Christmas in Paris is the most enchanting time of the year. From dazzling lights adorning iconic landmarks to the aroma of roasting chestnuts wafting through charming street corners, the French capital knows how to celebrate the holiday season in style.
Here are 19 magical things to do during Christmas in Paris that will leave you captivated and filled with marvellous memories of a truly unforgettable Christmas adventure.
Paris For Christmas Travel Tip: The big Christmas celebration in France happens on the evening of December 24. Family and friends gather for the Christmas Eve feast, Le Réveillon de Noël. Presents are opened on December 24 after the meal. Many markets and stores will close early on December 24. Christmas Day is another day of holiday celebrations for the French, often a quieter day spent with family.
Christmas In Paris 2023
1. Explore Enchanting Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets in Paris come with festive lights, delightful aromas, and an array of charming stalls. The Paris Christmas Markets are brimming with unique gifts for your loved ones. It’s the perfect place to do your Christmas shopping! Wooden chalets line the markets with everything from handcrafted ornaments and traditional toys to delicious sweets and gourmet delicacies. Don’t forget to partake in mulled wine (vin chaud) or hot chocolate to keep warm while browsing! One of the things I love to do at the city’s Christmas Markets is indulge in mouthwatering French cuisine at the food stalls! Tartiflette and raclette are my top choices!
Read all about the best Christmas Markets in Paris 2023 from Hôtel de Ville, to La Défense, to the Magic of Christmas in the Tuileries Gardens where you can hop on the Ferris Wheel for magnificent views over Paris. Start your whirlwind Christmas adventure right here!
2. Admire Dazzling Light Displays
During Christmas in Paris, the city truly transforms into a glittering paradise. Honestly, the enchanting Christmas lights will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into a holiday fairytale. From the Champs-Élysées illuminated in a breathtaking display of lights to the elegant Place Vendôme with its beautiful Christmas trees to rue Saint-Honoré, and Avenue Montaigne aglow in white lights, the city is nothing short of magical! Don’t forget to wander under the twinkling Christmas lights in Paris’s charming cobblestone streets.
Read More | Where To See The Best Christmas Lights 2023
3. Gaze At The Magnificent Window Displays
One of the highlights of the holiday season in Paris is window shopping, or as the French call it “window licking” (lèche-vitrine). The big department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps Haussmann, Le Bon Marché, BHV Marais, and La Samaritaine have the most delightful and clever Christmas window displays. Adults (take me, for example) and children alike take great pleasure in watching the creative displays. Dancing baguettes, whimsical fairies, and stacks of letters to Santa will get you in the Christmas spirit!
The Paris Department Stores
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann: 40 Blvd Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Printemps Haussmann: 634 Blvd Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche: 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
BHV Marais: 52 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris
La Samaritaine: 9 Rue de la Monnaie, 75001 Paris
Aside from the large department stores, Paris boutiques also “wow” with their shop windows during Christmas time. One of my favourites year after year is Hermes at 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Keep your eyes open all through Paris for enchanting Christmas displays.
4. Take Time To Marvel At The Galeries Lafayette Tree
One of the best things to do at Christmas in Paris is to marvel at the Christmas tree at the Galeries Lafayette Department Store. It is, without a doubt, a showstopper. Picture this: a towering masterpiece adorned with glimmering lights, elegant ornaments, and a touch of Parisian flair. It’s festive opulence at its best! Nestled under the magnificent dome of Galeries Lafayette, the tree is the centrepiece of a dazzling spectacle, surrounded by designer boutiques and luxury fashion.
Look way up and be amazed from the main floor. Take the escalator up to various levels and see the glimmering tree from all sides. Stay long enough to see the light show every 30 minutes. Sip a coffee at Café Coutume on the third floor while gazing at the spectacular Christmas decorations. Book your time on the Glasswalk, a walkway suspended 52 feet (16 metres) high in the air. Talk about a great place for a spectacular view of the Christmas Tree!
5. Visit The Paris Monuments
You’re in the City of Light! The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Mona Lisa are calling! Paris during the festive season is the perfect time to visit the major monuments. What a trip – Christmas activities interspersed with the highlights of the French Capital!
6. Wander The Iconic Neighbourhoods
Christmas time in Paris is a wonderful time to saunter through the classic neighbourhoods. Embrace the Parisian way to flâner, which is really to amble, wander, and observe your surroundings. Here are some tips on how best to flâner in Paris.
Toss on your woollen beret and head out to one of the best neighbourhoods for walking. Here are a few suggestions:
- le Marais – Place des Vosges, gorgeous mansions, shopping…
- Île de la Cité – perfect Paris with Notre Dame Cathedral and the Seine River…
- Ile Saint-Louis – oldest village in Paris…
- Montmartre – Sacré Coeur, staircases and oozing charm…
- the 7th arrondissement – Eiffel Tower & views, La Grande Épicierie…
- Canal Saint-Martin – iron bridges, boutiques…
- The Latin Quarter – classic Paris, cobbled lanes, the Panthéon
7. Take A Festive Seine River Cruise
Christmas in Paris is the perfect time for a Seine River Cruise. I love seeing the City of Love from a different perspective and during the Christmas holidays, it glitters. It’s impressive cruising along under iconic bridges past historical sites. Time your cruise to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling at the top of the hour. (After dark, the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour on the hour for 5 minutes.)
8. Attend A Christmas Concert In A Historic Venue
If you love Christmas carols, make your Christmas in Paris unforgettable by attending Christmas carolling or listening to live music in a historic venue. Singing Christmas carols in La Madeleine (the Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) holds a special memory for me. Music filling the majestic church, surrounded by Parisians, and familiar Christmas music sung in French makes a delightful and unique experience. I loved how everyone sang “I wish you a Merry Christmas” in English!!
Find your favourite church in Paris and search for a Christmas concert. It’s bound to be a memorable and festive experience.
9. Indulge In Seasonal French Cuisine
Christmas in Paris is a beautiful tapestry of delectable flavours of wintery dishes and Christmas traditions. As the temperature dips Parisians love to indulge in tartiflette a dish from the Savoie Region with layers of thinly sliced potatoes, bacon, onions, and reblochon cheese. Another favourite at this time of year is raclette where cheese is melted and scraped onto boiled potatoes, cured meats, and pickles. Both of these French Alpine dishes are widely available at the Christmas Markets.
Another French favourite is succulent oysters. Christmas in Paris sees stalls of oyster vendors here and there and oyster bars set up outside Parisian bistros. The aroma of roasting chestnuts fills the air during Christmas in Paris and my all-time favourite Bûche de Noël, a sponge cake rolled with buttercream and finely decorated to look like a log, is widely available at pâtisseries.
Christmas in Paris is a real gastronomic and festive event. Which dishes will you try?
Read More | How To Eat Oysters Like The French
10. Visit A French Castle
Paris at Christmas time shouts out, “Visit a majestic castle adorned with holiday splendour!”
The châteaux close to Paris, like Vaux-le-Vicomte, Château de Versailles, Domaine de Chantilly, and Château de Fontainebleau outdo themselves with Christmas magic. Decked with festive finery, grand Christmas trees towering in magnificent salons, and the glow of countless twinkling lights illuminating the historic architecture, the châteaux make for a festive escape!
Take a day trip from Paris and enjoy an enchanting castle filled with seasonal music and festive traditions.
Castles close to Paris with gorgeous festive season charm are:
Château de Versailles: Spend the Day at the Château de Versailles
Domaine de Chantilly: The Perfect Day Trip from Paris
Château de Fontainebleau: How to Spend A Day at Fontainebleau
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
11. Experience The Magic of Disneyland Paris
Christmas At Disneyland Paris runs from November 11, 2023, to January 7, 2024
Disneyland Paris during Christmas—it’s a whimsical wonderland that brings out the child in everyone! The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle is adorned with twinkling lights and Main Street is filled with cheerful carolers and the sweet scent of holiday treats. The magic continues with enchanting parades featuring beloved Disney characters dressed in their festive best, spreading joy and holiday cheer. Does Christmas in Paris get any better than this?
Read More | How To Plan A Day Trip to Disneyland Paris
12. Take A Day Trip To The Strasbourg Christmas Market
Christmas in Paris is calling for a day trip! Why not step into a winter wonderland at the Strasbourg Christmas Market? Get ready to immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of one of Europe’s oldest and most enchanting holiday traditions.
The Strasbourg Christmas Market, which started in 1570, is the most famous of French Christmas markets. Looking for festive cheer? You’ll find it here with over 300 chalets selling artisan foods, handmade decorations and unique gifts. Stroll through the Strasbourg Christmas Market under twinkling lights munching on roasted chestnuts, and famous Bredele cookies while sipping on mulled wine.
Read More | Your Strasbourg Christmas Market Guide
13. Visit A Historical Church For Midnight Mass
Embracing the timeless tradition of midnight mass during Christmas in Paris is an immersive journey into the heart of Christmas. Enter a historic church, adorned with flickering candles and resonant hymns echoing through the centuries-old halls and you have yourself a soul-stirring experience.
Find the church closest to where you are staying and step into an atmosphere of profound reverence and celebration. For me, it remains an unforgettable holiday experience.
If you can’t make it to midnight mass there will be many other Christmas services to attend during the Christmas holidays.
14. Partake In A Christmas Season Pop-Up Market/Workshop
Christmas in Paris comes alive with an extra dose of holiday charm thanks to its delightful pop-up Christmas markets. These markets are often very specialized and run for just a few days. The pop-up Christmas markets often have an atelier or workshop element where you can create something. Here are a few pop-up markets for the 2023 Christmas season:
1. Christmas Market Paris 2023: The Bastille Design Center
80 creators will be showcasing their fashion designs, jewellery, leather goods, and interior design at this 2-day pop-up Christmas Market in Paris in the 11th arrondissement. Don’t miss the DIY area!
Date and Hours of this Pop-up Paris Christmas Market: December 9 through December 10, 2023. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: 74 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris
2. Eco – Paris Christmas Market at the REcyclerie
20+ artists will be showcasing their creations of pottery, ceramics, floral arrangements, candles, and artwork at this 2-day pop-up Christmas Market in Paris at the REcyclerie, an establishment known for its ecological bent.
Date and Hours of this Christmas in Paris Pop-Up Market: November 25 through November 26, 2023. Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: 83 Boulevard Ornano, 75018 Paris. (please watch for pickpockets at the metro entrance/ exit)
3. Africain A La Mas – Paris Christmas Market
Going strong since 2011, this African 1-day pop-up Christmas Market showcases clothing, jewellery, cosmetics, and art objects along with several stands offering traditional cuisine!
Date and Hours: December 9, 2023. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Location of this Pop-up Paris Christmas Market: 10/18 rue des Terres au curé, 75013 Paris.
4. A Japanese Christmas Market In Paris
Immerse yourself in the culture of Japan at Shizen, an enticing 2-day pop-up Christmas Market in Paris. Be prepared for traditional dances, talks, and performances. Why not participate in workshops on calligraphy and origami? 80 exhibitors will be exposing their handcrafted goods. And don’t miss the stands offering Japanese food! Oh là là!
Date and Hours: December 9 through December 10, 2023. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location of this Pop-up Paris Christmas Market: La Cité Fertile, 14 Av. Edouard Vaillant, 93500, Pantin France (take line 7)
5. St-Germain Night Market
At this Christmas Market in Paris, find unique creators of jewellery, candles, floral arrangements, accessories, and gift ideas galore all set in an elegant and inviting atmosphere. The pop-up bar will be serving a variety of classic St-Germain cocktails such as St-Germain Spritz and St-Germain Mule. Have you tasted these before? St-Germain is a renowned French liqueur made with fresh, handpicked elderflowers. In true artisanal style, each bottle of St-Germain is numbered with the year the petals were collected. The St-Germain Night Market has cocktail-making/ mixology workshops too.
Entry: Entry to the market is free. Purchased tickets (from 8€) include one St-Germain cocktail. Alcohol-free cocktails are also available.
Date and Hours: December 9 through December 13, 2023. Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday through Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location of this Pop-up Paris Christmas Market: La Maison des Métallos, 94 rue Jean-Pierre Tiimbaud, 75011, Paris.
15. Go Ice Skating At Iconic Locations
How about skating in Paris as an added touch to the Christmas in Paris festivities?
There is a small and very popular outdoor ice rink, known as une patinoire in French, at the Christmas market in the Jardin des Tuileries. Rent a pair of orange skates, lace up and glide under the Paris winter skies! The ice rink is open from November 18th, 2023 to January 7, 2024.
New in 2023, La Patinoire Ami is open from December 16 to December 31. This temporary ice rink will be located in the Cour d’Honneur at Palais-Royal. Oh, how magical!
The luxury hotel the Plaza Athenée has a stunning skating rink set in its inner courtyard. Adults dining at the Plaza Athenée Chalet have access to the skating rink for one hour, skates included! What a magical evening.
The most fabulous place to go skating in Paris is under the glass dome of the Grand Palais. The world’s largest temporary indoor rink, the Grands Palais des Glaces, is not open in 2023 as the Grand Palais is under renovation. Tuck this Christmas activity away for next year as the Grand Palais is set to reopen in 2024.
16. Have A Classic French Christmas Feast
In France, the main Christmas meal is on December 24, known as Le Réveillon de Noël. Christmas Eve dinner in France isn’t just a meal; it’s a cherished ritual, a moment to revel in the pleasure of good company and exquisite cuisine, creating memories that linger.
Traditional French cuisine that make up the Christmas Eve feast may include the following:
- seafood platters including snails, clams, and succulent oysters (here’s how to eat oysters)
- rich foie gras
- capon or turkey stuffed with chestnuts
- vegetables – often buttery green beans and potatoes
- the cheese course (read about French cheeses)
- the yule log or bûche de Nöel
Why not book a Christmas Eve dinner or a Christmas dinner at a restaurant or hotel in Paris? Christmas in Paris gets quite busy, so book well in advance. You could also attend a cabaret show (as suggested below) or take a Seine River cruise that includes a Christmas Eve dinner.
17. Experience Christmas Eve Dinner At The Moulin Rouge
An iconic cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge on Christmas Eve promises to be an unforgettable evening. The legendary venue, delicious gourmet feast, and the Moulin Rouge’s world-renowned performers all weave together to make a unique holiday experience. Another piece of the Christmas in Paris magic!
18. Enjoy A Special Cocktail
Christmas in Paris is the perfect time to have a special cocktail! Marvel at the Christmas lights in Place Vendôme and then enter the classy Ritz Hotel. Follow the hallways decked out in festive splendour to the quaint cocktail bar that pays homage to the iconic American writer, Ernest Hemingway. Sit back in one of the leather chairs, admire the Hemingway paraphernalia and choose an unforgettable drink from the Hemingway Star cocktail menu.
Read More | The Hemingway Bar Experience
19. Indulge In A Galette des Rois
Keep your eyes on the pâtisserie windows for the golden cakes with a paper crown sitting on top. During Christmas in Paris, the French King Cake or Galette des Rois starts to make an appearance. This much-anticipated Epiphany dessert appears just as the Bûche de Nöel starts to disappear from pâtisserie shelves. The puff pastry and the frangipane filling are, needless to say, delicious.
Read More | The French Tradition of the Galette des Rois
Christmas in Paris: Conclusion
However you partake in Christmas in Paris, all the glitter and timeless charm leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
Until next time,