|Paris Made Simple||
When is the best time to go?
I love going in March or April. The city is coming alive with fresh strawberries to buy from street vendors and beautiful tulips planted plentifully all over Paris. The weather can be tricky. I've been there in March and they were having a heat wave in the 80s. But, once I went in April and had not packed warm clothes and it was raining and chilly - I got a cold!! The prices are still often low season prices. Most of the tourists will be school kids on tours from all over the world.
June is nice, prices are starting to creep up, but you may be able to find good prices. The weather is warm but not "I need to be at the beach" hot. The tourists haven't hit in full yet either. The flowers and gardens will be just amazing!
July is hot. The French usually go on holiday mid-July so the city changes drastically from the beginning of the month to the end. There will be tourists from all over the world and the lines will be long. But Paris is a beautiful city when it's streets and boulevards are full of happy explorers. Prices will be at full.
August is HOT. Most Parisians have gone somewhere else (as Europeans travel a lot). The people left behind to deal with you may not be at their best. This would be my last choice for times to visit: the people you came to mingle with are gone, the one's left wish they were elsewhere, and did I say that it's hot?
However, I've heard that the city of Paris has taken steps to make it more enjoyable during August for both the remaining Parisians and the tourists. And truthfully, if someone said it was the only time I could go, I'd go!
Just be prepared. I've heard people come back from an August vacation in Paris full of frustration. Comments I rarely hear after visits during other times of the year. I've always thought that perhaps they weren't prepared.
The fall is radiant, warm - but not too warm - and golden. The Parisians are back from their holidays and in a nice mood. It's pretty amazing to see most of a population back from a refreshingly long holiday and ready to get back to business.There's so much to like in the fall! Be warned though, the prices do not drop much.
Personally, Parisian winters are cold. Not like 20 degrees below, but that damp, bone chilling cold. But properly dressed and prepared though, there are some great advantages to visiting in Winter such as no tourist crowds and really great prices.
The exception is Christmas which is considered high season. Lots of people go to Paris for their holiday.
How Long Should You Stay?
How long your trip to Paris should be depends on many factors: who you may be leaving behind, how much vacation you can get, and how much you can afford to spend.
When planning your trip, here are some things to remember:
Getting To Paris Steals Your Time
You basically lose a day on each end of your trip to Paris. Since I live close to Boston, the trip is as short as it gets, especially if I fly direct. But you may have connecting flights and long travel time.
No matter what, you're going to feel like mashed up banana by the time you finally get to your accommodations in Paris.
Unless of course you're lucky enough to fly First Class and it really IS as spa-like as the airlines make it look!
And of course, there's jet lag. There is a 6 hour time difference between the East Coast and Paris. Of course, there maybe more from where you come.
I've found that jet lag is more difficult when you get to Paris than when you get home. The only thing you have in your favor is the adrenaline from excitement. It's generally just enough of a boost to get you to your hotel or apartment from the airport. Then you'll need to crash for a few hours!
It's Easy to Overbook Yourself!
The shorter the vacation, the more you feel you need to see. Remember the anecdotes about people who do 10 countries in 12 days and they don't remember anything? What a huge waste of time and money.
The best way to enjoy your trip is to not overbook yourself. There is so much to see and do in Paris, it's really easy to plan too many things and then feel stressed out how to fit it all in.
I advise planning no more than three big attractions for each week you stay. That may not sound like a lot, but everything takes longer than you think. Even with two weeks, I often need to chop things off my list as our schedule flexes to fit in other fun activities. You'll definitely want enough time for spontaneous activities and for just sitting at a cafe watching people. After all, you're in Paris!