5 Nature-Based Activities To Do in Paris in The Winter
Ella Fitzgerald had it right when she sang about loving Paris in the winter drizzle. The city’s famous gardens may be unbeatable in warm weather, but, even on the coldest, wettest days, Paris has a host of indoor options for lovers of all things green.
Lunch In The Tropics
Baby, it’s cold outside – so stay in over a long, lazy lunch instead. In the Marais, The Klay is a stylish, members-only club whose restaurant (open to the public) recreates the sultry feel of the tropics. Under grand palms stretching to the ceiling, tuck in to imaginative “superbowl” salads or heartier mains (good vegan and gluten-free options, too). On the Canal Saint-Martin, vines hang languidly along the walls of the exotic Comptoir Général. Explore its many nooks and cool crannies, from the seasonal installations and casual eatery to the unusual boutique-y stands and florist.
Raise the temperature in lush greenhouses. In the Bois de Boulogne, the historic Serres d’Auteuil are rich with thick ferns, mighty palms and exotic birdsong. At the Jardin des Plantes, the awe-inspiring greenhouses – the oldest was built in 1714 – invite a wanderer into tropical rainforests, arid deserts and more. Orchid fans, take note: a special exhibit running until February 27th includes 150 square meters of rare species to admire.
In a city of cultural options, the fantastic museums make for an obvious pick on a frigid day. Some of the best also have green space to appreciate, whatever the weather. Take a break from the first-rate collection of fine arts at the ornate Petit Palais in the in-house café, which opens on to an enclosed garden, its pools dreamily bordered with gold and blue mosaic. For something completely different, the hyper-modern Fondation Louis Vuitton, in the Bois de Boulogne, is surrounded by glistening green. The contemporary art is admirable, sure, but the views through the expanses of glass are well worth the trek, too.
Tea Where The Macarons Bloom
From the blackcurrant religieuses at Angelina, across from the Jardin des Tuileries, to the rose-petal treats at Ladurée, flower-toned macarons and delicate cakes are in season all year round at cozy tea salons around town. In concept store Merci, get a spot in the garden canteen for fruit cocktails and treats off the seasonal menu. And for a change of scenery, let the linen-clad staff bring you tea and cake at Mariage Frères, then pop into the tea museum to transport yourself to the gentle warmth of age-old tea plantations.
Back To Your Roots
It’s not just gardens that need TLC. When the weather outside is frightening, be soothed in a cocooning spa. Off a pretty, pedestrianized street, the Nuxe spa is in blissfully cosy vaulted cellars, where the low lights make for instant omm. For a particularly organic experience, choose a facial from the Bio-Beauté line. At O’Kari, a modern hammam founded by the granddaughter of an Algerian herbalist, give yourself up to facial and body treatments using essential oils and interesting botanical ingredients like white tea, prickly pear, and pomegranate.
Sustainability initiatives in Paris take unused spaces and turn them into fertile ground for new ideas. La REcyclerie, a comfortably cluttered spot, is decked out with attractive bric-a-brac and a community-garden feel, with kitchen gardens and a henhouse to explore outside, if the weather allows. At the Halle Pajol, the sheltered Rosa Luxembourg gardens were created on former railway wastelands. Perennials flower under the industrial metallic framework (which is also the first urban solar-power plant in France); boxed-in pools host aquatic plants; shrubs and grasses provide variety. On the other side of the Halle, co-working and coffee-swigging spaces, a library, and even an American grocery add charm to the attraction, which is as alluring in the winter as it is in the spring.
Check out more behind-the-scenes glimpses of our favorite winter destinations in Paris in the gallery, below.