Christmas in Paris is simply magical! Every year, for Christmas, Paris gets a makeover for the Holiday magic. Each of Paris’ districts has something festive going on, from window shopping at the department stores and browsing Christmas markets with a glass of vin chaud, to a spin on an outdoor ice rink. Also, Paris isn’t called the City of Light for nothing, and especially so at Christmas. The streets are covered in lights, from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Place Vendôme and the Rue to du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. And when you’re not outside enjoying the festivities, you’ll find many tea salons, restaurants, and pastry shops that are big on the Christmas spirit.
Being French, I lived several years in the French capital —see my ultimate guide to Paris— and I can say Christmas is definitely one of my favorite times of year in Paris. That’s why, in this article, I wanted to share with you seven of the best things to see and do in Paris at Christmas, from sparkling light displays and Christmas markets to ice skating and festive concerts. So, if you find yourself in Paris in December, add these seven ideas to your to-do list—they’re some of my favorite ways to celebrate Christmas in Paris, a place that’s already pretty magical year-round.
1. See The Most Lavish Display of Christmas Lights
From November to the beginning of January, the Christmas illuminations make Paris more magical than ever! Trees are draped with twinkling lights and colorful decorations are strung across the streets of the French capital. Here are below six of the best addresses where to admire the most beautiful and magical Christmas lights in Paris.
- Place Vendôme, Paris 1st
- Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, Paris 4th
- Saint Germain-des-Prés district, Paris 6th
- The Avenue des Champs-Élysées —from November 2021 to January 2022, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. each night and all night on 24 and 31 December— from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, Paris 8th
- Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8th
- Avenue Montaigne, Paris 8th
2. Admire The Most Enchanted Christmas Windows Displays
Every year since 1909, Paris’ big department stores dress for Christmas with some impressively festive store window displays. Each year they feature live windows with lights, animations, music, and plenty of snow, and sparkle. These magical windows are normally revealed in early November. Here are below some of the best Paris Christmas window displays to admire.
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
The lovely enchanted Christmas windows and giant trees are to be expected from November 17th, 2021. Made in partnership with the Atelier Bournillat, this year’s theme is “1, 2, 3, Christmas!”
Printemps Haussmann, also located on Boulevard Haussmann, creates unique and beautifully crafted Christmas windows that compete successfully with next-door neighbor Galeries Lafayette’s splendid displays.
The BHV Marais invites us to celebrate the peak of Christmas, celebrating Switzerland, from November 9, 2021. This year, the Parisian department store takes us to a both magical and committed theme.
Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche
Department store on the Left Bank, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche will present their new Christmas windows on October 29, 2021, at around 5-5:30 p.m. Inside the department store, the décor can be fully admired from November 11, 2021.
Meet on November 9, 2021, to discover La Samaritaine’s fantastic Christmas windows and decorations.
3. Visit The Best Christmas Markets
Originating in Germany and the Alsace, Christmas markets (“Marchés de Noël” in French) have spread across the whole of Europe since the 1990s. A great favorite with Parisians and visitors to the city, they have gradually become an essential part of the festive season in Paris. Perfect place to pick up Christmas decorations, festive objects, regional produce, and arts & crafts, here are the best Christmas markets in Paris.
Eiffel Tower Christmas Market
In 2021, the Christmas village is back at the foot of the Eiffel Tower! From December 1, 2021, to January 2, 2022, come to visit the 120 chalets for a wide selection of gifts, treats, and decorations for the holiday season. Set on the Champ-de-Mars and visible from the Trocadero esplanade, this Christmas market offers Parisians and tourists alike the opportunity to soak up a little Christmas spirit. Quai Branly, Paris 7th.
The Magic of Christmas – Tuileries Garden Christmas Market
The Tuilerie Garden Christmas market will return from November 20, 2021, to January 2, 2022, with an ice rink, Santa Claus, and many gift ideas and tasting sessions. The Christmas market at the Jardin des Tuileries is one of the city’s largest, with more than 100 chalets set up in the Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre. Definitely not to be missed when visiting Paris at Christmastime. Jardin des Tuileries – Place de la Concorde, Paris 1st.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market
Away from the crowds of the Champs-Elysées and located in one of the favorite neighborhoods of many Parisians, Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market will return from November 20, 2021, to Sunday, December 26, 2021. Come discover the beautiful and decorated cabins along with gourmet and artisanal products. Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris 6th.
Christmas Chalet At The Ritz Paris
Inspired by the enchanting Christmas markets which can be found all over Europe, the Ritz Paris —one of the best Paris Palace hotels— is planning a wooden chalet for December, which will be filled with delicacies. Located at the center of the Place Vendôme, gourmets will taste Pastry Chef François Perret’s creations like the Apfelstrudel revisited by the Chef, the traditional Christmas gingerbread, and also the feuilleté chocolat ou noisette cuit minute. Dates to be confirmed. Place Vendôme, Paris 1st.
Notre Dame Christmas Market
Notre Dame Christmas market will return this year from December 10 to 26, 2021. Here, you’ll find true French artisans and craftsmen, along with a selection of regional French specialties to sample. This market stands out, in comparison with the others, because of the exclusive presence of artisans and creators. Santa Claus also comes on the market for the little ones to get a photo with. Square René Viviani – 2 rue du Fouarre, Paris 4th.
4. Go Ice Skating
Called “patinoires” in French, the festive skating rinks dot the Paris landscape from mid-December to late January. No need to bring your skates, rentals are available. For the 2021 holiday season dates need to be confirmed.
Tuileries Garden Christmas Ice-Skating Rink
Enjoy Christmas magic at the Tuileries Garden! In the heart of the Christmas market in the Tuileries Garden is set a Christmas ice-skating rink from November 20, 2021, to January 2, 2022.
Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Ice Rink
From November to December come to appreciate the Galerie Lafayette’s 8th-floor open-air rooftop rink with unobstructed views of the Paris Opera and Eiffel Tower. Best of all: the Galeries Lafayette rooftop ice rink is free to access. This year’s dates and times need to be confirmed.
Le Grand Palais des Glaces
Each holiday season the Grand Palais transforms into the world’s largest ice skating rink with 3000 square meters of space to jump and twirl. The Grand Palais is now closed for renovations (up to 2024), and there’s no word yet if a skating rink will be installed in the temporary space, the Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champ de Mars.
6. Taste The Best Bûches de Noël (& Other Treats)
The Bûche de Noël —a sponge cake covered with buttercream to look like a festive yule log— is the ultimate holiday essential during Christmas in Paris. Check out the Christophe Michalak’s Bûche de Noël recipe. Each year, with their beautifully crafted and innovative recipes, Parisian pastry chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants reveal their finest yule logs for Christmas. Here are some of the best places in Paris to shop (and taste) the most delicious yule logs made by the greatest chefs.
- Ritz Paris Le Comptoir, 38 Rue Cambon, Paris 1st
- Jean-Paul Hévin, 231 Rue Saint-Honoré – côté cour, Paris 1st
- Cédric Grolet, 35 Av. de l’Opéra, Paris 2nd
- Yann Couvreur Pâtisserie, 23bis Rue des Rosiers, Paris 4th
- The Pierre Hermé Café, 61 rue Bonaparte, Paris 6th
- Maison Dalloyau, 101 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8th
7. Celebrate an Enchanted Christmas at Disneyland Paris
Sprinkle some Disney magic on your Christmas! From 13 November 2021 to 9 January 2022, the festive magic comes to life at Disneyland Paris. Sparkling decorations, Disney Characters dressed in their finest seasonal outfits, and a breathtaking new parade bring magical merry moments in a picture-perfect Christmas card scene.
Et voilà! I hope this guide to Christmas in Paris will help you plan your next trip to the French capital. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment below.
Leonce is the founder and editor of Leonce Chenal, a lifestyle platform launched in 2018. Originally from France, Leonce offers a fresh perspective that comes from her experience at top tech companies in Paris and London. Having spent several years in Paris and now residing in Amsterdam, she combines her professional expertise with a personal passion for French and Parisian styles. Leonce is committed to guiding her readers through the intricacies of Parisian chic, empowering them to embrace the elegance and sophistication of French style.