Christmas in Paris

Christmas in Paris

Updated On: February 23, 2024 by   Ahmed SamirAhmed Samir

Christmas in Paris is a truly enchanting and unforgettable experience. The City of Light transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with its iconic landmarks adorned with twinkling lights, festive markets, and a sense of enchantment in the air. This article will explore the charm and traditions of celebrating the season in Paris, from its dazzling decorations to its mouthwatering culinary delights, cultural festivities, and more.

Christmas Decorations

The magic of Christmas in Paris begins with its spectacular decorations. The city’s streets and squares come alive with various festive lights and decorations, creating a magical ambience that enchants locals and visitors. The Champs-Élysées, in particular, is famous for its magnificent display of lights, turning the avenue into a glittering tunnel of enchantment. The Eiffel Tower also gets into the holiday spirit, shimmering with a breathtaking light show that occurs every evening.

In addition to these iconic landmarks, the city’s department stores, such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, spare no expense when decorating their windows and interiors. Elaborate Christmas displays draw shoppers and tourists alike, providing an opportunity to soak in the festive spirit while doing some holiday shopping.

Christmas Markets

One of the most cherished traditions during Christmas is the proliferation of Christmas markets, or “marchés de Noël.” These markets pop up throughout the city, offering a delightful array of artisanal crafts, holiday treats, and mulled wine. One of the most famous markets is the Tuileries Gardens, offering a picturesque setting for shopping and indulging in seasonal delights.

Visitors can explore a variety of stalls selling handmade gifts, ornaments, jewellery, and festive decorations. The aroma of roasted chestnuts and crepes fills the air, tempting passersby to sample these delectable treats. Be sure to try vin chaud (hot mulled wine) to keep warm and add to the festive atmosphere.

Ice Skating

Another beloved tradition during Christmas in Paris is ice skating. Several outdoor ice skating rinks surround the city, providing a charming and romantic experience for couples, families, and friends. The most iconic ice skating rink is situated at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, offering skaters breathtaking views of the illuminated tower against the night sky. The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) also hosts a famous ice skating rink in front of its stunning façade, adding to the season’s enchantment.

Nativity Scenes and Church Services

Paris is rich in religious history, and Christmas is when the city’s churches come alive with nativity scenes and unique services. The Notre Dame Cathedral, with its stunning Gothic architecture, is known for its elaborate nativity displays. Visitors can also attend midnight mass at various churches around the city, including the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre.

For a truly unique experience, consider attending a traditional French Christmas Eve service, “La Messe de Minuit.” This midnight mass features beautiful hymns and a sense of spiritual reflection, making it a memorable way to celebrate the holiday season in Paris.

Dining and Culinary Delights

Christmas in Paris is a culinary adventure like no other. The city’s renowned restaurants and patisseries offer special holiday menus and treats to celebrate the festive season. One of the most sought-after indulgences is the Bûche de Noël, a Yule log-shaped cake with various flavours and designs, each more delectable than the last.

For a truly memorable Christmas meal, make a reservation at one of Paris’s Michelin-starred restaurants, where you can savour gourmet French cuisine amidst the festive décor. Classic dishes like foie gras, oysters, and roasted meats are often featured on Christmas menus, and a glass of champagne is the perfect accompaniment to toast to the occasion.

Christmas Eve Traditions

In France, Christmas Eve, or “Réveillon de Noël,” is a particular time for families to come together and celebrate. It is customary to enjoy a sumptuous feast with loved ones, often featuring seafood, roasted meats, and a variety of decadent desserts. Escargot, oysters, and foie gras are commonly enjoyed in this festive meal.

After the meal, families exchange gifts and attend midnight mass together. It is also a tradition for children to place their shoes by the fireplace, hoping that Père Noël (Father Christmas) will leave presents for them at night.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

The holiday season in Paris extends into New Year’s Eve, and the city knows how to ring in the new year in style. The Champs-Élysées hosts a magnificent fireworks display, drawing thousands of spectators who gather to welcome the new year with a bang.

Many Paris restaurants, bars, and clubs offer special New Year’s Eve parties and dinners for those looking to celebrate indoors. Reserving a table with a view of the Eiffel Tower at midnight is a popular choice, as the tower puts on a dazzling light show to mark the occasion.

Festive Entertainment

Throughout the holiday season, Paris offers various festive entertainment options. The Opéra Garnier and Théâtre du Châtelet often stage notable productions, including classic ballets like “The Nutcracker” and festive operas. Attending one of these performances is a magical way to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.

Additionally, the Grévin Wax Museum presents a unique spectacle with its “Christmas at the Grévin” event, featuring wax figures of iconic characters and a festive atmosphere for visitors of all ages.

Exploring Paris During Christmas

Paris offers many attractions to explore during the holiday season beyond the ones mentioned earlier. Here are more enchanting places and activities to enjoy in the City of Light during this festive time:

  1. Luxembourg Gardens: Stroll through the beautifully landscaped Luxembourg Gardens, adorned with sparkling lights and festive decorations. The park’s fountains are often transformed into illuminated displays, creating a magical atmosphere.
  2. Montmartre: The artistic neighbourhood of Montmartre is known for its charming streets and the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The streets are lined with festive decorations, and you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Paris from the basilica steps.
  3. Seine River Cruise: Take a Seine River cruise to admire Paris from the water while enjoying a festive ambience. Many tour operators offer themed cruises with dinner and entertainment.
  4. Le Grand Palais: This magnificent exhibition hall often hosts special events, including ice skating under its glass roof. The Grand Palais also features a beautiful Christmas market where you can shop for unique gifts and treats.
  5. Petit Palais: Explore the Petit Palais, a stunning museum housing a fine arts collection. During the Christmas season, the museum typically hosts holiday-themed exhibitions and events.
  6. Palace of Versailles: While technically outside of Paris, visiting the Palace of Versailles during Christmas is worth it. The palace and its gardens are often beautifully decorated, and you can take a festive tour to learn about the holiday traditions of the French monarchy.
  7. Musée Grévin: In addition to its Christmas event, the Musée Grévin (Grevin Wax Museum) offers a unique experience with its collection of wax figures. Special holiday displays and interactive exhibits are often featured during the season.
  8. Disneyland Paris: If you’re travelling with family, consider spending a day at Disneyland Paris, which goes all out with its decorations, parades, and festive shows. It’s a magical experience for children and adults alike.
  9. Les Invalides: Visit Les Invalides, a complex containing museums and monuments dedicated to French military history. During Christmas, you can often find special exhibitions and holiday-themed events.
  10. La Défense Christmas Market: Located in the modern business district of La Défense, this Christmas market is one of the largest in Paris. It features over 300 chalets selling crafts, gifts, and delicious seasonal treats. The area is also beautifully illuminated at night.
  11. Artisanal Chocolatiers: Paris is renowned for its world-class chocolate shops, and Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in exquisite chocolates and pralines. Visit famous chocolatiers like Pierre Hermé, La Maison du Chocolat, and Patrick Roger for their festive creations.
  12. Musical Performances: Enjoy the magic of Christmas music by attending concerts and performances at venues like the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées or the Philharmonie de Paris, where orchestras and choirs often put on special holiday shows.
  13. Champs-Élysées Christmas Market: Beyond the dazzling lights, the Champs-Élysées often hosts a lively Christmas market with a wide variety of stalls selling crafts, artisanal products, and gourmet treats. It’s a perfect place for some holiday shopping.
  14. Local Cafés and Bakeries: Don’t forget to visit local cafés and bakeries, where you can warm up with hot chocolate or mulled wine and savour traditional French pastries and Christmas treats like galette des rois (Epiphany cake) and gaufres (waffles).

With these additional attractions and activities, your Christmas visit to Paris will surely be even more magical and filled with festive experiences to cherish.


Celebrating Christmas in Paris is a magical and enchanting experience that captures the essence of the holiday season. From the dazzling decorations that light up the city to the charming Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and culinary delights, Paris offers a unique and unforgettable way to celebrate the most beautiful time of the year. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, spending the holiday season in the City of Light will create lasting memories and leave you with a warm and festive glow that will stay long after the decorations have come down.