Paris is beautiful any time of year. But depending on when you visit, that beauty will come in drastically different forms. Winter tends to be slower in Paris from a tourist perspective. It can be cold and wet, and many people would prefer to see it during the warmer months. Yet wintertime isn’t without its benefits, particularly around the holidays when people tend to be in especially good spirits. After the new year, life settles back into a routine. Restaurants are often easier to get into, and plenty of people take to the heated terraces to have a drink with friends.

Springtime can be magical in Paris, as you’ve no doubt heard. Beyond the beauty of the season’s first blossoms, there’s a palpable feeling of hope and happiness in the air. We’ve all made it through winter, and are now being rewarded with warmer, more radiant days. If you come in the spring, keep in mind the weather can be mixed. The later in the season you’re here, the more likely you’ll be to enjoy warm days.

Of course, summer is when tourist season goes crazy in Paris. There’s no doubt that it’s the most consistently beautiful time of year, but the crowds can be quite large, particularly around the city’s main tourist attractions. Summer also coincides with the biggest annual holiday for many Parisians – the August break. If you come in August, you’ll benefit from a somewhat quieter city thanks to all the vacationing Parisians, but on the flipside you’ll also have to contend with plenty of closed restaurants and shops. That’s especially true if you’re staying outside the very center of the city. In general, it’s not a tremendous problem for tourists because there are so many restaurants in the city that you’ll be able to find some that are open. However, if your entire trip is centered around visiting some very specific restaurants, you’ll want to check ahead to make sure they’re going to be open.

September marks la rentrée in Paris, when everyone returns from their vacations and goes back to work or starts a new school year. It’s an active, exciting time in the city. The weather is warm and the streets are full of life. By the beginning of November, the weather is starting to cool slightly and the prospect of winter is looming large. Restaurants and shops are starting to decorate for Christmas, and suddenly puffy down coats are everywhere. And before you know it, winter is here again and the cycle starts again.