While we can never fully fall out of love with the city of amour, there are undoubtedly times when Paris’ enduring charm has its downsides – Christmas and summertime can be rather challenging, thanks to the deluge of last-minute shoppers and selfie-touting tourists. Rather than face the hordes, enjoy a faff-free visit in the less popular months of January or February, with our top picks for très bien winter break.
The Granddaddy of art cities, no trip to gay Paree would be complete without visiting a show. Post-Christmas is a great time to exhibition-hop, thanks to fewer crowds, shorter queues and (relatively) empty galleries. Pop Musée Picasso’s two must-sees in the diary: Picasso 1947, a one-of-a-kind showcase featuring 10 masterpieces (until 28 Jan) and Picasso 1932, a collection of work charting one year of the artist's life, (until 11 Feb). Better get brushing up on your surrealism, ma chérie.
Reserving a table at a top Parisian restaurant can be harder than bagging an invite to the royal wedding, so any opportunity to make things that little bit easier has a certain allure. Guy Savoy is known for its notoriously hard-to-nab tables but January or February are probably the safest times to try; the eponymous Guy (of the three Michelin-star variety) also keeps a couple of tables back for walk-ins. Splurge on the ‘Colours, Textures and Flavours’ set menu, which dishes up delights like caviar with smoked sabayon and layed mushroom brioche with truffle butter. Diet? What diet?
Looking for the obligatory tourist snap but dread battling shutter-happy Insta kids? While many visitors head to The City of Lights for a pre-Christmas trip, there are still plenty of seasonal festivities happening at the start of the year. The first floor of the Eiffel Tower has been transformed into a glittering winter wonderland, complete with an ice bar and an indulgent ‘cacao corner’. The magical installation, which runs until 18 Feb, will also feature white birch, black firs and a miniature, mirrored version of the tower itself; all you have to do is work on your picture-perfect pout.
As a fashion capital, Paris also has some of the biggest sales of the year in January and February with some serious discount designer swag to found if you know where to look. If you only choose one shop, make it Galeries Lafayette, a glittering behemoth among Parisian department stores, where the sale (runs until 20 Feb) offers up to 50 percent off luxury goods, from eyewear to skincare. For a slightly naughtier dent in your bank balance, ‘Exposed’, a designer lingerie pop-up shop, will also be open on the fourth floor until 4 February.
Musée Picasso / Monnaie de Paris / 11 quai de Conti / 75006 / + 33 1 85 56 00 36 / Tue-Fri from 10.30am-6pm, Sat-Sun and holidays 9.30am-6pm / www.museepicassoparis.fr/
Guy Savoy / 5 rue de Thorigny / 75003 / +33 1 43 80 40 61 / lunch and dinner Tue-Fri, dinner Sat / www.guysavoy.com/en/
Eiffel Tower / Champ de Mars / 5 Avenue Anatole France / 75007 / 33 08 92 70 12 39 / 15 June-1 September lift and stairs 9am-12.45am, rest of the year lift 9.30am-11.45pm, stairs 9.30am-6.30pm / www.toureiffel.paris
L’Oiseau Blanc at the Peninsula / Top Floor / 10 avenue Kléber / 75116 / + 33 01 58 12 28 / lunch and dinner daily / paris.peninsula.com/fr/fine-dining/loiseau-blanc
La Galeries Lafayette / 40 Boulevard Haussmann / 75009 / +33 01 42 82 34 56 / Mon-Sat 9.30am-8.30pm, Sun 11am-7pm / www.galerieslafayette.com/