If you’re not used to low temperatures, Parisian winters can be tiring. Sunrise is late, sunset is early and sunlight is rare. It’s likely to be rainy with cold winds that will no doubt freeze you as you explore the city on foot. The weather might cause low morale and maybe even a bad mood. That being said, we want you to have a great experience in our city! We’ve therefore gathered some morale-boosting advice to help you fight off the cold temperatures and truly enjoy wintertime in Paris.
1. Dress appropriately
The first thing to do before stepping outside is to get the right set of clothes. Ideally this includes boots, a scarf, gloves and a hat or earmuffs. Keep in mind that you’re in a major fashion capital, so you’ll need to look fancy if you want to blend in with the locals! Being fashionable while staying warm is not that easy to achieve, so don’t hesitate to take some time to observe how Parisians dress. For instance, you’ll notice that bright colours aren’t very common and that many people wear black, especially in winter. There’s no real reason to explain why Parisians have such a passion for black clothes. Maybe it has something to do with their gloomy mood!
Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff
2. Take good care of yourself
Exercise is an excellent way to fight off the low temperatures. An economical way to get your heart rate up in Paris is to run in one of the city’s numerous parks. Getting motivated can be difficult, but you’ll soon discover that you’re not alone and seeing other runners will motivate you even more. You’ll feel healthier and your body will be better armed to brave the cold. Eating quality food is also important for staying in good condition. Another Parisian local listed the top 10 markets in Paris, including several excellent food markets offering fresh products. Lastly, the extreme temperatures repeatedly attack your skin, especially your face and hands. Luckily you can find many high-quality skincare and dermatological products in local shops and supermarkets.
Photo credit: Adrian Navarro
3. Seek refuge in cafés
Cafés are great shelters when the cold is harsh and when it’s raining. Fortunately, there are many of them in the French capital. Brasseries, cafés, coffeehouses and tearooms enable you to have a break and warm up during your long escapades through the city. Cafés are typical meeting places for French people. It’s not unusual for Parisians to spend an entire afternoon at a café chatting with friends. They are also great places to taste French pastries. Don’t feel guilty – there are good reasons to treat yourself: 1) your body needs calories to store energy and 2) it’s not every day you’re in Paris! For the gourmands, we’ve created a sweet tooth’s guide to Paris so you can discover the city’s best pastries. If you’re more into warming yourself up with a hot drink, check out our guide to the best places for hot chocolate in Paris.
Photo credit: Oriol Llado
4. Enjoy the winter cityscape
The Paris cityscape is extra special in winter. The brown colour of the Seine is very different from summer. Time seems to stand still. Parks are much quieter and more atmospheric. The frozen environment is an invitation to reveries and romantic strolls.
Sometimes snow disturbs the quiet environment and creates great bustle. It doesn’t snow very often in Paris, but when it does, it can be funny to observe what’s happening around you. People tend to use their cars more and create huge traffic jams. Many inhabitants wear shoes that aren’t designed for snowy conditions, so they slip on icy pavements. Even during these cold and difficult periods, you’ll notice that many Parisian’s don’t give up on style!
Photo credit: Panoramas
5. Do what locals do
When the weather isn’t nice, many Parisians prefer indoor activities. They go to exhibitions, museums, theatres, cinemas and concerts. Many cinemas screen films in the original language, so if you don’t speak French, you can still watch movies in English. Parisians also shop a lot and enjoy the winter sales. In 2015, the winter sales take place from January 7th until February 17th.
You can also keep warm at home – invite your friends over and prepare a great dinner for them! This is a great opportunity to complain about the cold weather. French people are known for being grumpy. They (we) complain about many things – it’s part of the culture. The weather is a common topic to complain about. Embrace this philosophy and grumble!
Better yet, you can stay at home under your comfortable quilt.
Photo credit: Philip Choi
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Magali is a project manager in the luxury hospitality industry. She was born in Nice, France. She recently moved to San Francisco, California, after having worked in Paris for six years. The City of Light is still in her heart and she never misses the opportunity to wander its streets and discover new spots each time she returns to France. She also lived in Italy when she was a student. One of her dreams is to travel the entire country in a single month by car.
Opening photo credit: Celine Gumiel