If you’re visiting Paris over the festive season, you’re in for a treat. The City of Lights is even more sparkling during the days leading up to Christmas. There are bustling Christmas markets, glamorous window displays, and Christmas shopping is better here than anywhere else in the world. We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Paris over Christmas. Take a look!
Visit the Parisian Christmas Markets
There are some pretty amazing Christmas Markets taking place around Paris throughout December. The best one is definitely the Tuileries Christmas Market called ‘La Magie de Noël.’ New for 2018, this incredible Christmas market near the Louvre is the replacement for the annual Christmas Market on Champs Elysees which isn’t taking place this year – but it will be just as good if not better.
Enjoy the buzzing Christmas atmosphere, hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, twinkling lights, Christmas gifts, and juicy sausages. Adorned with spectacular decorations, this Christmas Market will be running up until January 6th. The market will host culinary delights from 20 different regions across France. The market is free to enter. There are other markets taking place in Paris too including the Montmartre Christmas Market behind Sacre Coeur and the Notre Dame Christmas market.
Watch the Eiffel Tower Sparkle
When better to admire the glistening Eiffel Tower than during Christmas time where it feels all the more magical? After a busy day of wandering the markets, head to the best place to view the Eiffel Tower when it gets dark. Go to Trocadéro station on the Metro and when you walk out of the station, the view will astound you. Make sure you’ve wrapped up warm and take some Christmas photos with one of the world’s most iconic sights as your backdrop. If you’re lucky it might even be snowing too!
Glide Around the Ice
A must do in Paris in the lead up to Christmas is ice skating. There are a few different ice rinks in the city where you can rent a pair of skates out and glide around under glistening Christmas lights. One of the best places to ice skate is Hôtel de Ville which is right beneath the Eiffel Tower. What’s better than skating under Paris greatest landmark? There’s also an ice rink in Champ de Mars, as well as an awesome ice rink at the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market.
See the Christmas Lights
Paris lights up even more during Christmas with stunning lights and displays all around the city. It makes the French capital look like an actual winter wonderland. Our favorite place to take in the Christmas lights is on the Champs-Elysées. The beautiful avenue will be lit up every evening accompanied by 400 trees, offering an incredible show every day from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m throughout December. Another beautiful place to admire Christmas lights and general festive atmosphere is in Saint Germain des Pres.
Drink Vin Chaud
In England they call it mulled wine, in Germany they call in Gluhwein and in France they call it Vin Chaud. The best festive drink to warm you up in the winter will taste AMAZING in Paris. After all, French wine is the best of the best. You can get your cup of hot aromatic vin chaud at several spots around Paris including the Christmas markets, stalls around the city and in Parisian cafes!
Go to Disneyland Paris on a Day Trip
For a real electric Christmas atmosphere, make a day trip to Disneyland which is just an hour train ride away from Paris Gare du Nord station. What screams Christmas more than hit songs from Frozen, Disney On Ice and epic roller coasters and rides. Disneyland Paris goes all out for Christmas with its ‘Enchanted Christmas’ theme. Expect extravagant decorations, Christmas trees, a tremendous festive light and firework show and a very festive atmosphere. Disneyland over Christmas time is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. If you think you’re too old for Disneyland Paris, think again. Here, why you’re never too old for Disneyland in Paris.
Mad Monkey Insider Tip
- You can buy Disneyland tickets from the hostel reception at St Christopher’s Inns Gare du Nord and St Christopher’s Inns Canal.
Enjoy the Galeries Lafayette Christmas Decorations
Inside Paris’ most elaborate and luxurious department stores is the most magnificent Christmas tree you will ever lay eyes on in Paris – and it’s huge. The department store is decorated brilliantly for Christmas and the window displays are also top notch and one of the best in the city. That’s reason enough to head to the Galeries Lafayette. If you want to get a spot of Christmas shopping done while you’re there too, kill two birds with one stone. Other places in Paris where you can get some Christmas shopping done is Montmartre, Rue de Rivoli, and other department stores.
Indulge in French Comfort Food
Paris is a haven for foodies even more so during the festive season when seasonal culinary delights can be found left right and center. Make sure you get a taste of the Christmas dishes that are traditionally eaten in France around the jolliest time of the year. Parisians indulge in oysters, escargot, caviar, roasted chestnuts, scallops, cheese and lots of foie gras throughout December. Head to a French Brasserie for a delicious authentic foodie experience for some real comfort food to keep you warm in the winter chill. In Paris, the main Christmas meal is actually enjoyed on Christmas Eve, called ‘le Réveillon’ so if you’re in the city for Christmas Eve, you’re in for a treat! Book yourself a table in advance! For more information about where to dine, check out St Christophers six spots for authentic French food in Paris.
Say your Christmas Prayers in the Notre Dame
Make your Christmas that little bit more special this year and visit the incredible Notre Dame, a Gothic cathedral in the heart of Paris. When better to go inside and admire the beauty of the Notre Dame than during the Christmas period. The Christian holiday is more than just presents, Christmas trees, fun, and games. The Notre Dame is the perfect place to give thanks for all your blessings in life – and to appreciate the incredible architecture of this fascinating Parisian sight. Even if you’re not religious, this enchanting cathedral is the perfect place to escape the busy city for just a while to really reflect on the past year. For €10 you can go inside and experience its beauty.
Go Christmas Shopping
If you want to get a spot of Christmas shopping done in Paris, you’re spoiled for choice. Paris can be quite expensive when it comes to shopping so try and stick to the more affordable areas to get your Christmas gifts. As well as the Christmas markets, you can get some good Christmas shopping done around Montmartre, Rue de Rivoli and some of the department stores such as Au Bon Marche. Galeries Lafayette is always a good choice too. You can find pretty much everything here whether its fashion, confectionary or homeware. For French souvenirs and regional specialties such as spiced bread and foods, stick to the Christmas markets. For books, stick to the Latin Quarter in Paris which is home to some charming old bookshops.
Visit Paris’ Best Patisseries
Paris is famous for its patisseries so if you have a sweet tooth get some delicious pastries in your belly over the festive season. Nothing says Christmas more like the sweet smell of pastries, cinnamon, and gingerbread wafting from the little bakeries around the city. You’ll find tons of patisseries all around Paris. We’ve scoped out the best of the best so you can really experience an authentic macaron or a perfectly flaky pain au chocolat. Check out the top five patisseries in Paris according to St Christophers.
Need a hostel in Paris?
If you need a place to stay in Paris, be sure to check out St Christopher’s Inns. They have not one but two locations in Paris — one in Gare Du Nord and another along the stunning canal. Starting at under £15 a night, you won’t have to shell out too many pounds for a good night’s sleep. In addition, these are two of the most sociable hostels in the city. We know how lonesome traveling during the holiday season can be, but that’s not the case here! And remember, it’s not what’s under the tree but who’s around it. Happy holidays, backpackers!
More Information About How to Spend Christmas in Paris
Did you love this article on how to spend Christmas in Paris? Do you want even more information on what festivities are going down in this incredible city this holiday season? Then be sure to check out this list we’ve rounded up for you to make the most out of your holiday. Enjoy!
- 6 Fantastic Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Paris by Courtney Traub for TripSavvy
- Plan Your Christmas in Paris 2018 for Paris Insider Guide
- A Guide to Christmas in Paris by Jennifer Dumbrowski for Luxe Adventure Traveler
- Things to do in Paris on Christmas Day by Marguerite for Discover Walks Blog
- Paris in winter: 9 Things to do in Paris at Christmas by Lucy for On The Luce