Visiting Paris in the Spring: How to Make the Most of It?

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    Your Complete Guide to "Printemps" in the French Capital

    Springtime at the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris: always divine.
    Linh Nguyen/Some rights reserved under Creative Commons license.

    If you're thinking about booking a trip to Paris in the springtime, you'll be joining droves of other travelers in search of the idyllic Paris encountered in Hollywood films and familiar photos. You may have seen movies such as "An American in Paris", featuring a jaunty Gene Kelly courting the lovely Leslie Caron in a version of Paris so hyper-colorful it seems unreal. And as it turns out, it was all an illusion: the "shots" of Paris you see throughout were all filmed on a set.

    While the "real" city is a tad less dramatic as it thaws from the colder months, it's still incredibly attractive, and isn't likely to disappoint you. Be forewarned, though: as high season starts, you'll have to be prepared to share it with many others.

    Some Pros to Visiting in the Spring:

    As trees and flowers burst out of their wintery dormancy, the city becomes more colorful and cheerful, brightening the mood and offering some fantastic photo ops. So make the most of it by exploring some of Paris' many wonderful parks and gardens. While most people head straight for the Tuileries or the Jardin du Luxembourg (both memorable,) also make sure to check out lesser-known green spots worth trekking a bit outside of the center for. The Buttes-Chaumont is a local favorite: a romantic-style park with sweeping views over the entire city, nestled in a sleepy and untrodden corner of the northeast.

    You should also consider getting out of the city proper for a good day trip. Top contenders include the palace and sumptuous, vast gardens at Versailles, or the subtle beauty of Monet's gardens at Giverny.

    Locals are known to be in a better mood. Take advantage of the friendlier atmosphere and try using some basic French to interact: don't be shy! (Learn some basic travel words and expressions in French here.)

    Ambling or lazing outdoors for long stretches is again on the agenda. Think about shopping for a special picnic at one of Paris' wonderful bakeries, buy some sunscreen, break out a book, and enjoy.

    If you prefer walking, check out our complete guide to exploring Paris neighborhoods, and also consult our list of the most romantic walks in Paris. I recommend starting from any point, and just wandering. The city will never fail to surprise you,and spring promises to be a pleasant and magical time for a good, aimless stroll.

    Paris' famous cafe terrace culture is back in full force, so it's time to occupy the seats inside or out like a local. Check out our list of iconic, classic Parisian cafes-- those that have stood the test of time, and have been places of inspiration and conversation for countless writers and artists. Student? Make sure to have a look at our list of student-friendly cafes in Paris. It'll help you pinpoint a good and cheap place to sip espresso, work, hang out with friends or check e-mail.

    And Now, the Cons...

    Spring may be an ideal time to visit the city for some, but if you're crowd-shy or on a tight budget, it may not be the best season to attempt a trip to Paris. Here are a few major downsides:

    Air and train fares go up as high season returns, so it's essential to book at least six months to a year ahead of your springtime trip. Similarly, you may need to book a hotel months in advance, as occupancy rates peak in spring and summer. Check out our guide to where to stay in Paris to make a smart and informed decision on accommodations. 

    You can expect longer lines, especially for entry to popular Paris attractions. To avoid spending too much of your day with stiff legs, I suggest that you consider purchasing a pass that allows you to cut lines at major attractions. The Paris Museum Pass can be a good choice, although some visitors judge it to be pricier than it's worth. It's best to opt for this pass only if you plan to visit more than 3 or 4 of the museums covered by it. 

    Allergy-prone or asthmatic? Paris tends to have high airborne pollen and pollution levels at certain junctures in the spring. Often, you can literally see pollen floating around in the air and sailing down from trees.  Make sure you bring along appropriate medications if you are sensitive to pollen or pollutants.

     

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    More on What to Do in Spring, & Month-by-Month Guides

    Picnics on the Seine River are a favorite springtime activity in Paris
    Getty Images

    For adventurous visitors, spring offers countless interesting things to do. More of our favorites include the following:

    See the Best of Paris in 2 Days: In Paris for only 48 hours? Not to fret. Our whirlwind (and yet in-depth) self-guided tour to the city in only a weekend shows you both classic Paris and off-the-beaten-path places and attractions. It's ideal for a short first visit. You can also give our Paris in 72 hours guide a whirl if you have a bit more time. 

    Most Romantic Paris Attractions: Visiting with someone special? Très romantique. Find out what to do together during your springtime jaunt in the French capital. 

    Saint Patrick's Day Celebrations in Paris: Paris has a large and vibrant Irish expatriate community, so celebrating this greenest of holidays is always memorable.

    Celebrating Easter in Paris: From decadent gourmet chocolate eggs and bunnies to peaceful services (irrespective of your religious beliefs), feting this holiday in the French capital can be truly memorable. 

    Month-by-Month Guides to Paris in the Spring

    Whether you're in town in March or May, fear not: our in-depth guides and monthly calendars will ensure you know exactly what's on, what to pack, and how to best plan your trip.

    Get Some Inspiration: Pictures of Paris in the Spring

    Check out our pictures of Paris during the Spring for more inspiration, and to see shots of some of the more popular events and attractions from March through May.