12 Best Things To Do In Paris In December [+ The Weather, Where To Stay & What To Pack]
Want to travel to Paris in December but not sure what to expect? This post will give you all the best practical tips on the weather, where to stay, plus what to do!
Known for its ice skating rinks, glorious Christmas lights, exciting Christmas markets, and so much more, there’s truly nothing better than visiting Paris in December!
You can do so much to make the best of the weeks leading up to Christmas, bring in the new year, or participate in holiday cheer that you’ll be hopping from one place to another.
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Whether you enjoy a low-key festive season or want to celebrate the end of the year in style with added Parisian charm, visiting Paris in December is bound to be a treat.
Every morning you can wake up and treat yourself to a hot chocolate or a vanilla latte from your favorite local café accompanied by a freshly baked pain au chocolat, and get on with the list of things you’ll have planned to truly soak in the beauty of the city of love in the month of festivities and cheer!
So, keep scrolling to find out how to best enjoy your December in Paris, the top things to do, where to stay, and all the practical tips for visiting the city of love during this time of the year.
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)
BEST GUIDED TOURS
Louvre Museum guided tour: (4.5/5)
Seine River Dinner Cruise: (4.7/5)
Montmartre Walking Tour: (4.8/5)
Le Marais Walking Food Tour: (4.5/5)
Versailles Guided Tour: (4.8/5)
Eiffel Tower Guided Tour: (4.4/5)
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- 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… Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
Weather in Paris in December
The weather in Paris in December is pretty chilly as it is one of the coldest months of the year.
Though you can expect only a handful of snow showers, the sun won’t appear as frequently as it does in autumn; instead, you’ll be faced with more overcast days.
The days are pretty short, with sunlight hours between 8 and 8 and a half hours, (the sun rises at around 8:30 AM and sets at around 4:50 PM), so you can make the most of the daylight and enjoy a cozy night in or party it up under the stars.
Paris in December weather is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the holiday lights and warm festival drinks make it extra magical this time of year! If you can brave the cold, you can be assured of an amazing time.
Paris Temperature in December
To understand more about the weather to be best prepped and dressed, here are specifics about the temperature in Paris in December.
- Paris temperature in December: 7.5°C (46°F) High and 3.4ºC (38ºF) Low with an average of 5ºC (41ºF)
- Average humidity in Paris in December: 86%
- Average days of rainfall in Paris in December: 14.3 days
- Average days of snowfall in December in Paris: 1.8 days
Where to Stay in Paris in December
If you’re searching for accommodation options for when you visit Paris in December, keep reading to find excellent options (ranging from economical to luxury 5-star hotels) to stay in!
The People Hostel – Paris Bercy: A visit to Paris can definitely get heavy on the pocket, especially if you plan to tour all the top museums and landmarks, so staying in a wallet-friendly hostel like this one is a great way to save up since you’re going to be out exploring most of the time anyway! The People Hostel – Paris Bercy offers family rooms, a terrace, a shared kitchen, and other amenities, along with the option to interact with other travelers easily.
>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<
Derby Alma: Located in the center of the city within proximity of iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées, Derby Alma is a contemporary hotel equipped with anything you’d need. With its on-site bar, perfect location, accommodating staff, and more, Derby Alma is the ideal place to stay during your visit to the city if you’re on a mid-range budget.
>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<
Mandarin Oriental Paris: If you’re searching for a hotel where you’ll be treated like a royal, look no further than Mandarin Oriental Paris. Set in the city’s heart in a 1930s palace building juxtaposed with minimalist decor, this hotel is fully-equipped with a landscaped garden, gourmet restaurant, fancy spa, and more. Though pricey, it’s worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris!
>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<
Citadines Trocadéro Paris: If you’d rather stay in an apartment rental during your stay in the city, you’ll also be able to find a plethora of options to choose from, like this one. Located right next to the Trocadéro Metro Station, which will easily connect you with the rest of the city, the Citadines Trocadéro Paris is the ideal apartment to stay at. You’ll have an air-conditioned apartment with a kitchen, laundry, on-site car park, and be within walking distance from top attractions.
>>> Check rates and availability on Booking.com <<<
These are some of my recommendations but if you can’t see what you like, you can check out my complete list of Paris hotels with Eiffel Tower views or these hotels near the Louvre Museum if you prefer to stay near Mona Lisa.
But if you’d rather sleep in an apartment to have access to a kitchen and have a homey feel, here is my list of apartment rentals with views of the Eiffel Tower, these budget Paris apartment rentals if you’re on a budget, or these luxury vacation apartment rentals if you’re all about luxury.
Now that you know the practical tips for visiting Paris, here are the best things to do in Paris in December that you shouldn’t miss out on.
12 Best Things to do in Paris in December
In no particular order, here are the fun things to do in December in Paris.
1. Admire the Christmas Window displays at Departmental Stores
With December comes the well-loved Christmas time, and that means that on top of the million lights that adorn the city at night throughout the year, you’ll also be greeted with exquisite Christmas window displays!
Mainly, you’ll find spectacular displays at the departmental stores at Boulevard Haussmann, especially the animated graphics and shows at Galleries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann.
You can also admire well-designed and decorated window displays in other department stores like BHV MARAIS, and Bon Marché Rive Gauche each unique and different from the next.
And while you go window licking ( read window shopping) and admire the stunning window displays at Galleries Lafayette, be sure to step inside to glance at the most beautiful and biggest Christmas tree in Paris.
Related post: Best Thing to do in Paris at Christmas
2. Watch an opera performance
Sometimes the chilly weather in the city can be a bit much to bear, especially if it’s rainy and glum, so one of the top things to do in Paris in December is to book yourself a seat at an opera performance.
Paris, renowned globally for its lavish opera house and ballet performances has been the land of art and culture for centuries, making a performance at the opulent, well-designed, and luxurious Palais Garnier worthwhile.
Besides watching excellent performances, you can also book this guided tour of the Palais itself to learn more about its history, architecture, and design.
However, if you’d rather visit on your own, you can still book this self-guided tour to take in all the magnificent beauty the Opera harbors.
Related post: The Ultimate Paris bucket list
3. Spend an evening at Atelier des Lumières
Located in the 11th Arrondissement, Atelier des Lumières is one of the up-and-coming places for tourists in the city.
The digital art exhibition has become a new spot for art lovers and technology aficionados to converge their interests in this ample space to observe art in a new form.
The museum has featured some world-renowned works of greats like Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Monet, and more.
The exhibitions keep changing every quarter, so be sure to check this website to know what they’re displaying before you make your trip.
If you’re an art and tech lover, Atelier des Lumières is definitely one of the must-visit museums in Paris.
You can also book your ticket to Atelier des Lumières from here to watch the current exhibitions.
4. Splurge on a fine-dining meal with a view
Among its famous historical landmarks, expansive gardens, and quaint bakeries from where the scent of freshly baked French pastries escapes onto the streets, Paris is also well-known for its plethora of fine dining joints.
French culture, art, and food all scream exquisite, so there’s nothing quite like a fine dining meal in Paris, preferably with a view!
If you happen to be visiting in December and wish to get away from the cold in the thick of the night, splurging on a once-in-a-lifetime meal at a fancy restaurant is entirely worth it.
You can choose from top-rated places like Les Ombres, Jules Verne, Café de l’Homme, Terrass Hotel restaurant, Maison Blanche, or any of these Paris restaurants with Eiffel Tower views, where you can gorge on signature French dishes accompanied by specialty wine and end the night with the fanciest dessert on the menu.
Or better yet, book this 3-course dinner Seine cruise to not only enjoy a scrumptious meal but also enjoy the amazing views of Paris from the Seine.
Psst… If you’d rather go on a food tour to taste various foods in Paris than fine dining, then I recommend going for this Paris-guided food tour in Le Marais.
5. Be Blown Away at the Festival of Lights at Jardin des Plantes
If you’re thinking about what to do in Paris in December, one of the attractions you can’t miss out on is the marvelous Festival of Lights that happens annually at the expansive Jardin des Plantes.
Located in the 5th Arrondissement, this festival illuminates the park’s area and beyond with its impeccably-designed lanterns based on a different theme every year, taking you on a journey of evolution through time with a focus on endangered species and the amazing flora and fauna.
As you soak in the beautiful lights, you can admire the vast garden at this iconic festival, a perfect blend of art, poetry, and science.
Not only are the exhibits so fun to look at, but each theme aims to raise awareness about a particular issue that plagues the world, making it even better than just a regular exhibition.
A coveted spot to visit during the long winter nights in Paris, book your tickets online in advance to avoid queuing for long in the cold.
6. Go ice skating in the city
Out of the several things to do in December in Paris, ice skating is a must-do! Several ice rinks come up across different parts of the city, each with something different to offer.
Some notable rinks include Patinoire Sonja Henie, where you’ll be able to enjoy weekend nights filled with top pop hits and neon lights, and the La Défense Rooftop, which offers stunning views of the city.
The most coveted ice skating spot is located on the first level of the Eiffel Tower, where you can skate with a view and sip on some delicious hot chocolate to warm up from the cold!
Other ice rinks worth checking out include; the Galeries Lafayette Rooftop ice rink and Tuileries gardens ice rink.
Related post: Best Things to do in Paris in January
7. Shop around at a Christmas market
Some of the top places to visit in Paris in December are its beautiful Christmas markets.
During the festive season which is the jewel of the city and country, several Christmas markets come up in the weeks leading up to Christmas with all showcasing a charm of their own.
While the most well-known markets actually take place a short trip away from the city, in Alsace (especially in Strasbourg), a stroll through Paris’ Christmas markets is equally rewarding.
Paris’ largest and most popular Christmas market is Tuileries Garden Christmas market offering carnivals, countless food stalls, an ice rink, and a huge Ferris wheel.
Other smaller markets also come up near famous Parisian landmarks, and some notable ones you can visit include; Montmartre Christmas Market, Eiffel Tower Christmas Market at Champs de Mars, Notre-Dame Christmas Market located at Square Viviani, Hôtel de Ville Christmas market, Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market, and many more.
8. Witness the winter charm at Disneyland Paris
The hustle and bustle of the city can indeed be exhausting, so a great way to escape that just for a day or two is by taking a day trip outside Paris to any of the attractions, a short train ride from the city.
One of those landmarks is Disneyland Paris, the most magical place on earth, made even more magical with its Christmas lights, holiday cheer, and winter charm.
Besides spending time on iconic Disneyland Paris rides and witnessing stellar performances, you’ll also get to sing Christmas carols and festive songs with your favorite Disney characters.
A trip enjoyable for both kids, and adults, and in between, the food, festivity, and charm of Disneyland is a great way to spend a day outside the city in December!
And as you plan your Disney trip, make sure that you buy this 1-day Disney entry ticket in advance if you plan to spend just a day there, but if you want to fully enjoy what this magical place offers, then I recommend booking this multi-day entrance ticket to Disneyland which gives you access to the park for more than one day.
But if you’d rather go camping, you can check out these campsites near Disneyland Paris.
Related post: Best Cities Near Paris to Visit
9. Take a tour of The Parisian churches
On the list of the top things to do in Paris in December, one of the unique and distinctive activities is to tour some of the beautiful churches in the city and even get a chance to attend a Christmas concert or two.
Some of the top Parisian churches to visit include Sainte-Chapelle which is a gorgeous blend of gothic and renaissance style architecture, Église Saint-Séverin, located in the Latin quarter and dates back to the 11th century, Madeleine church in the 8th arrondissement, Sacre Coeur basilica on a hill in Montmartre and more.
Besides the impressive architectural beauty, during December especially the weeks leading up to Christmas, some of these churches organize musical concerts and nativity scenes worth seeing.
Of course, just visiting the churches and the nativity scenes is free but if you want to attend a Christmas concert, you’ll have to buy a ticket and book a bit in advance.
10. Watch the Christmas lights
The city of Paris is all decked out in December to celebrate Christmas and the end of the year.
A special time across the world, Paris’ long winter nights are illuminated by the excellent light displays across the city, especially on famous historical landmarks that go all out to bring festive cheer.
One of the top places to watch the Christmas lights is the luxurious shopping arena and the most famous Parisian street in the city’s heart, Champs-Élysées!
The avenue is adorned with up to a million lights to light up the overcast winter nights, making a late evening or post-dinner walk through this street from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, one of the most loved activities during this time of year.
You can also pick up a box of French macarons from the aesthetic Ladurée on the street to carry back to your hotel!
Besides Champs-Élysées, other places to admire the beautiful Christmas lights include Bercy village, Avenue Montaigne, Place Vendôme, Le Village Royal, and many others.
11. Bring in the new year in style
If you’re in Paris during new years eve, you must celebrate it with pomp-and-show because when else will you be in the city of love with your partner, friends, or family, bringing in the new year?
There’s so much going on across the city that you can choose from depending on whether you’d like to party it up with strangers turned friends at some of Paris’ best parties, dine at an exclusive Parisian restaurant, or walk the streets under the Christmas lights and count down until the clock hits 12 by the Seine while popping some champagne, the options are endless.
While all the above activities are fun, the cherry on top is watching fireworks above the Eiffel Tower as it clocks midnight!
From the lights to the sounds, everything about watching fireworks at the magnificent Eiffel Tower is breathtaking.
12. Warm up With hot chocolate or vin-chaud at your favorite cafe
Since the weather will certainly be chilly, it’s important to cozy yourself up, and one of the best ways to do so while exploring the city is by drinking hot chocolate or the delicious vin-chaud (hot mulled wine primarily found in local Christmas markets or cafés and bars in the winter).
There are so many cute Parisian cafés spread across the entire city, ranging from petit family-run cafes that serve self-roasted beans to large world-renowned joints like café de Flore famous for its hot chocolate topped with latte art, Angelina Paris known for serving the best hot chocolate in the city, and Maison Sauvage in Saint-Germain-des-Prés for Vin Chaud.
Related post: Best Coffee Shops in Paris
What To Wear In Paris In December + What To Pack
When it comes to what to wear in Paris in winter, the rule of thumb is layering, and below are some of the things you should wear to stay warm.
Beanie: This beanie is not only cute but it’s also very warm.
Scarf: One of the essential items to wear in winter is a scarf. Besides keeping warm, it will accentuate your winter attire and also make you come close to wearing like a Parisian. This is the scarf I particularly like.
Winter coat: You can’t visit Paris in winter and not take a winter coat. I like this hooded winter coat as it’s very warm and it’s dark colored so you can wear it with all kinds of clothes.
Fleece/ sweater: As a middle layer, I recommend either taking this warm fleece or this really cute and warm sweater. But regardless of what you take, you can be assured of staying warm.
Thermals: While you can wear layers on the top, sometimes it’s hard to layer the bottom but it doesn’t mean that you have to freeze your legs to death. Not when you can purchase this pair of warm thermals.
Long-sleeved merino wool top: For your base layer, nothing beats this long-sleeved merino wool top. It is soft, warm, and above all breathable. With those qualities, it’s not surprising that it comes with a bigger price tag, so if you’d rather have something budget-friendly, then you can opt for this long-sleeved warm turtleneck top.
Warm Touch-screen sensitive gloves: You’ll need a pair of warm gloves but not just any pair. Take these ones as they’re touch-sensitive meaning that you can still wear them even when you’re using your phone.
Woolen socks: Take woolen socks like these ones so that they not only keep your feet warm but also dry.
A pair of Boots: I like these boots! They’re warm and stylish.
Umbrella: It is bound to rain in Paris in December whether you like it or not, so you’d rather be prepared by taking this windproof travel umbrella.
Power bank: The cold drains battery like no other and that’s why you need to pack this portable power bank to keep charging on the go.
Universal Travel Adapter: Instead of taking the European travel adapter, I recommend taking this universal travel adapter so that you don’t keep buying a new one every time you travel to a new country.
On top of these, you can check out my complete list of what to pack for Paris in winter to get an idea of what to take.
FAQS About Visiting Paris In December
Is December a good time to go to Paris?
December is definitely a good time to go to Paris! The city is lit up more than ever, with Christmas markets everywhere and the Christmas vibe filling the air. Paris is a dream during this time of the year. The only downside is that it is cold but if you dress well, you should be able to enjoy Paris this time of the year.
Is Paris too cold in December?
Yes, Paris is cold in December! The average temperature is about 5ºC (41ºF) with very little chance of any sun but it can easily drop to zero at night.
What does Paris look like in December?
Gloomy, cloudy, cold, and rainy days with a lot of Christmas cheer! This is what you should expect Paris in December to look like.
What should I wear in Paris in December?
As I mentioned above, dressing for this time of the year is about layering. If I am to give you a summary, you should wear a winter coat, thermals, scarf, fleece, merino wool long-sleeved top, warm woolen socks, beanie, winter boots, touch-sensitive gloves, and more.
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do in Paris in December
Whether you’re interested in quaint Christmas markets, musical concerts, or cozy meals by the Seine, there’s so much to do in Paris in December that you’ll fall even more in love with the city.
As long as you make sure you’re well-prepared for the cold weather and make the most of every daytime minute, a trip to the city of lights (especially when it’s covered in Christmas lights) in the last month of the year is bound to be one for the books!
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!
Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for
more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
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