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:
#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!
#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.
One of the more unusual places to go ice skating in Paris is
#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.
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
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,
#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.
#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
#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!
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)
Of course, no
Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree
Each year, Galeries Lafayette hosts a large, oversized, and glittering
#9 Head to the Ritz Christmas Chalet
Of course, there