Paris at Christmas is a special travel tip for winter with great additional sights and activities – not only in Disneyland. To experience the pre-Christmas season in Paris means to immerse yourself in a fantastic world full of lights, huge Christmas trees and magnificently decorated shop windows like in the Galeries Lafayette, Parisian Christmas markets and the smell of roasted almonds in the streets. The pre-Christmas season in Paris presents visitors with a special challenge: In addition to the countless highlights of the French capital, there are now more to come, and time is getting even shorter. No problem with good preparation and the JOURNICATION checklists. Find out in this article how to make a Paris city break in Christmas time an unforgettable experience and learn about all special Christmas things to do.
What do you learn in this article?
BIG5 Things to do in Paris at Christmas
You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to Paris at Christmas here:
Attention, this article is especially dedicated to Christmas in Paris. How to spend a perfect day in Paris with all the highlights and sights all year round.
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Speed Date
Experience Paris with all its world-famous sights – and that in the run-up to Christmas with special decorations and events throughout the city
Paris is a popular destination for tourists in every season of the year, getting pictures without involuntary participants only in off-day times
Plan enough time for walks in the dark through the illuminated streets – this is the only way to experience the magic of the many lights
Don’t lose too much time in the sometimes overly long lines. Otherwise, use the off-peak times – early or late – or special visitor passes
Don’t tell your mother:
In the dense crowd of the Christmas markets, pickpockets in particular take hold of it – so be careful!
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Rapid Fire Q&A
- I have already visited Paris outside of Christmas time, is it worth visiting? – Yes, in any case. With the beautiful lighting and decorations, the Christmas markets and special activities, there is a lot of new to discover
- How many days should you plan for the visit? – It should be at least 3 days, the pre-Christmas highlights are spread all over the city – and Paris already has enough sights
- Where are the Christmas markets? – Not all markets and activities take place every year. The website www.parisinfo.com is a very good place to go for information
- Are all sights open? – Yes, you don’t have to do without the highlights. In winter there are partially shortened opening times
- Is there a particularly good arrondissement (district) as a hotel location? – More important than the district is the distance to the next subway station, so you can get everywhere very quickly. Of course, it still applies, if most of your BIG5s are located in an urban area, booking there is an option
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Orga
Best travel time
Most of the sights and activities in the run-up to Christmas in Paris can usually be admired from the beginning / middle of November. The best travel time is therefore mid-November until just before Christmas.
Arrival & Departure
Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for France with your passport
- Flight: Charles-de-Gaulle International Airport (IATA: CDG) is served directly by many airlines
- Bus: There are good offers from leading long-distance bus companies
- Train: As a central traffic junction for the railway lines, Paris offers good opportunities for a relaxed train journey
- Flight: Paris-Orly (ORY) ist vor allem Aufstelle für regionale Flüge und Billig-Airlines
- Attention: There are 6 large terminal stations in Paris, the direction of travel decides
Northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, western and northern Germany – Gare du Nord
Eastern France, West and South Germany (Stuttgart, Frankfurt), Austria – Gare de l’Est
Southeast and South of France, Switzerland – Gare Lyon
Western France, Brittany, Aquitaine, northwestern Spain – Gare Montparnasse
Central and southern France, Spain, Portugal – Gare d’Austerlitz
Normandy – Gare Saint-Lazare
Next it goes to … Lyon / France, London / Great Britain or Cologne & Frankfurt / Germany.
Recommended location: Paris offers an incredible number of options when it comes to hotels for all budgets and needs.
Tip: It is best to book a hotel in the immediate or reasonable vicinity of a train station or metro station, then you save yourself the hassle of dragging your suitcase over narrow or overcrowded sidewalks
- Budget: St Christopher’s Inn Paris – Gare du Nord(5 rue de Dunkerque, 10th Arrondissement, 75010 Paris; ~ 40 € in a dormitory), best location right next to Gare du Nord and Gare du L’Est and great events
- Budget: The Loft Boutique Hostel (70 Rue Julien Lacroix, 20th Arrondissement – Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris; ~ 40-45 € in a dormitory), great hostel with a good location and quick access to the subway
- Medium: Studio Saint Germain(154 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th Arrondissement – Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris; ~ € 70), apartment in a great location in the trendy Staint Germain district
- Medium: Motel One Paris-PorteDorée (295 Avenue Daumesnil, 12th Arrondissement, 75012 Paris; ~ 80 € double room), very modern 3 * hotel near the metro with an outstanding price-performance ratio
- Noble: Helussi Hôtel (22 bis, rue de Bellefond, 9th Arrondissement – Opéra, 75009 Paris; ~ 130 €), extremely good location within a short walking distance of Montmatre, including a sauna
- Noble: Le Grand Quartier (15 Rue de Nancy, 10th Arrondissement, 75010 Paris; ~ 150 €), right in the center with an elegant garden / courtyard
In Paris you pay with (EUR)
Withdraw money: ATMs on every street corner, no problem at all
Beer indicator: There is a large local beer (e.g. “Château d’Eau”) in cheap bars 3.50 euros, +5.00 euros in restaurants for a large beer
Cost of a taxi: price per kilometer between 1.10 and 1.60 euros (depending on the category); Base price 2.60 euros;
Taxi from the airport: Charles-de-Gaulle to “Rive Droite” (on the right or above the Seine) ~ 50 euros; “Rive Gauche” ~ 55 euros; Orly to “Rive Droite” (right or above the Seine) ~ 35 euros; “Rive Gauche” ~ 30 euros
Restaurants, Bars & Cafés
- There is something for all tastes in Paris, the offer is simply overwhelming! Personally I can recommend:
- Pizzeria Popolare (111 Rue Réaumur) -> super tasty, relatively cheap. Attention: long lines possible!
- Le Bel Ordinaire (several, e.g. 54 Rue de Paradis) -> upper price range, in a stylish ambience with high wine shelves
- BocaMexa (mehrere, z.B. 84 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis) -> Tex-Mex Küche, sehr günstig
- Keep your eyes and, above all, your nose open in Rue de Paradis & Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis: There are many great restaurants of different nationalities and price ranges
- You can find more tips with good filter options at www.lafourchette.com
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Activities
- Visit the many Christmas markets in Paris
- Admire the magnificently decorated department stores – and especially their shop windows
- Slide over the ice rinks in front of the town hall or in the Grande Palais
- Enjoy the world-famous cabarets and special Christmas offers
- Experience the Avenue Champs-Elyssées in colorful pre-Christmas splendor
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Photo spots
- The shop windows of the large departmentstoresGaleries Lafayettes & Printemps
- Admire the huge Christmas tree in the dome of the Galeries Lafayettes!
- The illuminated Avenue Champs-Elyssées in the pre-Christmas light or the illuminated Boulevard Haussmann
- The Christmas market in the Jardin des Tuiliers with the Ferris wheel at all times of the day – especially in the dark
- The shops and decorations in the Montorgueil district offer many motifs from the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle
BIG5 Paris at Christmas- Things to do off the beaten track
- Stroll through the streets of Quartier Montorgueil – cozy pedestrian zones with lots of small cafes and shops – and of course Christmas lights
- Relax on the heated terraces – typically Paris! In which city are the restaurants more crowded outside than inside, even in the cold winter? That must be far in the sunny south … NO, in Paris!
- Marvel at the brilliant Christmas shows at Disneyland Paris
- Experience the Christmas decorations and events in and around the Forum Les Halles
- Stroll through the “Passages Couvertes“, covered shopping arcades typical of the first half of the 19th century
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Culinary Journey
- Cheese fondue – a welcome snack, especially in the cold season
- Vin Chaud – the French mulled wine
- Crèpes – always a highlight in Paris, but especially warm on cold days
- Roasted chestnuts – from the Christmas market or street vendors
- French “Christmas cake”
- Additional tip: Take a “European culinary trip” through the Christmas market – whether German, Alsatian, Swiss or French specialties
BIG5 Paris at Christmas – Communication
French is spoken in France:
- thank you – merci
- yes – oui
- no – non
- Hello / Good afternoon – bonjour
- Bye / goodbye – au revoir
BIG5 Paris at Christmas- Helpful Websites / Links
- You can find important information about currently open Christmas markets on the official website for tourists in Paris
Paris before Christmas – the best things to do and see
You traveled to Paris especially during the run-up to Christmas and don’t want to miss any of the highlights? Let’s take a closer look at the BIG5 activities:
# 1: Visit the Christmas markets in Paris
Especially in the run-up to Christmas, the “City of a Thousand Lights” shines in a very special glow. The “Marchés de Noël” – Parisian Christmas markets – open in November in many parts of the city. The best way to find out more is on official websites that are open on your travel days.
Special atmosphere at a French Christmas market
You could probably write whole books about the similarities and differences of Christmas markets around the world.
In many ways, the Christmas markets hardly differ from those in Germany or other European countries. There is the obligatory “Vin chaud” (mulled wine), bratwurst and roast chestnuts. But of course a French Christmas market and especially the Parisians have their own peculiarities. Especially in culinary terms, it quickly becomes clear where you have ended up here. Stalls with champagne, oysters and many dishes based on the fromage (cheese) so popular with the French.
In addition to food and drinks, there are often many small stalls for handicraft products and all kinds of gift ideas
But that’s exactly why you travel, to see the world with different eyes (or to taste it differently) than at home.
La Magie de Noël des Tuileries
The largest and most touristy Christmas market in Paris is without a doubt located in the Tuileries Garden, between the tourist magnets Louvre and the avenue Champs-Elysées.
Here you can find many rides like at the fair, where the pirate figures are quickly “Christmased” with a pair of red hats. The commercialization of the Christmas markets has been driven to perfection here, there are only a few craftsmen with their Christmas products and gift ideas between the rides and stands for food and drinks. Nevertheless, for a mulled wine with a view of the Louvre, the Christmas place in the Jardin des Tuileries is definitely worth a visit!
Entry to the Christmas market is free, you only have to pay to use the rides. Your travel budget doesn’t just have to dress warmly because of the temperatures. The prices for food and drinks are high even by Parisian standards, a small mulled wine is around 5.00 euros, even simple dishes around 10.00 euros.
The best way to get to the Christmas market is by metro via the Tuileries (lines 1) and Concorde (lines 1, 8 & 12) stations.
L’Arche de Nöel de la Defense
Under the skyscrapers and the large modern arch on the Parvis de la Défense, around 350 (!) Stalls and stalls are lined up. With great lighting, you will find a lot of handicraft products, gift ideas or typical food and drinks in the glow of lights.
From here you also have a great view of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower from a little further away.
The largest Christmas market in Île de France is particularly good with line 1 via La Défense station.
Country or region-specific Christmas markets
A special tip in Paris during the run-up to Christmas are the country or region-specific Christmas markets.
No matter what you are looking for, you will find what you are looking for in the large selection of markets: There is, for example, a Swedish, Norwegian or Alsatian Christmas market. Here you will find a great selection of products as well as culinary delicacies from these countries.
You can find other Christmas markets with different orientations all over the city, for example in Saint Germain-des-Près, a market focused on artists in Montmatre or with a charity background in the “Village of Childhood” by UNICEF.
If you want to learn more about the Christmas Markets in Paris, have a look at Bev & Shams Blog!
#2: Admire the windows of the Grand Magasins
The Grand Magasins – big department stores – outdo each other for Christmas decorations every year. The colorful shop windows in particular pull passers-by off the sidewalk like magnets. First of all, the old-fashioned houses Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayettes, both on Boulevard Hausmann near the opera.
Every year there is a different motto, worth a visit every year. With this motto, selected products are skillfully and subtly staged. In 2019 the motto of Printemps was “Animal species“, in the Galeries Lafayettes “The Christmas beehive” (“La ruche de Noël”).
It is also worth taking a look inside the department stores: under the already very imposing dome of the Galleries Lafayettes, a huge 5-story Christmas tree towers over the goods on display year after year – naturally adapted to the respective motto. In 2019 a glass “Skywalk” was added on the 4th floor, with which you can take photos very close to the tree in the middle of the hall.
Definitely a highlight in pre-Christmas Paris for big and small children!
The cheapest metro stations are Havre-Caumartin (lines 3 & 9), Opéra (lines 3, 7 & 8) and Chaussée d’Antin / La Fayette (lines 7 & 9).
#3: Slide over the ice in front of the town hall or in the “Palais des Glace”
Ice rinks have become increasingly popular in the city over the past few years. The lanes in front of the imposing town hall (Hôtel de Ville) or in “Le Grand Palais des Glaces” are worth a visit – graceful or less graceful gliding in a beautiful atmosphere and Christmas music.
However, the lifts are not open every year and every weekend, you should inform yourself beforehand.
Unfortunately you don’t have any ice skates in your suitcase? No problem, you can borrow some for less than 10 euros. Attention s’il vous plâit: wearing gloves is mandatory on the train!
The cheapest metro stations are Hôtel de Ville (lines 1 & 11) and for the Grand Palais des Glaces Champs-Elyssées – Clemenceau (lines 1 & 13).
Was sich aus meiner Sicht definitiv nicht lohnt: Die “Eisbahn” auf der Terrasse der Galeries Lafayettes. Klein und ohne richtiges Eis. Trotzdem ist die Terrasse einen Besuch wert: Von hier hast du einen tollen Blick über Paris und auf die Oper.
# 4: Enjoy the world famous cabarets and other special Christmas offers
The Parisian variety shows like the Lido on the Avenue Champs-Élyssées or the Moulin Rouge are world famous and you should see their shows.
In the run-up to Christmas there are special offers that round off a busy day with sightseeing and Christmas shopping in full department stores.
The best metro station for the Moulin Rouge is Blanche (Line 2)
Alternatively, you can enjoy a city tour from a completely different perspective and in a special atmosphere.
The basic idea is the same: you have a long day through the pre-Christmas Paris behind you and a relaxed dinner is just the thing now? But of course it would be nice to have some sightseeing during dinner, especially with all the beautiful lighting in the city? A cruise on the Seine in a comfortable dinner ship combines both in a special way.
# 5: experience the great Christmas lights in Paris
Here, too, the “City of a Thousand Lights” lives up to its name in the run-up to Christmas.
The illuminated avenue des Champs-Elyssées is a special sight: over 400 trees shine in the light of countless lamps, fairy lights and the ferris wheel in the Jardin des Tuiliers. Take your time for a relaxed stroll down the boulevard, preferably after dark, when the lights are at their full potential.
It is best to start at the Place de la Concorde or in the lower third and walk up the Avenue des Champs-Elyssées to the imposing illuminated Arc de Triomphe.
Concorde (lines 1, 8 & 12) and Champs-Elyssées – Clemenceau (lines 1 & 13) are ideal metro stations.
You can find more great Christmas lights on Boulevard Haussmann, in Quartier Montorgueil,Avenue Montaigne or in Forum Les Halles.
Additional tip: Disneyland Paris at Christmas time
If you have brought enough with you on your winter city trip to Paris, I definitely recommend a trip to Disneyland Paris for at least one day.
Especially in the run-up to Christmas, special attractions & shows await you throughout the park. You will meet the Disney characters in special costumes and experience a grandiose atmosphere before the holidays.
Check the Disneyland Paris website for the latest information.
Now you know what there is to discover in Paris before Christmas and know about a lot of free festive activities. Don’t miss the splendid jewelry and the shine of the lights and experience the French capital from a completely different perspective. Bon voyage! 🇫🇷
Paris is not only a great city trip destination in the festive time before Christmas. You can also read on JOURNICATION how to spend a perfect day in Paris all year round with all the highlights and sights.