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This article about Christmas in Paris was last updated on the 13th of February 2023 by Lena
If you are lucky enough to spend the weeks before Christmas in Paris in 2023 you can look forward to a beautifully illuminated city, magical Christmas events, and a truly unforgettable city escape.
Paris at Christmas is one of the most beautiful times of the year and a fabulous time to visit France’s capital.
Don’t miss out on these articles when preparing for your Paris Christmas trip:
But before you dive in and get inspired on how to fill your precious vacation days with activities, let’s take a look at the essentials.
Here’s for you, a quick guide on what to know about traveling to Paris during Christmas: How’s the weather, what do you need to pack, and where to stay for you to have the most wonderful experience.
Christmas in Paris: Practical Travel Tips
To help you plan your Christmas trip to Paris, I put together a list of things that are good to know when traveling to Paris. For a more extensive checklist, take a look at my Paris Trip Planning & Packing Essentials.
CHECKLIST for your Paris Trip
✔ Hotel booked?
Paris Survival Tips
- Don’t forget your Travel Adapter
- Book your airport transfer
- Know about the common scams
- Download the free survival guide
- Explore the Covered Arcades
- Discover the quaint Bookstores
- Find Paris Hidden Cocktail Bars
- Take an easy day trip by train
Paris Travel Literature for your Trip:
Rick Stevens 2023
French Phrase Book
Fodor’s Travel Guide
How’s the weather in Paris at Christmas?
The bad news first: If you are hoping for white Christmas in Paris, it is probably not going to happen. December is not a very cold month in Paris, but rather a wet one.
December usually sees the highest precipitation of the year, with temperatures ranging between 4° C ( 39 °F) and 8° C (46 °F), and dropping below zero during the night.
But the good news is, that even if you’ll have showers in December, it rarely rains in Paris for an entire day. Furthermore, Paris has so many indoor activities, that you’ll hardly notice the weather anyway. Just prepare for changing weather and dress in layers, and the weather won’t be an issue.
How to dress & what to pack for Paris during Christmas?
The greatest challenge when packing for Paris in December is to anticipate changing temperatures and rain. While it might be pretty chilly outside, indoors it is often quite hot, overheated even. Hence, the best is you are prepared to dress in layers and carry some simple rain gear with you.
Tip: I always carry a little tote bag in my purse, so I can easily store my hat, scarf, and jacket when spending a little more time in stores or museums.
Here are for you a few items that will help you defy the moody Paris December weather:
A Cute Hat
I know that a beret might sound like a cliché from Emily in Paris, but in fact it is not. Many French women wear it in Paris, it is normal everyday clothing and nothing that would make you stick out. Especially not if you wear a high-quality beret like this one.
December is the month with the most rainfall AND as well one of the coldest, so keeping your feet dry and warm is a must!
Your best and most versatile option is a pair of waterproof Chelsea boots. They look not only great, but they also keep your feet warm and dry.
Plus, you can easily dress them up and down, and the sturdy sole gives grip on the slippery cobblestones. If you stay in Paris, you don’t need heavy-lined winter boots, it’s enough if they stay dry, and you wear warm socks.
For more winter shoe ideas, also take a look at my guide about the best travel shoes for Paris.
Warm Merino Socks
The best way to keep your feet warm in Winter in Paris is by investing in a fine pair of quality Merino Socks. I know it hurts to spend so much on a pair of socks, but from my own (long-distance) hiking and ttravel experience, I can guarantee you that it absolutely pays off.
My favorites are these ones. You find as well more affordable Merino socks, but make sure to verify how much Merino wool they actually have. The less Merino, the cheaper – and the less good.
Small Travel Umbrella
Honestly, you shouldn’t travel anywhere in Europe without a little umbrella in your
purse. This one is just the perfect size to do both: fit in your purse and keep you dry. It also comes with a little pouch, so you are not flooding your purse when putting the umbrella back, wet after usage.
Christmas is the High Season! Book your Attraction Tickets in advance!
I know, it kills a bit the spontaneous, easy-going holiday vibe you are certainly keen on, but I can’t stress this out enough: Buy your tickets in advance! Christmastime is high-season in Paris, and many sights will be sold-out quick.
Hence, I strongly recommend reserving your entrance tickets well in advance. Even if some sights have some leftover tickets, the queues are huge, and you’ll spend precious time waiting in lines.
Below, you find the sights that you absolutely need to book before you arrive in Paris. For your convenience, I added links to my most trusted ticket provider:
- The Eiffel Tower – click here for tickets to the summit!
- The Louvre – Click here to see the Mona Lisa
- The Catacombs – click here to enter Paris’ underground
- The Castle of Versailles – book your ticket here
You can also purchase tickets directly on the sights homepages. However, the downside is that they usually don’t have a cancellation policy. While reserving your Paris tickets with get your guide grants you a 24h cancellation and refund policy.
Christmas in Paris: These are the best things to do in Paris at Christmas
But even though Paris’ winter will be cold, and probably often gray, wet, and windy, don’t worry! There are so many things to do in Paris, that whether you travel to Paris during the Winter or Summer, you will never run out of activities.
When you spend christmas time in Paris, you can fully immerse yourself in the Christmas magic. Sparkling fairy lights, Christmas carols, mulled wine, and of course Christmas markets, gingerbread, and festive decorations. If you love the holiday season, Paris is your place to be this Christmas.
Read on and know how to embrace Christmas in Paris to the fullest.
1. Explore the Paris Christmas Market
Christmas Markets are a tradition from the east of France and Germany, but for some years they are very popular in Paris as well. The Tourism Office of Paris hasn’t published the list of Christmas Markets in 2023 yet, but last year there were no less than 25 markets registered!
Most markets open on the first weekend of December, but some markets open their chalets already by the 20th of November.
ATTENTION: Christmas Markets are a popular place for PICKPOCKETS! Read this article and know how to prevent getting scammed.
The biggest Christmas Market in Paris is usually at La Défense. However, you can find smaller ones around Montmartre, Trocadero, and Saint Germain. Visiting a Christmas market is one of the best things to do in Paris in December.
Did you know that the oldest Christmas Market in Europe — and also one of the nicest — is less than 2h away? If you’re keen to get the full Christmas experience, check this post and know how to take a day trip to Strasbourg!
2. Admire the illuminated Paris by taking a Cruise on the Seine
Click here to book your cruise
Treat yourself to something special and enjoy a Cruise on the Seine by night. You will not only be awarded one of the most incredible views of Paris, but you also get to unwind, lean back, and appreciate a glass of Champagne, if you like.
3. Tour Christmassy Paris with a Local!
With a local on your side, you can be sure to make the most of your trip to Paris during Christmastime. You will not only explore corners you normally wouldn’t have set foot in, but you also get interesting insider stories, anecdotes and so much Christmas cheer.
Luckily, there are a handful of local experts available to reveal to you what this unbelievable city has to offer.
4. Buy beautiful Christmas Ornaments and Christmas Decorations in Paris
With its many department stores, Paris is a great place to stock up on beautiful and original Christmas decorations. The most wonderful selection you find in the Bon Marché. The upper floor has many themed Christmas Trees on display with plenty of gorgeous ornaments.
5. Enjoy Disneyland Paris at Christmas
Buy your tickets to Disneyland right here and save time
It’s likely you always dreamed about visiting Disneyland, and maybe you have it already on your Paris must-do agenda. But know that Christmas at Disneyland is beautiful, especially if you are a Disney fan.
You find the park magically decorated and Christmas flair is everywhere. For many, Disney is a must when visiting Paris around those events. Plus, if you are visiting during the week, you’ll find shorter queues.
Disneyland is a straightforward day trip from Paris by train, as it is just a short ride.
For more infos about planning your trip to Disney, see these posts:
- 15 Quick Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris
- How to get from Paris to Disneyland
- Disneyland to the Eiffel Tower – How to get there Best
6.Take an Open Bus Tour to See all the Christmas Lights
Click here for more info on the Christmas themed sightseeing tour
Make sure you don’t miss anything in the Christmas decorated Paris and sign up for a sightseeing bus tour. During Christmas, you will not only get a glimpse of the most beautiful corners of Paris but you will also be granted fantastic views of the most breathtaking Christmas illuminations of Paris. Just don’t forget your coat!
Click here for more information and schedules for your Christmas lights bus tour.
7. See the Festive Christmas Displays at the Big Department Stores
A must-do for many Christmas fans in Paris is the visit to the big department stores. Not only because the facades of Gallery Lafayette, Le Bon Marche, Printemps Haussmann, and BHV are illuminated!
The window displays are revealing whole worlds of Christmas scenes with animated figures, wrapped gifts, and everything that goes with it. If you are already at the Galeries Lafayette, don’t miss their excellent food hall! Click here to know more about it!
8. Learn how to Cook a Traditional French Christmas Dinner
Did you ever wish you could cook a French dish as a real French Chef could? That’s your chance! Take a cooking class in Paris and learn from a professional French Chef how to cook a 3-course Christmas Dinner from scratch! Click here for more information
9. Admire the Christmas Tree at the Galarie Lafayette
If you are following Paris-related social media channels, you will notice that there is barely another topic by the end of November than the Christmas Tree at the Galerie Lafayette, and the big question: What is the theme of 2023?!
The gigantic tree is always stunning and something you shouldn’t miss at all. The tree get usually revealed around the 17th of November and of course, I always check it right away. Here’s the tree from 2021:
Pro Tip: When you are at the Galeries Lafayette to marvel at the Christmas tree, plan in a bit extra time to visit the free rooftop. It is a wonderful viewpoint, and actually also a great spot to take fantastic photos of the Eiffel Tower.
10. Enjoy the Christmas Decorations and Illuminations all over Paris
During Christmas, you’ll be surprised to find many Parisian streets beautifully decorated and illuminated. The most famous illuminations are along the Champs Élysée, but you find them within every neighborhood. For example, in the Rue Montorgueil or the Rue Daguerre.
Those streets are excellent places as well to buy french specialties, as they are home to many delis. Don’t miss this post if you want to know more about in hidden gems in Paris!
11. Go Ice Skating
Paris at Christmas is Ice skating season. All over town ice skating rinks are opening, just waiting for you to try out your skills. One of the most popular is at the big Christmas Market in the Tuileries garden.
For 2023, it’s not announced yet where ice skating rinks will be installed. However, in the past, there was one on top of the Tour Montparnasse, on the Roof Top of the Galerie Lafayette, and even in the stunning Grand Palais! Stay tuned for 2023!
12. Visit the Bon Marché
The Bon Marché is the place to be if you are looking for Christmas presents in Paris. The big Department store in the 7th Arrondissement is an excellent place to stock up on culinary treats but also for high end shopping and if you are looking for original and unique Christmas Ornaments in Paris.
Don’t get lost though! The Bon Marché is spread over several buildings!
13. Stroll through the Covered Galeries of Paris
Did you know that back in the days more than 100 covered galleries where sprinkled all over Paris? The gorgeous shopping passages with the iconic glass roofs where the first shopping malls in Paris, where the rich could comfortably run their errands, without being bothered by the mud and the rain.
Today, around 20 of these beautiful monuments are left and are just perfect for outings on grey winter days. The most known Galerie is the Galerie Vivienne, with vintage book stores and restaurants. Other beautiful arcades are the Passage du Grand Cerf and the Passage des Panoramas.
Tip: One of the best speak easy bar of Paris is tucked away in one of the Passages, read this post to know more!
What to do in Paris on Christmas Day?
If you plan to celebrate Christmas day in Paris, you have many options to make this day a very memorable one. However, know that many sights and museums close on Christmas Day.
Not the Eiffel Tower, though! Book your tickets here in advance because it will get very busy!
14. Enjoy a festive Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve at a Cabaret!
Click here to know which Cabarets in Paris are the best
If you are celebrating Christmas Eve in Paris and are looking for a very festive and unique way of spending this special day, have a look at the Cabarets! Many are hosting special events on Christmas Eve with a festive dinner, Champagne, and of course, the famous Cabaret show.
Tip: Those shows are wildly popular and fast sold out, reserve your spot quick. If you want to be on the safe side, some shows are offering free cancellations up to 24h before the show.
15. Treat yourself to a Panoramic Christmas Dinner Cruise on the Seine on Christmas Day
An exceptional way of celebrating Christmas day in Paris – or Christmas Eve – is on board of a ship! Take a Cruise on the Seine and enjoy a festive 5-course Christmas dinner while enjoying the beautiful view over the illuminated Paris by night.
This tour got excellent reviews last year 🙂
16. Have a Bûche de Noel
The traditional French Christmas cake! A Bûche de Noel is a Yule log made from sponge cake with buttercream, icing, or/and ganache. It’s one of the indispensable food items to try during Christmas season.
It is a traditional French Christmas dish and usually ate for dessert. A full-size Bûche is usually for an entire family, but all throughout Christmas time, you find small Bûche in every Parisian bakery. Perfect for a little sweet trait.
17. Attend a Christmas Concert
During Christmas in Paris, many classical concerts and chorals are taking place in Paris. Click here to know what’s going on where and purchase your tickets.
18. Attend a Christmas Mass in Paris
Parisian’s churches are obviously celebrating Christmas and you can choose whether you want to go to one of the big churches like the Basilica Sacré Coeur or Saint Sulpice, or attend a service at a local church.
Basilique de Sacré Coeur service times (from 2020)
- 10 pm: Organ concert
- 11 pm: Sung Christmas vigil
- Midnight: Midnight Mass
- Mass: 7 am, 11 am, 6 pm, and 10 pm.
- Vespers: 4 pm
Tip: arrive at least 30 minutes early
Et Voilà, that’s it! I hope I could give you some ideas on what to do during Christmas in Paris. If you need any clarification, join my free Paris Travel Planning Facebook Group!
PS: Check out these posts, they will help you plan your trip to Paris
- Paris hidden gems: 80+ well kept secrets you shouldn’t miss
- What NOT to do in Paris -23 (costly) Paris Mistakes you need to avoid!
- 14 Hotels with stunning Eiffel Tower views- for (almost) every budget!
- Your Perfect 2 Days in Paris! Itinerary & Insider Tips
- These are the best 5 Cabarets in Paris
- 5 ways to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris – THE complete guide!
- Scams in Paris! How to avoid the most common cons
FAQ Christmas in Paris
If you enjoy Christmas decorations, illuminations, shopping, and sightseeing, but don’t mind the cold and occasional rain, Paris is a fantastic destination during Christmas.
The Eiffel Tower is illuminated every evening all year round and sparkles every full hour.
The typical Parisian Christmas decoration consists of millions of lights, Christmas trees, ornaments, and Christmas baubles. Many streets are decorated with seasonal lights, and most stores have Christmas trees and seasonal decorations.
Usually, it does not snow in Paris at Christmas. During December, temperatures are on average above freezing, and it’s too warm to snow.