Last Updated on 11th December 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Glittering, sparkling and all decked out for Christmas: there’s a reason Paris is called the city of lights! The holiday season is one of my all-time favourite times to spend time in the city and from Christmas Markets to Grand-Scale illuminations, there’s no shortage of festive things to see and do. Here’s where to see and find the very best Christmas lights in Paris:
Wander along the Champs Elysées
Admire the shopfronts, soak up the ambiance and take part in a favourite Parisian pastime, that of ‘faire du lèche-vitrine’. Otherwise translated as ‘window licking’ or simply ‘window shopping,’ wander down the most famous shopping street in the world, all the while enjoying the Christmas illuminations! Plus, all 200 of the avenue’s iconic plane trees are decked with lights, meaning that there’s no better place to start feeling festive than along the Champs Élysées.
Nearest metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile (lines 1, 2, 6), Franklin D Roosevelt (lines 1, 9)
See the Paris Christmas Lights at Bercy Village
Free to enter and full of fir trees, Bercy Village is a commercial centre located in the 12e area of the city. Registered as a French historical monument since 1986, the area was once home to one of the largest wine stores in Paris. Today, Bercy Village houses around thirty stores and restaurants. And at Christmas time, a festive holiday market is opened on site which is open to all and filled with plenty of festive decorations.
Nearest metro: Court Saint-Émilion (line 14)
Admire the mistletoe along Avenue Montaigne
Sparkling lights and oodles of mistletoe, stroll down Avenue Montaigne for a more romantic take on Christmas in Paris. This iconic road is close to the Champs Elysées and a wander along the Champs can easily be combined with a visit to Avenue Montaigne. Many famous haute couture stores find their bases here; Chanel, Christian Dior and, Chloé to name but a few.
Nearest metro: Alma Marceau (line 9)
Check out the decorations at the Cutest Café in Paris
Down a small little side street, not far from the impressive Notre Dame and in the very heart of Île de La Cité, you’ll find the cutest café in Paris. Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole (address: 24 Rue Chanoinesse) is ‘insta-famous’ and one of those spots that’s easily prettier in person than on the ‘gram. Head here to check out twinkling fairy lights and snow-covered sculptures.
Nearest metro: Île de la Cité (line 4)
Go in search of Christmas Window Lights in Paris: Head to the Grands Magasins
Each and every year, from November onwards all of the Grand Department stores in the city are decked out for Christmas with giant trees, festive lights, and awe-worthy window displays. Head to the Galeries Lafayette flagship store for the best Christmas tree in Paris, and to nearby Printemps for some of the prettiest window displays you’ll likely see this year. If you’re only able to see one set of Christmas lights in Paris, then make it a visit to the Grands Magasins!
Nearest metro: Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette (lines 7, 9)
(Don’t) see the Eiffel Tower Christmas Lights
Paris in December is aglow with twinkling lights and the Eiffel Tower is no exception. Although there are no ‘Christmas Eiffel Tower’ lights per se, the tower still twinkles for five minutes every hour, on the hour. Admire the sparkling lights, or head to the Tour Eiffel itself to enjoy one of the best ice skating rinks in the city.
Nearest metro: Ecole Militaire (Line 8), Bir-Hakeim (Line 6). If you want to find the very best views of the Eiffel Tower, particularly during a Parisian sunrise, then head to the Trocadéro metro (lines 6, 9)
Be amazed by the giant tree at Notre Dame
The gothic architecture and iconic façade of Notre Dame Cathedral automatically make it one of those ‘must-see’ Parisian attractions. Head to the plaza outside the ecclesiastical building to see a giant tree filled with Christmas decorations and twinkling fairy nights.
After sunset, when the darkness descends, the tree is prettier still and lights up the gothic cathedral and Parisian night sky… Please note that after the terrible fire of Notre Dame in April of 2019, the Parvis de Notre Dame is not hosting a Christmas tree for the foreseeable future.
Nearest metro: Île de la Cité (line 4)
Search for illuminations elsewhere in Paris
If you wander around the city long enough, you’ll come across a whole array of other illuminations and Christmas lights in Paris.Rue Vieille du Temple in Le Marais and Place des Abbesses in Montmartre both have hundreds of street decorations you can admire and snap photos of.
Nearest metro: Various stops throughout the city