It’s been years since I’ve tried to visit Paris’s top attractions. With France welcoming the most international visitors in the world, 79.5 million in 2011 followed by the US at 62.3 million, and Paris being the most visited city in the world it just didn’t make sense to try to fight the crowds in the peak season. There are, after all, plenty of charming corners throughout the city even during the height of the summer.
So when we had the opportunity to spend a few days this past week in Paris with friends who were visiting France for the first time, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the low winter season. Our plan started off well when we got a whopping 70€ off per night for a three night stay at our favorite hotel, Le Muguet.
Don’t count on having the city to yourself, however, just because it’s cold outside. And it was cold, with temperatures hovering in the 30s for most of our visit. True, lines were short at the Louvre and the Orsay Museum but still plenty of visitors filled the galleries of the favored Impressionists. The crowd around the Mona Lisa was only three people deep instead of the usual ten in summer. At the Eiffel Tower lines were half what they were during the Christmas holiday, but still made for a long wait in the cold. Notre Dame, currently celebrating its 850th anniversary, also welcomed visitors with a long queue in the frigid wind off the Seine.
So I ask you, “is Paris just too popular”? Is it still worth visiting these top attractions or is better to just find a quiet corner café and let the Paris experience float past you?