Christmas in Paris 2023: 12 Things to Do in Paris at Christmas Time

Paris at Christmas Time

When it comes to things to do in Paris at Christmas time, we Parisians are spoilt for choice. The City of Light 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? Do you want to spend Christmas in Paris? This article gives information and many ideas of things to do in Paris – Christmas 2023.

Christmas in Paris

Content of this article:

  • What’s Paris in Winter Weather Like?
  • Best Places to Stay in Paris at Christmas
  • Best Things to Do in Paris at Christmas 2023
  • How to Spend Christmas Eve in Paris 2023
  • What to Do on Christmas Day in Paris 2023
  • How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Paris 2023-2024

What’s Paris in Winter Weather Like?

Paris in the Winter

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

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!

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

Winter days in Paris are very short; the sun sets very early. Check out the sunset times in Paris in December.

Best Places 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 Christmas atmosphere.

There are many good hotels near the Louvre Museum for all budgets. Hotels in the Marais (Paris 3 and 4) or the hotels in the Latin Quarter are good options, too.

For a unique Christmas holiday in Paris, book a hotel with an Eiffel Tower view. Because there is nothing like a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower to say you’re in the City of Light…

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 to our favorite neighborhoods.

Best Things to Do in Paris at Christmas 2023

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 by thousands of twinkling lights. Come to Paris to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe.

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

1. Visit the Paris Christmas Markets

Paris Christmas Markets

Take some time out from 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 Garden 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 (at La Défense business district)

2. 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 Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands (from 1 to 4 December 2023, at Espace Champerret in Paris 17) is dedicated to seasonal local products, and most of them are 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!

You can also join this Christmas Gourmet Tour in Saint Germain-des-Près. The neighborhood of Saint Germain is well known for its chocolate and pastry shops and has a small Christmas market.

Learn how to make the perfect gourmet Christmas dinner during this 3.5-hour cooking class (small group) with a Parisian chef. Prepare a delicious 3-course meal from the best seasonal ingredients, then sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you still have time for desserts, learn how to make the best Parisian macarons in your town with the help of a Parisian chef.

3. Admire Paris’ Christmas Decorations and Lights

Paris Christmas Lights and Decorations

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

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

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

You can also discover Paris at Christmas with this Christmas lights walking tour with a local or, if you want to cover more ground, on two wheels with this Christmas guided bike tour. Take in the illuminated Paris landmarks as you pedal along on your bike after dark.

4. Go Window-Shopping

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 and 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, 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 Christmas Trees in Paris. It is located under its magnificent glass cupola and usually comes with a short Christmas show every hour.

5. Explore the Covered Passages of Paris

Galerie Vivienne Paris

If you are still missing some Christmas gifts but prefer 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 cafés and vintage shops; the covered passages are among the top hidden gems in Paris!

6. Vintage Funfair at Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains - Old Carousel

Looking for unique things to do in Paris during 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 27 December 2023 to 7 January 2024, this museum of fairground rides and stalls hosts the Festival du Merveilleux (Wonder Festival), with storytellers, magicians, musicians, dancers, and beautiful rides!

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

More excellent exhibitions going on during Christmas in Paris:

7. Visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas Time

Disneyland Paris, France

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

Check out our quick guide to Christmas in Disneyland Paris and this Disneyland Paris crowd calendar to enjoy Disneyland Paris’ Christmas celebrations without the longest lines. If possible, book your Disney tickets well in advance (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 Disneyland Paris Express bus has three departure points in the city, 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.

8. Take an Enchanted Stroll at one of the Light Festivals in Paris

Lights Festival Paris - dinosaur

The Paris Festival of Lights is one of the best Paris Christmas events. 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.

From 22 November 2023 to 21 January 2024, Paris’ main botanical garden will be transformed into tropical forests with the theme “La Jungle en Voie d’Illumination.”

But this is not the only light festival in Paris! There are other enchanting light festivals in Paris and nearby, usually hosted in beautiful parks and gardens. From arty strolls to dragons and lanterns festivals, there’s something for everyone!

9. Listen to a Christmas Concert

Sainte Chapelle at Night

Some of Paris’ most atmospheric buildings hold festive concerts around Christmas. There are classical concerts in the churches at Saint-Sulpice (Paris 6), Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris 6), Saint-Ephrem (Paris 5), Saint Eustache (Paris 1), and La Madeleine (Paris 8) in the week before Christmas.

Concerts at the Sainte-Chapelle (Paris 4) are the most spectacular because of its unique atmosphere: the walls of this Gothic royal chapel are made up of 16 huge stained glass windows that cover over 600 square meters! When the musicians are playing, and the light hits the windows and makes them glow, it’s just magical. There are daily concerts from 22–31 December 2023 (excluding Christmas Day).

For something even more unusual, concerts also take place on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower (Paris 7), where you can listen to an orchestra perform with views across the Paris rooftops. On 24 and 25 December 2023, there will be Christmas music and opera arias, and on 31 December and 1 January 2024, there will be works by Mozart, Verdi, and Handel.

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

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 in period costumes and play the Kings and Queens for the day! Check out this Grand Noël guided tour from Paris, which visits Châteaeu de Fontainebleau and Château Vaux-le-Vicomte during the Christmas holidays.

11. Take a 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 beautiful city to explore on a day trip from Paris and is revered for its annual Christmas market. Actually, the Colmar Christmas Market is voted year after year as 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.

Check out how to plan your trip from Paris to the Colmar Christmas Market. Colmar is a coveted destination during Christmas time, so book your train tickets well in advance!

Of course, there’s also the Strasbourg Christmas Market, which is France’s most famous. But Colmar is a smaller and more compact city, so exploring on a day trip from Paris is easier.

12. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

Vin Chaud Paris

A steaming cup of 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, cardamom, and cloves. You can find vin-chaud in the Paris Christmas markets and most of the bars and cafés across the city.

Another favorite of Christmas time in Paris is the Bûche de Noël. These sponge cakes are covered with chocolate buttercream to look like festive yule logs. You can buy them (there are also mini bûches for one person) at patisseries and boulangeries.

And chocolate is always a classic treat for Christmas in Paris! Top-class chocolates can be found at chocolateries and pâtisseries all across Paris. For the best experience, however, we recommend avoiding the bigger (and more commercial) brands and looking for local chocolate makers. For some guidance, you can take this chocolate guided tour (with 6 tastings included) or our self-guided Paris chocolate tour.

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 to close earlier than usual to let people prepare for the Christmas Eve dinner.

Are you looking for a good restaurant for your Christmas Eve Dinner in Paris 2023? This list of romantic restaurants in Paris is a good start. However, not all Paris 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. You can also sail the Seine River while enjoying your Christmas Dinner or combine it with a cabaret show for a fun night out!

Take a Seine River Cruise

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

Paris Cabaret Dinner and Show

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 and 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 the best Cabaret in Paris for you? Check our quick guide to the best cabarets in Paris.

Join a Christmas Church Service

Sacré Coeur Inside

To celebrate Christmas more traditionally, go to the church for Christmas Mass. Most of the churches in Paris organize vigils and masses.

For such a special occasion, we recommend the Sacré-Cœur Basilica (Montmartre) or the Madeleine Church (Paris 8), organizing prestigious celebrations on 24 and 25 December with exceptional choirs and concerts. If you are staying on the Seine’s Left Bank, we recommend Saint-Sulpice Church (Paris 6), with a sung vigil and midnight mass, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris 6), noted for its wonderful acoustics.

Americans visiting Paris will find celebrations similar to those in the US at the American Cathedral in Paris (Paris 8) and the American Church in Paris (Paris 7). There are also English-language services held at the Scots Kirk (Paris 8) and St Michael’s Church (Paris 8). Church services in Paris at Christmas do get busy, though, so arrive early, as numbers may be limited. It’s also worth calling into the churches before Christmas, as many have ornately carved nativity scenes on display.

What to Do on Christmas Day in Paris

Winter in Paris

Christmas Day in Paris is a bit like on 15 August: not much happens in the city. Apart from the church services (information above) and long strolls in the parks to digest the Christmas lunch, don’t expect much going on in Paris.

Some of the city’s top attractions, however, are open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and 1 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

It is possible to visit the Louvre Museum on 24 and 31 December (as long as they don’t fall on Tuesday), but the museum is closed on Christmas Day Click here to book your Louvre Museum tickets

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

Orsay Museum

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


The Palace of Versailles is open on 31 December (unless it falls on Monday). The Versailles Gardens, however, are always open and free to access in wintertime Click here to book your Versailles tickets

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

How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Paris 2023

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 for 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 the best things to do in Paris at Christmas time. Christmas is a wonderful time to be in the French capital, and we are sure you will love it!

Click here to read more Paris Travel Tips

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Quirky Parisian explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of the City of Light! Read more about me.