In general, low season is considered to run from 1 November to 31 March and high season from 1 April to 31 October.
Many major events and celebrations take place in Paris throughout the year and the increase in the number of visitors has a knock-on effect on availability: Easter, Bastille Day (14 July), Christmas and New Year, and also international fairs and trade shows (Motor Show, “Foire de Paris”, Agricultural Show, etc.) and “haute couture” fashion collections… So don’t forget to reserve well in advance if you wish to visit Paris at these times.
These correspond to French national holidays or to religious holidays from the Christian calendar.
- 1 January: New Year’s Day
- Between 22 March and 25 April: Easter Monday
- 1 May: Labour Day
- 8 May: Victory 1945
- 20 May: Ascension
- 30 May: Whit Monday
- 14 July: Bastille Day
- 15 August: Assumption Day
- 1 November: All Saints’ Day
- 11 November: Armistice 1918
- 25 December: Christmas Day
Museums and monuments are more likely to be closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Be sure to check beforehand.
Experience Paris during the excitement of Bastille Day or the magic of Christmas! Most of the French national celebrations correspond to a public holiday, not counting events like the “Fête de la Musique”. It’s sometimes an opportunity for Parisians and their fellow countrymen to “faire le pont”, or take a long weekend, by adding another day. Make sure you find out before your visit.
New Year: 1 January
Spend New Year’s Eve with friends, at home, in the cafés or restaurants that organize special celebrations. Before midnight arrives, everyone gets together on the Champs-Elysées or at the Eiffel Tower with bottles of champagne, to await the twelve strokes of midnight and the inevitable New Year kisses, to exchange wishes for health and happiness.
“Fête des Rois” (Epiphany): 1st Sunday after New Year
On this Sunday, bakeries sell tasty “galettes”: round, flat pastries filled with buttery almond paste. A small figurine (“fève”) is baked inside the pastry and if you find it in your portion, you’ll be crowned king or queen.
Valentine's Days : 14 Febuary
The day for lovers. Red hearts and roses fill the shop windows. In Paris, the electronic information boards display the sweetest words of love sent in by net surfers.
Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday): 24 February
This is a day for masked balls and fancy dress. It marks the start of Lent (or fasting) in the Christian calendar so it is often the moment to treat yourselves!
Easter: between 22 March and 25 April
High point of the Christian calendar. Traditionally at this time, the window displays of cake shops and chocolate makers fill with eggs and other chocolate shapes for children to search for in the garden… or in their homes.
“Fête du Travail” (Labour Day): 1 May
Also the day chosen for major union events. On this day too, sprigs of lily of the valley, found on sale in the streets and in florists, are given or received as gifts for good luck.
Fête de la Musique : 21 june
Free concerts throughout the city. Music of all kinds, from classical to techno, rock to world music, can be heard at every street corner. Parisians who sing or play music go down into the streets…
Bastille Day: 14 July
The French National holiday celebrates 14 July 1789 and the French Revolution. A huge military parade on the Champs-Elysées, in the presence of the French President, draws crowds of spectators. In Paris and all over France, this major popular celebration is witness to spectacular firework displays and fun-filled dances on the evening of 13 July, especially those held in local fire stations.
Days of Heritage: 3rd weekend in September
A unique opportunity to discover, free of charge, marvels that are inaccessible during the rest of the year, in Paris and throughout France. Major private or official buildings open their doors to the public. An event to be made the most of, because it only takes place 2 days a year, the 3rd weekend in September, to round off the summer beautifully. The Days of Heritage were first created in 1984 by the Ministry for Arts. The huge wealth of French heritage justifies the success of this event which draws each year millions of intrigued visitors and lovers of art and history. Volunteer guides are happy to talk to you about masterpieces of civil or religious architecture, parks and gardens, archaeological sites and even industrial heritage.
Beaujolais Nouveau: 3rd Thursday in November
The arrival of the first AOC (“appellation d’origine contrôlée”) wines of the year. The whole of France celebrates the Beaujolais Nouveau which, though it may not be a great wine, provides an occasion to celebrate with friends in cafés and bistros.
Noël : 25 décembre
Celebrating the birth of Christ. This is when you’ll find Christmas markets, ice rinks, decorated windows displays at the department stores, illuminations along the main avenues, such as the Champs-Elysées or the Boulevard Haussmann, nativity scenes and midnight mass. It is above all a family celebration around the tree and over a good meal: here oysters, turkey, foie gras and Christmas log are on the menu… while presents are exchanged.
Chinese New Year: end January - beginning February
The Chinese community in Paris, for the most part resident in the 13th “arrondissement”, holds its New Year celebrations. There is a spectacular and colourful parade, with dragons, music and traditional costumes.
Paris Marathon: early April
Bringing together as many as 30,000 participants, representing over 70 countries, to cover the famous 42.195 km around the most prestigious points in the capital: from the avenue des Champs-Elysées to avenue Foch, via Bastille, Nation, Vincennes, the Tuileries gardens, etc.
Foire du Trône funfair: end March to end May
The “Foire du Trône” was once known as the Gingerbread Fair. It used to be held, from 1957 to 1965, on the cours de Vincennes and took the name Foire du Trône from the nearby avenue du Trône, framed by two columns, that links the place de la Nation to the cours de Vincennes. A huge and celebrated funfair, situated nowadays on the Reuilly field in 12th “arrondissement”, it offers big wheels, spectacular and thrilling rides, traditional roundabouts (wooden horses, dodgems, etc.), haunted houses, shooting ranges to win cuddly toys, sweet stalls, waffles…
Gay Pride: last weekend in June
Lesbian, gay, bi and transgender parade. Protest, fun, themed floats and electronic music.
Canal en fête: last weekend in June
This “green alternative” celebration has as its setting the Canal Saint-Martin. A mix of musical events, street theatre, toy-swaps for kids, attic sales, a village of associations, big and small, who protect the planet.
Foire Saint-Germain: early June to early July
A rich programme for the 6th “arrondissement”: antiques, books, ceramics, poetry, exhibitions, and also theatre and world music and classical concerts and French “chanson”.
La Goutte d’Or en fête: end June - early July
Art festival celebrating cultural and ethnic diversity in this neighbourhood in the 18th “arrondissement”, defined by boulevard Barbès, rue Ordener, boulevard de la Chapelle and rue Stephenson. On the agenda: theatre, exhibitions and raï, reggae, rap, gospel or classical concerts. This district’s name dates back to the15th century: at the time its vineyards produced a white wine known as “Goutte d’Or” (“drop of gold”).
Lavagem do Sacré Cœur: early July
Procession through Montmartre and ritual washing of the steps of Sacré Cœur, organized by the Brazilian community of Paris. This event is inspired by the festival of the patron saint of Salvador da Bahia. Participants in this joyful procession, with traditional music and costumes, are all dressed in white and carry flowers.
Fête de Ganesh: early September
The Indian community of the 10th and 18th “arrondissements” celebrate Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, protector of the home and bringer of luck and prosperity. Don’t miss this exotic and colourful traditional parade, accompanied by musicians, dancers and rituals.
Fête de l’Humanité: second weekend in September
Popular festival organized by the Communist party and the newspaper “L’Humanité”, which takes place in La Courneuve, in the north of Paris. Cheap snacks and varied concerts (rock, rap, world music…).
Techno Parade: mid-September
Electronic music fills the streets of Paris for this big parade. The young and young-at-heart come here to dance around the numerous floats.
Fête des Vendanges: 1st or 2nd weekend in October
Montmartre holds its harvest festival for its little square of vineyards and the arrival of the latest vintage. An opportunity for a cheerful celebration.
“Nuit Blanche” (Sleepless Night): early October
Visits of artistic and cultural Paris… by night.
Visit Paris according to the school holiday dates in the different zones, whether you have children or not. If you do have children, you’ll appreciate the school holiday period for the daily activities on offer. The big funfairs are also on at this time.
And notably, when hordes of Parisians set off on their holidays, they leave a more accessible city, especially during the month of August: plenty of free parking places, less traffic, more room to move in the shops and the Parisians that remain are much more relaxed…
The main school holidays also tend to coincide with the annual closing of certain shops.
Different zones, different dates
France is divided into 3 administrative zones. The holiday dates are slightly staggered to avoid overloading the trains and airports.