Under the festive season Paris is cloaked in a special atmosphere, magical and rarefied as only an elegant and refined city can create.
The grand boulevards are lit up with sophisticated illuminations, department stores decorate their shop windows with themed displays, skating rinks are set up along with large Ferris wheels and, of course, Christmas markets are organised in various parts of the city.
Some 125 squares and streets are decorated with fir trees, garlands, red bows and illuminations, making it even more special at this time of year.
You can brave the bitter cold by visiting one of the many Christmas markets in Paris, located in the most popular and popular tourist areas.
One of the largest Christmas markets in Paris takes place in the unique setting of the La Défense district and under the great archway: more than 300 wooden huts sell a variety of Christmas gifts along with gastronomic delicacies.
Unfortunately, the market suffers greatly from its location: the modern, futuristic ambience detracts from much of the old-world charm of this type of activity and the whole thing seems a bit fake and contrived.
Open from mid-November to the end of December.
Hours: every day from 11.00 to 20.00
Metro: line 1, esplanade de la Défense.
More than 100 chalets wind their way from the large Arc de Triomphe roundabout to Place de la Concorde: Christmas handicrafts, culinary specialities and many regional products.
But the real attraction are the 400 illuminated trees that create a long light trail almost 3 km long.
Open from mid-November until Epiphany.
Opening times: daily from 12 noon to midnight and at weekends until 1 a.m
Metro: line 1, Champs Elysées Clémenceau.
This delightful and cosy market composed of some thirty little wooden houses recreates in its simplicity the essence of Christmas thanks to authentic and original handicrafts and the preservation of old customs such as caramelised apples.
Open: from the beginning of December to the beginning of January.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m
Metro: Line 4, Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
What certainly makes this market unique and evocative is the romantic and vintage setting of the artists’ quarter.
The little houses are located in the square below the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, with a breathtaking view of the church and the large horse carousel.
You will also find a smaller and even more characteristic one in Place des Abesses, particularly suitable for children.
Opening times: early December to early January.
Hours: 10 am to 8 pm daily except Fridays and Saturdays until 10 pm.
Another small but delightful market in the heart of old Paris: quaint chalets, French gastronomic specialities and Christmas handicrafts.
Open from the end of November to the beginning of January.
Hours: every day from 10 am to 8 pm
The rarefied atmosphere of this market seems straight out of a postcard: all the magic of the illuminations, the fun of the skating rink and the colours of the decorated chalets against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower.
Open from mid-December until Epiphany.
Hours: daily from 11 a.m. to 8.30 p.m
Metro: 6 and 9, Trocadéro.
If you still crave Christmas atmosphere and take the opportunity to tour every corner of the city, we list the other Christmas markets in Paris.
One of the best-loved rituals for young and old during the Christmas period are the ice skating rinks.
They make people dream, provide afternoons of pure fun and are usually built in the most charming and picturesque corners of cities.
Paris is no different and here, too, it is possible to become a child again and get back on your skates gliding on the ice and then enjoy a delicious hot chocolate in the many chalets set up around the rinks.
This is certainly one of the most famous: it is considered the largest indoor skating rink in the world.
Under the magical vault of Le Grand Palais des Glaces, you will find yourself catapulted into a retro atmosphere made even more special by the music, lighting effects and gastronomic stands.
Opening times: 13 December to 04 January
Hours: from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m
This rink also enjoys a spectacular setting, with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. It is also surrounded by the Christmas village, which makes the visit even more enjoyable.
Open: from 13 December to Epiphany
Hours: 10 am to 8.30 pm
This small rink offers the possibility of skating on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, at a height of 57 metres.
It is also completely free for tourists and Parisians. If you decide to go at sunset, you will have the chance to admire the Eiffel Tower in its full Christmas splendour with the evening illuminations.
Open: daily from 10 a.m. to 10.30 p.m
During the Christmas festivities, the large square in front of the Hotel de Ville is transformed into a huge ice rink immersed in the Christmas atmosphere.
Open: 19 December to 1 March
Opening times: Mondays and Thursdays from 12 noon to 10 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and public holidays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m
Along with the Christmas market, there is also an ice rink where events and shows are often organised for a fee.
Open: 14 November to Epiphany
Hours: daily from 10 a.m. to midnight, Saturday until 1 a.m
One of the details that characterise the romantic Christmas atmosphere in Paris are the illuminations: the city is dressed in magic, the streets are festively lit and the banks of the Seine reflect the Christmas lights and decorations.
At nightfall, braving the wind and the cold, you can go in search of the most picturesque spots and fully immerse yourself in the magical Christmas atmosphere: from the most spectacular illuminations, to the department store windows decorated for the occasion.
We have collected for you a series of useful addresses to enjoy the city’s most beautiful illuminations.
These are certainly the most famous illuminations in Paris at Christmas: more than 400 trees are cleverly decorated with Christmas illuminations, creating a light path almost 3 kilometres long.
This rich shopping street is brightly lit by colourful, choreographed illuminations.
Another street entirely decorated for Christmas by the merchants’ association.
Its elegant and refined charm is made even more magical by the Christmas illuminations.
Another Christmas ritual for many major capitals is that of the shop windows decorated for the festive season: sounds, lights, animations and decorations make the shopping venues a must-see.
The temple of Parisian shopping, the Galeries Lafayette, is shrouded in magic with its fabulous decorations covering the entire façade of the building. In addition, its shop windows are a true hymn to Christmas and each year follow a particular theme.
Also not to be missed is the large Christmas tree placed in the centre of the building, which is different every year.
Always a rival to its Lafayette cousins, the Printemps Haussmann boasts 11 shop windows that are lavishly decorated during the Christmas period, often with animated characters and scenes.
It is a real challenge of decorations, each year more and more grandiose and spectacular, that takes place at Christmas between the two stores.
Here, too, the decorating race is opulent and refined: all the symbols of Christmas are represented, from reindeer to Santas, from sleighs to arctic animals.
Few people know that the Marais district is particularly atmospheric during the Christmas period: not only illuminations but also many richly decorated shop windows that stand out for their originality and refinement.
We recommend you walk down Rue Vieille du Temple and Rue des Roriers for a walk in the Christmas magic.
One of the big attractions in Paris at Christmas is the Ferris wheel installed in the magical setting of Place de la Concorde.
From the top of the wheel you can enjoy an exceptional view of the whole city: you can see the Champs-Elysées with its Christmas illuminations, the Louvre and the Sacré Coeur Basilica.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.