Last Updated on 11th December 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
If there’s one thing that makes the winter months a little less long in Paris, it’s the abundance of Christmas lights and festive illuminations that can be found across the French capital during the final few months of the year. And nowhere is this perhaps more apparent than in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris. Here’s your ultimate guide to Le Marais at Christmas, including where to shop for Christmas presents and which illuminations to go and admire.
Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market
Literally translated into English as ‘town hall,’ Hôtel de Ville is a regal 19th-century reconstruction of a previous Paris town hall which all but burnt down in a fire during the 1800s. Throughout the year, Hôtel de Ville is the location of many an event, and the grand parvis in front of the neo-Gothic building is also often home to one of the prettiest carousels in Paris.
In 2020, the Parvis de l’hôtel de Ville is home to a series of fake-snow-capped fir trees and a Christmas village in the form of a small market. The market is free to visit and will be in operation between December 11th 2020 and January 3rd 2021.
Among the vendors, visitors will be able to discover a chalet selling mulled wine and various craft products made in Paris. Glance at the front façade of Hôtel de Ville itself and you’ll be able to enjoy a light-show mapped onto the building itself.
BHV Christmas Decorations
Every year, each of the four main department stores in Paris decorate their vitrines (window displays) in time for the festive period. While Galeries Lafayette opts to host a giant tree in its flagship store, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche typically hosts dozens of floating trees, and Printemps boasts numerous colourful window displays.
Meanwhile, BHV (which stands for Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville) is decked out in glittering lights and hosts a whole host of window displays. Some years, little stalls operate alongside the rue de Rivoli selling various snacks and drinks.
In 2020, the theme of the window displays is ‘Buon Natale,’ i.e. an Italian Christmas theme. The windows have been collaborated with the nearby Eataly department store (an Italian shop selling all kinds of gourmet products and cooking equipment and which is well worth checking out when in the area) and feature animated wooden puppets, including the famous Italian puppet, Pinocchio.
If you’re looking for one of the highest concentration of independent boutiques and unique shops in Paris in which to buy gifts for family and friends, then I highly recommend heading to Le Marais. From mouthwatering foodie delights to unique and vintage fashion, there’s something for everyone to enjoy (if only for a spot of window shopping).
Fleux, 52 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris
One of my absolute favourite concept stores in Paris is Fleux, which is a brand that’s actually set across several boutiques. Head inside any of the handful of locations in Le Marais and you’ll be greeted by a vast array of ceramicwear, clothing, plants, and home decor, among other things. The range of goods for sale is pretty diverse, meaning that there’s a gift to be found at almost every price point.
Eataly, 37 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris
Situated on the same street as Fleux, Eataly is your go-to for every speciality product from Italy. From rich red wines to fresh mozzarella burratas to the most unique of pasta shapes to quirky kitchenware to aid in all of your culinary adventures, there’s an exciting array of products on offer.
What’s more is that, during the Christmas period, the entire store is decked out in Christmas decor, making the store a feast for the eyes. Finally, if you’re looking for a delicious bite to eat, then you can’t go wrong by heading to the bakery section at the back of the store and purchasing a piping hot slice of pizza to go.
Vintage shopping in Le Marais
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly gift, as well as a unique vintage piece that you surely won’t be able to find anywhere else, then there is nowhere in Paris with quite as high a number of vintage shops than the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of the city. Some of my all-time favourite thrift stores in the area include Mad Vintage and Kiliwatch Paris.