Your Ultimate Guide to the Best of Paris at Christmas

This post may contain affiliate links. Please check out my privacy policy and disclosure for more information.

Last Updated on 23rd January 2020 by Sophie Nadeau

Christmas in Paris makes the City of Light more beautiful than ever (if that’s even possible!). The start of advent marks the beginning of a whole host of Paris at Christmas activities in the French capital in which it’s possible to take part. While there are some free festive activities in Paris, others are pricier. Here are a few of the best Christmas things to do in Paris:

How to spend Christmas in Paris. Here's your festive guide to the French capital of Paris, France. Christmas markets, shopfront decorations and a winter wonderland way to spend your holidays!

#1 Visit the Grands Magasins (Department Stores)

Galeries Lafayette Boulevard Haussmann

No trip to Paris would be complete without visiting the World Famous department store, Galeries Lafayette. The best ‘window licking’ experience in town (the French phrase for window shopping ‘lèche vitrine’, literally means window licking).

Situated in the 9e arrondissement, the store first opened its doors in 1912. Although now an international company with stores worldwide, the flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann has got to be the place to go for a spot of Paris at Christmas shopping.

Printemps Department Store

Each year, the Printemps Department store ‘vitrines’ (window displays) tend to be the first to be unveiled to the public. Situated close to the Palais Garnier opera house,

BHV Le Marais

Located right next to Hôtel de Ville (i.e. Paris’ main town hall), BHV Le Marais is one of the four grand department stores that the city has to offer. In 2019, the theme of the stalls is the Alsatian Christmas markets and there are even several chalets outside of the store selling gifts as well as vin chaud and hot chocolate! The window displays depict

Le Bon Marché

Situated on the ‘rive-gauche’ and far away from the rest of the Parisian department stores, Le Bon Marché is still worth a visit for those who wish to see some truly spectacular Christmas decorations. After all, it’s here in the grand staircases where giant trees are suspended and glittering for all to see!

An Insider's Guide to Printemps Christmas Windows 2019 in the 9th arrondissement, Paris, France

#2 Go Ice Skating (Patinoire)

l’Hôtel de Ville, (Ice Skating rink, Hotel de Ville)

While many ice skating rinks spring up around Paris as quickly as the temperature plummets, there is none more famous than that of Hotel de Ville, i.e. the Parisian town hall that can be found in the heart of Le Marais area of the French capital.

Every year the rink is opened by a large skating show and the queues that ensue are enough to scare off even the hardiest of travellers. However, if you do wait, there are ice skating classes, yoga and many more shows all on the ice. Entrance is free with your own your own skates. Alternatively, skates can be rented on site for under €10.

La Defense

One of the more unusual places to go ice skating in Paris is

How To Go Ice Skating at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France (9th arrondissement)

#3 Explore the Covered Arcades of Paris

If you don’t really feel like braving the cold, there are an array of ‘passages couverts’ (arcades) around the city where you can shop for all your Christmas presents without the discomfort of getting snowed on (or should that be rained on). Of all the Christmas things to do in Paris, wandering down the covered arcades of the city may well be my favourite…

Predominantly built in the 1800s, there are now under 50 remaining following the extensive renovations by Haussmann later that century. Filled with tiny boutiques and cafés, each has its own vibe and is decorated with an array of tinsel, lights, and ribbons.

Passage du Grand Cerf

One of my very favourite Covered galleries of Paris is that of Passage du Grand Cerf, a beautiful double-decker shopping centre filled with cute boutiques and small cafés. Another covered passage worth checking out is the Passage des Panoramas. Located to the North of the Seine, here you’ll find a postcard vendor selling vintage cards for as little as €2 each.

Galerie Vivienne

Best seen at night when it’s possible to enjoy the twinkling lights that completely cover the passage at their best, Galerie Vivienne is to be found in the

Passage Jouffroy

Situated directly across from the illustrious Passage des Panoramas, Passage Jouffroy

Passage du Havre

Though more modern than some of the other covered arcades of Paris,

Passage du Havre, 9th arrondissement

#4 Wander through the Parisian Christmas markets

La Magie de Noël des Tuileries, The Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Village 

Located in the space where the summer funfair is usually held, the Christmas market that was once held in the Place du Concorde and is the most popular in Paris has it all; food stalls, arcade rides, bars, and boutiques. Check here for a full guide to the Tuileries Christmas market.

Some of the biggest highlights are the ice skating rink equipped with a DJ and the Christmas themed haunted house with zombie Santas on every floor! And if wandering around the Christmas markets isn’t enough, there’s always plenty of free, festive and fun things to do in the city come Christmas time!


Visit L’Arche de Nöel de la Défense, The Christmas market at la Défense (literally the Christmas arch).

It’s not hard to see how the La Défense market acquired its name because the fair is quite literally held under the grand archway of la Défense. And as the largest Christmas market in the Île de France region, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something that suits your taste and budget!

After all, there are over 350 wooden stalls selling everything from beauty products made of snails to Canadian maple syrup products. The nearby Esplanade de la Défense is also a perfect place to check out the view over the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe from afar, all set against the backdrop of some fantastic Christmas lights.

La Défense Christmas Market Guide: the largest Christmas market in Île de France near Paris, France

#5 Sip on Mulled wine

Does anything say Christmas better than a glass of hot, spiced wine? The French translation for mulled wine is Vin Chaud, literally ‘hot wine’. And come Christmas time, it is available everywhere; from cafés to markets to bars and fairs, most places price the warming beverage at between 3 and 5 euros a glass. While you’d be hard pressed

Read more: A mulled wine recipe to create the taste of Europe at home. 

La Défense Christmas Market Guide: the largest Christmas market in Île de France near Paris, France

#6 Enjoy a Chocolat chaud


If you’re looking for an über luxe hot chocoalte


Of course, while we’re on the subject of warming beverages, there is perhaps no better excuse to indulge in


Though not my personal favourites of the hot chocolates to be found in Paris, many cite Angelina as being their favourite drink of choice! Situated at several locations across the city (including on the first floor of the Galeries Lafayette flagship store), Angelina’s chocolat chaud is known for its thick texture.


#7 Spy the best illuminations in Paris!

Rue Montorgueil

Situated in the second arrondissement of Paris and best known as being the home base of the oldest patisserie in Paris, i.e. Stohrer, rue Montorgueil is a true delight to wander around at Christmas time, particularly come night time when the glittering and twinkling lights illuminate the many bars and shops which line both sides of the partly pedestrianised street.


Of all the Christmas things to do in Paris, what screams Paris and Christmas more than a walk from the Arc de Triomphe down through the Champs-Elysées? This is the perfect place in Paris to see Christmas lights and en route you can even do a spot of shopping!

From the sparkling plane trees to the Bow topped buildings, there is something to see in every direction you look. While there used to be a Christmas market along the iconic avenue, a dispute between the organiser and the City has meant that this festive event has since moved nearby and into the Jardin des Tuileries.


#8 Go in search of some of the best Christmas trees in Paris (Sapins de Noël)

Place Vendôme

Of course, no

Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree

Each year, Galeries Lafayette hosts a large, oversized, and glittering

Galeries Lafayette Christmas Tree 2019

#9 Head to the Ritz Christmas Chalet

Of course, there

Ritz Christmas Chalet at Place Vendôme in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France

Did you enjoy reading Christmas things to do in Paris? Pin it now, read it again later!

Christmas in Paris: fun activities to see and do in Paris, France during the holiday season. From historical sites to where to eat to the best christmas markets: this guide will have you covered!Christmas things to do in Paris, France- where you should go, and what you should eat in the French capital around the holiday season!Christmas things to do in Paris, France- where you should go, and what you should eat in the French capital around the holiday season.

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!


  • ryan J
    8th October 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Looks like Paris is even more romantic during xmas time. I think I’d pass up the yoga on ice though.

  • Andrea
    22nd September 2017 at 2:28 pm

    So excited to have going your site. Taking my second ever trip to Paris this December and can’t wait to experience Christmas in the city of lights!

    • Sophie Nadeau
      27th September 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks, I hope the site was helpful for planning your trip 🙂 I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time in Paris this Christmas time- it’s one of my favourite winter destinations in Europe!

  • jyain
    16th August 2017 at 7:41 am

    This was really enjoyable to read. Having read this there seem to be some wonderful places to visit.Had a quick look at your blog and love it already. Have subscribed. Looks like you’ve spent time in many of the places listed in this post.

  • Eda G
    6th December 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve been to Paris around last year, and did some of the things you’ve mentioned, it was a magical city during this time of year 🙂 | Room 95


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.