If you're lucky enough to be in Paris in December, you'll be rewarded with some of the most magical events of the year. The city sparkles with a million fairy lights, and hundreds of decorated trees line the boulevards. Christmas markets spring up all over the city — from the Eiffel Tower to Montmartre to a special holiday lighting ceremony on Champs-Elysées.
Perhaps the strictest coronavirus regulations have been eased – somewhat, at least — and Paris has opened up bit by bit. Most museums, for instance, are welcoming visitors and many of their 2020 exhibitions have been rescheduled from spring. There are a surprising number of activities available to sign up for; most of these have instituted safety & sanitary measures. But be sure to check the information links for the latest updates. We'll also keep the information on this page updated with best things to do and the greatest ways to explore and enjoy the city we love.
|The Top Day Trips From Paris||The Most Popular Activities||The Best Ways To Visit Versailles|
|The Top Food & Wine Activities||All The Best Events in Paris||New Exhibits At The Museums|
The Louvre is very, very popular, and rightly so, but that means long lineups. Luckily, though, you can grab priority 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 in line or get lost in the mammoth 60,000 square foot museum — see it like a Paris VIP.
Reserve your place for the Christmas version of a Seine River dinner cruise. It's a floating extravaganza as you watch the holiday lights of Paris pass by while listening to live music. Departure time is 8:30 PM, seven days a week, including Christmas Day. Check link to confirm availability, as things tend to change.
Even better than a nighttime dinner cruise along the Seine is this all-night New Years Eve dinner cruise with a multi-course gourmet French meal, champagne, and wine. You marvel at the lights of Paris as you dine, and it's all followed by followed by a Paris party to celebrate 2021! Check link to confirm availability, as things tend to change.
The Eiffel Tower is very popular, and there is always a long line. The only sure way to avoid waiting out in the cold is to book a 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. Since availability at the Tower changes, the best way to approach a no-wait ET visit is to check with the Skip the Eiffel Tower Lines link below.
What could be better than a relaxed, champagne-fueled boat ride down the most beautiful river in the world? Well, what about having priority seating at the front of the boat? How about a French sommelier to guide you through a flight of three different types of champagne? Glide past the sights while sipping bubbly and discovering that the best way to see the City of Lights is on a bateau.
This former hilltop village is renowned for the famous artists who once lived here. But it's also a fascinating quartier of shops and streets with an artistic flair. This fun tour focuses on the history of the artists — Van Gogh's house, the windmill cabaret painted by Renoir, the site of Picasso's early studio, and more. Also included is a skip-the-line ticket for Musée d'Orsay. This activity has hundreds of 5-star reviews, so be sure to book early.
There's not much better than spending an evening in Paris, gliding down the most famous river in the world, watching the monuments and sites all aglow, while dining on a multi-course, classic French meal. On this dinner cruise dinner is served with wine, as well as a half bottle of champagne. Sanitary measures are in place. Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays in October.
The chills you're feeling aren't just from the crisp autumn air, but also from this tour of the ghostly, the eerie, and the downright creepy! Your guide leads you down cobblestone streets and winding alleys as you learn about the darker side of the City of Light. The Black Plague, the Nazis, and the unexplained. Ooooo.
This 3-in-1, full-day activity takes you to some of the greatest attractions of the city. Your driver picks you up at your Paris hotel for a priority-access tour of the Louvre museum. Next is a drive across town to the Eiffel Tower, where you once again enjoy VIP access to get up the tower and marvel at the famous views. Your driver then takes you to historic Île de la Cité to visit the island and Notre Dame Cathedral before heading up the hill to visit Montmartre. It's a full and satisfying day in Paris!
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. There are a number of services we like, although our favorite is a private airport pickup in a luxury sedan.
The Latin Quarter is pretty much everyone's favorite part of Paris. It turns out that this historic and charming quartier is also home to some of our favorite hotels in the city. And it's right in the center of things, with so much in easy walking distance, including the Seine, the Pantheon, Notre Dame, Saint-Germain, and even the Marais just across the river. Discover our top seven picks of the best hotels in the quartier, including our #1 top hotel pick in all of Paris.
Your driver spirits you from Paris to the royal estate, where priority access lets you skip the long lines and head directly inside to experience the grandeur of the chateau on a guided tour that includes the state apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and the Queen's Chambers. Afterwards, stroll through the stunning gardens until lunch on the Grand Canal. Later, visit the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette's fantasy village farm. This small-group tour ensures individual attention.
We also recommend this half-day tour to Versailles that includes priority access. We like that it's a small-group activity with an expert guide and that pick-up at your hotel your hotel is included. Tours leave in the morning.
Even in December you can still sign up for this 2-in-1 tour. There's going to be be a nip in the air, but cycling will keep you warm! Pedal through the countryside near Versailles, shop at local markets, then lounge in the gardens of Versailles eating lunch while drinking in the history of the place. After le picnic, use your VIP skip-the-line pass to explore the Chateau de Versailles.
Everyone seems to love this food tour of one of the oldest quartiers. Start the tour at the oldest food market in the city, and then follow your food-expert guide through the historic Marais neighborhood to visit the top food & wine shops, tasting the best of French foods — cheese, charcuterie, baguettes, chocolate, and wine.
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 (our readers' fave food activity) 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.
Under the guidance of a master affineur (an expert in the art of cheese aging) you descend into the cheese cellar of a fromagerie in the Marais. Here you learn all about this culinary art while you sample seven classic French cheeses, along with wines — discovering how cheese became one of the most revered foods of France. The small group is limited to 10 to ensure there's more cheese for you. Also see, Five Top Cheese Tastings In Paris…
Take a break from shopping and gawking for a holiday season lunch cruise along the River Seine. This fun, casual, and affordable activity serves up a classic multi-course lunch while meandering along the river. Combine great dining with a tour of the Paris sights as you leisurely drift past them. This Noel lunch cruise is going to sell out, so book early, especially since this in only available on Sundays in December.
Sign up for a 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. Also see, The Ten Best Food & Wine Experiences In Paris…
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! The Christmas version of this popular tour is not to be missed. Also see, The Top Ten Food & Wine Experiences …
What better place to take a cooking class than Paris? Especially when it also includes a trip to an outdoor food market to meet butchers, fishmongers, and produce sellers as you gather the fresh ingredients for your class. This popular class teaches you how to create an entire French meal — entrée, plat, et dessert. Available from December 15 onward.
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 this particular tour is our reader's favorite — because it also includes a guided tasting of the region's famous wines. The day begins at the largest castle, Château de Chambord. The final stop is Château de Chenonceau, considered the loveliest of the Loire castles. Lunch is also included. Limited availability in December.
To concentrate on the castles, choose this day tour that visits three of the most spectacular — Chenonceau, Amboise & Chambord. The full-day activity includes pick-up at your Paris address, transportation to the Loire in a luxurious Eurovan, and a French 3-course lunch with drinks. Limited availability in December.
A day spent in the Champagne region is certain to be a highlight of your holiday. Starting from your Paris address your driver/guide whisks you off through rolling hills and world-class vineyards to Reims, capital of the Champagne region. After touring this historic area the champagne houses beckon and your sampling of bubbly begins! Lunch is included on this full-day trip.
Although it took the Allied Forces 70 days to get from the Atlantic shore to Paris, it will only take you a few hours to get from Paris to the historic D-Day beaches of Normandy. Perhaps the most important battle site of World War II, the landing beaches still evoke powerful memories and emotions. Visit the important sites on a day trip from Paris that returns you to Paris the same day. Limited availability in December.
Take a day in December to visit this fairytale island just off the Normandy coast. On this tour you explore the Benedictine abbey of Mont St-Michel that becomes separated from the mainland during high tide. Wander along the narrow streets, visit the shops and the abbey's ramparts. Everything is included, even pick-up at your hotel, so no need to worry about anything. Limited availability in December.
Who doesn't love staying on the Left Bank of Paris? Since Hemingway and the Jazz Age, the Left Bank has defined the essence of Paris. The Saint-Germain neighborhood is charming, and so are the best of the hotels in the quartier. In fact, here is our selection of the top Left Bank hotels — with a couple of bonuses as well!
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 markets are set up up in many quartiers of the city. These temporary cabin villages are where tout les Parisiens shop for seasonal specialties, decorations, and Christmas crafts. During this festive time of year you will find Noël markets throughout the city.
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
Here's an easy way to see all the seasonal goodness that Paris has to offer. Follow your guide to explore Christmas in its many forms — the decorations & displays at Galeries Lafayette, window displays in the city's Art Nouveau shops & boutiques, in and out of quaint food and tableware shops, and finishing up at a traditional Parisian win bar for champagne and foie gras. Bonnes Fêtes !
High-level jumping competitions, the World Arabian Horse Championships, and more horsy things. It's uncertain when, or if, the 2020 salon will be held
France's largest boat show! Unfortunately, the 2020 salon has been cancelled. We look forward to December 2021.
Rescheduled from spring, the Louvre's Petite Galerie features Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo and Albrecht Durer. Visitors are required to follow the museum's Covid-19 regulations — book a time slot, wear a face mask, and adhere to social distancing,
• Petite Galerie, Louvre
• Ends July 5, 2021
Although the British illustrator and engraver Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) died well before he was thirty years old, he left a legacy of work that has endured the test of time. A must for fans of Oscar Wilde, James Whistler, and 1890s London. Wearing a face mask is compulsory for all visitors to Museée d'Orsay.
• Museée d'Orsay
• Ends January 10, 2021
To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henri Matisse (1869-1954), the Pompidou pays tribute to his artistic genius.
• Centre Pompidou
• Ends February 22, 2021
This exhibition highlights the events that led to Renaissance sculpture, displaying works by the best artists from the period and featuring the greatest sculptor of all time, Michelangelo.
• Hall Napoleon, under the Pyramid
• October 22 to January 18, 2021
Witness the most intense period, 1900 to 1919, in the troubled Symbolist painter Léon Spilliaert's artistic career. Wearing a face mask is compulsory for all visitors to Museée d'Orsay.
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