The Best Things To Do In Paris For December 2016

If you're lucky enough to be in Paris during this month of holidays, you'll be rewarded with the most magical events of the year. The city sparkles with a million fairy lights, and hundreds of decorated trees line the boulevards. Christmas in Paris is a busy season. Concerts at the recently renovated La Sainte Chapelle, Palais Garnier, and Notre Dame Cathedral sell out quickly, so be sure to book right away. (Check below for an updated concert list.)

One of our favorite things to do in Paris in December is to plan a day trip beyond the city gates. Visit the Valley of 1000 Castles and taste Loire Valley wines, explore the famous Château de Versailles, or sip bubbly in Champagne and return to Paris the same day. Everything is taken care of on the day excursions we recommend. You just need to sit back and enjoy! One more thing — for readers of Paris Insiders Guide (that's you!) the Paris Pass is offering a 10% discount when you use Paris Insiders Exclusive Discount Code: INGUIDE10.

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Most Popular Activities

Things to Do in Paris December 2016

Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Tour – Don't Be Left Out in the Cold

Eiffel Tower Skip-the-Line Tour

The Eiffel Tower is very popular, and there is always a long line. One way to avoid waiting out in the cold is to book a small-group, skip-the-line tour. You meet your guide at the base of the tower and are escorted past the massive lineup to the priority entrance. Learn fascinating details about the tower as you take the elevator to the tippy-top. There is still limited December 24 & 25 availability.

Alternative Skip-the-Line Eiffel Tower Tour
  • Check this activity for other dates & times. Still available on most dates in December.
  • Check Availability

Dine on the Eiffel Tower, Then Cruise the City Lights

Dine on the Eiffel Tower + Seine River Cruise

What better place to view the lights of Paris than from the Eiffel Tower? And what better time to view them than during a fabulous 3-course French dinner? You start the evening with VIP access to 58 Tour Eiffel, where your table is reserved, and finish up with a nighttime river cruise. Still available for some dates, but this is sure to sell out during the holiday season. Last New Years Eve tables available!

The Best of Versailles – Skip the Lines & See It All

Versailles Guided Tours

It's easy to see why we call this the "Best of Versailles". The day starts with pick-up at your hotel in Paris. At Versailles your guide walks you right past the long ticket lines to get right to the magnificent Chateau. The full-day tour also includes lunch near the Grand Canal. Hard to beat this activity! Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays in December. including Christmas Eve & New Years Eve.

VIP Moulin Rouge – Including Christmas & Christmas Eve

Christmas & New Years Eve at Moulin Rouge

Make this holiday season even more special by taking in a festive show at this icon in Montmartre, complete with champagne and VIP seating. After you skip the line with your Priority Access Pass, you're escorted to your table, where bubbly awaits while you take in the famous cabaret. This popular event sells out on most days, but even faster during the holidays, so be certain to book early.

Eiffel Tower + River Cruise + Moulin Rouge Cabaret

Skip-the-Line Eiffel Tower Tour + River Cruise

We like this complete night out in Paris, especially during the holiday season. You not only get to experience the top Paris attractions in this one evening, you get to choose where to have dinner — aboard a cruise boat on the Seine or at 58 Tour Eiffel. Both options include the Eiffel Tower and a river cruise, and all tours end with the fabulous cabaret at the Moulin Rouge. Only a few dates are left in December!

Skip the Line at the Louvre Museum

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

Skip the Line at the Louvre Museum

The Louvre is very, very popular, and that means lots of visitors and very long lineups. But here's the Paris Insiders Secret on how to skip the lines — Get priority fast access by booking this guided tour, especially designed to feature the most famous works, the ones you must see when in Paris. Don't waste your time or get lost in the mammoth 60,000 square foot museum — see it like a Paris VIP. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, including December 24 & 31.

The Secrets of French Perfume Workshop

Paris Perfume Workshop

In the country that practically invented the art of scent, get behind the scenes up for an everything-perfume workshop led by an industry expert who teaches at the Ecole Superieure du Parfum. You learn the basics of perfume, including the characteristics of distinct families of scents. Then you dive in to make your own unique perfume to take home. This is a very unique activity.

Airport Transfers

Airport Transfer

This is one of our best Insiders tips — arrange your transportation from the airport into central Paris before you leave home. It's easy to get tired when traveling, so it's good to know what's going to happen when you finally arrive. You can easily book a shuttle van service right to your hotel. In fact, here's the service our readers like, and it's cheaper than a taxi

Manu Prestige VIP Private Service

Airport Transfer

But our most special Insiders tip is to arrange for a private car transfer from the airport, provided by our trusted Paris pal and driver, Manu. He will meet you at the arrival gate and whisk you into the city in his Mercedes S-Class, direct to your hotel or apartment, where he'll help you get your luggage inside and get settled. Honestly, it's the only way to do it!

Paris Pass Discounts – Exclusive to You!

Paris Pass Discounts

What we like about the Paris Pass is that it saves money & time. You get into the museums for free and ride the Metro for free. But the big advantage is that you get to bypass the ticket lines. If you've ever stood in line for hours at the Louvre or d'Orsay, you'll appreciate how nice it would be to just walk up to the door and show your Paris Pass

Now, we're able to offer a special discount, exclusively for our readers, that gives you an additional 10% on all 4-day and 6-day passes. What used to be just a good deal is now a great deal. And, since the clock doesn't start ticking on the Paris Pass until you first use it, you can buy it up to a year in advance. Be sure to use the discount code: INGUIDE10.

Classical Music, Opera & Ballet

Things to Do in Paris December 2016

Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

La Sainte Chapelle

You're going to love listening to classical music performed in the stunning La Sainte Chapelle. Come for the music and be amazed by the recently restored stained glass and Gothic architecture. Sitting among these magnificent windows is an experience not to be missed, especially while listening to some of the greatest pieces of music ever composed. Only a few dates have tickets still available, so act now.

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Featured Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle – Still Available
  • MASTERWORKS OF SACRED MUSIC – AVE MARIA + BACH + MOZART + SCHUBERT
    December 8 & 11
    Reserve Tickets
  • VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS + HANDEL + PACHELBEL
    December 8, 9, 10, 11
    Reserve Tickets
  • VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS PERFORMED BY LES SOLISTES FRANÇAIS ORCHESTRA
    December 15, 17, 18, 21
    Reserve Tickets
  • VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS + PACHELBEL'S CANON + VITALI'S CHACONNE
    December 12, 19, 20, 23, 27, 28, 29
    Reserve Tickets
  • LES SOLISTES FRANÇAIS: MOZART + SCHUBERT + MENDELSSOHN + DVORAK
    December 15, 16, 18
    Reserve Tickets
  • CHRISTMAS CONCERT: VIVALDI'S GLORIA + REJOICE FROM THE MESSIAH + AVE MARIA
    December 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28
    Reserve Tickets
  • LA SAINTE CHAPELLE NEW YEARS CONCERT
    December 30 & 31
    Reserve Tickets

Sainte Chapelle Christmas Concert + Classic French Dinner

Sainte Chapelle Christmas Concert + Classic French Dinner

Sure, it's dinner and a show but the show happens to be at the iconic Saint Chapelle with dinner at a nearby French bistro. Dinner reservations can be made for before or after the concert.
• Available Most Evenings until December 29

Experience Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Paris

Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Paris

Vivaldi, the most popular baroque composer, loved to create music that painted a picture. And there's no other piece of music that evokes the natural phenomena of the seasons quite like this — the wind and rain of autumn, the rebirth of spring, the light and warmth of summer, and the sleeping stillness of winter. Experience his Four Seasons this December in performances at La Madeleine, St-Germain-des-Pres, Eglise de la Trinité, and La Sainte-Chapelle.

More Classical Christmas Concerts at Iconic Paris Churches

  • FREDERIC CHOPIN PIANO MUSIC – AT EGLISE ST EPHREM
    December 9, 24, 28, 30 & January 1, 2017
    Reserve Tickets
  • VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS & CHRISTMAS MUSIC – AT EGLISE DE LA MADELEINE
    December 17, 23, 26, 28, 30
    Reserve Tickets
  • NEW YEAR'S EVE CONCERT – AT SAINTE-EUSTACHE
    December 31 Only
    Reserve Tickets
  • MUSIC BY MOZART & VIVALDI – AT SAINT-GERMAIN DES PRES
    December 16 & 27
    Reserve Tickets

Concerts at Notre-Dame Cathedral

Concerts at Notre-Dame Cathedral

Could there be anything more thrilling than listening to classical and spiritual music in the word's most famous 850-year-old cathedral? There are a handful of great performances during the holiday season. Believe us, attending a concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral will be one of the highlights of your trip to Paris. Tickets are still available for the December 13 & December 29 performances.

Swan Lake at Opera Bastille on New Years Eve

Swan Lake at Opera Bastille

Noël just wouldn't be Noël without seeing a performance of that special holiday ballet, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Especially on New Years Eve! This black-tie event has only a few tickets left so act now if you want to visit Opera Bastille to see Swan Lake performed.
• Opera Bastille
• December 31, 2016

Performances at Palais Garnier

Performances at Palais Garnier

You also don't want to miss seeing a holiday performance at the magnificent Belle Epoque marvel, Palais Garnier. Both inside and out, this building is a marvel to behold. There's usually a full schedule in December of recitals, operas, and especially ballets. More performances will be announced as the year goes on, so be sure to check back here.

Classical Music in Paris in December

Classical Music in Paris in December

There are many more concerts, ballets, operas, and recitals than we've had room to list here, and more will be added as December nears. Many historic churches will be hosting holiday concerts and there will be music all over the city.

Fave Day Trips From Paris

Things to Do in Paris December 2016

Versailles in One Day by Private EuroVan

Versailles in One Day by Private EuroVan

The holiday season is a superb time to see Versailles, with lights all aglow. We like this this small-group (maximum 8 people0, but we recommend the private tour option for more personal attention, picks you up at your hotel, and includes lunch as well. Wednesdays & Fridays in December.

Visit the Chateaux of the Loire Valley

Chateaux of the Loire Valley Day Tour

One of the things you don't want to miss when you visit Paris is the Loire Valley with its magnificent castles. It's an easy day trip from Paris and the best way to do it is to book a tour with an expert guide. We like this one that takes you to three of the most spectacular chateaux in the region — Chateau Amboise, Chateau Chenonceau and the amazing Chateau Chambord.

Spend a Day in the Magical Champagne Region

Spend a Day in the Magical Champagne Region

A day spent in the Champagne region will be a highlight of your holiday. You are met at your Paris address by your driver/guide and whisked off through rolling hills and world-class vineyards to Reims, capital of the Champagne region. After touring this historic city, including a visit to its famous cathedral, the champagne houses beckon and your sampling of bubbly begins! Wednesday & Fridays.

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VIP Private Day Tour to Champagne
  • This is our most highly-recommended way to visit the Champagne region. Your private driver/guide meets you at your Paris address and whisks you to the Land of Bubbly on a tour that you can customize to your interests. Make sure to opt for the full-day excursion.
    Check Availability

The Historic D-Day Beaches of Normandy

D-Day Tour

More than seventy years have passed since the Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, the brave action that spelled the beginning of the end of WWII. Take a day to step back in time, exploring the beaches, the monuments and the museums on a trip that returns you to Paris the same day. Sundays & Wednesdays in December.

Essential Day Trips from Paris

Trips from Paris

These are just a few of the glorious things to be found not that far outside the gates of Paris. Our time in France is always more memorable when we take a day or two to experience the wonders of the country that are within easy reach of Paris. Here's where we review more favorite day trips —

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Our Top Food & Wine Activities

Things to Do in Paris December 2016

Eiffel Tower Christmas Dinner

Eiffel Tower Christmas Dinner

Picture this: you & your loved one(s) 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. Although December 24 & 25 are sold out you can still book this for other days in December, but hurry! Includes skip-the-line ticket for fast access.

Gourmet French Food Walking Tour

Gourmet French Food Walking Tour

You start your culinary afternoon on the historic Left Bank, a gourmet haven. At a traditional fromagerie you learn about French cheeses while you sample them. Next up are freshly baked baguettes followed by French wine. Don't forget the foie gras! And, don't worry, any calories you consume are going to be burned off by the walk! Available Christmas Eve.

Wine Tasting in the Heart of Paris

Wine Tasting in the Heart of Paris

Sign up for the 2-hour in-depth tasting — that allows enough time to explore all the best wine regions of France, including Champagne. In this informal & informative wine tasting a professional French sommelier pours wine from the regions while giving an in-depth explanation of each. It takes place in a charming, centrally-located wine cellar. Available Christmas Eve & New Years Eve.

Chocolate and Pastry Food Tour

Chocolate Walking Tour

In Paris, chocolate is a major food group. At least that how it seems, what with over 200 speciality (and amazing) chocolatiers. On this tour you walk from chocolate shop to pastry shop to chocolate shop in an historic district of Paris and sample all along the route. On a small group tour like this you get hands-on attention at a relaxed pace. Still available during the last two weeks of December, but hurry!

Private Paris Food Tour – The 10 Tastings

Private Paris Food Tour

As you walk with your gourmet guide through one of the hottest food neighborhoods in Paris, you stop at specialty shops and sample ten of the most famous French foods, from baguettes to cheeses to macarons. This is a wonderful (and fun) introduction to the foods that make Paris famous, and we love this quartier and the stores, especially the cheese shop. Still available for most dates in December including Christmas Eve & New Years Eve.

Wine Tasting with Cheese and Charcuterie Lunch

Wine Tasting

In the cellar of a very popular wine bar in central Paris, your expert sommelier takes you on a guided tasting of the wines of France, from one end to the other. You learn a lot about how to choose and taste wine. Even better, there's a board of French specialty cheeses and charcuterie to match each wine. Available Christmas Eve.

Preferred Restaurant of the Month

Our Review & Recommendation

Le Gabriel at La Réserve

Le Gabriel

Experienced young chef Jérôme Banctel brings his take on Japanese + French fusion to this impressive new restaurant in the brand-new Hote La Réserve found among the trees in the calm Elysées park in the 8th Arrondissement. It's right in the center of things, yet an oasis of comfort and deliciousness. Just awarded two Michelin stars.
Read Our Complete Review

The Best Events in Paris

Things to Do in Paris December 2016

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

From the middle of November to early January bundle up warm and set out on the streets of Paris to learn how the French celebrate Christmas.

Seasonal Christmas markets are set up up in many quartiers of the city. These temporary tent cities and cabin villages are where tout les Parisiens shop for seasonal specialties, decorations, and Christmas crafts.

During this festive time of year you will find Noel markets dotting locations throughout the city, including —

  • 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, but the most famous light show is on Champs Elysées. If you're lucky enough to be in Paris in mid November you can watch the Christmas lights be turned on by celebrities and French dignitaries. (We're still waiting to be invited to throw the switch!)
• Avenue des Champs Elysées
• November 15 to January 6

What's On at the Museums

Things to Do in Paris December 2016

What's On at the Museums

Robert Doisneau

Even though it's the holiday season, museums are in full bloom with special exhibits mounted in most of them. Here are some of our favourite exhibitions that continue through December.

Remember, the best way to visit the Paris museums is to skip the lines by using the Paris Pass

The Spectacular Second Empire – 1852 to 1870
René Magritte (1898-1967)
  • Belgian surrealist artist, Magritte was famous for his thought-provoking images.
  • Pompidou Centre
  • Ends January 23, 2017
  • Information
Edme Bouchardon – French Sculptor (1698-1762)
  • The Louvre Museum, Hall Napoleon
  • Ends December 5, 2016
  • Information
A Swede in Paris in the 18th Century
  • Louvre Museum
  • Ends January 16, 2017
The Salzburg Collections
  • Louvre Museum
  • Ends January 16, 2017

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