You can’t go wrong seeing Paris in the spring. But the other seasons have plenty to see and do, too.
Some of Paris’ biggest annual events include:
January: Fashion Weeks. Paris holds several different fashion weeks throughout the year, with the first two happening in January. The january events focus on men’s fashion, and women’s haute couture (high fashion). Admission to these events is tricky, though. You have to be invited, usually as a member of the press or the fashion industry. However, members of the general public are sometimes invited in, provided they are dressed for the part.
February: Chinese New Year. February is a low travel season in Paris, during which lines are short and museum
visits more breathable. Also in February, you can see a Chinese New Year parade against a Paris backdrop in many of the city’s Chinatown areas. The Marais District hosts one of the largest parades in Paris, with traditional Chinese dragons and traditional clothing. Getting a good seat for the parade can be a challenge, so arrive early.
March: Printemps du Cinema. Paris comes into full spring swing in March, with plenty of outdoor activity. Also check out Printemps du Cinema; a foreign film festival stretching from Sunday-Tuesday on the chosen weekend in Paris. This is a great opportunity to check out films you may otherwise never see or hear about. Admission is low cost – only about €3.50 ($4.50 U.S.) per session.
April: Easter egg hunt at Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte. In April, just outside of Paris, you can take part in one of the biggest Easter egg hunts on the planet. Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte hides over 50,000 chocolate eggs across the gardens of its’ 1200 acre estate. Reservations are recommended, and admission is €16.50 ($21 U.S.) per person. Families are admitted for €54 ($68 U.S.) – way cheaper than Paris Disneyland.
May: Paris Fair (Foire de Paris). Paris Expo Port de Varsailles hosts this giant trade showover two weeks. The Foire de Paris is split into categories of “House and Lifestyle” (picture the next best thing coming to Home Depot), “Cultures of the World” (great food), “Well Being, Fashion, and Accessories (everything you need to look and feel good), “Leisure and Everyday Life” (good activities for kids), and “Wine and Gastronomy”. One day passes are €12 ($15 U.S.) per person.
June: French Open. Major sporting events in Paris kick in during June, beginning with the French Open at Stade Roland Garros. This is one of the four international tennis Grand Slam tournaments, and is the premier clay court event in the world. Tickets for the event range from about €160 ($200 U.S.) for a Grounds Pass, up to €800 ($1000 U.S.) to see the men’s final championship match. If the ticket prices seem a bit steep, you can watch the whole thing for free on a big screen set up at the Eiffel Tower.
July: Tour de France. The final stage of the month long Tour de France cycling race finishes at Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees. Finding a good spot on the Champs-Elysees to watch the riders can be tough. However, the race path often loops around the Louvre and the Tuileries, so you can find less crowded and better viewing in those areas. No tickets are required to watch, but getting to the race path early will help you to see the event up close.
August: Rock en Seine. August is the warmest month of the year in Paris, and lots of locals leave the city. At the same time, lots of rock music fans come in to see the three day Rock en Seine music festival. Rock en Seine attracts big name rock bands, incuding most recently Lana el Ray, Artic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, and Cage the Elephant. Three day passes are €120 ($150 U.S.).
September: Le Grand Feu Fireworks Show. Mid September hosts this little known fireworks show, which is actually one of the biggest and longest in the world. Each section of the show is choreographed to music, with the fireworks supporting the music, not taking it over. Parc de St Cloud in the outskirts of Paris is the venue. Admission fee required, from €30 to €80 ($38 to $100 U.S.) depending on how close you’d like to sit.
October: Fêtes des Vendanges. Montmartre hosts the Fêtes des Vendanges (translation: harvest feast) each October, celebrating the area’s unique grape harvest. This event stretches from Wednesday to Sunday, and includes a parade, grape stomping, and of course food and wine tasting. A fireworks show over the Sacre Coeur takes place on Saturday night.
November: Pitchfork Music Festival. This is another three-day music festival, this time being held at Grande Halle de la Villette. Recent artists at Pitchfork Paris have included Chvrches, St. Vincent, and Tune-Yards. Admission is similar to Rock en Seine, at €110 ($140 U.S.) for a three-day pass. Note: Pitchfork also hosts a three-day music festival in Chicago, Illinois in July each year.
December: Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysees. Combine New York’s Rockefeller Center and Munich’s Christmas Market, and you get the Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. This is the biggest Christmas market in Paris, complete with tons of shopping, spiced wine (like Munich) and a huge ice skating rink (like New York). Admission is free, and it’s open daily through December.