(Editor's note: Given the recent civil unrest in France, most travelers are probably not thinking of visiting Paris in the near future. However, the specific cultural events mentioned run from mid-December into March 2006, and the money-saving strategies are valid for any winter.)
Like most of Europe, Paris' off-peak travel season occurs during winter. However, winter is a great time to bundle up and take to the streets. The City of Lights stays alive with both Parisians and tourists in the colder months, sipping cafe au lait at cafes, or ice skating (for free) at the Hotel de Ville.
This winter brings a host of events that make it worthwhile to brave the chilly weather. Through January 9, 2006, Paris' Picasso Museum is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with Picasso: A Passion for Drawing, an exhibit featuring important pieces from both the Paris and Barcelona Picasso museums. Throughout winter, the Music Museum hosts John Lennon, Unfinished Music, an exhibition commemorating the life and death of the former Beatle.
Also, as seasoned shoppers are likely already aware, stores in Paris hold sales for about six weeks in January and February, with discounts on clothing, shoes, and other items ranging from 30 to 70 percent off.
Travelers seeking romantic Parisian getaways for Valentine's Day in February should note that vacation-package providers, including Gate1Travel, are likely to offer discounted long-weekend packages. Some Paris hotels may also have special offers for Valentine's weekend.
We compared Paris vacation packages from three different providers, and found savings of about 49 percent by traveling in February rather than June.
|Package||Provider||Fall rate||Summer rate|
|Airfare from Baltimore, three nights' accommodations, river cruise||Air France Holidays||$689 (January 3 through March 28, 2006)||$1,259 (May 27 through June 30, 2006)|
|Airfare from Los Angeles, six nights' accommodations||Expedia||$629 (February 15 through 22, 2006)||$1,228 (June 14 through 21, 2006)|
|Airfare from New York, four nights' accommodations||Gate1Travel||$449 (December 28, 2005, through March 26, 2006)||$869 (May 31 through June 21, 2006)|
Prices were on found the providers' websites. Rates vary by departure date and may be higher for stays over holidays. Expedia rates include taxes and fees.
To find more information about visiting Paris, refer to the Parisinfo.com website. For airfare deals, browse SmarterTravel.com's Paris airfare section, and search for airfare-and-hotel deals on the Paris vacations section. Top
Vancouver was recently ranked the top city in the Americas by a Conde Nast magazine reader survey, based on factors including culture, restaurants, and shopping. The home to the 2010 Winter Olympics offers a variety of activities, both indoor and outdoor, for travelers this winter. And, no matter what idea "Canada in winter" brings to mind, the weather in Vancouver is not inhospitable, with winter temperatures hovering in the 40s.
Visitors to Vancouver can hit the slopes for a day without trekking too far at Grouse Mountain, located 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Grouse offers skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating along with complimentary "eco-walks" and free admission to an endangered wildlife refuge.