It doesn't matter when you visit Paris, as sites like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées still remain mandatory tourist fare year-round.
But it's in the colder months, when sunlight isn't so prominent, that denizens of the French capital go all out to ensure its monumental municipality is spit-shined for all to enjoy.
What awaits visitors is a kaleidoscopic exhibition stunning enough to forget the inconvenience of donning winter woolies.
There are options galore; here are just a few.
Lights, Lights Everywhere!
Ever since Louis XIV commissioned a slew of street lamps around the city to cut down on late-night street crime, Paris has gained its reputation for being dubbed the City of Lights. Whether you're booked at a luxury hotel or bed and breakfast, you won't have to go far to bear witness to evidence of all that legendary luminescence. Naturally, your first stop would be the Eiffel Tower, where its 20,000 lights sparkle more than ever after the early sunset. That's after you take to the rink and skate near the mammoth structure.
And for a more aerial view of the city, which resembles an elaborate jewel box illuminating the surrounding darkness, head up to one of the tower's perches. If you want to inject a carnival element to your site-seeing, the ferris wheel by the Champs-Élysées is an ideal way to take in the civic splendor. The ride, open until midnight, is an experience in itself at nine bucks a ticket. Either way, make sure to dress warm as winds at those altitudes will remind you about the frosty aspects of winter.
Tour The City On Foot Or By Bike
Paris might not be so inviting in the winter, but with average highs hovering in the mid-40s Fahrenheit, it's still warm enough to tour the city on foot. Better still, take on the town on a two-wheeler, an amenity that's a relatively bitter-cold experience in other northern clime, especially in the U.S. Other advantages include the open-air experience of taking in the city, unhampered by the roof and other confines of a rental car, as well as being able to zip onto side streets to see elaborate winter displays on all the mom 'n' pop boutiques.
The experience is made possible by a unique bike system called Velib-Metropole, a rental system where you can either choose a blue electric bike or a green pedal-powered two-wheeler. You can register online for a rate of your choosing and selecting a bike is as easy as locating on of several velib ports around the city.
This piece would be remiss if it didn't mention Christmas time as part of any Parisian winter excursion. And a lot of them are worth the effort to see how major attractions add a festive twist to their amenities. For starters, the Christmas markets are scattered all over town and offer the best in delectable snacks and other goodies, sometimes with a healthy nip of mulled wine to ward off the cold.
It's almost mandatory for every retailer to deck their halls and storefronts in Yuletide finery and you can't go wrong gaping at the gigantic, elaborate Christmas tree set up annually at Galeries Lafayette. Finally, those with families might want to see how everyone's favorite animated characters dress up in festive finery at Disneyland Paris.