Sources: Paris Convention and Visitors Office, Paris Mayor's Office
January in the French capital can seem a bit cold, withdrawn and quiet. The excitement of Christmas and the winter holiday season has come and gone, and locals tend to retreat indoors more at this time of year than most.
Yet there's still plenty to see and do in Paris during the opening month of the year. It's just a matter of knowing where to look, and being willing to spend some time on cozy, quieter activities.
Not to worry, though: Festive events and activities and world-class exhibitions are among the draw cards this month. Read on for our top picks.
Festivals and Seasonal Events
Celebrating the New Year:
See our complete guide to bringing in 2019 in Paris here, with advice on the best parties in the capital, fireworks and other city events, eating out, local traditions, and much more. If you don't enjoy crowds or noisy celebrations, our guide offers some alternative, quieter ways to "say your auld lang synes" in the capital.
Holiday Lights and Decorations in Paris:
Christmas may have passed, but the festive spirit remains: throughout most of January, Paris continues to be bathed in sparkling holiday lights displays. Whether you'll be in town this month or simply want a bit of inspiration, read our guide to learn more.
Every winter, ice-skating rinks are set up at several locations around the city.
Admission is generally free (not including skate rental, which are usually around 5 Euros). This is a fun wintery activity for the whole family to enjoy together.
Where: Find info on 2018-2019 ice skating rinks in Paris here
Maison & Objet (Home and Decoration Trade Show):
This annual trade show held just outside the Paris city limits is a good bet if you're looking for inspiration for home decor or remodeling.
It's worth the trek on the Paris RER (commuter train) if you're passionate about design and decor. Hint: it's on the way to the Charles de Gaulle airport (also on line B of the RER), so if your luggage is light, you might want to stop off at the fair on your way back home.
- Dates: From January 18th-22nd, 2019
- Location: 82 Avenue des Nations - Zac Paris Nord 2, 93420 Villepinte
- RER: Parc des Expositions (Line B)
- Visit the official website
Arts and Exhibits Highlights in January 2019
Last Days: Gustave Klimt at the Atelier des Lumières
The blockbuster multimedia exhibit at Paris' new Atelier des Lumières will wrap up this month, leaving you your last chance to see the stunning inaugural show at the capital's first all-digital art museum. Take in the mesmerizing show of light and sound, bringing back to life the work of Klimt, Schiele and other members of Austria's early 20th-century "Secession" movement. Make sure to reserve tickets well ahead to avoid disappointment.
- Dates: Through January 6th, 2019
- Location: Atelier des Lumières (buy tickets online)
Jean-Michel Basquiat Retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton
One of the most singular and celebrated American artists of the twentieth century, the late Jean-Michel Basquiat has long deserved a retrospective as large and important as the one currently running at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Showcasing some 120 works from the New-York based artist, the exhibit runs across four floors and allows a deeply intimate and complex look at Basquiat's oeuvre, including his famous collaborations with Andy Warhol and lesser-known works.
On through mid-January, this show is running alongside another important exhibit on the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, well-known for his tortured but fascinating figures and odd perspectives. It seems a fitting double-billing. Try seeing the show at the Atelier des Lumières too, if you can (also highlighting the work of Schiele).
- Dates: Through January 14th, 2019
- Location: The Fondation Louis Vuitton
Illuminated Species: A Light Show at the Jardin des Plantes
Here's a show that the kids should love, and that will prove both moving and educational, too.
The Illuminated Species exhibit at the Jardin des Plantes is a stunning night-time show of dozens of enormous, elaborately lit lanterns, each representing a different animal. Some are long-extinct (sabre-toothed tigers, dinosaurs), while others are now majorly threatened or even facing extinction in the present day. The lanterns have "taken over" the gardens and Menagerie (zoo) at the Jardin des Plantes, creating an unusual and unforgettable nighttime spectacle that visitors of all ages are likely to enjoy.
- Dates: Through January 15th, 2019
- Location: Jardin des Plantes (buy tickets online here)
More Information on What to See & Do This Month
For a more comprehensive list of exhibits and shows on in town this month, including listings at smaller galleries around town, we recommend visiting the calendars over at Paris Art Selection and at the Paris Tourist Office.