Paris is known for its beauty and charm, but there’s something extra special about the City of Light during the holiday season. Christmas in Paris is a magical time, with twinkling lights, festive markets, and special events taking place throughout the city. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Parisian, there’s always something new and exciting to discover during the holiday season. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in Paris at Christmas, from ice skating and Christmas markets to touring museums and admiring the city’s iconic landmarks. So bundle up, grab a warm drink, and let’s explore the best of Christmas in Paris.
Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Things to Do in Paris at Christmas
Visit Christmas Markets
Paris has several Christmas markets with local handmade crafts, traditional French food, and festive decorations. One of the most popular Christmas markets in Paris is the market at the Champs-Elysées, which runs from late November to early January. This market features dozens of vendors selling everything from artisanal chocolates to handmade crafts and decorations, as well as rides and attractions for children. Other popular markets include the market at the Place des Abbesses in Montmartre, the Saint Germain des Prés Market, and the Notre-Dame Christmas Market.
See the Christmas Lights
Paris is famous for its stunning Christmas light displays, especially along the Champs-Elysées, Avenue Montaigne, and Rue Royale. You can also see the Christmas lights at landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Attend Christmas Concerts
Many churches in Paris hold Christmas concerts, including the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. You can also attend concerts at venues like the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Opéra Bastille. In addition to these traditional concerts, many contemporary Christmas concerts are held throughout Paris during the holiday season. These may feature popular French artists or international performers and can take place in various venues, from concert halls to nightclubs.
Go Ice Skating
During Christmas time, several ice rinks are set up in the city. These rinks offer a fun and festive way to enjoy the winter weather and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The most famous one is the rink at the Grand Palais, but you can also go ice skating at the Eiffel Tower, Hôtel de Ville, Trocadéro, and other locations.
Visit the Louvre and Other Museums
Paris is home to some of the world’s most famous museums, and during Christmas time, many of these museums host special exhibits and events that celebrate the holiday season. The Louvre often features Christmas-themed exhibits that showcase works of art related to the Nativity, as well as other religious and secular themes, while the Musée d’Orsay hosts a yearly “Christmas at the Museum” event, which includes holiday-themed workshops, concerts, and other activities for visitors of all ages. The museum also decorates its galleries with festive lights and decorations, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for visitors.
The Musée Rodin is another museum in Paris that is particularly beautiful during Christmas time. The museum’s stunning sculpture garden is decorated with lights and holiday-themed displays, while the indoor galleries feature special exhibitions and events that celebrate the season. Other museums and galleries worth visiting during the holidays include the Musée Jacquemart-André, which hosts special holiday-themed exhibits and concerts, and the Petit Palais, which features a collection of Christmas cards and other festive works of art.
Indulge in French Cuisine
Christmas time in Paris means indulging in traditional French cuisine. There are plenty of delicious treats, from roasted chestnuts and mulled wine to foie gras and truffles. From classic French cuisine to modern interpretations, there’s something for every taste and budget in Paris during the holiday season.
Related Posts: Famous French Foods You Need to Eat in Paris
Visit Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is a popular destination during Christmas time, as the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with festive decorations, special events, and holiday-themed shows and attractions. You can also enjoy Disney’s Christmas Parade, special meet-and-greet opportunities with Santa Claus and other holiday characters, and the Enchanted Advent Calendar, which features a new surprise every day leading up to Christmas.
Watch a Christmas Show
Paris has several theatres that put on Christmas shows during the holiday season. One of the most popular Christmas shows in Paris is the annual production of The Nutcracker ballet, performed at the historic Opéra Garnier. The production features stunning choreography, elaborate sets, and beautiful costumes, making it a must-see for ballet fans and families.
Attend Midnight Mass
If you’re looking for a more religious experience, you can attend Midnight Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral or other churches in Paris. The Mass typically includes traditional Christmas hymns, Bible readings, and a homily delivered by the presiding priest. The highlight of the service is the singing of “Minuit, Chrétiens” (“O Holy Night”), a beloved French Christmas carol that is sung by the choir and congregation. Services are conducted in French, but visitors of all nationalities and faiths are welcome to attend and participate.
Take a Christmas-Themed Tour
Several tour companies in Paris offer Christmas-themed tours that take you to the city’s best Christmas markets, light displays, and holiday attractions. Popular tours include the Christmas Lights Tour, which takes visitors on a walking tour of the city’s most beautiful and festive holiday light displays; the Christmas Markets Tour, which takes visitors to some of the many holiday markets that spring up throughout the city during the holiday season and the Christmas Past and Present Tour, which takes visitors on a journey through the history of Christmas in Paris, from the traditional nativity scenes of the past to the modern-day holiday festivities that take place throughout the city.
Explore the Christmas Displays at Department Stores like Printemps and Galeries Lafayette
Located in the 9th arrondissement, these famous department stores are transformed into a magical wonderland with stunning decorations and festive displays at Christmastime. The store’s windows are also decorated with elaborate displays featuring moving figures, festive scenes, and holiday motifs. These displays are often based on a particular theme and are a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike.
One of the main attractions during Christmas at Galeries Lafayette is the giant Christmas tree in the center of the store’s atrium. The tree is typically several stories tall and is decorated with sparkling lights, ornaments, and other decorations.
Go Shopping for Unique Gifts at Boutique Stores and Artisan Markets
Shopping for unique gifts in Paris during Christmas time can be an incredibly rewarding experience, offering visitors the chance to discover a wide range of locally-made products at the Christmas markets at the Champs-Elysées, Notre-Dame, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Montmartre, and the high-end boutique stores that specialize in luxury fashion, jewelry, and home decor.
Watch the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve at the Eiffel Tower
If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris until New Year’s, head to the Eiffel Tower, which becomes the focal point for a spectacular fireworks display that lights up the sky and draws crowds from all over the world. The fireworks display lasts around ten minutes, starting at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The show features a dazzling array of colours and patterns, with the Eiffel Tower serving as the display’s centrepiece. The fireworks are set off from multiple locations around the tower, creating a stunning visual spectacle that can be seen from all over the city.
Take a Tour of the Paris Opera House
During Christmas time, the Paris Opera House, also known as the Palais Garnier, is decorated with festive lights and garlands, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for holiday tours. Only offered at Christmas time, these holiday tours include a visit to the building’s backstage areas and a chance to see some of the festive costumes and decorations used in productions during the holiday season.
Visit the Palace of Versailles
During Christmas time, the gardens of the Palace of Versailles are also a popular destination for visitors, with holiday lights and decorations adorning the trees and walkways throughout the grounds. Inside, one of the highlights is the Hall of Mirrors, one of the most famous rooms in the palace, decorated with beautiful holiday lights and garlands. In addition, visitors can explore the other rooms and halls of the palace, many of which are decorated with traditional French Christmas decorations, including red and gold ornaments, wreaths, and ribbons.
Go to a Rooftop Bar or Restaurant for a View of the City’s Holiday Lights
Going to a rooftop bar or restaurant for a view of the city’s holiday lights is a great way to take in the festive atmosphere of Paris during Christmas time. The city is home to various rooftop venues offering stunning views of the city’s holiday lights and decorations and delicious food and drinks. Some popular options include the rooftop terrace at the Printemps Haussmann department store, the rooftop bar at the Hotel Raphael, the famous Le George restaurant, and restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc at the Peninsula Paris hotel.
Take a Day Trip to the Charming Town of Strasbourg
Strasbourg, located in eastern France, is known as the “Capital of Christmas” and is home to one of Europe’s oldest and most famous Christmas markets. Getting to Strasbourg from Paris is easy, with frequent high-speed trains that make the journey in around two hours.
What are your favourite things to do in Paris at Christmas? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
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