As the saying goes, “Paris is always a good idea.” And who can really argue with that? For centuries, Paris has always held a certain allure for travelers. The romance. The art. The culture. Paris is more than a place, it’s a sensation — it’s a state of being. It’s a feeling that pulls you to the city over and over again because it’s impossible not to soak up every ounce of magic that Paris has to offer.
In this post, I’m not talking about the Paris that white-sneakered tourists run through to check every monument off their lists. I’m talking about the Paris that’s meant to get lost in. This is the Paris where you de-rail your carefully detailed tourist plans to enjoy one more glass of wine on a sidestreet cafe. If this is the Paris you seek, there is no better time to travel to the city of love than in November. My most recent trip to Paris was in November with two of my girlfriends, and we could not have had a better experience.
5 Reasons why November is the best time to visit Paris:
1. It’s less crowded with tourists.
Paris holds the number 3 spot for the most visited city in the world– and for good reason. In the summer, hordes of tourists descend upon the city with their fanny packs, oversized cameras and bulky walking shoes. The lines are impossible and the museums are beyond crowded. Anymore, the shoulder months of September and October still see high volumes of tourists. By November, the majority of the crowds have dissipated, and you are free to explore the city like a true Parisian.
When we traveled to Paris in November, we didn’t reserve our tickets for the Louvre ahead of time. Instead, we wanted to plan our museum visits around the weather. Our wait time to enter the Louvre was only around 20-25 minutes, and we had no issues getting tickets the day-of. And while the line outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral looked dreadfully long, we were able to enter within 10 minutes of arrival.
To be clear, the top destinations will always be busy. For example, some parts of the Louvre were still crowded particularly around the Mona Lisa, but that’s to be expected. However, the ease of navigating Paris in November is unlike any other month.
2. The food.
Can Angelina’s famous hot chocolate really taste as good in the sweltering summer heat? Can carb-loading on a million croissants and pain au chocolats really be as satisfying when there’s not an autumn nip in the air? Can downing multiple glasses of Bordeaux and Beaujolais really be as thirst quenching if you’re not cozied up in your favorite sweater in the corner of a French cafe?
With less tourists, it’s a lot easier to snag a reservation at some of the city’s best and most popular restaurants. And for those days when you don’t have every moment planned, you can pop into a restaurant without a reservation and not encounter significant wait times.
3. The weather.
This one could really be listed as both a pro and a con of traveling to Paris in November. Paris in November can be chilly, windy and rainy, but you still have a nice mix of sunny, fall days. (The average temperature in November tends to be around 52 degrees F.) We were there in late November, and we encountered all of the above. We had plenty of nice days to stroll the streets and explore the city, and plenty of chilly days to hunker down and get lost in the depths of our favorite museums.
4. It’s more affordable.
I realize almost every single one of my listed reasons really stems from fewer tourists. But as you can imagine, in November you’ll find cheaper airfare along with more reasonable hotel and AirBNB rates. A lot of people tend to think of Europe as an expensive, untouchable vacation. I have to say between airfare and our AirBNB stay, we each invested only about $1,000. Not bad for a week in one of Europe’s most magical cities!
5. The Christmas Displays and Christmas shopping.
The Christmas displays at Le Galeries de Lafayette are simply jaw-dropping. Even if you’ve been around the world 3 times over, I promise you have never seen anything like this Parisian department store’s Christmas decor. In fact, every department store we came across featured creative and festive Christmas windows.
If the French holiday decorations don’t get you in the mood for Christmas shopping, I don’t know what will. You’re bound to be everybody’s favorite person at Christmas as you pass out your carefully curated Parisian treasures. There’s nothing like seeing someone’s face light up over some spectacular chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat or a signature perfume from the original Chanel. #WinningAtChristmas
And while “Paris is always a good idea,” only the most savvy of travelers know the saying is really:
“Paris in November is always the best idea.”
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