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December in Paris 
All you need to know to visit Paris in December 2021.
December is a wonderful time to visit Paris. The weather is cold and crisp, but the city is in full swing, with busy cafes, beautiful lights & decorations on the streets, and an interesting cultural program for locals and visitors alike.
And of course, Paris at Christmas time also means great shopping opportunities and seasonal activities for all the family!
Paris in December has two main parts. While the beginning of December in Paris has a more local atmosphere, with Parisians doing the last Christmas shopping and visiting the recently inaugurated temporary exhibitions, the city becomes a favorite haunt of tourists once you hit the Christmas week.
All considered, December in Paris is wonderful, one of the best winter city breaks in Europe, but a bit crowded with people. This is a great month for a cultural getaway, a festive getaway, and a shopping weekend. Here is our guide to making the most of your time in Paris in December 2021.
Is Paris in December Busy? Crowds Forecast
Years ago, the beginning of the month was usually quiet. However, since most of the Paris Christmas markets decided to open their doors around mid-November, Paris in December is all time jam-packed with people, especially on the weekends.
The beginning of the month is still considered low season in Paris, with better prices, whilst the Christmas week is high season. However, we recommend booking everything well in advance if you want to visit Paris in December.
To optimize your time and avoid the longest lines, we recommend visiting temporary exhibitions during office hours when the Parisians are behind their desks. Book your tickets to temporary exhibitions well in advance.
Same advice for your Christmas shopping and the Christmas markets in Paris: prioritize these activities for office hours and do more touristy things – less sexy for Parisians – on the weekends.
December in Paris is also the month for the year-end meetings in pubs and restaurants with coworkers, friends, and family. Weekdays (especially Thursdays), pubs, and restaurants are busy with business meetings whilst the weekends are dedicated to friends and family.
If you have a specific place in mind for lunch or dinner in Paris in December, book well in advance.
December Weather in Paris
How is the December weather in Paris? December is a winter month in Paris, and it is cold.
If we stick to the statistics, the average temperature in Paris in December is 10C maximum and 5C minimum with a 15% probability of rainfall.
If you decide to visit Paris in December, it is always good to have a B plan if it rains.
What to Wear in Paris in December 2021
What to wear in Paris in December 2021? The key to dressing in Paris in the winter is a good, warm coat. Still, it is a good idea to dress in layers because in some places indoors (e.g., in the Louvre!!) it is too warm and you are likely to be ok with a light sweater.
What to pack for December in Paris 2021? The weather in Paris in December calls for good walking shoes, warm socks, scarves, a good warm jacket, and a foldable umbrella.
Best Tips for Visiting Paris in December
Even if France is a secular Republic, all the Paris offices are closed during the Christmas week. That’s when the Parisians, independently of their religion, travel to their hometowns to spend some time with their families. If you have planned to visit other cities than Paris, book your train tickets well in advance.
If you are interested in visiting Alsace’s Christmas markets, book your train tickets and accommodation right now. Strasbourg, Colmar, and all the Alsatian villages are easy and popular Paris getaways among tourists visiting Paris in December.
24th December (Christmas Eve) is when families gather for a pre-Christmas dinner and when many people go to midnight mass. On the 24th of December, the shops and tourist attractions usually close earlier. Expect restaurants and night attractions like the Parisian Cabarets to have special programs and menus, and they may require booking.
25th December (Christmas Day) is traditionally a day spent at home with the family. Paris looks pretty dead, and some attractions are closed or have different opening times. When planning a trip to Paris at Christmas time, double-check your favorite tourist attractions’ opening times.
31st December (New Year’s Eve) is usually a normal working day for most of the Paris tourist attractions and shops, but perhaps some of them close earlier. Expect restaurants and night attractions like the Parisian Cabarets to have special programs and menus, and they may require booking.
Always have a B plan for the rainy days in Paris. If you need some ideas, check out our list of fun things to do during a rainy day in Paris.
As we mentioned above, December in Paris is a bit crowded with people. Have a look at this article on ways to avoid crowds in Paris, with our best local tips.
A week before the departure, look at our Transportation Strikes in Paris post, which is always up to date. Just in case . . .
Need insurance for France? Since August 2020, SafetyWing, our trusted travel insurance policy for long and short trips (starting with a minimum of 5 days), covers COVID-19 for new policies purchased, and since April 2021, unplanned quarantine is covered, too. Be sure to check France travel insurance rates and coverage with SafetyWing.
Best Things to Do in Paris in December 2021
If you visit Paris in December for the first time, you may want to tick some of Paris’s top tourist attractions off your bucket list. The itineraries below are thought for people visiting Paris for the first time, and they are planned around the main attractions and the most interesting neighborhoods in Paris:
If you want to visit Paris at Christmas time, check out our dedicated articles, with all the festive activities and best tips to get the most out of Christmas in Paris.
If you want to visit Paris for New Year’s celebrations, check out our dedicated article on what to do in Paris on New Year’s Eve.
Here’s the list of the best things to do in Paris in December, other than the typical Christmas activities. Some of the dates and activities still need to be confirmed, so keep clicking for the latest updates.
TAKE A NIGHT SEINE RIVER CRUISE
Enjoy ‘Paris’s most beautiful avenue’ with a Seine River night cruise. Admire the city beautifully illuminated with the Christmas lights and some of the main Paris tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or Les Invalides. It is difficult not to be in love with a view like this one!
The Seine river cruises come with or without dinner, and they are a great way to spend a relaxed night, perhaps with a glass of champagne.
TAKE A PASTRY OR CHOCOLATE TOUR IN PARIS
For December in Paris, the pastry and chocolate walking tours are the best. Learn about the traditional cakes and sweets during Christmas in France and admire the best pastry shops beautifully adorned for the festive season.
The neighborhood of Saint Germain-des-Prés in Paris 6 is very reputed for its beautiful pâtisseries and chocolate shops, and this Saint Germain Pastry and Chocolate Walking Tour always has great reviews.
A NIGHT OF CAN CAN, FUN AND BUBBLES IN A PARISIAN CABARET
When it gets dark, cabarets are one of the most popular attractions of Paris at night, with music, French can-can, and lots of bubbles.
There are many good Parisian cabarets – click here for the ultimate cabarets of Paris guide – and you can watch a cabaret show with or without dinner, but the full experience is more fun!
For December in Paris, we recommend booking your cabaret show well in advance, especially if you want to do a cabaret show during the Christmas week in Paris. The Moulin Rouge is the most popular cabaret show in Paris but there are many more!
WALK THE COVERED PASSAGES OF PARIS
When Paris’s air gets cold and crisp, it is the perfect time to explore Paris’s most beautiful covered passages.
These covered walkways, all bathed in natural light, are Art Nouveau /Neoclassical architectural gems built in the 18th century, the kind of place to see and to be seen whilst doing some shopping or drinking a cafe.
Most of the best passages in Paris are in Paris’s central districts, in Paris 1 or 2 (click here for our quick guide). If you know where to look, you will find delightful vintage boutiques, cute cafes, and other curiosity shops perfect for unique Christmas gifts.
VISIT THE CHURCHES OF PARIS
Visiting Paris’ churches is always a good idea, especially in Paris in December, when they are beautifully decorated for the Christmas celebrations.
The churches of Paris are always free to visit, and you have churches of all styles, from medieval churches to modern churches made of iron and concrete.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame is still closed to the public for restoration works. Still, the list of most popular churches in Paris includes other names like the Sacré Coeur – that you can visit during this Montmartre Walking Tour -, the church of Saint Germain des Prés (the oldest), or Sainte Étienne du Mont, which features the only jubé in Paris.
EXPLORE THE SQUARES OF PARIS
Paris is home to beautiful and elegant squares, great for a stroll and a coffee or some shopping. The squares of Paris in December are something not to miss, all beautifully illuminated and decorated for the festive season.
The royal squares of Paris (Place Vendôme, Place des Vosges …) are must-sites in the city, but we recommend going out of the beaten path for a taste of local life.
FIND YOUR FAVORITE PARISIAN CAFE FOR A HOT CHOCOLATE OR VIN-CHAUD
The picturesque Parisian cafes are always a good place for a break during the cold days of December in Paris.
The neighborhoods of Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, or Montmartre are some good places to find picturesque cafes, but there are pretty cafes in all the districts of Paris.
Order a steaming cup of hot chocolate and cozy up with a good book or – for a more festive afternoon -, enjoy some glasses of vin chaud (mulled wine) with your tribe.
VISIT THE CASTLES NEAR PARIS
The French castles are always great to visit, but they are stunning with the Christmas decorations inside the magnificent halls and gardens.
There are many interesting castles near Paris to visit, apart from the Palace of Versailles. Some of these awesome French châteaux organize special events for the festive season, like Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and its private Christmas tour.
VISIT THE HAPPIEST PLACE IN FRANCE
A day trip to Disneyland Paris is a wonderful way to get in the mood for the holidays, with special parades and Christmas shows. From 7 November 2021 to 10 January 2021, immerse yourself in a warm, festive atmosphere at Disneyland Paris, with light shows and streets dripping in Christmas decorations.
For a more magical experience (who likes waiting in line in the cold for a long time?), enjoy Disneyland Paris with standard FASTPASS® service to select attractions and avoid the longest lines!
TIP: extend your Disney experience, spend one night or two at one of the hotels near Disneyland Paris with a free shuttle bus.
ENJOY THE PARIS LIGHTS FESTIVAL AT JARDIN DES PLANTES
The Festival of Lights (Festival des Lumières in French) will take place from 29 November 2021 to 30 January 2022 at the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris. This Paris light show is a mesmerizing experience for all the family, with monumental light structures set in the alleys and pitches of this beautiful garden.
Every year the Festival of Lights comes with a different topic, usually aiming at raising awareness about the importance of protecting the endangered species of the planet Earth.
This year 2021 the Festival of Lights is named L’Évolution en Voie d’Illumination and it aims to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the endangered species (but not only) by protecting their environment and stopping illegal hunting or fishing.
CHECK OUT THE TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS IN PARIS IN DECEMBER 2021
December in Paris is a great time for museum-going. If you have already visited Paris in the past, it is worth checking the list of temporary exhibitions in the main museums or art galleries because there are always good surprises.
In December, Paris always has an interesting cultural program for visitors and locals, usually with more free time during the holidays.
Botticelli at Musée Jacquemart-André, from 10 September 2021 to 24 January 2022.
Dalí, l’Énigme Sans Fin (Dalí, the endless enigma) at Atelier des Lumières, from 12 February 2021 to 2 January 2022.
The World of Banksy: the Immersive Experience at Espace Lafayette Drouot (44 rue de Faubourg Montmartre, Paris 9), from 1 June 2021 to 31 December 2021.
Picasso-Rodin, a Giants’ Dialogue, mega exhibition in two sites – Musée Rodin and Musée Picasso -, from 19 May 2021 to 2 January 2022.
Enfin le cinéma ! Arts, images et spectacles en France at Musée d’Orsay, from 28 September 2021 to 16 January 2022.
Paris-Athènes – Naissance de la Grèce moderne 1675-1919 at Musée du Louvre, from 30 September 2021 to 7 February 2022.
David Hockney. A Year in Normandie, at Musée de l’Orangerie, from 13 October 2021 to 14 February 2022.
Vogue Paris 1920 – 2020 at Palais Galliera, from 2 October 2021 to 30 January 2022.
Thierry Mugler, Couturissime at MAD-Musée des Arts Décoratifs, from 30 September 2021 to 24 April 2022.
La Collection Morozov – Icônes de l’Art Moderne at Fondation Louis-Vuitton Paris, from 22 September 2021 to 22 February 2022.
Le Monde de Steve McCurry – Musée Maillol, from 9 December 2021 to 29 May 2022.
Baselitz – La rétrospective – Centre Pompidou, from 20 October 2021 to 7 March 2022.
Bertrand Lavier – Bourse de Commerce, from 19 May 2021 to 1 July 2022.
La Collection Morozov. Icônes de l’art moderne – Fondation Louis Vuiton, from 20 September 2021 to 22 February 2022.
Where to Stay in Paris in December
Booking.com is our recommended site for booking your hotel in Paris. They have a wide variety of hotels of all kinds and good rates. In addition, they propose the option to cancel for free, most of the time up to 24 hours.
SLEEP WITH EIFFEL TOWER VIEWS
If you have the budget, why not treat yourself with the pleasure of waking up with an amazing Eiffel Tower balcony view?
Some of Paris’ top hotels come also with unique views of the Eiffel Tower, especially beautiful during its night show!
The good news is that a cozy room with Eiffel Tower views is not exclusive to the best hotels in Paris. If you are looking for a home from home, there are also cute apartments with a view of the Eiffel Tower to rent.
HOTELS AT SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS
Saint-Germain in the Left Bank is a beautiful neighborhood to set your base in Paris, especially if you are visiting Paris for the first time. It is picturesque, central, with many entertainments, beautiful cafes and restaurant options.
RELAIS CHRISTINE, Paris 6, $$$$
Set in a 17th-century mansion in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this is THE kind of hotel that comes to mind when we think about Paris and Saint-Germain. Check out the pictures, you will immediately fall in love with this hotel!
HOTEL TRIANON RIVE GAUCHE, Paris 6, $$$$
Conveniently placed close to the Luxemburg Gardens – on the way to Cité – and with comfortable rooms bigger than the Paris average, Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche is an excellent choice for this area and hotel category.
WELCOME HOTEL, Paris 6, $$$
This cute little hotel with comfortable rooms has the best possible location, between Boulevard Saint-Germain and Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church. Stay in one of the most pretty areas for the best price!
HOTELS AT THE LOUVRE DISTRICT
If you prefer to stay in the Right Bank, the Louvre District is a good option. Stay close to the Louvre, the Seine River, and the Tuileries Gardens, in a lively area with many bars and restaurants nearby.
HOTEL PARIS LOUVRE OPERA; Paris 1, $$$
This hotel set in a 17th-century building is located only a 5-minute walk from the Louvre in a lively area with many choices for dining out. The rooms are small but very clean, comfortable, and cozy which makes this hotel a good value for your money.
HOTEL BRITANNIQUE: Paris 1, $$$
This lovely 19th-century hotel with a nice feel and atmosphere is located at only 700m of Notre Dame and close to other major landmarks. The comfortable rooms and beds and its welcoming staff will make you feel at home.