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Paris in the Winter: Tasty and cheapo ways to stay warm in the drizzle

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Uniqlo Paris
Pick up some cheapo "Heat-tech" thermal underwear at Uniqlo. Photo: Jason Whittaker

It’s cold.  It’s snowy.  It’s winter.  Hey, it’s Paris.  There’s no reason to stay inside even if the weather would suggest otherwise.  A few easy suggestions will still allow you to stroll the famous streets and avenues of Paris even if subzero temperatures try to foil your trip.

1. Dress the part

It’s funny how many adults forget how to prepare for inclement weather, as if we all grew up in Rio having never seen snow.  Come on, people, and get with it.  Dress more warmly than you think and put on those layers.

Thermal underwear, or my favorite, the Uniqlo Heat-tech leggings and shirts, are a huge help and I don’t leave the house without them, no matter how unglamorous they feel.  Did I mention they are cheap?  (Uniqlo, 17 rue Scribe 75009).

And please, socks and sensible shoes. A pair of Converse seem trendy and cool until that zero degree wind whips right through them and you’re walking on numb stumps for hours on end.

Pierre Marcolini

Pick up some chocolates “à deguster” at Pierre Marcolini. Photo: Kattebelletje

2. Seek shelter

But no matter how warmly you dress, everyone will reach a limit.  You’ll have to sneak inside eventually – but plan accordingly.  If you’re tired of museums and monuments, and you want to stick to the streets, a café is always an option, with heated terraces and cheap drinks.  Still, people watching from a February Parisian café is hardly worth the €2 café, so why not spend your money elsewhere, making several smaller stops while covering my ground and actually doing something?

My vote goes to eating.  Duck into a chocolate shop or five for a quick taste of something sweet while warming up.  Chocolate makers like Pierre Marcolini and Patrick Roger sell boxes and assortments that will hurt most oil tycoon’s wallets, but ask for just one or two pieces from the counter à déguster, to taste right away, and you won’t pay more than €2 or €3. By the time you browse, choose which you want, and settle the bill, you’ll be ready to brave the cold again.

Scope out the shops in St-Germain around metro station Odéon, for example, and taste your way through the afternoon.  (Patrick Roger: 108 Blvd St-Germain 75006, Pierre Marcolini: 89 rue de Seine 75006)

Jean-Paul Hevin

Opt for the molten chocolate drinks at Jean-Paul Hévin (above) over nearby Angelina. Photo: Archangel

3. Have a drink

If you simply must have a warm beverage, there are options beyond tourist-laden Angelina’s for a hot chocolate.  Around the corner, Jean-Paul Hévin has a selection of interesting molten chocolate drinks including one with matcha powder and another with an oyster emulsion, just to shake things up, and they are about the same price as Angelina’s. (231 rue Saint Honoré 75001)

Or if you’re by the Canal St-Martin, stumble over to the trendy yet cozy Chambre aux Oiseaux for a cup of coffee or one of their delicious warming infusions like lemon and ginger that will revitalize even the most frigid traveler.  They also have an ever-changing selection of sweets like chocolate or violet shortbreads to feed the famished. (48 rue Bichat 75010)

With plenty of free museums, departments, and galleries to visit, you won’t freeze to death during a cold day out in Paris while on a budget, but think ahead to maximize your time so that you don’t get stuck somewhere unfortunate, pining for the Mediterranean…

Also in our guide: Heading to Paris this winter? Be sure to also seek shelter in our guide to visiting Paris on a budget. Our editors recommend the city’s best low-cost hotels, and offer further advice to maximizing your experience on a minimal budget.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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