Insiders Guide to Christmas In Paris – Noël 2016

It's le plus merveilleux time of the year! Christmas in Paris is a magical time — shops glow with colorful Christmas displays, patisserie shelves groan with seasonal delights. Restaurants create special Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve menus that are filled with the bounty of the season — fresh oysters from Brittany, foie gras, truffles, chestnuts and champagne.

150,000 Christmas lights adorn the Champs Elysées and intricate seasonal window displays entertain children and parents alike in the Grand Magasins. Christmas concerts are performed throughout the city at some very famous venues: La Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, Palais Garnier and La Madeleine. Remember that Christmas Day activities tend to sell out early. But, if you can't get a December 25 booking, why not try dates just before or just after Noël? Try December 23, 26 or 27.

Christmas in Paris 2016 – Activities

Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge & Seine River Cruise

Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge & Seine River Cruise

Combine the Eiffel Tower, French cuisine, the Seine River, and the world's most popular cabaret and you have the winning ingredients for a special evening out in Paris.

The night begins at the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant, with views overlooking the Seine and Trocadero, with a 3-course meal. After dessert, cruise on the river to admire the Christmas lights before departing to Moulin Rouge for a lively performance at the historic cabaret.

This combined activity is available throughout December including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, but you must book early!

Champs Elysées Lights, Dinner & Seine River Cruise

Champs Elysées Christmas Lights & Seine River Cruise

Spend a magical Christmas evening seeing the stunning seasonal lights along the Avenue Champs Elysées.

Start with a Seine River cruise, gliding past more of Paris' sparkling Christmas lights. After this Christmas illuminations tour, you find your table reserved at a restaurant on the Champs Elysées for a relaxing dinner with wine.

Available most days in December and into January, but book now to get a spot on the limited Christmas evening tour!

Dinner on the Eiffel Tower + Illuminations River Cruise

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

Eiffel Tower Small Group Tour

Combine two iconic activities for a magical winter night in Paris.

Enjoy the panoramic views of Paris Christmas lights in the distance from the Restaurant 58 on level one of Eiffel Tower — the best vantage point in the city. The restaurant itself is styled on the airships of an earlier era and imparts a nice nostalgic feeling, but with really good food!

Your evenings not over yet. After dinner you stroll to the nearby banks of the Seine for a one-hour illuminations cruise. The night includes pickup from your hotel and return at the end.

Oh, right, we almost forgot! After you enjoy the view as long as you like, you stroll to the nearby banks of the Seine for a one-hour river cruise.

Tours are available throughout the Christmas season, but you must book very early! Seriously.

Eiffel Tower Christmas Dinner – NEW!

Eiffel Tower Christmas Dinner

Picture this, you & your special one overlooking the city of Paris while enjoying a multi-course Christmas dinner on the Eiffel Tower.

It's the stuff of which dreams are made — if your dream involves being treated like a VIP in Paris. You can book this event every day in December. The Eiffel Tower is open daily including Christmas Day & New Year's Day. Includes skip-the-line ticket for fast access.

Christmas in Paris 2016 – Day Trips

The Best of Versailles

Skip-the-Lines Tour, Grand Canal Lunch & The Grand Trianon

Best of Versailles

Paris is magical in December, and the magic continues beyond the city gates. There are so many wonderful experiences to be had on day trips from Paris. And this is a perfect Paris Noel day trip!

You experience the best of Versailles — travel by luxury caravan, then skip past the entrance lines with a priority-access ticket. See the State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, and then explore the Gardens of Versailles. Let's not forget the 3-course lunch by the Grand Canal — that's included, as is a visit to the Grand Trianon and the Queen's Hamlet.

If That's Sold Out, Consider These Versailles Alternatives at Christmas

Spend a Day in the Land of the Bubbly

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

Small-Group Day Trip to Champagne

"I am drinking stars," the champagne monk Dom Perignon said upon tasting the first glass of a sparkling wine.

Now it's your turn to taste stars in the legendary Champagne region of France. Your senses will be on overload as you wander through the Roman chalk caves, see how champagne is made, and taste the bubbly in elegant salons of Grand Maisons de Champagne .

The day begins with your driver/guide meeting you at your Paris address then whisking you off through rolling hills towards Reims, the Birthplace of Bubbly.

Visit the Historic D-Day Beaches

Visit the Historic D-Day Beaches

It will be a poignant day trip from Paris to the Normandy battlefields and landing beaches of World War II.

You are driven through picturesque Normandy countryside to the Caen Memorial. After lunch (included), visit Pointe du Hoc, the German defensive battlement that was taken by American troops during the invasion. See Juno Beach, Omaha Beach and the Omaha Beach Visitor Center where you will learn powerful details about the beginning of the end of World War II. Tours are available daily throughout December.

Christmas in Paris 2016 – Classical Music & Ballet

Christmas Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle

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Christmas Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle

We can't think of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than a classical music concert at the stunning Gothic church on Île de la Cité.

La Sainte Chapelle, the 14th-century personal chapel of the kings, has just undergone a restoration with extensive cleaning and repairing to the structure's famous stained-glass windows, so everything is shiny and beautiful.

Experience the royal chapel with works by Vivaldi, Pachelbel, Bach, Monteverdi and other timeless composers. There are special performances on Christmas Eve, and December 26 through to New Year's Eve. Book Now!

Seasonal Concerts at La Madeleine

Seasonal Concerts at La Madeleine

This Greek revival church — begun by Louis XV, worked on by Napoleon, and taking a century to complete — is the setting for some marvellous concerts this season.

La Madeleine kicks off the season on December 16, with a performance of the ever-popular The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. In other concerts you can hear Mozart, Beethoven, or a selection of Christmas music.

Vivaldi's The Four Seasons
Christmas in Église de la Madeleine
Mozart's Requiem
Beethoven & Mendelssohn

La Bayadère – Paris Ballet

Paris Ballet

This historic ballet was first performed in Saint Petersburg in 1877 and then at Palais Garnier by a young Nureyev in 1961.

The ballet was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa — the man who made Sleeping Beauty (1890) and Swan Lake (1895) famous. In 1992, the last year of Nureyev's life he produced his own version of this exotic love story. It's since become a classic and is performed around the world. Here's your chance to see it in Paris at the sumptuous Palais Garnier

Music at Notre Dame Cathedral

The Paris Opera Dance School

There are two outstanding concert events at Notre Dame during the holiday season.

Grab the rare chance to hear classical masterpieces in this, the most famous cathedral in the world. the Vatican has declared a Holy Year of Mercy and for the occasion Notre-Dame de Paris will host a festive concert, featuring music by Poulenc, Fauré, and Chilcott, as well as Gregorian chant. The concert is called Misericordia Domini.

Also this month your'll have the opportunity to hear the Poznan Boys' Choir on the evening of December 22.

The Magic Of Christmas at Philharmonie de Paris 2

Philharmonie de Paris

This concert hall, formerly known as Cité de la Musique, is located in Parc Villette in the 19th Arrondissement, and it's a fascinating place.

Singer/songwriter Vincent Malone and his colleague, (along with orchestra director Étienne de Balasy) has created a Christmas spectacle that will enchant and amuse all ages.

There are only 3 performances of this special concert, so be sure to purchase you tickets early.

All the 2016 Christmas Concerts in Paris

Christmas Concerts in Paris

In addition to lights, goodwill, lots of good food & wine, Christmas in Paris means music, music, music. Not just in the concert halls, but also in the historic churches and cathedrals of Paris.

A Christmas concert at one of these historic venues is something you will never forget.

New Year's Eve Musical Events in Paris

Christmas in Paris 2016 – Food & Wine Events

Christmas Dinner Cruise on the Seine

Christmas Dinner Cruise on the Seine

Plan a very special Christmas in Paris — an evening with dinner on the world's favorite river.

On a boat on the the Seine, glide past illuminated Paris landmarks as your 3-course meal is served. The seasonal menu is prepared by a chef from the Academie Culinaire de France.

We recommend you select the service premier — a private table is reserved for you at the front of the bateaux with extra appetizers, aperitifs and liquers.

Reservations are available daily through December including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. But you must book early!

Christmas Gourmet Tour

Gourmet Christmas Tour of Paris

Christmas in Paris, where La Saison Des Fêtes, the holiday season, is all about great food.

On this small group walking tour of Paris, you delve deep into the world of seasonal goodness in Paris. And you sample heartily! The tour starts at the renowned Christmas market on Place Saint-Sulpice, right in front of the magnificent church, and wanders through Saint-Germain. Bonnes Fêtes !

Wine Tasting in a Cellar near the Louvre


Picture this — a certified wine sommelier leads you on a tasting tour of the top French wines as you sample artisanal bread, French cheeses and cured meats. And it all takes place in a wine cellar in central Paris.

You can choose from a basic one-hour tasting or a longer tasting with cheese and charcuterie, but we prefer the even-longer tasting experience with champagne, six grand cru wines, and le grand cheese and charcuterie platter. Available daily in December except for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.

Christmas in Paris 2015 – Seasonal Events

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

Bundle up warm and go on an exploration into how the French celebrate Christmas.

Every year seasonal Christmas markets spring up in many neighborhoods of Paris. It's where Parisians shop for crafts, decorations and other seasonal specialties. From the middle of November to early January you can find Christmas Markets at these locations —

  • Saint-Sulpice (and Père Noël Village), 6th Arrondissement
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés (and Père Noël Village), 6th Arrondissement
  • Place de la Nation, 11th Arrondissement
  • Place des Abbesses in Montmartre, 18th Arrondissement
  • Gare de l'Est, 10th Arrondissement
  • Trocadero, 16th Arrondissement

Christmas Lights on Champs Elysées

Christmas Lights

Paris lights up for the holidays and you find light displays in shop windows and on streets throughout the city. But the most famous light show, and perhaps the most spectacular, is on Champs Elysées.

If you're lucky enough to be in Paris on November 15 you can watch the Christmas lights be turned on by celebrities and French dignitaries in a ceremony kicking off the holiday season.

Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve Schedule

Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve Schedule

Most shops, museums and many restaurants will be open. Although Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are not official holidays in France, the train stations will be packed as Parisians head out for their Christmas getaway.

Although shops and services will be open be warned — chocolatiers, fromageries and anywhere food and wine are sold will be jam-packed with locals stocking up for Christmas New Years celebrations. Make sure to stock up yourself as most eveything will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. If you plan to dine out, make reservations well in advance around the holidays.

The good news is that the Eiffel Tower is open 365 days a year.

Christmas in Paris 2016 – Churches & Cathedrals


Notre Dame Cathedral – Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

As you'd expect, at all the historic churches and cathedrals of Paris there are plenty of religious services during Christmas in Paris. If you're planning on attending Notre Dame Cathedral for Christmas Eve, our advice is to arrive early. On both days the cathedral opens at 7:45 AM and the first mass begins at 8:00 AM. English Mass begins at 2:00 PM, French mass at 4:00 PM with the final mass at 6:15 PM to 7:00 PM. The cathedral closes at 7 PM.
Calendar for Christmas Events

Sacre Coeur Basilica, Montmartre

Celebrate Christmas at the famous snow-white basilica set on the highest point of Paris. There is a Christmas Eve organ concert at 10:00 PM and an 11:00 PM vigil and Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day there is Mass at 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 6:00 PM & 10:00 PM. It's recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before the service.
Sacre Coeur Christmas Schedule


Just kitty-corner from the Pantheon, Sainte-Etienne features stained-glass windows that date from the 16th and 17th centuries. By the way, the steps on the northwest side of the church were used as a location for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris ! Place Sainte-Genevieve, 5th Arrondissement

Saint Alexandre Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Set in the 8th Arrondissement close to Parc Monceau, this was the first Orthodox church in France, (established in 1861). Pablo Picasso and Olga Khokhlova were married here in 1918. 12, rue Daru.

The American Cathedral in Paris

This historic monument is a a center for English-speakers in Paris. 23, avenue George V, 8th.

American Church in Paris

This was the first American church established in Paris, in 1814. It's located on the left bank of the Seine between Pont d'Alma and Pont des Invalides. 65, quai d’Orsay, 7th.

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