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Christmas in Paris [2021]


2021 France Travel Update


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08/28/21

Paris at Christmas Time [2021]

When it comes to things to do in Paris at Christmas time, we Parisians are spoilt for choice. The City of Lights is lit up even brighter, and each Arrondissement of Paris has something festive going on.

From glittering Christmas lights to traditional markets and Christmas shows, Paris is a Christmas wonderland, and there’s simply no better place to be!

Are you planning a trip to Paris during Christmas? This article gives information and many ideas of things to do in Paris at Christmas time.

Christmas in Paris

Heads Up! We are working hard to be accurate, but these are unusual times so please always check before heading out.

Christmas Time in Paris FAQ

How do Parisians celebrate Christmas in Paris?

Locals usually celebrate Christmas in Paris with family and friends, usually around a delicious meal composed of traditional French food and some delicacies. Of course, there’s also the wine, champagne, and sweets. Religious people also like to attend Christmas Mass.

Does Paris have Christmas Markets?

YES! The most popular Christmas Markets in Paris are the Eiffel Tower Christmas Market, the Trocadéro Christmas Market, and the Tuileries Christmas Market.

Does it snow in Paris in December?

Snow in Paris in December is rare. It usually snows in January and February. However, there’s always a small chance of snow in Paris in December, so don’t lose hope!

Where to buy Christmas decorations in Paris?

It depends on the kind of Christmas decorations you are looking for. For fancy Christmas decorations, head to the Grands Boulevards, to department stores like Galeries Lafayette, La Samaritaine, or Printemps. You can find traditional Christmas decorations and wooden things in the Christmas markets.

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Weather in Paris During Christmas

Paris in the Winter

The days around Christmas, Paris can be chilly, but the temperature rarely goes below 0ºC. However, the weather is cold and wet, so we recommend adding warm clothes and shoes to your Paris packing list. Below, some ideas on what to wear in Paris at Christmas time:

Also, the chances of rain are high (15 days on average), so don’t forget your foldable travel umbrella for those rainy days in Paris.

Where to Stay in Paris at Christmas

If you want to spend Christmas in Paris, we recommend staying central. In general, the central districts of Paris have the best Christmas decorations and the best Christmas atmosphere.

However, there’s no right or wrong answer it depends on what you like and the kind of trip you are planning (budget vs. luxury, solo vs. couple, family trip…). In the posts below, you will find some suggestions and a quick guide of Paris by Arrondissement.

Best Things to Do During Christmas in Paris [2021]

Paris is a wonderful city to visit at any time of year. At Christmas, Paris is even more magical, with the streets, squares, and shop fronts lit up by thousands of twinkling lights. Come to Paris to spend Christmas and New Year’s in one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe.

Below, we list our favorite things to do in Paris at Christmas time. For more activities and seasonal tips, check out our articles on December in Paris and Winter in Paris.

Visit the Christmas Markets of Paris

Paris Christmas Markets

Take some time out from the Paris tourist attractions to visit some of the Christmas Markets in Paris. Hundreds of wooden chalets will tempt you with unique gifts, traditional Christmas decorations, and culinary delights.

Here’s the list of the best Christmas Markets in Paris:

  • Tuileries Christmas Market (Paris 1)
  • Marché de Noël de la canopée des Halles (Paris 1)
  • Saint-Germain Christmas Market (Paris 6)
  • Marché de Noël Notre Dame de Paris (Paris 5)
  • Eiffel Tower Christmas Market (Paris 7)
  • La Défense Christmas Market

Drink Vin-chaud

Vin Chaud Paris

Vin-chaud (mulled wine) is Parisians’ favorite winter warmer, especially during Christmas time. This is one of the Christmas traditions in Paris, and we locals enjoy drinking vin-chaud, especially with friends.

This festive drink is made of hot red wine mixed with sugar, orange, and spices like cinnamon. You can find vin-chaud in the Paris Christmas markets and most of the bars and cafes across the city.

Get Ideas for Your Christmas Dinner in Paris

Christmas Food Festival

Christmas food festivals or Christmas food tours are great for sampling holiday treats and learning about France’s Christmas food traditions.

Salon Noël Gourmand Food Festival is dedicated to all those products which are somehow linked to Christmas and New Year celebrations: traditional French food, French pastries, and of course wine and champagne. Visit the different stands, talk to the exhibitors, and get inspired!

Alternatively, join a Christmas Gourmet Tour in Saint Germain-des-Près. The neighborhood of Saint Germain is well known for its chocolate and pastries shops, and it also has a small Christmas market.

Enjoy the Paris Christmas Decorations and Lights

Paris Christmas Lights and Decorations

At Christmas, Paris’ most beautiful monuments and the main avenues and squares are lit up with multi-colored bulbs and Christmas decorations.

During your Paris Christmas holidays, don’t miss the Paris Christmas lights and decorations of Champs-ÉlyséesAvenue MontaignePlace Vendôme, or Montmartre. More than ever, Christmas in Paris is a moveable feast!

The Open-top Christmas Lights Bus Tour is a great way to enjoy the Paris Christmas lights and decorations. This 1.5-hour bus tour comes with a hot drink, audio guide, and personal earphones playing traditional Christmas songs.

Admire the Department Store Windows

Christmas Shop Windows Paris

One of the most celebrated Christmas traditions in Paris is the decoration of the city’s shop windows. This is especially spectacular at Galeries Lafayette or Printemps Haussmann department stores (both on Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9). The shop windows at BHV Marais, facing the Hotel de Ville in Paris 4, are beautiful too.

These Christmas shop windows are usually sponsored by luxury brands and show dreamlike worlds with animated figures. If possible, try to visit these Christmas shop windows during the week; the area gets crazy on weekends!

Galeries Lafayette Christmas

Galeries Lafayette is also famous for hosting one of the most beautiful Paris Christmas Tree, under its cupola, and it usually comes with a short Christmas show every hour.

Explore the Covered Passages of Paris

Galerie Vivienne Paris

If you are still missing some Christmas gifts but you prefer doing your Christmas shopping in a more intimate atmosphere, head to the covered passages of Paris. These Paris walkways are a world apart from the busy Grands Boulevards, and during the Christmas holidays, their beautiful 18th-century architecture is usually decorated with festive ornaments.

Don’t miss their elegant cafes and vintage shops; the covered passages are among the top hidden gems in Paris!

Go Ice Skating

Ice skating - Paris at Christmas

After all the sweets, chocolate and Christmas food, a bit of sport is always a good idea. Ice skating is a fun and popular activity during Christmas in Paris, and you’ll find many ice skating rinks set for the holidays. Here’s the list of the most popular ice skating rinks in Paris at Christmas time:

  • Tour Eiffel: on the first floor of the tower
  • Grand Palais: under the glass cupola
  • Hôtel de Ville: right in front of the beautiful building
  • Grande Arche: on the top of the Grande Arche with a great view of Paris
  • Jardin des Tuileries: inside the Christmas Market
  • Galeries Lafayette: on the rooftop!

TIP: We recommend the ice rink of Grand Palais ice skating under its amazing glass cupola is even more magical.

Vintage Funfair at Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains - Old Carousel

Looking for unique things to do in Paris at Christmas with kids? Usually kept for cocktail parties and private events, the Musée des Arts Forains, in Paris 12, is exceptionally open to the public during Christmas in Paris.

From TBD December 2021 to TBD January 2022, this museum of fairground rides and stalls hosts the Festival du Merveilleux (Wonder Festival), with storytellers, magicians, musicians, dancers, and of course, wonderful rides!

Considered one of the most beautiful museums of Paris (well, at least for us), the magical atmosphere of Musée des Arts Forains will delight kids and adults alike.

Visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time

Disneyland Paris, France

In Disneyland Paris, Christmas is a big thing. Disneyland Paris is always a world apart, a magical world which becomes even more special during Christmas time with light shows and streets dripping in Christmas decorations.

Check out our Disneyland Paris crowd calendar to enjoy Disneyland Paris’ Christmas celebrations without the longest lines and book your Disney tickets as soon as possible (Christmas is the high season in Disneyland Paris!).

A day trip to Disneyland Paris is very easy to organize. To save money and the hassle of taking public transportation, consider the bundle Disneyland Paris tickets + Disneyland Paris Express. The bus Disneyland Paris Express has three departure points in the city and takes you to the park before it opens and returns to Paris at 9 pm.

TIP: do you want to extend your Disneyland experience? Spend one night at one of the Disneyland hotels

Take an Enchanted Stroll at The Lights Festival

Light Festival Paris - Polar Bear

The Jardin des Plantes Light Show is one of the best events during Christmas time in Paris. It is an enchanting experience for kids and adults, with monumental light structures set in the alleys and pitches of Jardin des Plantes and Ménagerie in the Latin Quarter of Paris.

This magical show was inaugurated two years ago (2018-2019) with a fantastic exhibition on creatures that disappeared millions of years ago or are currently threatened by human activity or climate change. After its big success, the Festival of Lights was back in 2019-2020, with an exhibition named Océan en Voie d’Illumination (Illuminated Ocean). Let’s hope this beautiful festival will be back in Paris in 2021!

Enjoy a Fairy Tale Day Trip at Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Vaux-le-Vicomte-Julien-Lauren
Photo courtesy: Vaux-le-Vicomte – Julien-Lauren ©

Spend an unforgettable day at the 17th century Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, one of the most beautiful castles near Paris. Visit the different rooms and halls, all in a festive Christmas atmosphere. Admire the beautiful, twinkling Christmas lights adorning the castle facades and the impressive gardens.

Children can dress up in period costumes and play the Kings and Queens for the day!

Day Trip to Colmar for a Unique Christmas Experience

If you have one spare day in Paris, hop on a train to Alsace for more Christmas fun. Set in some of the region’s most picturesque cities, towns, and villages, a visit to the Christmas markets in Alsace is both a shopping experience and a destination discovery.

Colmar is a wonderful city to explore on a day trip from Paris and revered for its annual Christmas market. Actually, Colmar’s Christmas market is voted year after year one of the best Christmas markets in Europe!

A sublime ‘light path’ takes the visitors to discover Colmar’s six Christmas markets, each nestled in an idyllic setting and with its own identity and theme.

Trains to Colmar depart from Paris Gare de l’Est train station, and the train journey takes 2,5 hours one way. Colmar is a coveted destination during Christmas time so book your train tickets well in advance!

How to Spend Christmas Eve in Paris

The night before Christmas in Paris (24th December) is usually spent with family and friends. Expect shops and businesses closed earlier than usual to let people get ready for the Christmas dinner.

Looking for a good restaurant for your Christmas Dinner in Paris? Not all restaurants are open during Christmas Eve, so if you have a specific restaurant in mind, check on its website if it is open and book well in advance.

Best Seine Cruises in Paris

For a Christmas Eve in Paris, there are always some interesting proposals:

SEINE RIVER CRUISES

Take a Seine River Cruise with Christmas dinner and sail the Seine River with the city lit up for the holidays; this can be a memorable experience!

Click here to book your Christmas Dinner Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens

PARISIAN CABARET SHOW + DINNER

If you are looking for a more festive way to spend Christmas Eve in Paris, head to a Parisian cabaret with a special Christmas Eve Dinner + Cabaret Show. Not all the cabarets are open for Christmas Eve, so book well in advance! This is the list of Parisian Cabarets proposing a Christmas Eve Dinner and Show:

TIP: Don’t know what is the best Cabaret in Paris for you? Check our quick guide to the best cabarets in Paris.

CHRISTMAS MASS

To celebrate Christmas more traditionally, go to the church for Christmas Mass. Most of the churches in Paris organize vigils and masses. Still, for such a special occasion, we recommend the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur (Montmartre) or the Madeleine Church (Paris 8), both organizing prestigious celebrations on 24 and 25 December with exceptional choirs and concerts.

Christmas Masses at Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre (Right Bank) to be confirmed for Christmas in Paris 2021

24 December
6 pm: first evensong of Christmas
10 pm: organ concert
Midnight: Midnight Mass

25 December
11 am: solemn mass
4 pm: solemn Vespers
10 pm: Christmas Mass

 Christmas Masses at Sainte Madeleine Church  (Right Bank) to be confirmed for Christmas in Paris 2021

24 December
9:30 pm: doors open
10:00 pm: vigil and evening Mass

25 December
11:00 am: solemn verses
6:00 pm: Christmas Mass

Christmas Masses at Saint-Sulpice Church (Left Bank) to be confirmed for Christmas in Paris 2021

24 December
7 pm: Children mass
11 pm: Christmas vigil sang and Midnight Mass

25 December
1 am: Christmas High Mass

 Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Left Bank) to be confirmed for Christmas in Paris 2021

Noted for its wonderful acoustics, it’s an ideal destination for Christmas Mass.

24 December
7 pm: Children mass
11 pm: Christmas vigil sang, and midnight mass

25 December
1 am: Christmas High Mass

Americans visiting Paris and looking for celebrations similar to those in the US can head to the American Cathedral in Paris or the American Church in Paris.

The American Cathedral in Paris – 23 avenue Georges V, Paris 8

Christmas events still to be defined for Christmas in Paris 2021

The American Church in Paris – 65 Quai d’Orsay, Paris 7

Christmas events still to be defined for Christmas in Paris 2021

What to Do on Christmas Day in Paris

Winter in Paris

Christmas Day in Paris is a bit like the 15th of August: not much happens in the city. Apart from the church services (information above), don’t expect much going on in Paris.

Some of the city’s top attractions, however, are open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and also on 1st January, so it is a good idea to keep them for these holiday days when everything else is closed.

THE EIFFEL TOWER

The Eiffel Tower never closes for holidays! You can climb up the Eiffel Tower every day of the year, sun or rain.

Click here to book your Eiffel Tower tickets

LOUVRE MUSEUM

  • Open: Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve
  • Closed: Christmas Day & New Year’s Day
  • Closed: Tuesdays

Click here to book your Louvre Museum tickets

ORSAY MUSEUM

  • Open: New Year’s Day
  • Closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve
  • Closed: Mondays

Click here to book your Orsay Museum tickets

CENTRE POMPIDOU

  • Open: New Year’s Eve
  • Closed: Christmas Day & New Year’s Day
  • Closed: Tuesdays

Click here to book your Centre Pompidou tickets

VERSAILLES

  • Open: New Year’s Eve
  • Closed: Christmas Day
  • Closed: Mondays

Click here to book your Versailles tickets

How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Paris [2021]

New Years in Paris

It’s never too early to make your plans for New Year’s Eve in Paris — plenty of parties and events sell out months in advance!

Here’s our list of fun things to do during New Year’s Eve in Paris. It contains daytime events and parties that go on well into the night to celebrate the new year.

And there you have it, the list of best things to do during Christmas in Paris. Christmas is a wonderful time to be in the French capital, and we are sure that you will love it.

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Check what to do in Paris at Christmas time and get festive during Christmas in Paris 2019. Paris Christmas Markets, Disnelyand Paris, Christmas lights, and more


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