You will be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t enamoured with Paris or absolutely taken by the many facets of its beauty. This is why finding the best time to visit Paris is so very difficult. You’ll fall in love with Paris every day. Perhaps that’s why they call it “The City of Love” because love and Paris go together like champagne and oysters. Whether it’s drinking gluhwein in the streets while watching a blanket of snow appear on the ground before your eyes or full day of summer sightseeing, you are no doubt in for a treat. That’s just the thing about Paris, it’s magic lies in its effortless will to keep it’s visitors forever longing to return.
Due to France’s location on Europe’s Atlantic Coast, the weather is hugely determined by the blowing winds from the ocean. Therefore Paris experiences a maritime climate. Season temperature differences are quite prevalent between winter and summer, but extreme temperatures are rare.
Rainfall is steady year round with unexpected showers from time to time. In general, rainfall is quite low in comparison to the surrounding regions in the country.
Its common knowledge that Paris winters are rather cold with January being the coldest month of the year averaging temperatures of between 1°C and 6°C, however, the city of lights continues to shine and radiate a beauty that is unrivalled. If you’ve heard of the ‘urban heat island effect’, you’ll know that Paris is 1°C or 2°C warmer than it’s surrounding regions, hence why snow is uncommon in Paris but does happen from time to time. Experiencing snow in Paris will not only change your life but will remind you why it is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world.
Summers in Paris have been known to reach highs of 40°C, but this is not a regular occurrence. When there is a heat wave, expect temperatures of up to 30°C, otherwise summer on average experiences temperatures of around the mid-20 mark. If its long balmy evenings you are after, Paris is definitely the place to be. Be prepared for evenings filled with exquisite French cuisine while sipping some of France’s finest wines.
Average temperature & rainfall in Paris
Only pack the essentials
Layers, layers and more layers is the name of the game during the winter months. Needless to say, travelling light is not likely to come into play when travelling to the northern hemisphere during winter. Below is a concise list of must-haves when travelling to Paris in the dead of winter.
- Jerseys, cardigans and fleece tops
- Longsleeved and short sleeved tops in order to layer up
- Thermal underwear
- Long trousers or jeans
- Leggings or tights to layer up
- A pair of leather boots and a pair of waterproof boots – ensure good lining in the boots
- Hats, gloves and scarves
- A warm bulky coat
Summer makes for a much lighter and simpler list of packing essentials. While the weather is relatively warm and seldom drops below the teens, always pack a warm alternative as the weather can be unpredictable at times. Below is the best packing advice for a summer trip to Paris.
- Light jerseys or cardigans
- Tank tops or t-shirts
- Light trousers, jeans or long skirts
- Shorts, skirts and dresses
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Slops or open shoes
Daylight hours in Paris
Peak winter sees the sun rising between 07:34 and 08:20 and setting at between 17:00 and 18:30 respectively. You can experience between 9-11 hours of daylight throughout the winter months. The daylight hours may not be too bad but the actual sunshine throughout the day may be as little as two hours.
In peak summer, the sun rises between 05:50 and 06:20 and sets between 20:30 and 21:30 respectively. On average, you can experience between 14-16 hours of daylight during the summer months.
How much are flights to Paris?
Low Season (November – February)
Everybody would love to experience a European summer, however, flights to Europe between June and August can be frightfully expensive for South Africans. Similarly, the festive season between December and January is equally as expensive. Your best bet would be travel in the low season around November or February. South Africans can actually save an average of 20% on flights. While you might experience a decrease in fares, be sure to book your flights and accommodation at least three months in advance as a lot of South Africans might have the same idea.
Don’t forget to sort out your Schengen visa for your Europe trip.
Annual events and festivals in Paris
Exploring the outdoors makes summer one of the best times to visit Paris. The city explodes with music festivals and celebration throughout the summer season. There are a number of outdoor activities but below is our pick of the best activities you shouldn’t miss over summer.
1. The French Open (Roland Garros) – May to June
Running for 126 years, The French Open is the premier clay tennis championship of the world. Also known as the Roland-Garros, named after a pioneer combat fighter in World War 1, is the second of 4 Grand Slam tournaments. The others being the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
2. La Fête de la Musique (Paris Street Music Festival) – June
Since 1982 amateur and professional musicians were encouraged to celebrate their musical talents by performing in the streets, parks or any public space in their neighbourhoods. The first all-day musical celebration on the day of the summer solstice (21 June), later became an event in 120 other countries around the world.
3. Paris Jazz Festival – June to July
Previously known as À fleur de Jazz (which speaks to its botanical setting), the then small festival started out in 1994 with the mere intention to grow into a big event in the future. It quickly gained moment as it featured more and more performances from esteemed Jazz musicians. In 1998 it changed its name to the Paris Jazz Festival. The Festival now performs to an audience of 5000+ people.
4. Bastille Day – July
Bastille Day or formerly called la Fête nationale in French, is the celebration of the French independence or the anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. Celebrations take place throughout France including a Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées, a fireworks display, and a Firemans Ball just to mention a few. What better way to celebrate and be immersed in the culture of a country.
5. Rock en Seine – August
3 beautiful summers days will have you rocking to your favourite rock bands at Rock en Seine. See international favourites like Die Antwoord, Thirty Seconds to Mars and so much more. Buy a 1-day pass, a 3-day pass or a camping site on the banks of the Seine river in the heart of Paris and end off your summer the right way. Maybe August is the best time to visit Paris.
6. Download Festival Paris – June
Started in 2003 in the UK, The Download Festival sees some of the world’s biggest metal artist. Think Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson and the like. 2016 was the start of the sister event in Paris, Download Festival Paris which is laden with equal amounts of talent.
You might also be interested in a local guide to the top 10 things to do in Paris.
As far as we’re concerned there really isn’t a reason why shouldn’t want to visit Paris. If there are more reasons why you think everyone should visit Paris, please share them with us in the comments below.