Paris in winter: there are many advantages to being in the capital during the winter season when it is less-crowded and more tranquil offering wonderful views. It is also the occasion to enjoy cosy spots, welcome retreats from the cold outdoors.
The City of Light has endless places to visit including many that are especially welcoming when temperatures are low. The houses of Balzac and Victor Hugo, for example, offer all the interest of a museum and the warm atmosphere of a home rolled into one, as well as lots of interesting information about the life of these two illustrious French writers.
Or, why not go and revel in the warmth and comfort of bookshops and browse for a good book? At the popular wine bar-cum-bookstore La Belle Hortense in the Marais, enjoy armchairs, books, wine … and even something to eat until 2am in the morning. Close by is La Mouette Rieuse, a cultural concept store on several levels, with a cafe/restaurant, a pop-up store and a gallery for exhibitions and various workshops. This is somewhere you could happily while away the day …
For stage entertainment, catch an afternoon theatre performance or musical at one of Paris’s theatres. The Opéra Garnier offers afternoon performances, as do the theatres Édouard VII, Ranelagh and Odéon. For concerts, musical events and workshops in the morning, evening and at weekends, take a look at the programmes of the Philharmonie de Paris and the Maison de la Radio.
Finally, to keep all the family warm, there is nothing like exploring exotic flora and fauna! Kids and adults love the Grande Serres (hothouses) with their various tropical forests, reconstructed in the heart of the city, at the Jardin des Plantes. Whilst at the Aquarium at Porte Dorée, crocodiles, clown fish and other warm water creatures take visitors to tropical climes.
For those who wish to be creative and have fun at the same time, many institutions combine manual activities with food and drink refreshments. At the Oisivethé, you can drink tea while knitting in what resembles a warm and comfy private apartment. Beginners and experienced knitters are welcome, and the lounge area also serves as a shop as both wool and tea can be ‘taken away’! Another knitting cafe in the same vein is Les Petits Points Parisiens, in the 18th arrondissement. For sewing, Brin de Cousette, in the 11th, has everything: tea room, knitting, haberdashery … you can even rent machines!
Combining flowers with refreshments is the novel idea of Peonies, a cafe-cum-florist in the 10th arrondissement. After savouring homemade cakes, pastries or salads, clients leave with a freshly-made bouquet, even in winter! A few petals even garnish some dishes.
Finally, for families, Mombini is a furniture store that has a coffee area for adults, a games area for kids and a variety of workshops for all, including sculpture, yoga, stories for children, English and other lessons.
Spas are perfect places to relax physically and mentally. In Rue Montorgueil, the stone-vaulted Spa Nuxe features treatment rooms and a sensory pool carved into stone that quickly make you forget the hustle and bustle of neighbouring shops.
Nearby, the Spa dans le Noir offers unforgettable pampering, out of the cold ... in the dark! Near to the Louvre, the Arbre à Sens provides treatments and massages from Africa and Asia, for a unique experience. And finally, on the Left Bank, the Energymer Spa offers a genuine mini thalasso.
The Manoir de Paris offers original entertainment for kids and adults in a 1,500 m² haunted house ... Thrills, but not chills guaranteed ... Whilst the Yoo Moov Stations at la Villette is an indoor theme park with lots of adventure for visitors including 3D piloting, laser game and an interactive cinema.
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Finally, for one of the most chic Parisian souvenirs, go to MK2 Bibliothèque for a photo shoot in the decor of the Harcourt Studios.
Many eateries are particularly suited to winter time especially when you are cold and hungry too.
The Loir dans la Théière tea room in Rue des Rosiers is reputed for its hot drinks and famous cakes and pastries. On Rue du Cherche-midi, Mamie Gâteaux is a warm and welcoming tearoom with traditional kitchen interiors and a wide range of delicious cakes. Opened in 1862, Ladurée Royale is the oldest Parisian tea room whose old-fashioned elegance is a credit to the brand’s pastry tradition.
For evening, the Île restaurant, on the lovely island of Saint-Germain, has a dining room heated by a huge fireplace, as well as a glass conservatory offering customers lovely views of the winter landscape. Chimney places are also part of the decor at the restaurant Coupe-Chou in a 17th century building in Saint Germain des Près; an intimate setting for a stylish dinner. In the heart of the Marais district, the restaurant Robert and Louise is a little piece of countryside regaling guests with traditional cuisine prepared in cooking pots or in the chimney place, visible from the dining room.
Finally to enjoy classic French winter dishes like raclettes, fondues or tartiflettes, we suggest the wonderful chalet atmosphere of the Assiette à Fromages in Rue Mouffetard, the passion of the Savoy region at Fondus de la Raclette (3 addresses in Paris), and the pierrades at the Marmiton de Lutèce in Rue Saint-Severin.