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Best Time To Visit Paris

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. The food, the wine and the artistic wonders keep me returning year after year.  But, not all seasons are created equal in the city of lights.

Here’s a short breakdown of what to expect each season:

 

SPRING

Credit: Cristiano Medeiros Dalbem / Flickr

From March to May, the chill in the air subsides and the flowers begin to blossom. Spring in Paris is literally the muse for hundreds of painting and songs. Though rain is extremely common, the sunny spring days offer an opportunity to see the city with fewer tourists. Shorter lines and lower airline prices make this a worthwhile season if you can swing the time off from work. There are many religious holidays celebrated in France during this season, so be sure to check the calendar as there are sure to be museum closures.

 

SUMMER

Credit: David Brooks / Flickr

Often the most advantageous time for families to travel, you will most definitely see higher hotel and flight prices and lines can be quite ridiculous in the summer. It also rains often in the early summer months, especially in June and July. During the summer, the sun doesn’t set until almost 2200 hrs making the city a little easier to traverse for single or unfamiliar tourists.

In August just about every Parisian leaves the city for their annual holiday. The streets are quiet, but if you’re looking to meet and chat with locals, you will have quite a challenge because most of the people you run into will be other tourists! With most of the work force gone, many restaurants, night clubs and shops will be closed. Be sure to call ahead to ensure your favorite spots will be open.

 

FALL

Credit: Christophe Bitton / Flickr

The autumn leaves falling in the Tuilleres Garden is quite a magnificent sight to behold. Much like spring, fall can be rainy and cold, but there are fewer tourists and shorter lines. The days will still be long so you can enjoy the city well into the night.

 

WINTER

Credit: T W I N K A

Although the city of lights will be emblazoned with bold reds and sparkling lights, winter is extremely cold in Paris. If icy weather and snow-covered walks is your holiday dream come true, then you will certainly enjoy Paris in winter!  Just be sure to pack your winter coat and boots!

 

Of course, Paris is beautiful at any time of year, but hopefully this short guide will help you better plan your journey!

Paris Hacks: See the City Of Lights For Free…By Bike!

As a former New York City resident, I normally default to the metro for free transportation. This trip I discovered the super handy Vélib’ bike system which opened my world to a whole new way of seeing the city of lights!

With bike stands stationed within mere blocks of each other all around the city, you can easily plot a course to just about any destination within Paris…and, did I mention it’s FREE?!

For the first 30 minutes of every ride you will pay absolutely nothing.  (CAUTION: you will see a holding fee of $150 on your credit card in case your bike is inconveniently stolen, but if you turn the bike back into a station, the hold is instantly removed).

Signing up

To start your biking journey, you can sign up online or at any Vélib’ station. You can also visit the Paris render-vous office reception desk to pick-up a plastic Vélib’ bike card.

?: @velib /IG

Taking out a bike

If you have a plastic Vélib’ card, just tap it to the bike stand and remove your bike. However, if you sign up at the kiosk or online there are a series of steps you’ll be required to walk through at the bike stand. The steps are not extremely easy to figure out (took me about 30 minutes!)  so, I’ll walk through them here for clarification:

  1. Enter your code (10 digit number emailed to you or on your printed receipt)
  2. Put in your 4 digit passcode (the code you were asked to create)
  3. Validate that you understand the bike is your responsibility
  4. Select which bike you want to take out (you will need to put in the number for the bike stand you want, then hit “V” for “Validate)
  5. Once prompted on the screen, go to the bike and press the silver button on the adjacent stand
  6. Pull with all your might!! (Some of the bikes tend to get stuck and if you can’t get it out, you’ll have to go back to the kiosk and start all over again!)

Please Note: Inspect your bike to make sure EVERYTHING is functioning before you peddle off– missing gears and a basket full of bird poo is entirely possible!

We got a 7 Euro pass and took the bikes everywhere from the new restaurants I was dying to try to the sculpture garden at the Rodin!

Biking Directions:

Velib has a good app that will help you find the closest station, but you might need to employ another app for turn-by-turn directions. We tried a few local apps, but none were as effective as Google Maps biking directions (if you find something else, please let me know, I’m happy to try it!)

Bring your own gear:

Now that you’re feeling like a local, jaunting around on your Velib bike, plan ahead to visit farmers’ markets in preparation for picnics or wine nights by the Seine!

?: @velib / IG

I personally NEVER travel without my Brita filtered water bottle. I’ve found that it’s challenging to get copious amount of water when traveling which you will definitely need if you’re biking in the August heat!

 

 

If you’re like me, no meal in Paris is complete without some delicious French wine! But, I FORGOT my wine opener (rookie move)!! Though you can easily procure a new one from a local G20 or Franprix grocery store, it might be a good idea to pack a easy to carry lightweight picnic basket equipped with glasses, wine opener and a blanket!

With bread and cheese in tow, you’re ready to see Paris for FREE!

Where to find Stroopwafels in the U.S.

While in Amsterdam I tried syrup waffles or stroopwafels and immediately fell in love.

Sweet and crispy with just a hint of cinnamon, I couldn’t get enough of these buttery treats on our trip to the Netherlands…luckily we found them just about everywhere!

If you happen to be in Amsterdam, there are a variety of stroopwafels to choose from. The BEST stroopwafels I tasted in Amsterdam can be found at the Original Stroopwafels stall in the famous Albert Cuyp Market.

Original Stroopwafel’s delicious wares

…but, what if you return home with a hankering for these yummy treats (like me)? Here’s a round-up of a few stroopwafel spots in the U.S.:

Los Angeles:

The Dutch Bakery & Variety Foods store in Pomona, CA is a one-stop shop for EVERYTHING Dutch. Though they don’t make stroopwafels fresh, they import them fresh from the Netherlands regularly.

?: Patrick R./YELP

The Holland International Market is another store located in Southern California that has imported stroopwafels and other Dutch treats, but they also have regular events to help educate and introduce the delicious foods of Holland to the local community.

New York:

At the Williamsburg Smorgasburg (held on Saturdays) you’ll find everything from ramen burgers to vegan beet sliders. You’ll also find a stall using stroopwafels in some pretty crazy ways…like as an ice cream sandwich!

Miami:

At Dutch Amore in Hollywood, FL they’re serving up stroopwafels as a sweet smore sandwich and the traditional way, with a touch of warm syrup. They also fry up the well-known Dutch treat bitterballen which are croquettes filled with warm gravy, breaded and deep fried.

?: Dutch Amore/YELP

Portland:

Smaaken Waffles is a unique food cart making savory sammies out of Dutch waffles. I’m sure you could get a traditional syrup waffle if you asked, but the Van Gogh with bacon, cheddar and syrup is a pretty fantastic diversion!

 

?: @smaakenwaffles / Instagram

Of course, if you can’t find fresh stroopwafels in your hometown, you can purchase the pre-packaged  goods at retailers like Cost Plus/World Market and Trader Joe’s, as well as online at Amazon… trust me, any stroopwafel is better than no stroopwafel at all!