If you’re searching for one of the most magical moments to be had in Paris this Christmas time, then you need to look no further than the Hôtel de Ville Christmas Village. Set in the 4th arrondissement against the backdrop of the 19th-century built main town hall of the city, there’s market stalls, as well as a handful of carousels, and even a free curling event. Here’s everything you need to know before you go!
Hôtel de Ville Christmas Village in Paris | 13 Decembre 2019 to 1st January 2020
Though not a yearly event, the Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market is one of the top festive attractions in Paris on the years when it is held. Prior to 2018, there was an ice skating rink where revellers could glide along to views of the River Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral!
Since then, the festive event has been replaced with a more environmentally-friendly attraction and 2019 marks the second edition of the Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market. Head to the Mairie de Paris at this time and you can expect to find a winter wonderland of snow-covered trees, sapins (fir trees), and two carousels.
While one of the carousels in the square is that of the traditional Hôtel de Ville carousel and is erected at various points of the year, the other (and less traditional looking) menage is there purely for the Christmas village and is even free for children during various points throughout the festive season.
In total, there are fewer stalls than some of the other Christmas Markets in Paris, including that of the Tuileries Garden and the Christmas Market held at La Défense. With this being said, you’ll find a selection of high quality products for sale at the dozen or so stalls, with the theme being ‘made in France’, and specifically ‘fabriqué à Paris’.
When it comes to foodie options, the selection is fairly small and is limited to the popular crêpes and chocolat chaud (hot chocolate). For a true taste of traditional Christmas Market foods, and at a much lower price point, I recommend heading to La Défense Christmas Market, which is to be found at the end of line 1 of the metro.
Perhaps most uniquely of all, and this is the only Parisian Christmas Market, I’ve seen this at: there’s a free curling rink! Though pretty tiny, the free to use rink is popular among all ages. Up until the 24th of December, there’s also the chance to ‘meet Santa Claus’.
Things to know before visiting the Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market
Unlike more rural Christmas Markets (such as those to be found in the Alsace region of France), I soon noticed that many of the market stalls accepted card, particularly those with higher market value goods. The market and trees themselves are free to wander around and are perhaps best seen at night when the lights illuminate the stalls and a festive vibe permeates the air.
Though most people you encounter will speak a fantastic level of English, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language, which in this case is French. Bring along a French phrasebook like this one to help you get by. Winter in France is cold and so pack a warm winter jacket like this one!
Nearby to Hôtel de Ville, you can go and enjoy the BHV Le Marais Christmas windows. One of the four grand department stores of Paris, each year, BHV decks out its vitrines (shop windows) for the festive season and, in 2019, the theme is ‘Strasbourg’. Head to BHV and you can expect to find wooden chalets selling vin chaud and other Alsace delicacies.
Paris is a city best explored on foot and Le Marais district of the city is no exception. In fact, it’s so gorgeous and well placed, that I highly recommend staying in the area during your next trip to Paris. Check here for the best Le Marais accommodation.
Otherwise, you should know that this area of the city largely escaped the Haussmannian reforms of the 19th-century, leaving behind a true taste of medieval Paris. Think Gothic churches, narrow streets, and even a couple of timber-framed houses! For more highlights of this area of the French capital, be sure to follow my free and self-guided Le Marais walking tour.