gear and the weather is often at its blue-skied best.
Key events: Jazz à la Villette; Festival d’Automne; Techno Parade; Journées Européennes du Patrimoine; Journée Sans Voiture
October heralds an autumnal kaleidoscope in the city’s parks and gardens, along with bright, crisp days, cool, clear nights and excellent cultural offerings.
Key events: Nuit Blanche; Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre; Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain; Pitchfork Music Festival Paris; Salon du Chocolat
Dark, chilly days and long, cold nights see Parisians take refuge indoors: the opera and ballet seasons are going strong and there are plenty of cosy bistros and bars.
Key events: Africolor; Illuminations de Noël; Beaujolais Nouveau
Twinkling fairy lights, brightly-decorated Christmas trees and shop windows, and outdoor ice-skating rinks make December a magical month to be in the City of Light.
Key events: Salon du Cheval de Paris; Christmas Eve Mass; Le Festival du Merveilleux; New Year’s Eve
Source: Lonely Planet