Planning to spend this holiday season in Paris? Here are the best things to do in Paris at Christmas time for an amazing time!
There is no better place in the world to be at Christmas than in Paris! The lights, the nativity scenes, the Christmas markets, the perfectly decorated department stores; all these and much more make Paris during Christmas a dream!
Besides the illuminating lights that blanket the city of light, there are so many things to do in Paris at Christmas!
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So to help you get the most out of your stay in Paris during the most magical time of the year, I’ll be sharing all the best things to do and the best places to visit.
And the best part is that most of the things are actually free (you may just have to carry a few Euros to treat yourself to some of the Christmas delicacies) and others are pretty affordable.
But before we dive in, there are some practical tips you need to know about the weather, what to wear, and where to stay so that you prepare for your trip well.
Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips
WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (8.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)
- Don’t forget to take Travel Insurance. Request a free quote from my favorite insurance, World Nomads. (More on this at the end of the article.)
- Prepare your trip extensively with this Paris Travel guidebook.
- Don’t forget a universal travel adapter, a travel neck pouch, and comfortable walking shoes.
- Consider getting either the museum pass or the Paris city pass if you plan to visit a lot of attractions. The city pass comes with free transportation and access to the hop-on-hop-off bus. You can read my Paris museum pass review to see if it’s right for you.
- Book this private transfer from CDG airport to Paris to avoid the hustle of figuring out how to get to Paris.
Psst… Before traveling to Paris or France in general, make sure that you have Travel Insurance! I always use World Nomads on all my trips and I am happy to recommend it to you. You can easily request a quote from World Nomads from here for FREE!
Tips for Spending Christmas in Paris
Weather in Paris during Christmas
Just like other winter months, Paris is usually cold in December with temperatures oscillating between 4° C ( 39 °F) and 8° C (46 °F) during the day but can drop to zero at night on some days.
The chances of rain are also high. In fact, out of the 31 days of the month of December, it’s always anticipated to rain for 15.
Also, the chances of snowing in Paris during Christmastime are very low; sometimes it takes even 3 years with no snow at all!
But don’t let those temperatures scare you, as long as you dress well, you can enjoy this magical time of the year in Paris with no worries.
Speaking of dressing well, let’s look at what to wear in Paris during Christmas!
What to wear in Paris at Christmas
The rule of dressing for winter is layering! Paris may not be as cold as other winter destinations in Europe or particularly the Scandinavian countries but you still need to wear the appropriate clothes if you don’t want to freeze to death.
From head to toes, here is what you need to pack for Paris during Christmas.
- Beanie: I like this one because it’s very warm and it looks cute.
- Earmuffs: For days you don’t feel like wearing a beanie, these earmuffs will be at your service when it comes to keeping your ears warm.
- Scarf: Make sure to carry a large one like this which you can also use as a blanket for more warmth.
- Winter coat: This is the exact winter coat I have and I can vouch for it. It’s the perfect outer layer for your stay in Paris during winter.
- Fleece/ sweater: For your mid-layer, you’ll need to carry a warm fleece like this one or this sweater if you’re not a fan of a fleece.
- Long-sleeved merino wool top: You’ll also need a long-sleeved base layer to complete the layering. I like this merino-wool long-sleeved base layer as it is warm, soft, breathable, and sweat-wicking.
- A pair of Jeans: When it comes to the bottom, this pair of jeans never disappoints.
- Thermals: Jeans might be nice but they’re just not warm enough for Christmas temperatures and that’s why I suggest taking this pair of thermals.
- Woolen socks: These socks are warm enough and they’ll keep your feet dry.
- A pair of Boots: I like these boots! They’re warm and stylish.
- Travel Neck Pouch: You’ll need to take this travel neck pouch to carry all your essentials while sightseeing. It can accommodate your phone, credit cards, keys, money, etc.
Besides what to wear, there are some other essentials you’ll need to pack. You can check out my complete list of what to pack for Paris in winter to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Now that you know what you need to wear to plan your Christmas in Paris, you need to find a place to stay!
But, finding where to stay in Paris, especially during Christmas time can be tricky! And choosing one among the many can also be tedious.
So to help make decision-making easy for you, here are some of the places to stay in Paris to celebrate the holidays in style!
Where to Stay in Paris at Christmas
When it comes to choosing a hotel in Paris or even an apartment rental during Christmas, I recommend opting for places that have a mixture of good amenities, are perfectly located near places that have Christmas lights, or go all out when it comes to decorating their place for Christmas.
This will help you keep the festive spirit alive even if you’re miles away from home. Below are some that I recommend for all budgets!
Mandarin Oriental Paris
This hotel is the true definition of a Christmas fairytale topped with luxury! The lobby and restaurants are turned into a Christmas little village with extravagant lights and Christmas trees to fill the space with the magic of Christmas.
Besides the lights and the decorations, their Christmas menu is top-notch; you won’t miss your home at all! Plus, it’s located near all the famous places like the Louvre, the Opera Garnier, etc, to make sightseeing seamless
This luxurious hotel has been awarded the ultimate French hotel distinction and it’s for a good reason. While it’s also extravagant, Shangri-La Hotel outdoes itself during the Christmas season.
With beautifully decorated trees, a special festive menu, and brunch on Christmas day at its restaurant, you can’t ask for more than this. On top of that, you’ll be treated to some of the best Eiffel tower views if you stay at this hotel.
Derby Alma has got to be the most dazzling hotel in Paris! Every piece of decor is put together to bring out a chic and stylish style!
The hotel is perfectly located to have quick access to both the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées, which will both be vital on your trip to Paris at Christmas.
Plus, it has a terrace where you can get a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Le Basile Hôtel
Located in the 9th. arrondissement, Le Basile Hôtel is a cozy place to stay during the holidays! They may not go all out in decorating but it’s perfectly located near all the places you’ll visit during your stay.
It is just a minute’s walk from the Madelen church for the nativity scenes and it’s also not far from Galeries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann department stores which put on great Christmas window displays.
On top of that, the staff is very friendly and it comes with all the amenities you may need for a comfortable stay. Plus, you can also have room service for breakfast!
Hôtel Eiffel Turenne
If you fancy the idea of staying near the Eiffel Tower, then Hôtel Eiffel Turenne is a perfect choice.
Perfectly decorated in a chic style, this hotel also offers amazing breakfast, and the fact that you can walk for less than 10 minutes and be at the Eiffel Tower Christmas market seals the deal!
The People Hostel – Paris 12
If you want to enjoy Paris during Christmas without splurging on sleeping, then I recommend staying at the People Hostel. It has both dorm and private rooms so you can choose what you prefer.
Also, it’s close to some places like the Louvre museum, and Sainte Chappelle for the Christmas concert and you can enjoy some Paris views on their terrace.
You can also check out these hotels with Eiffel tower views for an amazing experience in Paris at Christmas.
If you didn’t find the recommendations above appealing to you, then you can use this interactive map below by my favorite hotel booking partner, Booking.com to choose the best place for you. The map shows the exact amount, the location, and the average reviews of past guests!
Now that you know the practical tips for visiting Paris, let’s look at the best ways to enjoy Christmas in Paris.
Things to do in Paris at Christmas
1. Admire the Christmas lights Display
Paris wears a coat of lights, shimmers, and glitters during Christmas making it a magnificent sight to behold!
Of course, most corners and streets you turn to may be decorated but some are simply more dazzling than others!
The most famous one is the Champs Elysées which is one of the most famous avenues in the world.
Over a million light bulbs are wrapped in its 400 trees to create an awe-inspiring sight that screams Christmas by just looking at it.
But it’s not just the Champs Elysées that showcases Christmas lights in Paris. Other places include the Bercy village which turns into a true Christmas Village, Avenue Montaigne which is dressed in sparkles, Boulevard Hausmann which is also adorned with shimmering lights, Place Vendôme, and so many others.
There is also another little-known passageway called Le Village Royal that not many people go to but I found it really beautiful! It’s decorated with gigantic bears shimmering in thousands of lights!
It’s actually referred to as the most glamorous passageway in Paris. You can find it at 25, rue Royale Paris in the 8th arrondissement!
Though it’s fun hunting for Christmas decorations in Paris, it can be a bit tiring since there is so much to see, and walking through the crowded Paris streets can easily become grueling!
But you can still enjoy the lights without all the hustle by booking this Christmas Lights Night bus tour.
This bus of illumination has an open rooftop where you can enjoy the beautiful lights as it passes through all the Parisian monuments in the comfort of your seat.
2. Stroll Through The Paris Christmas Markets
One of my favorite things to do in Paris during Christmas besides hunting down the Xmas lights is strolling through Christmas markets!
The stalls, the wooden chalets, the decoration, the Christmas-filled vibe, and every little thing in the markets make Christmas feel even more special (yes, even the crowds). I am always like a little kid in a candy shop every time I go to a Christmas market.
These markets can be found in various areas in Paris and are a perfect place to pick out Christmas ornaments, woodwork and arty toys, souvenirs, or even Paris-themed gifts for your loved ones!
And while you’re there, try out as many delicacies as you want from gingerbread to warming up with the traditional mulled wine “Vin Chaud” (you can even observe how it’s made)!
While there are many Christmas markets in Paris, some that you shouldn’t miss include; the Christmas market at La Défense which is the biggest with over 350 stalls, Les Tuileries Christmas market near the Louvre, Eiffel tower Christmas market at the Eiffel Tower, the Alsace Christmas Market at Gare de l’Est, the Christmas market at Notre Dame Cathedral and so many others.
3. Watch the Nativity Scenes In Paris
One of the traditional ways of celebrating Christmas beyond the glitz and the glamour of the holiday season is by watching nativity scenes at the various churches in Paris.
Depending on the church you go to, you might find different nativity scenes with some being modern, traditional, or even baroque as they use different figurines (miniatures or real-life-sized ones).
There are so many places to go to watch the impressive nativity scenes but the most outstanding ones include; Saint-François-Xavier Church which combines biblical characters with real-life village characters, La Madeleine Church, Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, Saint-Eustache, and so many others. You can check out the complete list here.
4. Enjoy the Christmas Window Displays at Paris’ Department stores
During Christmas, Paris’ department stores change from just being shopping places to typical Christmas attractions where both locals and tourists go to admire outstanding Christmas decorations and of course buy some goodies too!
Every year, these stores take on a different theme for their festive window displays as they showcase the magic of Christmas.
Designed and decorated by creative and talented artists, you can find spectacular window displays at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann which are the most famous ones, BHV MARAIS, and Bon Marché Rive Gauche.
The beauty, art, music, and creativity of these window displays will definitely awaken the festive spirit in both young and adults alike.
5. See the Most Beautiful Christmas Tree in Paris
And after admiring the window displays at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann (since they’re right next to each other), be sure to enter Galeries Lafayette to see the most beautiful Christmas tree in Paris!
Seated in the middle of the famous and glamorous dome of the store, this tree is not only incredibly big but equally stunning!
Each year, they decorate it with different themes from Santa in space to dripping gold but regardless of the theme, you can be sure that you’ll be blown away by its grand beauty. Some years they each make the tree upside down!
One of the highlights of this magnificent tree is that at every top of the hour for like 3 minutes, they light up the tree and the entire dome area while playing a beautiful Christmas song in the background!
It’s a truly magical moment that will make you feel like you’re in a dreamy Christmas land! No exaggeration here but it’s such a spectacle!
6. Taste your balancing Skills By Ice Skating
Skating is actually one of my favorite winter activities to do, so when winter comes, you know it’s time to pull out the skates and Paris does not disappoint.
During Christmastime, a number of ice rinks pop up to accommodate the adventurous nature of those who want to twirl around while taking in all the festivities!
You can find a number of temporary ice rinks but the most notable ones include; the La Défense Rooftop which also offers incredible views of Paris and the suburbs, the Eiffel Tower Skating Rink to skate right next to the Eiffel tower; this is perfect if you want to take photos of the Eiffel Tower (but as you would imagine, it’s also the most crowded) Galeries Lafayette Rooftop, Plaza Athénée Ice Skating at La Cour Jardin and a few others.
So if you were looking for ways to spend Christmas time in Paris, skating is one of them.
Pro tip* You may want to avoid the weekend or even the evening as that’s when most people go! And when that happens, the ice rinks become too crowded and the ice rink becomes unleveled which is not that enjoyable!
7. Watch Some Christmas Concerts
Paris is never short of concerts and Christmas time is no exception! The only difference is that these ones are more magical and festive.
Usually starting in the middle of December, famous churches open their doors and put on amazing Christmas concerts that will instantly make you feel merry.
Some of the places you can catch the Christmas concerts include; La Madeleine Church, Sainte Chapelle, Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church for music-themed concerts, Palais Garnier for an evening of dance, Theatre des Champs-Elysees and so many others.
8. Take a Christmas-themed Food Tour of Paris
This tour will take you through various Christmas markets while tasting some of the Christmas delicacies like gingerbread, chocolate Yule logs, and the famous mulled wine.
While you can do this on your own, having a local knowledgeable and professional guide show you all the locals’ favorites while telling you all the history about them is something that will fully bring out the Christmas feel.
This tour is also great if you’re overwhelmed with all the available options and need someone to guide you!
9. Take A Seine River Christmas Cruise With Dinner
While cruising the Seine is fun all year round, in fact, it’s one of the romantic things to do in Paris if you’re traveling with your loved one, it becomes even more magical at Christmastime.
There is no better way to take in all the Christmas lights in Paris from the major landmarks than on a Seine cruise.
From the beautiful lights reflecting on the Seine, to the views on the Eiffel Tower, a 5-star course French festive gourmet, there is no better way to spend Christmas eve or even Christmas day itself than cruising on the seine.
10. Treat yourself to a night of fun and Christmas Dinner at Moulin Rouge
If cruising the Seine is not your ideal way of celebrating Christmas in Paris, then you might enjoy having Christmas dinner while being treated to an amazing show by incredible dancers at a cabaret at Moulin Rouge in Montmartre.
There are many places to enjoy a cabaret in Paris but Moulin Rouge is the most popular probably because it’s where the can-can show started and the performances are outstanding.
The show showcases over 100 artists all dressed elegantly in feather costumes and dazzling sequins as they put on an amazing night of entertainment dubbed Féérie traces.
The show might be the same that runs all year long but what makes it worth going to during Christmas is the surprising decor and the special Christmas menu.
So if you’re looking for things to do at night in Paris during Christmas time, then going to a cabaret at Moulin Rouge is one of them.
Please note that tickets for a cabaret during Christmas book out fast so you’ll need to book your ticket in advance so as not to miss out.
11. Celebrate Christmas at Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is the most magical place in Paris and this place turns into something unbelievable and extraordinary at Christmas!
Yes, it’s magical all year round but Christmas brings another level of magic that you ought to experience.
Throughout the months of November to January, Disney turns into a fairy tale Christmas village with stunning Christmas decorations and characters perfectly dressed to put on an amazing Christmas show.
Of course, Mickey and his friend will be there to enchant you with his impressive Christmas parade!
From the sparkling Christmas tree on Town Square and the breathtaking decorations of Main Street, U.S.A. all the way to the sleeping beauty Castle to snowy sessions on the main avenue a couple of times throughout the day, there is no better place to celebrate Christmas in Paris than at Disneyland.
And don’t worry about missing the Christmas meals, Disney now has Chefs’ Enchanted Nights where you’ll be able to enjoy special meals on December 24 and 31 and brunch on December 25 and January 1.
Disney can’t get any more magical than this!
12. Attend a Christmas Service in One of Paris’ Churches
One of the things to do in Paris on Christmas day is to attend a Christmas service. There are so many churches in Paris that hold amazing Christmas services both on Christmas Eve and on Christmas day itself.
The most prestigious places to go for Christmas masses both on the 24th and 25th include the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre and the Madeleine church whose choirs sing heavenly as they celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Other churches in Paris that conduct Christmas services include; Saint-Eustache church in the 1st. arrondissement, Saint-Augustin church in the 8th. Arrondissement, Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois Church in the 1st. Arrondissement, Saint-Sulpice Church in the 6th. Arrondissement and so many others. You can check out the complete list here.
13. Warm up With some mulled wine
Mulled wine or Vin Chaud in French is a French staple during Christmas time. As soon as winter comes, many restaurants start serving it and it’s something you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re wondering what it is; Vin chaud is a hot drink made by mixing hot dry red wine with spices like cinnamon, cardamom (cardamon), star anise cloves plus sugar!
All this mixed together makes a warm drink that the French go crazy for during the cold months.
While you can enjoy it at restaurants or cafes, I recommend trying it at a Christmas market where you can even get a chance of seeing it being made!
The drink is usually served in a cute mug which you can even pay for and take back home as a souvenir from Paris.
14. Ride on the “Big Wheel” Ferris wheel at the Tuileries Garden
Located at the Tuileries Garden Christmas market, the Ferris wheel will give you stunning views of the lights and Christmas decorations in Paris from another dimension.
You can even treat yourself to a glass of wine or champagne before you get on the ride so that you enjoy Paris’ views as you sip on it.
Faqs about Visiting Paris at Christmas
Is Christmas a good time to visit Paris?
There is no doubt about that; Christmas is an amazing time to visit Paris.
Yes, it will be crowded but the beauty of its decorations, the charming Christmas markets, the beautiful window displays, and the Christmas lights that adorn the streets make it an amazing city to spend Christmas in!
How do they celebrate Christmas in Paris?
As I mentioned above, Paris goes all out when it comes to celebrating Christmas!
Most famous streets are covered with Christmas lights, Pastries even become more festive, and of course, they put on the most beautiful Christmas tree in Galeries Lafayette.
As for Parisiens, they usually have their special meal on Christmas Eve with their families but they still enjoy a Christmas lunch on Christmas day itself.
Does it snow in Paris in December?
Snow is generally rare in Paris but even if it does, the chances of snow are much lower in December compared to January and February.
But even with that, you can never say never, there is always a slight chance but I would say don’t come expecting it to snow in December.
Are there Christmas markets in Paris?
The simple answer is Yes! There are quite a number of Christmas markets in Paris but the most notorious ones are Eiffel Tower Christmas Market, Tuileries Christmas Market, Trocadéro Christmas Market, and La Défense Christmas Market.
Final Thoughts on the Best things to do in Paris at Christmas
While Paris is always a good idea (this is actually my favorite Paris quote), Christmas in Paris is even much more magical.
The streets are dressed in a coat of lights, the churches are filled with nativity scenes, and the Christmas markets are cozied up to be explored! Everything combined creates a holiday-filled atmosphere that will awaken your festive spirit instantly.
Of course, there is a lot to see and do that you may want to rush through everything but the trick is to go slow and enjoy every little moment because that’s the magic of Christmas.
Have you been to Paris during Christmastime before? How did you love it? Which places or activities did you enjoy the most? Let me know in the comment section below!
And if this is going to be your first Christmas in Paris, be excited because it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen. And if you have more questions about visiting Paris at this time of the year, you can still leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them.
For now, start planning your trip and I guarantee you’ll have an absolute blast.
NEVER TRAVEL TO PARIS WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE
One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make when planning a trip to Paris is to forego Travel Insurance!
You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!
There are many Travel Insurance companies out there, but I love World Nomads! They cover almost every single thing you might face/do while in Paris or even France in general, it is easy to request a quote, and if you ever need to claim, the claiming process is not a rat race!
I’ve used World Nomads on all my trips, and I am confident and happy to recommend it to you!
No worries if you’re not yet ready to book your trip, you can request a free quote from World Nomads here and see if it suits your personal needs!
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