Easter in Paris

Easter in Paris: How to Have the Best Experience

Julie France 6 Comments

Easter in Paris…sounds nice, doesn’t it? Spring flowers, warm temperatures, enjoying the view from the Eiffel Tower. Sure, that sounds nice, but it’s not always the reality. You could get cold weather, rain showers, and long queues to get into the most popular tourist destinations.

I would love to tell you that Easter in Paris is a glorious experience, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are some things you should know before planning that Easter weekend in Paris.

Easter in Paris Best Experience

About Our Experience

We spent three days in Paris in 2018. This year, Easter was on April 1. We arrived on Good Friday and spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the city. On Monday, we left Paris, taking a morning train to Luxembourg.

This was our third visit to Paris in the past ten years. Our prior visits were in mid-April (not during Easter) and mid-October.

During our three-day visit over Easter weekend, we experienced chilly, wet weather and the largest crowds we have seen yet in Paris. I wouldn’t call it “nightmare” level crowds, but the lines to get into the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame were hours long. Yes, hours is plural.

Easter in Paris: What to Expect

Paris Could Be Cold and Wet

Or it can be warm and sunny. It’s spring…anything is possible.

On average, daytime high temperatures range from 8°C to 18°C (45 to 65°F) from the end of March into April. Rain showers are very common during this time.

In 2018, Paris (and Europe) experienced a colder than normal winter. These cool temperatures persisted into early spring.

During our visit, the high temperatures only reached 10°C (50°F). It was overcast for most of our visit, with a few scattered rain showers during the day. The weather wasn’t terrible, but it was cold in the mornings and evenings and we got rained on a few times.

Paris in April

Since winter still had not released Paris from its grip, very few flowers and trees were blooming. This created a rather dreary atmosphere for a springtime visit to Paris.

However, those cold temperatures made it even nicer to pop into a café and get a warm drink. Few people were sitting outside at the street cafes during our visit, which is unfortunate, because it is one of the best things to do while in Paris. Some places have heaters, which we took advantage of.

Julie and Tim in Paris

During our visit, the weather was colder and wetter than normal. This isn’t always the case. A chilly day or a rainy day is to be expected, but not a whole string of them like we had.

Hopefully, you will get to see Paris with sunshine and warm temperatures.

Expect to Wait in Line

I was surprised at the length of the lines to get into the big tourist attractions. They were ridiculously long. We are talking several hours wait to get into places like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Catacombs, and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame at Easter

This is the line to get into Notre Dame on Easter morning (and this is just a small part of it!).

We have never seen lines this long in Paris. And to be honest, we have never seen so many long lines in one city at one time.

We tried to visit the Catacombs, arriving 45 minutes before opening time. The line was already so long that we were nowhere near the entrance to the Catacombs. And once it opened, the line painfully inched forward. We gave up, not wanting to waste our precious time in line.

What Will Be Open?

Easter is a holiday but this does not affect the hours of operation for the tourist attractions in Paris. If it’s open on a Sunday, then generally, it’s also open on Easter. All of the main tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Catacombs, etc) are open on Easter.

Very few restaurants were closed and public transportation operates like normal.

Verdict: Is It Worth Visiting Paris at Easter?

Maybe.

If this is your first visit, I would not recommend visiting Paris at Easter. During your first visit, you want to take in the view from the Eiffel Tower, climb the Arc de Triomphe, see the Louvre, and climb the tower of Notre Dame. If you visit during Easter weekend, you will be waiting in queue after queue and you will have a horrible first impression of Paris. If you can visit one or two weeks before or after Easter, when lines are more manageable, I think you will have a much better experience.

If this is not your first visit to Paris, then a visit at Easter can be a very nice experience. For the attractions you want to visit, book your tickets in advance so you can skip the ticket lines. Then spend your remaining time wandering the less crowded neighborhoods and trying new restaurants.

Paris Ferris Wheel View

The view from the Ferris Wheel on Place de la Concorde

 

Tips to Have the Best Experience in Paris at Easter

If you are set on visiting Paris at Easter, there are some things you can do to make sure you have the best experience.

Buy the Museum Pass/Pre-Book Your Tickets in Advance

The Museum Pass is a card that covers the main sites in Paris (the Louvre, Saint Chapelle, Versailles, the Tower of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and more) and allows you to skip the ticket line. You will still have to wait in the Museum Pass line, and in some places, this still can be quite long (it was at the Catacombs) but it will cut down on your waiting time.

For places that are not covered by the Museum Pass, such as the Eiffel Tower, you should book your tickets in advance. Again, you still will have to wait in line for the elevator but you will get to bypass the ridiculously long ticket line.

Get There Early

Getting to an attraction before opening time will also cut down on how long you have to wait in line. This helps a lot, even if you have the Museum Pass.

Don’t Spend All of Your Time at the Touristy Spots

If you just wander five minutes away from the main touristy areas, crowds magically disappear. We spent a lot of time wandering and exploring different neighborhoods. There are a lot of great spots to visit in Paris other than the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, so don’t be afraid to take an afternoon and explore one of the “less popular” neighborhoods.

The areas that were the most crowded during our visit were Notre Dame and Ile de la Cite, the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe, Place du Tertre in Montmartre, and Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. Le Marais wasn’t too bad, nor was Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Ile de la Cite was crazy but nearby Ile Saint-Louis was quiet and uncrowded. Even consider a visit out to La Defense, a place that almost felt like a ghost town compared to the rest of Paris.

Place du Tertre in April

This is Place du Tertre in Montmartre on Saturday afternoon.

Montmartre Paris

Just a five minute walk from Place du Tertre are quieter (and prettier) streets in Montmartre.

Best Time to go to Paris

Paris is a very popular destination, for very good reasons. It can be crowded almost all year, with the largest crowds between May and September and during the holidays of Easter and Christmas.

The best times to visit Paris are late April into May and the month of October. Temperatures are pleasant and crowds are not at their peak.

The weather in Paris from June through August is warm and sunny but this is also a time when many people take their vacations, so the city can get quite crowded.

Where We Stayed

On this most recent visit to Paris we stayed at Hotel Le Relais Saint Honore. Our favorite thing about this small, boutique hotel is its excellent location. The Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, and Palais-Garnier are all within a 10-minute walk. The Tuileries and Pyramides metro stations are less than 5 minutes away. The rooms are small but tastefully decorated and the staff is friendly and speaks English.

Le Relais Saint Honore Hotel


Have you visited Paris during Easter? Comment below if you have any questions or advice for other readers.

 

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Easter in Paris: what to expect and how to have the best experience.

Comments 6

  1. Julie,

    Came across your site last year, while doing research for a trip to Ireland, which brings me to this post. My wife and I will spending a few weeks in Ireland in late May and early June and ending the trip with a few days in London. I noticed it’s possible to make a day trip to Paris from London by train. Would like your thoughts on if it is worth taking a day trip to Paris. The thing that intrigued me about a day trip to Paris was there is a group of men who do a motorcycle tour through Paris and that sounded interesting.

    Thanks for you time.

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes, you can do a day trip from London to Paris. On average, it takes about 2.5 hours by train (one way) to get between the 2 cities, so 5 hours of travel time. You will also have to factor in transport time to and from the stations. You will have about 8 to 10 hours in Paris if you take a very early train and get back to London late at night. With this time, you can see several of the big sites (or see the motorcycle tour) and have a nice meal in a restaurant. You just have to decide if this quick run through Paris is worth it, factoring in that you will have to give up a day in London. If you really want to see Paris, then it’s worth it. Cheers, Julie

  2. We’ll be working in Paris July 7-8 and will have a few days before to vacation. I love your newsletter and was pleased to read about your recent European trip.

    It will be our second trip and we’re not huge museum lovers (prefer smaller ones such as Picasso and d’Orsay). Our preference is to walk and explore outside.

    Last visit we did not do the Eiffel Tiwer due to crowding and poor visibility. I will follow your recommendation and buy ahead this time but wonder what time of day you recommend?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Lydia. I usually recommend going right at opening time or near closing time because this is when crowds tend to be less. Have you been to the Orangerie Museum yet? It’s a wonderful, small museum with paintings of Monet’s water lilies. I really enjoyed it and I am not a museum lover, either. I also recommend strolling around the streets near Montmartre. Place du Tertre and the Sacre Coeur was mobbed but the nearby streets were surprisingly quiet (and beautiful!). Cheers, Julie

      1. Thank you so much. I have already reserved our tickets for the Catcacombes de Paris for first thing one morning and plan on getting tickets for sunset (very late in July!) the first night we get there, but they’re not selling them yet.

        I am so grateful for all your recommendations and ideas.

        1. Post
          Author

          You’re so welcome. The catacombs are so cool…I’m glad you’ll be able to see them without spending hours in line. Cheers, Julie

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