Paris is a breathtakingly beautiful city to visit at any time of year. Christmas in Paris, though, puts the city on a whole new level. The City of Light truly lives up to its name as its streets are lined with all types of lights and decorations. Restaurants begin serving up delicious winter specialties like boeuf bourguignon, raclette and soupe à l’oignon. And in this city already famous for shopping, there’s no better time to explore Paris’s stores than when they’re teeming with Christmas gifts. To help you see some of the best Paris has to offer during the holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the top things to do for Christmas in Paris.
If there’s one potential downside of visiting Paris during Christmas, it’s the weather. While you’re unlikely to see much snowfall during this period, December is still typically one of Paris’s coldest months. The average December temperature is about 40°F (4°C) and you’ll likely see some rain at some point during your trip. But you don’t have to see the cold as a negative. Depending on your point of view, it could actually add to the magic of Christmas in Paris! We recommend packing layers and a good rain jacket so that you can prepare for the change in temperatures throughout the day.
Explore the city’s Christmas markets
While Christmas markets aren’t unique to Paris, they are one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit. Wooden chalets packed with Christmas decorations, foods, mulled wine and all kinds of trinkets pop up throughout the city. These markets are perfect places to pick up a special Christmas gift or simply enjoy the warm Christmas atmosphere. You can find some of the best Christmas markets in Paris in Notre Dame, Les Halles and Champs de Mars. And of course, check out the Christmas Village at La Défense for the biggest Christmas market in Paris.
Go Ice Skating
Get into the holiday spirit by bundling up in your winter coat and going for a spin on the ice. Only a few of the ice skating rinks in Paris for this year have been released. Check out the Grand Palais de Glaces for the main skating scene. You can also enjoy ice skating right underneath the Eiffel tower to get the full Christmas in Paris experience. We will happily update you when more ice skating rinks are announced for this year!
Take a Magical Stroll
One of the best ways to soak up Paris’s Christmas spirit is simply by walking its streets. The famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Avenue Montaigne and Bercy Village all present beautiful holiday displays with thousands of twinkling lights. Our personal favorite spot for lights is Place Vendôme, one of Paris’s most beautiful squares. Home to the Ritz hotel and high-end shopping, this area is the very definition of a chic Christmas in Paris!
Galeries Lafayette Window Displays
Paris’s streets light up for the holidays, but many of its stores do, as well! This gives you a great excuse to window-shop, or as the French say, faire du lèche vitrines – which literally translates to “window-licking”. The Galeries Lafayette department store undoubtedly showcases the city’s most infamous holiday window displays. From early November to early January, the multiple large windows lining the street fill with incredibly inventive displays, many with music. If you stop by to look at the windows, don’t forget to also step inside to admire the beautiful Christmas tree placed beneath the famous Galeries Lafayette dome every year.
Try some typical Parisian Christmas food
If you visit Paris during Christmas, you’ll want to try some typical Parisian Christmas specialities. There are a few foods that you will likely see on every Parisian’s Christmas dinner table. The star of the show: foie gras! Usually served on toast, foie gras is the go-to Christmas appetizer for the French. Raw oysters and smoked salmon are also very popular. For dessert, restaurants often serve a Bûche de Noël, or yule log. This is a delicious chocolate cake rolled in a cylinder to resemble a log.
I Want More Paris!
- If you want us to arrange the entertainment in Paris, check out our Paris tours. Skip the lines and see all the major attractions in the City of Light with an English-speaking guide.
- Not sure what to do in Paris? Read about the ten best things to do in Paris.
- Parlez-Vous Francais? Learn some of the most important French phrases before your trip to Paris.