What time of year for Paris?


Oct 6th, 2016, 06:39 PM
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What time of year for Paris?

I decided against France this December but recent threads on Paris have made me want to visit sooner rather than later. (Cheap flight alerts have played a role there, too!) So preliminary planning questions:

What is the best time to visit? I was thinking possibly summer because it would be fun to venture out to the countryside and beaches a bit. But how hot/humid and crowded does it generally get? Is June better than September? Or vice versa?

How many days do you generally recommend to a first time visitor? Where else do you recommend visiting? Is there any good hiking or outdoorsy destinations? I had considered doing a week in France and a week in Germany (there's quite a bit in Germany that I will not get to see in December because of weather). However, perhaps I'd be better off doing two weeks just in France? I can already tell December will not be my only trip. There are so many places I want to see in Europe! Barcelona, the Alps, and the Netherlands are fairly high on the list as well.

I really enjoy bicycling, hiking, gardens, architecture, and history. I initially wanted to visit Paris for Notre Dame and the Louvre, but the more I research Paris, the more I want to visit it for the city itself (if that makes any sense).

Is it fairly easy to get around rural France by train? Especially if one doesn't speak French? It's probably the language I have the most difficulty with in terms of pronunciation. I did take it in high school but "mangle" is one way to describe my skills. I'm a little worried about inflicting that on an unsuspecting local

What are your favorite places to visit in France other than Paris? Where have you been and where would you go back to?
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Oct 6th, 2016, 07:12 PM
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If you are first-time visitor, I don't think time of year for city visits really matters all that much unless you are either particularly bothered by crowds *or* very cold/very hot weather.

I used to favor going in winter, but nowadays, because I don't feel I need to force myself to see any major sights, I prefer late spring/early summer, May/June, when I have the most daylight hours and the best chance of temperate weather and flowers in bloom. I'm a night owl, though, so that likely colors my view.

I would go back to the Dordogne, the Lot, Provence, the Languedoc. I'd like to explore the Limousin beyond the tiny bit I've driven through (but I'm a weirdo).

As a hiker and nature lover, the Auvergne beckons. And I've never been to Burgundy and definitely want to visit!

IME, rural France is easier if you rent a car.

I really like France. It is a beautiful, diverse country.
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Oct 6th, 2016, 08:25 PM
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I am a night owl as well, so that's helpful, thanks! I don't mind the cold- it's more that I prefer longer days. But humidity and heat kill me. It was partly the reason I'm not going to Paris- I figured I could do that in the summer but I would not want to see Rome then.

Is hiking and exploring the rural areas possible with transit? I would prefer to not rent a car, but I could if it was necessary.
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Oct 6th, 2016, 10:56 PM
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We were in the Carcassonne/Gorges du Tarn area for 4 weeks in late June/early July last year - and the temps were in the high 90s. Late Sept in Lorraine/Nancy for 2 weeks and early Oct in Paris for 2 weeks last year was chilly (50s max a few days).

We were in the Ardeche and Hautes Alpss in late June early July this year for 3 weeks, and the temps were also in the high 90s. Later that July near Chamonix for a week, it started in the 90s but cooled quickly to the 50s/60s - with rain. It was in the 20s/low 30s on top of a few of the peaks. The TdF passed through our village a few days after we departed in mid-July, and it was raining & cool for 3 straight days.

In very late Aug and early Sept this year in Toulouse & the Pyrenees and Lot (3 weeks), it was in the high 90s. It cooled & rained for about 5 days in mid Sept, then it got back into the 70s & 80s in late Sept (1 week) in the Dordogne.

The weather has been crazy in France the last few years.

Our favorite time in Paris is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It can get hot in June - so we never go to Paris then. We've stayed in Paris several times in late Sept & Oct and the weather has been very nice. We like Paris when it is below 70. Hate it when it is 80 or higher - too exhausting to walk around.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 7th, 2016, 12:17 AM
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Hi marlelousmouse,

Sorry that I can't really help with the best time to visit (for me, that's always over winter, for various reasons).

But I can let you know that it's easy and fun to get out into the countryside from Paris. One super easy way to do it is to take a bike tour with French Mysitque:

I (and some friends) took a tour with him a few years ago -- we picked up the bikes in Paris then took the train to a town about 20 miles from Chartres. Then we biked into Chartres on small roads through villages and countryside, and it was spectacular. After seeing the cathedral, we took the train back to Paris.

FMT has several different tours to choose from -- some just in the countryside and some including a medieval village or town also.

Have fun as you plan!

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Oct 7th, 2016, 06:55 AM
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Outdoor scenery will clearly be less enchanting in winter when the countryside turns brown. But prices can be seasonal too, especially trans-Atlantic air fares. April into mid-May and mid-September onwards have usually seen summer fares from North America go down. But like the weather, the airlines have been unpredictable in the last 14 months or so. And hotel costs in Paris are also a challenge (October, for instance, is quite busy.) So the real answer is go to Paris when you can afford the time and the money. How can you go wrong even if the daylight wanes early in January and rain gear is essential?
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Oct 7th, 2016, 10:11 AM
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I don't think there is any best time as people have different opinions and like different things. I like going in summer as it makes packing easier (lighter weight), I like it being light later, and personally, that is a good time of year for me to take a longer vacation. Also, hotel rates are often cheaper in AUgust or even last half of July (I don't care for August that much as thigns are too slow). When I'm there in July it is often in the 80s during daytime, occasionally 90s but that is rare, and sometimes only 70s. But typically, I would presume 75-85 in afternoon. I don't consider that particular hot myself.

I have no desire to go in winter, for example, for many reasons (weather, can be gloomy, gray, darker a lot, wet, etc) but I also prefer doing other things for vacation in winter, like skiing.

Paris isn't the tropics, I have never thought of any place in Europe as being particularly humid that it would even be a consideration to me, but that may depend on where you come from and what you mean by that. I live in the midAtlantic US so it's nothing to me as it is usually better than home.

Provence in summer is hot in the daytime, but it has seemed rather dry to me versus humid, for example.

You can't usually get around rural France by train as there aren't extensive rail networks in rural areas, but that depends when you mean by rural. There may be buses which are not always that convenient. And some parts of the country have more rail options than others. For example, in Provence, you are not going to get rail networks in rural areas. The main cities are on them, sure (Arles, Aix, Avignon) but few places smaller than that. Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is the one exception I can think of there which has a rail station and is fairly small.

If you are resourceful, I wouldn't worry about language too much, certainly not for the train. Just be prepared--have things printed out or written down, don't depend on having to say orally where you are going, for example, as people may not understand you, and to avoid confusion. Research ahead and buy tickets online to avoid a lot of trouble. I speak French so can't say for France, but I've traveled in countries where I really couldn't say but a few words in the native language (eg, Poland or the CR), and I even got "lost" on a train line once but managed with the few words I had, writing and finding a bystander who could help translate to get another ticket and go where I wanted. It does help to recognize certain words, of course, I always do that (ticket, platform, exit, entrance, etc).
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Oct 7th, 2016, 11:24 AM
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Most popular destinations would Be Paris Nice and Provence. Which I think are all up to their réputation.
If You enjoy walking and cycling, Paris is for You. In Paris, There is the handy velib system (hop on hop off). If You are after more serious walking, You Can combine good Day walks through forest to interesting places. For example, take a train to Bois le Roi and walk to Fontainebleau Castle. Same for Versailles or Vaux-le-Vicomte. Interesting provincial towns are easily reached by train, like Provins Chartres or Reims. Even beaches are not too far away like Deauville.
Would agree That if You are more outdoor minded, France is not showing its better face in Winter (except December). I like september. Market stalls are at their best. A lot of events like open days in museums and properties, paris without car, nuit blanche.
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Oct 7th, 2016, 11:50 AM
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I don't think there's a bad time to visit Paris. Personally, I love spending a sunny day in Jardin de Luxembourg but I also I find Paris beautiful when it's grey and rainy. It gives it a different character. I've experienced both during my last visit in April. Some days were cold and rainy, and some were warm enough to wear t-shirts.

But for a first visit, I would go in June or July when the days are long and dry and you can make the most of your sightseeing.
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Oct 7th, 2016, 12:07 PM
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Hiking in the winter can be unpleasant though. Unless going to the South (east or west). Nice for example rarely goes below 20.

Alps are of course a different matter, I've been mostly during winter time. Temps would be in the range of -5 to 5.

LAnguage in really rural areas can be an experience. As in many countries, people in the small villages usually don't speak English. But in cities and in any touristic area - no problem.

As to where to go : take a map and throw a dart, you'll find a nice place to go.

Enjoy France.
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Oct 7th, 2016, 12:10 PM
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Swandav2000- thank you so much for the bike link! That is exactly the sort of thing I am interested in

Christina- I usually travel in the summer because I like to pack light as well. as long as it's better than where you live. I was not sure. The relatives who have been to Europe in the summer complained about the heat and crowds but they don't generally spend much time in France. I have been to the east coast and south in July and it limits my ability to walk- I really enjoy sightseeing on foot. So that's good to hear.

Rouelan- when you say market stalls, do you mean farmers markets? Do you have a favorite?

Thanks, Stu Dudley! As I know from your SF posts that you like food- what are your current favorite restaurants in Paris?

I appreciate all the suggestions, everyone! Thank you so much! Are there any summer holidays I should try to avoid traveling during?
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Oct 7th, 2016, 12:24 PM
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I live in France and think September and May are the best months around where we are, but I go to Paris in every season. Going again in 5 days. It's always wonderful.We hate it here in July and August when it's tourist central.
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Oct 7th, 2016, 12:26 PM
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I live in France and think September and May are the best months around where we are, but I go to Paris in every season. Going again in 5 days. It's always wonderful.We hate it here in July and August when it's tourist central.
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Oct 7th, 2016, 06:52 PM
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For me anytime except July and Aug. There are just too many places without AC.
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Oct 7th, 2016, 11:20 PM
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Summer is great cos of the long hours...that extra photography time

and if youre planning on outdoor stuff then id definitely go in early summer

but after having a winter holiday in January id never hesitate to go to any city in winter

ive been to Paris in June and it was sooo hot
Winter was cold but more can walk in those sort of temperatures...I hate walking in heat so tend to do less and see less
The queues were non-existent in places like the Versailles
In summer the queues were crazy
And id hate to see Disney in the summer cos even in winter there were lots of people!
so I vote for winter...just wear the gear you need to stay warm and that's it!
airfares are cheaper and so is accommodation
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Oct 7th, 2016, 11:36 PM
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A strong second for FrenchMystique and his bike tours. You'll go way off the beaten path, and see things tourists never will. I'd pick late September to mid-October.
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Oct 8th, 2016, 12:06 AM
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Markets in Paris and around.
There are two types : Permanent, usually a pedestrian Street or a building (halles). or temporary stalls, once a week or more.
Both are mainly tended by retailers rather than farmers but local producers may also join.
Market streets : Difficult to say if some are better than orhers: Montorgueuil, Bayen, Mouffetard, Levis, Cler... Halles of Versailles get livelier on sundays with additional vendors joining.

For temporary markets, two stand out because they are organic: Batignolles Saturday and Raspail sunday.they draw big crowds including tourists taking pictures, sampling or buying food
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Oct 8th, 2016, 01:58 AM
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We always go the first weekend in December for our anniversary and love it! The lights, the atmosphere and the cooler weather make it delightful for us. But we also live a sneaky summer weekend there as well!

Here are our pics, mostly from our Nov/Dec trips[email protected]
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Oct 8th, 2016, 10:05 AM
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Most of our trips have been Nov-Feb and have enjoyed the weather and low crowds. I found January to have a few restaurant closures but nothing that affected our trip.

We really enjoy not melting in high temps while walking the city and if you have the pleasure of December you will be rewarded with beautiful Christmas decorations in windows, inside Galleries Lafayette is decorated, usually a skating rink by L'Hotel de Ville and more.

September was also beautiful time to be there. Frankly, I would take any month to go to Paris if I had the opportunity.
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Oct 8th, 2016, 04:41 PM
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I love Paris between November and May. November, December and April are my favorite months. And we love spending time in Brittany.
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