Who visits Paris in January?
The thing about Paris in the winter is that it’s preferable to remain indoors. A lot of people aren’t interested in strolling along the Seine when your socks are squelching every time you press them into your shoes.
That said, if you keep an eye on the forecast and pack appropriate footwear, you can have a lot of fun mixing indoor and outdoor activities in this beautiful city. Also, I’ve noticed instead of just suffering through the rain like us Pacific Northwesters, Parisians just duck under an awning and wait out the worst swells before continuing on beneath an umbrella.
Anyways, there are dozens of book shops, cafes and museums you can visit when the weather is sub-par. Then, when the rain clears, you can meander through one of the city’s many green spaces and check out the touristy things like the Eiffel Tower and what-not. If you’re comfortable spending a little extra cash to spend time indoors during the winter (think between 10 and 15 euros per museum entry, and 3-5 euros for a coffee), you’ll be able to snag a cheaper flight, shorter lines for everything, and most likely a cheaper place to stay. Summer is the height of tourism in France, so if you can get over the weather, winter is a great time to get a feel for the real Paris.
Part of that whole “real Paris thing?” Learn to speak a little French. I went to Musee Cluny today, and the security guard asked me something I didn’t quite get, so I said “je ne parle pas francais.” She scolded me like a kid and said (in French): “you’re in Paris, learn to speak French, no?”
The funny thing is, I understood what she was saying quite clearly. For every meal I’ve ordered so far, and for every purchase I’ve made, I’ve spoken entirely in French. I ordered “le petit dejuner et un cafe” this morning at a brasserie and bought “une chocolatine et un pain d’antan bio” while thanking waiters (merci beaucoup!) and wishing them a good evening (bonsoir). I’ve been offered selections of fruits, asked for money by beggars, and hit on by vaguely creepy men on the sidewalk. I can totally understand everything that’s being said to me, through a combination of my knowledge of French and visual context. The part I’m not great at is the speaking, because I have to think and conjugate and translate.
Anyway, the museum itself was phenomenal. I actually went to see the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, which I’ve loved since I was a little kid, but the exhibition was closed for restoration this week. Still, there were many other equally beautiful tapestries, and because of the restoration my ticket was cut to a mere 6 euros.
Even more beautiful than the tapestries were these mesmerizing rooms filled with ancient stained glass windows…
Just standing in four walls of that was unbelievable. I was in awe, especially because these were created in like the 14th century (or the 16th… I forget). Tomorrow my plan is to head to a few more museums, because after my first one today, the rain let up! I wanted to walk as much as I could while the weather wasn’t too bad, so I did…
Just endless, endless beauty.
Eventually, I did get a little hungry, but couldn’t decide what to eat. I stumbled upon Angelina, the place whose famous chocolat chaud I’d heard was once a favorite of Coco Chanel’s.
So of course I went in, had a deliciously thick mug of chocolat chaud with a pile of rich whipped cream, and watched the rain thunder down through huge glass windows.
Thus fueled, I continued walking. My legs were starting to ache at this point, but it’s PARIS. There is so much to see! I got a little lost trying to find my way back to the Seine (my guidepost for figuring out where I am in Paris) but meandered through this park for a while.
I didn’t mind the grey weather so much, but I was elated when the sun came out for a few hours in the afternoon. Still wanting to really make the most of that light in the sky, I did something I didn’t even know you could do.
I climbed the Eiffel tower!
See that second ring around the base?
Turns out there are stairs leading up to it! The line was super long for the elevator ride up, but while I was standing in it I noticed a couple walking through the tower on the other side of the base. I went over and, walking past the non-existent line right up to the ticket booth, asked for a 10$ walking ticket. When they asked for my age, they told me it was only 5 euros.
Ticket in hand, I began the dizzying climb.
I’m not wonderful with heights, so it was a little frightening…
But, oh my god, was it worth it.
It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.
With that, I’d like to wish you bonsoir, and I will see you in a few days. Maybe tomorrow. It depends on what the day brings! Remember to follow my Instagram @kenaia for more photos and videos.
I hope you enjoyed this post!