By Irene Fogarty
It’s true, there are more songs about Paris in the spring, than Paris in freezing February. But believe it or not, February is a rather good month to come here. Here are my five top reasons why:
1. Les Soldes…the sales!!!
If you’re not completely broke after the holidays, then get here before February 9th – the last day of the winter sales. The winter sales started on January 6th and are expected to be extra good this year due to “la crise”, (the recession), with markdowns up to 80% in many of the big stores. Apparently, fashion meccas like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are tempting shoppers with low-budget items in addition to luxury brands Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Miu Miu at discounts of some 30-60%.
If you’re still too lazy to make the trip here but want to avail of the sales, check out http://www.linternaute.com/ for the best deals.
2. Valentine’s – hello!!!
Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or hopeless at expressing your love, just being in Paris for Valentine’s Day should be enough. But in case you still feel a need to express your “love”, go to Montmartre’s wall of “I love you’s” and read hundreds of love in over 300 different languages. Le Mur Des “Je t’aime”, Square des Abesses, (Metro: Abbesses), http://www.lesjetaime.com/
3. No throngs of tourists
As the world’s most popular tourist destination, Paris is normally packed with tourists everywhere. However, February is probably the quietest month due to weather restraints. So lines for museums, Eiffel Tower and all the main attractions are noticeably shorter, not to mention getting your cafe créme and croissant faster. And check out flights and hotel deals, usually low season deals are the best in February.
4. It’s the year of Tiger!
Becoming one of the city’s most popular annual events, Chinese New Year in Paris is definitely a memorable, if not a tad noisy, experience. Paris’ large and thriving French-Chinese community dominate streets of the third and thirteenth arrondissements with a procession of dancers and musicians, garish dragons and fish, and elegant red and gold flags embossed with Chinese characters. Want to join in the fun with the locals? Try the little boisterous Chinese restaurants on Rue Au Maire (Metro: Arts et Metiers). They’ll be packed with locals and tourists and you may catch a special theatrical or musical performances as you eat your tasty noodles. By the way, the ox is associated with qualities of persistence, hard work, stability, patience, loyalty and stubborness. Hmmm…I think I know quite a few oxen!
Chinese New Year Annual street parades
When & Where: Saturday Jan 31st – starts at 2:00 pm at Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ City Hall. (Metro : Hotel de Ville or Rambuteau)
Sunday, Feb 1st – begin at 1:30 pm on Avenue Ivry in the 13th arrond. (Metro: Tolbiac)
Even after these parade dates, they’ll be celebrating all over Chinatown. For an authentic Chinatown experience french style, have Peking Duck at Chinatown Olympiades at 44 Ave D’Ivry. It’s a huge place with big round tables. Great for lunch, brunch or dinner. They even have karakoe at night. (Metro : Porte D’Ivry)
5. Suck it up, it’s Paris!
Coming from Ireland where it can rain, snow and shine all in one day, I noticed the happiest tourists there never cared if it rained or not. So if you’re really a francophile or just yearning to see one of the most beautiful, romantic cities in the world, just pack a big cashmere scarf, gloves and a big warm coat and go book it. No matter what falls from the sky, you’ll be so engrossed by the city’s beauty not even the weather will detract from your trip. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get stuck in a snowstorm and get to see the Champs Elysees looking like a christmas card. (Just avoid the Eurostar, unless you’re Claudia Schiffer, of course!)
French cheeses aren’t the only thing stinky in Paris. Not only has Paris one of the world’s most remarkable sewer networks, but a section of the sewers, les égouts de Paris, is open to the public. For less than 4 euros, The Sewer Museum welcomes a rather big tourist attraction, offering the history of the city from underground. Sewer Museum, Quai d’Orsay, (Metro: Alma Marceau). For more info, go to http://www.paris.fr