Christmas in Paris is a magical time. Shop windows are aglow (there's really no other word!) 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 window displays entertain children and parents alike at the Grand Magasins. Christmas concerts are performed throughout the city at some very famous venues — La Sainte Chapelle, Palais Garnier, and Opera Bastille. Remember that Christmas activities and events tend to sell out early, so book as soon as you can. Also, be sure to check our Things to Do in Paris December 2019 Calendar…
You. In Paris. On Christmas Day. On the Seine River. Do we have your attention? The night begins on the banks of the Seine where you'll board your floating dinner cruise. As you sip French wine and enjoy course after course, the illuminated monuments of Paris slowly drift by.
The specially-designed Christmas menu is infused with the best of the season. You start out with a glass of champagne along French seasonal classics like fondue, puff pastry, butternut soup, chestnuts and Christmas cake. Space is limited on this Christmas dining extravaganza, so you must book soon. Available December 24 and December 25.
The evening begins with your driver whisking you to the Seine where you board Bateaux Parisiens dinner boat for three hours of magical cruising and dining along the most famous, and most beautiful, river in the world. Drift from the Eiffel Tower past everything Parisian. Beyond the islands the boat turns around, arriving back at the dock just in time for the Tower's 11 PM spectacular light show.
This VIP cruise (with the Premier menu) guarantees you a table at the front of the boat for the best views, better service, wine with dinner, and hotel pick-up and return. Of course, there will be champagne to celebrate your holiday night out in Paris. Available all December, except for December 24, 31, and probably 25.
New Year's Eve is always an important night, especially when you're in Paris. On this celebration cruise you board Bateaux Parisiens at 7:30 PM for an unforgettable 5-hour dinner followed by a party to bring in the new year and the new decade, 2020. Champagne will be flowing along with wine during the 6-course French feast. Frankly, we're surprised at how affordable it is, given it's a multi-course dinner on a glass-walled river boat on New Years Eve. In Paris. The bad news? It will sell out, so you must book now. December 31 only.
Create a spectacular holiday-in-Paris memory with Christmas dinner and a show at the historic Moulin Rouge. Sip champagne and dine on a traditional five-course Christmas meal while the dazzling show takes place on the stage in front of you. This special Moulin Rouge Christmas edition will sell out quickly, so book now. Currently available all Christmas week.
This Christmas give yourself the gift of VIP treatment with an exclusive package that puts you in the best seats in the house in the sought-after upper balcony of the Moulin Rouge. With only two dozen seats the balcony is the #1 rated place to be for the best unobstructed views of the stage. Add champagne and a multi-course French meal and you get one fantastic night out at the Moulin Rouge. The Christmas dates are limited and will sell out quickly, so book now. Sold out for Dec 24, 29, 31.
The Louvre is something you must see when you're in Paris, no matter what time of year you are here. But 10 millions visitors a year means the tickets lines are always long. To avoid waiting for hours, we always opt for this guided tour that takes you past the lines and directly to the Mona Lisa. (And other great works, of course!) Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to wander. Good news is that these skip-the-line tours are available through the season. (Not available Tuesdays or Christmas Day, when the Louvre is closed.)
Wine + art + skipping the lines. This evening activity includes three of our personal favorite pastimes — being in Paris, seeing world-famous art, and wine tasting with an expert sommelier in a wine cellar. Bonus, you skip the lines at the Louvre! Mondays & Saturdays in December.
The Eiffel Tower is very popular, and there are always very long lineups. We don't like to stand out in the cold in a Paris December. For that matter, we don't like to wait in line, period. So we always look for a skip the line tour. This is one of the most popular tours in Paris, and no wonder — it's the fast-track way to get up the city's most famous, and busiest, monument. Luckily, we've discovered a few ways to avoid the long lines. Since Eiffel Tower availability and times tend to change, the best way to approach a no-wait ET visit is to check with the Skip the Eiffel Tower Lines link below.
Paris is the perfect location for a day trip to the Loire Valley and this full-day activity is what we call a win-win. You explore the Renaissance castles of the Loire plus sample delicate wines produced in this lush valley, all in a day trip from Paris.
It starts with a leisurely drive to the most famous castle of them all, Chateau de Chambord. Then, lunch is served at another nearby chateau with a cornucopia of fresh, local ingredients and a tasting flight of the best wines of the region. The last stop is Chateau de Chenonceau, the loveliest of the Loire castles. Finally, it's back to Paris in time for a late night supper. Includes hotel pick-up and return. Available Monday, Friday, Sunday in December (or everyday as a private tour) except Christmas Day.
With this day tour you experience the best of Versailles in the best way. You travel from Paris by luxury Eurovan, then skip past the long entrance lines at Versailles with a priority-access ticket. The tour takes you to the State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, and then explores the gardens of Versailles, beautiful even in winter.
Take a break for a 3-course lunch near the Grand Canal, followed by visits to the Grand Trianon and the Queen's Hamlet. Includes hotel pick-up and return, a definite benefit. Also available as a private tour for just you and your guests. Available Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday in December except Christmas Day.
Another good way to see Versailles is on this morning tour that also includes priority access with an expert guide. It's a small-group with transportation right from your hotel. A private version of the tour is also available.
"I am drinking stars," the champagne monk Dom Perignon said upon tasting the first glass of a sparkling wine. Or so the legend tells us! Now it's your turn to taste stars in the legendary Champagne Region of France during a Christmas sojourn from Paris. 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 whisking you off through rolling hills towards Reims, the Birthplace of Bubbly. A 3-course lunch is included and the small group size ensures you get enough champagne! Available Wednesday through Saturday in December, except Christmas Day.
During the holiday season you can hook up with the special Christmas edition of this very popular chocolate and pastry walking tour. As we said, Christmas in Paris is all about food, and chocolate is perhaps the best example. Everyone's in the holiday mood as they pass out plenty of samples! This is one of the most popular food activities and, hence, likely to sell out.
Visit hidden Paris in a special cheese aging cave underneath a top fromagerie in the Marais. You'll get an Insiders view, led by a Master Affineur, on how cheese is aged to perfection before it is ready to sell. You will taste the most famous cheeses of France, while you soak up the stories of how cheese is made, and how to pair them with the perfect wines. This small group tour runs all through the holidays including Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve. Book now to avoid disappointment.
If you've never to Paris during Christmas you're in for a treat. Take a culinary journey through the charming Marais — the best part is, since it's December, you'll get a chance to sample holiday delights. This very popular small-group food tour takes you from the oldest food market in the city and then zig-zags through the historic neighborhood to sip and nibble the best seasonal tastes at cheese shops, boulangeries, chocolatiers and patisseries.
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 Day.
In Paris, La Saison Des Fêtes, the holiday season, is all about great food. On this small-group walking tour of the City of Celebration, you delve deep into the world of seasonal goodness — 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 ! Available Monday through Saturday, except Christmas Day.
We can't think of a better musical way to celebrate the holiday season than a classical concert at the stunning Gothic church on Île de la Cité. La Sainte Chapelle, the 14th-century personal chapel of the kings, is sporting a restoration that featured extensive cleaning and repairing to the structure's famous stained-glass windows. Experience the royal chapel with works by Bach, Henry Purcell, and Corelli.
Lose yourself in the magic of the most popular performances for the holiday season at either Saint-Germain-des-Prés, La Madeleine, Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, or New Years Eve at Saint Eustache.
In addition to lights, goodwill and lots of good food & wine, Christmas in Paris means music, music, music. Not just in the modern 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.
Bundle up warm and go out exploring to see how the French celebrate Christmas. Every year seasonal Christmas markets spring up in many quartiers 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 —
Despite the tragic fire of last April, the annual Notre Dame Christmas market, held in the place in front of the church, is scheduled to be open from mid-December to early January, 2020. The giant decorated Christmas tree will continue to be one of the most-recognized beacons in Paris during the holidays. So, grab a mug of mulled wine as you wander through the chalets, shopping for artisanal gifts, nibbling on roasted chestnuts.
From mid December to the beginning of January the place in front of the Paris city hall will celebrate Christmas. This year the team at Hotel de Ville have decided to opt for a Christmas market rather than the annual skating rink. Marvel at the illuminated forest of fir and birch trees, ride on the carousel, shop the chalets, and keep warm with chocolat chaud — hot chocolate.
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. In late November each year a celebrity has the honor of turning on the lights, kicking off the holiday season at the ceremony alongside Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. The lights will be turned on between 5:00 PM and 2:00 AM and will stay on all night on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.
Called patinoires in French, the festive skating rinks dot the Paris landscape from mid-December to late January. No need to bring your skates, rentals are available.
Each holiday season the Grand Palais is transformed into a winter wonderland for the Christmas holidays. (See photo above.) Set beneath the iconic glass roof, it's officially the biggest skating rink in France. Check the website for hours and how to book tickets. Yes, you can rent ice skates.
"What's open on Christmas Day in Paris?" readers ask us. So, for the lucky visitors who will be here on December 25, we've compiled the best things to do.
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.
But be warned — chocolatiers, fromageries and anywhere food and wine are sold will be jam-packed with locals stocking up for Christmas and New Year celebrations. Make sure to stock up yourself as most everything 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.
As you'd expect, at all the historic churches and cathedrals of Paris there are plenty of religious services during Christmas in Paris. Traditional Midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral will not be held this year due to the damaging fire. However, here are some other options. The only way to secure a seat for mass is to to arrive early — we recommend you show up an hour early.
Founded back in 542 AD (remember those years?), this Left Bank Paris church has history. Noted for its wonderful acoustics, it's an ideal destination for Christmas mass. Check their website for more details. (In French only).
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Although a church has been on this site since 1213, the first stone of the current church was laid in 1532 by Francis I. Fun fact — Saint Eustache's floor-plan and structure will remind you of Notre Dame, with a nave flanked by double aisles and chapels.
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Nestled in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower the immense Russian mega-spiritual center with no less than five gleaming onion domes opened in 2016 and has become a popular religions destination.
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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.
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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
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.
This historic monument is a a center for English-speakers in Paris. 23, avenue George V, 8th.
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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