Lights! Shopping! Museums! Action! Winter is a wonderful time to enjoy Paris, especially now that the Paris Region Pass allows you to combine all your unlimited travel and cultural visits in one convenient, credit card-sized ticket. Here we count down some great reasons to head to the City of Light en hiver.
4. Cultural Experiences
No place on earth can match the iconic cultural experiences that Paris offers. Its historic museums draw visitors in their millions from around the world.
First, why not revisit a classic? The most famous museum of all is the Louvre, the official royal residence until Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles in the 1600s. Stretching out alongside the Seine, it houses a priceless collection and is today the most visited museum in the world. While it is unlikely that you will manage to see all 35,000 items in a single visit, you can cherry pick your preferred speciality, from Egyptology to the French and Italian masters.
Do not miss a trip to the Salle des Etats to glimpse the all-seeing gaze of the Mona Lisa, or learn about the building’s history and evolution, with displays at the Pavillon de l’Horloge.
Next, serious art lovers could head to the Musée d’Orsay, the hub of world-famous modern art housed in a former railway station. The unmissable exhibition this winter is Picasso, Blue and rose, which runs until January 6, 2019. It is the first major collaboration between the Musée d’Orsay and the national Picasso-Paris museum and brings together a number of masterpieces, some of which are previously unseen in France. It places the works of the young Picasso against the backdrop of the 1900-1906 period of his career.
Another museum to inspire the imagination is the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (called MAD for short), which is home to some 150,000 decorative arts objects, from exquisite jewellery to historic tableware. Especially riveting are the faithful recreations of period rooms such as a Second Empire lounge and an Art Deco bathroom. If the French art of living fills you with passion, this is the museum for you.
Finally, why not head out of the city to the flamboyant masterpiece of all palaces, Château de Versailles? This is a feast for the eyes, where the wow-factor is unsurpassed as you become immersed in luxury and French history, via mirrored rooms, sumptuous apartments and lavishly grand, reverie-inducing gardens.
3. Unforgettable Views in the Evening
No city is quite as easy on the eye as Paris, so why not take in these three mesmerising views as night falls? After all, the city of light also looks fabulous in the dark!
Firstly, head to Arc de Triomphe, a piece of neoclassical architecture directly inspired by the triumphal arches of antiquity. A climb of 284 steps leads to a panoramic terrace 50 metres up with superb views over the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the cityscape beyond. This behemoth symbol of Napoleonic grandeur offers one of the great vistas in the capital.
For an entirely different nighttime perspective of iconic Parisian sights, take to the water for a cruise along the River Seine. Spot the most famous bridges, spot and snap photos of the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, Louvre and Saint-Germain-des-Prés while on the move and soak up the ambience of the vibrant city as the soirée unfolds.
Finally, we have a hunch that a guided tour of the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral’s towers on the Ile de la Cité will give you an eye-opening view like no other – out over the traditional Christmas market (14-23 December, until 8pm, 9pm on Wednesdays) and the River Seine below! Climb the 422 steps to the top of this quintessential Gothic cathedral, begun in 1163, and the visual rewards are special!
2. Inspired walks
What could be more perfectly romantic than an arm-in-arm, morning stroll from the Amélie-inspiring Montmartre area to the city’s grand department stores for a spot of festive shopping?
Begin by enjoying the atmosphere and charm of the village of Montmartre, with its panoramic view from the Sacré Cœur, the Moulin Rouge, grands boulevards and covered passages.
Then head ‘downtown’ to department stores such as Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Hassmann to snap up some treats for loved ones – the shop windows all dressed up for Christmas are sure to entice you inside. Ready for lunch? Why not try the brand new Printemps du Goût eatery?
Another great themed walk takes in the monuments that line the banks of the River Seine as you make your way from the Bastille towards the Eiffel Tower. Along the way are plenty of tempting possibilities for cultural stops: Notre Dame Tower tours, a visit to the Conciergerie medieval palace, Sainte-Chapelle church, Institut du monde arabe, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée du quai Branly, Musée Rodin, Les Invalides… the list goes on!
1. Paris Region Pass ‘Experience’ in your pocket :
The perfect new way to take full advantage of all of these fabulous cultural institutions – and to skip ticket queues – is to purchase a Paris Region Experience pass.
In addition to free entry to more than 50 of the city’s top museums, the handy, simple and fast to use Pass also provides unlimited public transport in the city and wider region (métro, bus, tram, RER, Orlybus, Roissybus and Orlyval) plus a one-hour Seine river cruise and unlimited hop-on, hop-off open top bus tour (both with commentary in English).
The key to the Paris Region Pass is that everything you need for your Paris stay is contained on one credit-card sized ticket, plus you can order it online at home and pick it up at one of four “information centres” when you arrive.
These can be found at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (perfect for those arriving from the UK) and Paris Orly airports as well as Galeries Lafayette and Disneyland Paris®. Tourist advisors are on hand seven days a week in these locations to advise on using the pass and to provide other visitor tips and guides.