A trip across the English Channel is a voyage into a warmer, sunnier climate, with balmy influences wafting in from the Gulf Stream. Rain can come at any time to Paris, but rains are usually short and sweet, travelling on before you’ve even had a chance to get your umbrella very wet.
Although both cities have a marine west coast climate and are in a cool, moist temperate zone, monthly temperatures in Paris average three degrees C warmer than in London. Total accumulation of yearly rainfall in Paris is 25 mm less and rains are generally of shorter duration. The altitude of the sun is 2.6° higher in Paris than in London, giving the City of Light 380 more hours of sunshine.
While Paris is seasonally milder than London, it has been known to take its weather to extremes. A summer hot spell can kick up a heat wave of over 30 °C for days and a winter low can plummet into minus temperatures. Occasionally, winter can bring snow to Paris, but snowfalls are light and accumulation rare.
In Paris, spring begins in April, but it doesn’t begin with a bang. The slowly warming season begins with average temperatures around 9°C on April 1st, with a slow slide up the thermometer to 12.5°C by April 30th. Parisians often look for a snow day in April. Oddly enough, the first part of April is when a snowfall is most likely to occur. There is, however, very little chance of the snow sticking around or accumulating for another day of snowfall. Rainfall can also be expected in April, but foggy conditions amount to no more than one day for the month.
Generally, the weather is quite mild and dry in April, making it a great time for outdoor activities. The temperatures improve steadily throughout the month, with May enjoying highs between 17°C to 21°C. Rains become more frequent, with thunderstorms and rains occurring for about twelve days out of the month. The probability of rain occurring drops as the month progresses, from a 53% chance during the first part of May to a fifty percent chance by the end of May.
The true magic of a Paris spring is the month of June. The tender greenery is blossoming, the ocean breezes are gentle, spring showers wash the sky and add an extra sparkle. Paris enjoys an average of ten hours a day of sunlight, with comfortable average temperatures of 18°C, and highs of 21°C. For many, it’s the favourite time to take a holiday. The city is cheerful and bustling, with shop owners brushing up the windows and tourists roaming the picturesque streets, yet the pace is unhurried. June, however, marks the beginning of the peak season. The crowds that will continue throughout the summer are already filling the hotels and vying for space in the parking lots. Prices may be higher and waiting periods longer for services.
With average temperatures of 24°C, it doesn’t seem like summer is a challenge for moderate climate lovers, but because of its high humidity, Paris summers feel steamy and endless. Additionally, some record breaking hot spells have been recorded recently in summer, with withering sun blasts baking the hot tin roofs at over 30°C. Thunder storms are frequent, very sudden, and usually whisk away as quickly as they come. They cool down the sidewalks only a short time before the blazing heat pummels them again.
Summer is the height of tourist season in Paris, yet it’s also the time of year when Parisians abandon their cities in droves. Many favourite shops, restaurants, and even hotels will be closed, making reservations more difficult to get, and quite a bit more expensive than any other time of the year. The Parisians that remain will have a single complaint; they aren’t happy about the heat. The ones that have left don’t leave calling cards to tell you what greener pasture they have found for enjoying their holiday.
Staying cool in the summer can be a challenge in Paris. Few hotels offer air-conditioned rooms, as electricity is very expensive. “Iced” drinks have very little ice and a great deal of sweetener Parisians advise drinking chilled rosé to keep the summer heat at bay. Cool off in the hotter part of the day by taking in the cinema. Wear light, loose clothing and very light shoes or sandals.
A sudden transformation begins in the first part of September. The August heat waves retire for cool, crisp mornings and sun-splashed afternoons. The humidity drops, an extra spring is added to the step, and Paris begins to prepare for winter.
Autumn can be the most spectacular time to visit Paris. The trees have donned their colourful autumn dress of bright golden hues, rich amber and burnished orange leaf cover. The tour buses packed with hoards of tourists have dwindled to a minimum, and Parisians have cheerfully returned to managing their businesses. The temperature for September remains an average 22°C, but by October it has cooled off considerably. You’ll want warm clothing, but probably won’t need much more than a sweater and rain gear to handle the cooling climate. The temperature averages 15°C in October and rarely drops below 10°C.
Paris winters are milder than those in London, but you’ll still want to pack your winter gear. The differences vary only by a few degrees; enough to take a break from serious cold, but not enough to stretch out your sun bathing blanket. If you want to mingle with the locals, it’s the best time to visit Paris. It’s a time to slow down and truly visit your favourite sites, browse through the museums and hob nob with Parisians at the shops and café’s.
Champs Elysées is at its most festive in the winter. From late November through Mid January, the famous avenue is decorated with holiday lights that gleam from every building, monument, and sparkle among the trees. Over 1,000 fresh cut fir trees spring up around the city, each putting on its own dazzling display. Around every corner, you will find markets offering holiday items and gifts to delight the most discerning tastes. Tourism is at its lowest point in the winter and the best time to find some great travel deals.