The 8 best things to do & see for Christmas in Paris

By Jiselle Henderkott Published 19/11/2023

Christmas time is just around the corner. Before we know it, we will begin holiday shopping and looking for cozy places to enjoy the energy of the holiday season. In my opinion, there is no better place in the world to tap into that Christmas magic than Paris. 

  1. Grands magasins
  2. Christmas markets
  3. Avenue Montaigne
  4. Ice rinks
  5. Bercy Village
  6. Yule logs
  7. Disneyland Paris
  8. Jardin des Plantes

What makes Paris so special in the wintertime? It may be the sparkling, light-lined boulevards that contrast with the gray night sky. It could also be the nostalgic window displays at the luxury shops, and the carefully-thought-out decorations at every turn. For others, it may be that feeling you get when biting into a warm chocolate croissant or sipping a steaming cup of mulled wine.

In my opinion, Paris has this undying way of instilling light in our hearts no matter the season, and when the darker days of winter descend on the capital, the feeling of giving and receiving permeates everything in this bustling metropolis. If you are looking to fully enjoy the holiday spirit this year, here are our 8 best things to do and see for Christmas in Paris.

1. Grands magasins

Every year, children and adults alike gather in front of the window displays at both the Galaries Lafayette and Printemps department stores on Boulevard Haussmann. These two institutions are notorious for their intricate and well-thought-out Christmas decorations. Every year the theme changes, so you never know what to expect.

However, the real magic happens when you step inside the store for shopping. At the center of Galaries Lafayette is a massive Christmas tree suspended from the dome ceiling. Fun tip: the best view is from the balconies up above. And, if you climb to the last floor, a view of the opera house awaits you!

📍Galarie Lafayette, 40 Bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France open Monday through Saturday: 10 am to 8:30 pm, Sunday: 11 am to 8 pm, Christmas display from November 17th till December 23, 2022

📍Printemps Haussmann, 64 Bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France, open Monday through Saturday: 10 am to 8:30 pm, Sunday: 11 am to 8 pm, Christmas display from November 9th, 2022 till January 1st, 2023

2. Christmas markets

While Paris is not specifically known for its Christmas markets, you can still find an abundance of markets peppered throughout the capital from the end of November into late December. Most of the markets are open on the weekends leading up to Christmas, with the heavier crowds pouring in the closer you get to December 25th.

Every market has its specialty, but you should be able to find all the Christmas staples. The most famous markets are the ones at Les Halles, Les Tuileries Gardens, and at La Défense. You can also find one that is Alsatian-inspired. It boasts foods like Gugelhupf, gingerbread, and brioche Männele and is located in front of the Gare de l’Est train station. There is sure to be something on the menu for every taste and budget. 

📍The Magic of Christmas in the Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Paris, 75001

📍Christmas Village at La Défense Esplanade, Parvis de la Défense, 92800 Puteaux

📍Alsatian Christmas Market, Gare de l’Est, Place du 11 novembre 1918, Paris, 75010

3. Avenue Montaigne

The gorgeous Avenue Montaigne is a street located not far from the Champs-Élysées that is renowned for its abundance of luxury shops and storefronts. During the holiday season, beautiful garlands and LED lights adorn every tree on the street. In order to save energy this year, the city has decided to allow the lights to shine only from 5 pm to 11:45 pm. 

You can view the lights starting November 19th until early January 2023. Throughout December, the city will also organize animations and tastings in association with the boutiques and restaurants located on the street. If you are looking for special gifts, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and other luxury brands will open their doors for special holiday shopping. This is one street you won’t want to miss when it comes to holiday decorations and a luxurious ambiance.

📍39 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, 75008, from November 19th, 2022 to January 2nd, 2023

4. Ice rinks

Outdoor ice rinks are a staple of wintertime in Paris. The best ones are installed only for the holiday season and then are taken away when December ends. Their locations can change from year to year, but the most famous ones have been located on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, about 60 meters above the ground, and inside the Grand Palais. 

Be sure to check out the open-air ice rink at the Trocadero Gardens, featuring a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. There is also an indoor ice rink installed at the top of the tallest skyscraper in Paris, the Montparnasse tower. In the past, this rink opened from early January to February. However, when these ice rinks open this year is left to be seen.

📍To be decided…usually starts in November through January

5. Bercy Village

Bercy Village is an outdoor shopping center known for its spectacular Christmas decorations. This year, the theme is an enchanted stroll in the clouds. As you walk along you’ll notice starry lights and hot air balloons hanging overhead. It’s enough to make you swoon. As if you needed another excuse to do that in Paris! 

The lights will run from November 17th to January 4th. And what about saving energy for the planet? The lights are all LED that don’t take much energy to run. What’s more is that there is even a staged, super large selfie spot installed. The goal? To have a social media photo contest with a chance to win a ride in a hot air balloon. Bercy Village has really pulled out all the stops this year, making it an unforgettable romantic evening with your special someone.  

📍Cr Saint-Emilion, 75012 Paris, every day from 10 am to 2 am, Christmas lights from November 17th, 2022 to January 4th, 2023

6. Yule logs

Every year in Paris there is an unspoken contest amongst pastry chefs when it comes to crafting the most original and delicious yule log, called Bûche de Noël in French. No matter your budget or preference, there is sure to be one that dazzles your tastebuds. 

However, who has the best? That depends on who you ask. There are the beloved classics crafted by master pastry chefs like Pierre Hermé, Cédric Grolet, and Christophe Bertrand. And, if your budget allows, you can splurge on one created by La Plaza Athenée or Maison Mulot. The most inventive has been in the shape of dress shoes, a cacao bean, or even a sled! The choice is truly limitless, and the lines are long. Be sure to reserve your yule log in advance if you want to ring in the holidays with this French tradition. 

📍La Pâtisserie du Meurice by Cédric Grolet, 6 Rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris, Wednesday through Sunday noon to 6 pm

7. Disneyland Paris

Only a 45-minute train ride from the center of Paris, Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 30-year anniversary with its Enchanted Christmas celebration this November until January 8th. Set foot in a twinkling wonderland where your favorite Disney characters are on full display for special parades and a night-time spectacular called Disney Dreams! 

You won’t want to miss the special Christmas shows and incredible decorations adorning the main street. You’ll feel as if you’ve jumped back in time to your childhood as you take in the Christmas magic of your favorite cartoons. Who knows? You might even see some snow. 

📍Bd de Parc, 77700 Coupvray, France, weekdays 9:30 am to 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am to 10 pm

8. Jardin des Plantes

Nestled in the 5th arrondissement in Paris, the Jardin des Plantes is putting on its third year of Christmas lights. This year’s theme is “The World of Miniscule in Large.” Get ready to feel as if you’ve stepped into another world with the incredibly huge plants, insects, and animals glowing in their native environments. 

As you walk around the grounds, a surprise waits for you at every turn. Beautiful butterflies and enormous ladybugs shine in neon colors, with a cornucopia of flowers and plants also on display. You can even walk across an 82-foot-long tree branch that takes you to the menagerie, where you learn about the world of the insects and species that inhabit our homes. This is one spectacle for kids both big and small that differs from the traditional Christmas lights. The show will run from November 14th to January 15th. 

📍57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, every day from 8 am to 6 pm

About the author Bonjour! I'm Jiselle, an American ex-pat living in Paris. When not a freelance writer, I'm also an actress, singer, and dancer.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply