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When the City of Light Truly Lives up to Its Name
In December, Paris bursts out of its sleepy autumn quiet and lights up— literally and figuratively. It's known year-round as the city of light, but in the final monh, one could say that it truly lives up to that nickname.
Otherwise-bare trees lining the Champs-Elysées are artfully strung with garlands of shimmering light, and many other places around the city are decorated in the same festive, and decidedly elegant, way.
If you have kids in tow, they're in for a real treat: Ice-skating rinks are set up at several locations around the city, and “Santa's villages” complete with toboggans and snow are often on the menu.
Meanwhile, every year without fail Christmas markets spring up all around the city, with their warm, wood-roofed “chalets”, vin chaud (hot wine), enchanting decorations, artisanal gifts and gourmet treats. Chanukah celebrations like menorah lightings add to Paris' holiday-season charm. There are also plenty of ways to celebrate a memorable Christmas in Paris.
With all its good cheer, Paris in December is nonetheless fairly relaxed, making the month an ideal time to take advantage of the city's many iconic sights and attractions. Take your time exploring museums, sipping cinnamon-infused hot wine, warming your hands and insides with some thick, gooey hot chocolate, or attending a special holiday concert. Have a real retreat from the holiday madness back home and try taking Paris in frame by frame, like a painter would.
Because of the seasonal rush and a corresponding spike in fares, travel to Paris in December can be costly– so make sure to reserve your plane or train tickets well in advance.Continue to 2 of 2 below.
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Average Weather in December, and How to Pack Your Suitcase
December in the French capital is generally cold, and often rainy or icy. Temperatures often approach zero– and sometimes descend below freezing.
Snow is rare, however, and when it does come it usually melts on hitting the ground, often turning into a sludgy slush that can be both irritating and dangerous to navigate without good traction on your shoes. Wind chill can make cold seem more biting.
The December Thermometer:
- Minimum temperature: 3 degrees C (37.4 degrees F)
- Maximum temperature: 7 degrees C (44.6 degrees F)
- Average temperature: 4 degrees C (39.2 degrees F)
- Average monthly rainfall: 49 millimeters (1.9 inches)
How to Pack Your Suitcase?
- Make sure to stock your suitcase with warm cotton or wool sweaters, scarves, coats and thick socks. Bring at least one or two warm turtlenecks, and line your bags with clothes that are easy to layer.
- A sturdy umbrella is a must, as flimsier ones often won't withstand sudden downpours or gusts of wind. You may also want to pack a windbreaker with a hood that stays in place.
- Bring at least two pairs of shoes, both waterproof. One pair should provide good traction in case of snow or ice. Heels should be reserved for indoor events as the streets can be slick or icy. If your feet get cold easily, bring a pair of comfortable waterproof boots.
- A pair of light waterproof gloves and a hat can make walking around more comfortable, but you won't need anything approaching snow or ski gear. Places like New York and Chicago get much colder in the winter.
- Toting around a small thermos for hot drinks can be a good way to keep motivated in the Parisian winter wonderland.
- One more word of advice on packing: since this is shopping and winter sales season, you may want to think about packing as lightly as you can to reserve space in your suitcase for holiday delicacies or gifts you plan to bring back home. Even if you don't have any specific plans to shop, the combination of markets peddling enticing holiday treats and the lure of gorgeously decorated shop windows may make you change your mind. Having some extra space for holiday goodies is always wise.
Book Your December Trip:
Lock in a good deal on flights and hotels early by consulting sites like TripAdvisor (book direct).
Finally, if you're seeking the perfect accommodations but don't know where to start, you can browse thousands of reader reviews and book hotels direct at TripAdvisor.