Paris, the romantic City of Lights.
With a recorded 22 million visitors in 2015, which is almost the equivalent of the entire Australian population, it raises the question of whether there really is a best month to visit Paris. That sure is a lot of people! Having said that, is Paris really the of City of Lights or City of Tourist Hoards?
The latter title is definitely an accurate description of what you could expect over the summer months. It’s fascinating to watch the crowds squeeze together like sardines attempting to get that Instagrammable shot of the Mona Lisa or witness the endless queues snaking their way up to the Eiffel Tower observation deck.
Having experienced the wonders of this inspiring city at several different times of the year, I recognised there IS a best month to visit Paris.
So why is March the best month to visit Paris?
March is that usually uneventful month between the Christmas holidays and Easter break many travellers seem to completely overlook. It shouldn’t be! There are loads of benefits to visit this incredible destination in March.
Here’s 6 reasons revealed:
#1 Transition of seasons:
Snow is a rarity in Paris (on average only 15 days per year) but with the right weather combination towards the end of winter it’s definitely possible. Otherwise, if you miss out on snow there will be encouraging signs of spring in the air with pastel pink flowers starting to blossom. I was so fortunate to experience this beautiful city in the snow and I was incredibly excited to have checked “See Snow in Paris” off my Bucket List! I’ll let my pictures here speak for themselves 😉
#2 Where are the tourists?
According to statistics fewer tourists in March 2016 (1.7m compared to 1.9m in Oct 2016) will obviously mean smaller queues at the major attractions. Spend less time being bored to death lining up for hours and more time enjoying the sights that make Paris, Paris! Maybe you’ll even be mistaken for a local in true Invisible Tourist fashion 😉
TIP: To save even more time, you can buy tickets in advance for many attractions. I’ll list them and some other popular European attractions here.
#3 Minimal pickpockets:
Unfortunately Paris is notorious for pickpockets but in March they are very few and far between. For the stubborn ones that do hang around in the colder months, they easily stand out when they’re deprived of the camouflage big crowds provide. By keeping an eye out for a few signs and being aware of how they operate they’ll know you’ve caught onto them and will keep their distance.
TIP: Watch out for people who seemingly have nowhere to be and lurk mysteriously around crowds at tourist hotspots such as The Sacre Cœur, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and The Louvre. As mentioned here, being an Invisible Tourist means having a healthy dose of scepticism when you’re travelling.
#4 Almost have the city to yourself:
You’ll be able to take enviable photos of landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and Moulin Rouge because they’re less likely to feature other people unintentionally photobombing them. The only overcrowding you’re likely to encounter is from commuters on the Metro and RER during rush hour (which is to be expected).
TIP: If you need to ask a Parisian for advice on the Metro, be sure to address them in French by greeting them politely and excusing yourself before you ask your question (eg Bonjour Monsieur, excusez-moi, then your question). If your accent isn’t perfect but you adopt this custom it will be greatly appreciated and highly likely they’ll answer you in English anyway!
#5 Loads of things to do indoors:
If the day turns miserable there are plenty of things to see and do out of the cooler weather. Crowds will be minimal so you’ll be able to enjoy each activity to the fullest. Yay! Take advantage of this by visiting the many museums that make Paris so inspiring, slow down and dine the Parisian way at a café or shop up a storm at stylish department stores Galleries Lafayette or Printemps.
#6 The French AREN’T rude:
This goes for any month but you’ll soon realise the “French are rude” stereotype is a total myth. Honestly, I can say I’ve never personally encountered a rude Parisian during all my visits. In actual fact my travel buddy and I were invited to an exclusive after party by meeting locals in a pub one night because we got along so well!
In my opinion this stigma is quite undeserved because it’s the usually the visitors who don’t put in much effort. As I’ve explained previously, learning enough of the local language opens multiple doors of opportunity to enrich your travel experience. That’s what being an Invisible Tourist is all about.
Where to stay?
Hotel Relais Montmartre
Being my third visit to Paris I hadn’t stayed in Montmartre before and was extremely glad I chose Hotel Relais Montmartre. Situated on a very quiet street just off Rue Lepic it’s only a few minute’s walk to the Metro, Moulin Rouge, restaurants, and shops. Place du Tertre and the Sacré-Cœur are about a 10-15 minute walk away. The room was on the small side (that is to be expected in Paris – but we weren’t there to spend much time in our room anyway) although very clean and well kept. Staff were very friendly and joked with us crazy Aussies when my travel buddy and I were dancing in the snow outside. It’s the perfect hotel in the heart of Montmartre.
Would I visit Paris in March again?
Absolutely! And I’d highly recommend it to others.
Although it’s magical in the summer months, sometimes I feel as though too many visitors in Paris can hinder the type of experience you have. Big draw card attractions such as Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower observation deck are much more enjoyable without the elbows of others constantly poking into your ribs. Go make the most of this awe-inspiring city during a time when many other travellers overlook it!
If you’re interested in finding out how I learnt French and other languages you can find out in my post here! For more travel inspiration be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Show some love and Pin it! 📌
Until next time,
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