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Paris in December 2023: Where to Go, Events & Tips

Last Updated on 16th March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

Vin Chaud, twinkling lights, and all the Christmas markets: there is perhaps no time of year quite as magical as Paris in December. Here’s a complete rundown of the best of the City of Love this month; including where to go, what to see, and all of the must-attend events you won’t want to miss!

What's on? Paris in December guide. Here are the very best things to do in Paris during the end of the year suggested activities, things to do in December in Parsi, France, cafés and what to wear!

Please note that the 25th of December is a public holiday. This is Christmas Day. Many French people celebrate Christmas during the evening of the 24th.

As such, many shops close early on the 24th of December. During the 25th public holiday, most shops will be closed, and supermarkets which are open will operate at reduced hours.

In 2023, the fall school holidays (known in French as the Vacances de Noël) will be from the 23rd of December 2023 to the 8th January 2024. This is the busiest time of the month to travel and often the most expensive as it’s typical for families to travel from one part of France to go on holiday or visit family members.

Paris in December: Where to Go, What to See & All the Eats. Visiting the French capital in December? These are all the Paris things you need to do!

Paris weather in December

Though Christmas markets are open and the city is illuminate, it must be said that the least charming aspect of the City of Light during the winter is easily its temperamental weather!

With average temperatures ranging between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius, and rain and ice an often occurrence, you’ll need to be prepared for some rainy days! Snow in Paris during December is always a possibility, though this is more likely later in the winter (i.e. during February).

What's on? Paris in December guide. Here are the very best things to do in Paris during the end of the year suggested activities, things to do in December in Parsi, France, cafés and what to wear!

Why visit Paris in December?

Imagine strolling along the Champs Élysées under the glow of a thousand twinkling lights. Picture yourself sipping on a vin chaud while admiring the architecture of the Louvre Museum. Or perhaps envision getting together with friends and warming up with a hot chocolate as day turns to night.

Well, though it’s ‘never a bad time to visit Paris,’ there are certainly some times of the year when it’s more fun to visit than others… and Paris in December is most definitely one of those times!

You see, with a festive vibe in the area, markets pop up across the city and there’s no better excuse than shorter days than to indulge in some fantastic French cuisine!

Just a word of warning in advance: before visiting Paris in December, you should know that despite what you may expect, winter in the city is not actually low season!

As a result of the many dazzling events, sparkling light displays, and of course, the many Christmas markets held throughout the Parisian region, the French capital draws in crowds from far and wide.

As such, travel to and from Paris in December, as well as overnight accommodation tends to be much more expensive than what you might have expected. For the best prices, avoid December and instead look for deals in January and February when fewer people typically book to visit the city.

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

What to wear in Paris in December

Wrap up warm and be sure to bring along several pairs of waterproof and comfortable shoes. While you might not want to traipse around the city in walking boots, a pretty pair of boots like these ones which can be paired with a nice outfit would not go amiss.

When it comes to staying dry, you’ll need to pack an umbrella, or at the very least a waterproof coat. Similarly, you’ll want to pack a warm hat, scarf, and gloves. Easy to layer clothes are musts when it comes to packing. After all, while it may be cold outside, the interiors of many shops, restaurants, and, of course, the metro, are all pretty warm!

This way, you can stay warm while wandering around outside and remain comfortable when exploring indoor locations which are often much hotter than you might expect (museums, the metro, bistros, and the like).

Otherwise, must bring along essentials include a simple phrasebook like this one and a travel adapter like this one so you can charge all of your electronics during your stay!

What's on? Paris in December guide. Here are the very best things to do in Paris during the end of the year suggested activities, things to do in December in Parsi, France, cafés and what to wear!

What to do in Paris in December

Enjoy a chocolat chaud

One of the best things about visiting the French capital at the end of the year means that it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a hot chocolate and warm up in between exploring the streets of the city.

Some of the best places to enjoy a chocolat chaud include Carette (at Place des Vosges) and at Lindt (near the Palais Garnier Opera house). If you opt to visit Carette, then know that even the outdoor seating is under the arcade of Place des Vosges and is so protected from bad weather!

If you instead opt to enjoy a hot chocolate from Lindt, then each drink is served with one of their Lindt chocolate balls. Opt for Chantilly cream to be added to your hot chocolate at both places for the ultimate indulgent experience!

carette hot chocolate

Warm up with a vin chaud

And while we’re on the subject of warming beverages, depending on the time of day, you may also want to enjoy a vin chaud. Though most cafés in Paris sell these during the month of December, the best place to enjoy a mulled wine is at one of the many Christmas markets in town. For those looking to recreate the Christmas markets wine at home, here’s my perfect mulled wine recipe!

Notre Dame de Paris Christmas Market Guide (Marché de Noël de Notre Dame): how to visit the festive Christmas market at Square René-Viviani, Latin Quarter, Paris, France

Admire the Galeries Lafayette Christmas Tree

Each and every year, the stunning art nouveau stained-glass cupola of the chain’s flagship store is home to a massive Christmas tree. All sparkling lights and twinkling bright, it’s well worth a wander inside! In 2019, the Galeries Lafayette tree’s theme is that of ‘the hive’.

For the best photos of the tree, head to the third floor, where a 9 metre long suspended glass walkway will allow you an entirely new perspective of both the cupola and the tree.

You should know that, while free to visit, only 15 people are allowed on the walkway at a time. This means that at busier times of the day, you may have to wait a little while before being allowed on!

Galeries Lafayette Christmas Tree: Festive Season in Paris

Spy the Christmas lights in Paris

If you want to see the illuminations in Paris, then a wander around any part of the city will allow you to enjoy sparkling lights and twinkling sights. With that being said, some of the best places to see the lights in Paris include Rue Saint Dominique, Place Vendome (where sky-high trees are erected on an annual basis), and the Champs Elysées.

The pedestrian street of rue Montorgueil (where you’ll find the likes of the oldest patisserie in Paris, as well as a smattering of fantastic cafés and bars) is always a good location to wander along, and Village Bercy (once a wine producing area of the city) is decked out with twinkling light displays on an annual basis.

Christian Dior Atelier Design House, Avenue Montaigne, Paris, France: the Dior Balloon in Paris!

Go ice skating

All around the City of Light, you’ll find pop-up ice skating rinks. Though entrance to the rinks is free, you’ll need to pay around €5 for skate rentals. Some of the best ice skating rinks in the city include that of Trocadero, Hôtel de Ville, and around the Eiffel Tower.

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

Visit the Parisian Christmas Markets

For those looking for plenty of vin chaud and a festive ambience, it’s worth checking out at least one of the Christmas markets dotted around Paris. Some of the most popular include that of the Jardin des Tuileries, the large one held at La Defense, and the traditional event in Montmartre.

In times gone by, the most popular market was that of the Champs Élysées. However, a dispute between the event organiser and the city means that the market has since been relocated to Tuileries. Other spots in the city where Christmas markets are held include at Châtelet Les Halles and in the Square René-Viviani of the Latin Quarter.

What's on? Paris in December guide. Here are the very best things to do in Paris during the end of the year suggested activities, things to do in December in Parsi, France, cafés and what to wear!

See the window displays of the Grand Magasins

From BHV in Le Marais to Printemps to the Galeries Lafayette flagship store, take place in a French pastime, that of ‘faire du lèche-vitrines’. Literally translated as ‘window licking,’ but in fact meaning ‘window shopping,’ take the time to enjoy the extravagant festive displays in each and every store window. For more information, here’s a guide to the Printemps Christmas windows of 2019.

Nautic Paddle

The biggest stand up paddle board race in the world takes place along the River Seine every December, typically during the first weekend of the month. As of 2023, there have been over 10 editions of the event whereby over 1000 participants paddle along the iconic Parisian river.

Enjoy a Seine River Dinner Cruise

There are several options available, including this Early Evening Dinner Cruise on the River Seine. Finally, for those with time constraints who wish to simply see the sights of Paris on the water, this 1-Hour Illuminations River Cruise is short and sweet!

Coffee shops and cafés I’m loving this month!

The Broken Arm (12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France)

Located in Le Marais, an area which was once a former marshy swamp but has since been transformed into one of the quirkiest areas of the city, The Broken Arm is a clothing store complete with an adjacent café. Home to some of the best coffee in the city, you can sip your beverage inside, or brave the cold and opt to drink it outside on the little tables in front of the shop!

The Broken Arm Coffee Shop in Le Marais, Paris, France

fringe (106 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris)

Though a little on the pricier side of things, fringe coffee shop is an absolute delight in Le Marais district of the city. Popular among visitors and locals alike, be sure to arrive earlier in the day so as to get the best of the seating (which is by the window). Wander in to this 11th arrondissement café during opening hours and you can expect to find an extensive list of speciality coffees and cakes.

Circus Bakery ( 63 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, France) – PERMANENTLY CLOSED

As of late 2021, Circus Bakery is unfortunately permanently closed. Be sure to check out our guide to the best bakeries in Paris for more foodie delights. Opened in autumn 2018, one of the best places to find cinnamon buns in the city can be found in the form of Circus Bakery.

Located in the Latin Quarter, not far from the world-famous Shakespeare and Co. bookshop, Circus serves incredible coffee (latté or espresso), and a wide range of baked goods from Friday through to Monday.

Circus Bakery Paris is the newest offering from the team at Fragments, a popular café in the 3rd arrondissement of the city.

Secret spots you’ve never heard of to visit this month in Paris

Fake Medieval Door

One stroll through the tourist-filled Ile de la Cité, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that there are no more secrets left to discover. However, this is simply not the case! For example, 1-3 Rue des Ursins is home to a pretty wooden door that looks medieval, but actually only dates back to the mid 1900s! If you’re looking for other quirky destinations close to Notre Dame, then check out my guide to the best secret spots in Île de la Cité.

Secret Spots in Ile de la Cite & A Complete Guide to the best of unusual, offbeat, hidden, and quirky things to do in the 1st and 4th arrondissements in Paris, France

Villa Leandre

While everyone knows about La Maison Rose and Le Clos Montmartre are always worth a visit, fewer still know about the beautiful street of Villa Leandre. Filled with art-deco houses, this English-inspired street is cobbled and makes for a perfect photo spot! Head to No. 10 and you’ll even find a rather humorous sign which reads ‘Downing Street,’ in reference to the Prime Minister’s offices in the UK.

Villa Leandré: An English-Inspired Art-Deco Street in Montmartre, 18th arrondissement, Paris, France

Passage de l’Ancre

Alleged to be the oldest passageway in Paris, the Anchor Passage dates back for centuries and also happens to be home to the oldest umbrella repair shop in the city, Pep’s.

As of early 2021, unfortunately the oldest umbrella repair shop has permanently closed down.  In operation for close to fifty years, you’ll find this little store tucked away among leafy vines and along the little cobbled lane…

Passage de l'Ancre Paris France

Passage des Panoramas

If you’re looking to shop undercover and want to escape the cold, then the passages couverts are early 19th-century shopping arcades filled with all manner of boutiques, shops, and little restaurants.

However, it has to be said that my favourite of all is that of Passage des Panoramas. Along the arcade, you’ll find Prins Patrick, a vendor of vintage postcards for as little as €2 each!

Travel Home Decor: 5 Simple Ideas on How to Take Your Travels Home With You. Here are some home hacks and inspiration for every traveller to decorate their house beautifully!

Where to stay in Paris

Luxury experience: The Hoxton: For those who are looking for the ultimate luxury experience when staying in Paris, The Hoxton has it all. Charm and several beautiful communal guest spaces including a stunning bar and restaurant, other highlights of the hotel include breakfast options, WiFi, and room service. Check prices and availability here.

The Hoxton Hotel Paris France

Mid-range boutique stay: Hôtel Fabric: As you might gather from its name, Hôtel Fabric is set against the backdrop of a former textile factory and simply oozes charm. Beautiful and with friendly staff, this four-star hotel is welcoming and is located just a fifteen-minute walk away from Le Marais area of the city. Check prices and availability here.

Affordable chic: Hôtel Chopin: Located within one of the covered passages of Paris, in the 9th arrondissement, and close to all the action (the nearby Grands Boulevards are full of bars and restaurants), Hôtel Chopin is a small hotel offering affordable rooms. Amenities include a restaurant and spa on site. Check prices and availability here.

Budget hostel: Generator Hostel: Those in search of an affordable option, Paris has a number of hostels which are fairly conveniently located. This hostel is situated close to the lively area of Canal Saint Martin and offers mixed-sex and female-only dorms. Check prices and availability here.

Enjoyed reading this complete guide to visiting Paris in December? Pin it now, read it again later:

Your complete December guide to Paris, France. Here's what to see, what to do, where to stay and the top December attractions to enjoy in Paris in December.
A guide to visiting the French capital, Paris, France in December. An end of year itinerary of what to see, where to eat, and the best Christmas activities in the city of love
What's on? Paris in December guide. Here are the very best things to do in Paris during the end of the year suggested activities, things to do in December in Parsi, France, cafés and what to wear!

Psst. If you’re planning to visit Paris, then we’ve created a gorgeous 100+ page eBook full of beautiful photos and insider tips by a local. Included you’ll find hidden gems, arrondissement guides, walking tours, suggested itineraries, and more. Find more information here.

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently splits her time between Paris and London. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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