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 the must-attend events of the month.
Paris weather in December
It must be said that the least charming aspect of the City of Light during the winter is easily its bad 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!
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 which can be paired with a nice outfit would not go amiss.
I recommend bringing at least two pairs of boots, both waterproof, in the event that it’s so damp outside that one pair gets wet! 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. 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).
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. Depending on the time of day, you may also want to enjoy a vin chaud. For those looking to recreate the Christmas markets wine at home, here’s my perfect mulled wine recipe!
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!
Enjoy Christmas events at Notre Dame: Between the big tree on the parvis (where you’ll find Paris Point Zero) and concerts and services throughout the festive period, there’s no shortage of events taking place at the world-famous cathedral. In December, a large tree also dominates the space in front of the cathedral and can be spied from dozens of places!
Spy the Christmas lights in Paris: If you want to see the illuminations, 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, and the Champs Elysées.
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.
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 the city. 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.
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.
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!
Café Foufou: Though a little on the pricier side of things, be sure to arrive earlier in the day so as to get the best of the seating (which is by the window).
Circus Bakery ( 63 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, France): 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.
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!
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!
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. 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 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 Panoramas. Along the arcade, you’ll find Prins Patrick, a vendor of vintage postcards for as little as €2 each!