If you're lucky enough to be in Paris during this month of holidays, 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. Concerts at the recently renovated La Sainte Chapelle, Église de la Madeleine, and Notre Dame Cathedral sell out quickly, so be sure to book right away.
One of our favorite things to do in Paris in December is to plan a day trip beyond the city gates. Visit the Loire Valley chateaux, explore the famous Château de Versailles, or sip bubbly in Champagne and return to Paris the same day.
|The Top Day Trips From Paris||The Most Popular Activities||The Top Food & Wine Activities|
|All The Best Events in Paris||Classical Music, Opera & Ballet||New Exhibits at the Museums|
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. Learn fascinating details about the tower as you take the elevator to the top. Also see, Access to the Top of the Eiffel Tower…
We heartily recommend this complete night out in Paris, especially during the holiday season. You get to experience the best of Paris attractions in this one evening — dinner on the Eiffel Tower, a cruise aboard a bateau on the Seine, and the fabulous cabaret at the Moulin Rouge. Even better, this evening in Paris includes return transportation to your hotel. Be sure to book early. Also see, The 6 Best Evenings In Paris…
The Louvre is very, very popular, and that means very 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. Also see, How to Beat the Long Lines at the Louvre…
On the other hand, this is our favorite way to see the artwork, combining a skip-the-line evening tour of the Louvre with an after-hours wine tasting at the most popular wine bar in Paris. Wine + art + skipping the lines — is it any wonder this is our favorite?
it's easy to see why travelers love this dinner cruise along the Seine. It's got romance, great food, and spectacular views. It all starts when your driver meets you at your Paris address. On board, you're led to your private table for a relaxing cruise and 3-course French meal. The lights of Paris drift past while you are sipping wine. When the night is over, your driver will be waiting. Also see, The Six Top Dinner Cruises in Paris…
Even better than a nighttime dinner cruise along the Seine is this 5-hour New Years Eve dinner cruise with a 4-course gourmet French meal, champagne, and wine. You board your bateau at 8:30 for a 9:00 sailing time, marvelling at the lights of Paris as you dine. Did we mention the live music and dancing until 2 AM? Also see, 22 Stellar Things To Do In Paris On New Year's Eve…
This popular and satisfying nighttime activity gets you past the line, up the tower, and into 58 Tour Eiffel for a classic 3-course French dinner at a restaurant where famous chef Alain Ducasse is at the helm. After dinner, when the lights of Paris are bright, you cruise the Seine to see the best of the city from the river. It's a perfect night in the City of Light.
See the Moulin Rouge show with dinner & wine during this nighttime activity in Paris that includes transportation to and from your hotel. It's the easy way — no need to figure out how to get there or what to do when you're ready to leave. Moulin Rouge regularly sells out weeks in advance. Book ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Also see, Seven Ways To See The Hottest Show in Town…
What could be better than a relaxed, champagne-fuelled 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.
Louvre + Seine River Cruise + Eiffel Tower. This smart tour gets you to the best of the city in a single day. No senseless dawdling or getting lost. Skip past the lines and into the Louvre for the highlights, then take a Seine river cruise to the front door of the Eiffel Tower. From high atop Restaurant 58 you can see forever. But you're not done yet — visit Notre Dame Cathedral on the picturesque Île de la Cité. Everything is included: entrance fees, lunch, and river cruise.
In the country that practically invented the art of scent, get behind the scenes 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.
We felt like we were starring in a movie set in Paris in the 1940s when we took this satisfying tour through the city in an iconic, vintage Citroën Traction Avant. Our "gentleman driver" showed us the sights in a brand-new way. (Or was it the old way?) It's so much fun seeing Paris like this, and made even better with the sun roof opened all the way. As we say in our review, this is "retro luxury from another era." Also see, Our Vintage Touring Experience…
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. Also see, Airport Transfers – Our Complete Guide…
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! Also see, Travelers Praise for Manu's Service…
The Paris Pass saves money & time — get into the museums for free and ride the Metro for free. But the big advantage is bypassing the ticket lines. If you've ever stood in line for hours at the Louvre, you'll appreciate how nice that is.
We also have a special discount for you — 5% off 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. Use the discount code: INGUIDE10.
It's easy to see why we call this the "Best of Versailles". Your driver picks you up at your Paris address and whisks you off to the royal estate where you walk right past the long ticket lines directly into the magnificent chateau. The full-day tour includes a stroll through the gardens, Marie Antoinette's hamlet, and a gourmet lunch (with wine) along the Grand Canal. Also see, The 6 Best Ways To Avoid The Lines at Versailles…
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 city, including a visit to its famous cathedral, the champagne houses beckon and your sampling of bubbly begins! Wednesday & Fridays. Also see, The 3 Top Day Trips to Champagne…
Here's another good way to experience the bubbly. It's a hands-on, small-group visit from Paris to the Champagne region. Available Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in December.
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 the 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. Also see, The Top 3 Loire Valley Day Tours…
To concentrate on the castles, choose this day tour that visits three of the most spectacular — Chenonceau, Cheverny & Chambord. Lunch is included on this full-day activity. Also available as a private tour. Every day except Wednesdays.
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. Also available as a private tour.
Take a long 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. Mondays & Fridays in December.
You may be surprised by how much of France you can reach in a day trip from Paris. In fact, you can even visit other European cities and be back in Paris the same day. You might choose other wine regions, Euro Disneyland, even Bruges or London. We always suggest that you plan for a day or two to explore beyond the city gates to visit Deep France or even elsewhere in Europe.
Story by Charles Perrault, music by Sergei Prokofiev, choreography by Rudolf Nureyev, this performance of Cinderella is must-see event in Paris this holiday season.
• Opera Bastille
• December, 2018 & January, 2019
Follow the tragic tale of Violetta, one of opera's most famous heroines. The romantic drama unravels the destiny of a woman tormented by love and morality. French director Benoit Jacquot took inspiration from Edouard Manet's famous painting, Olympia. In Italian with French and English surtitles.
• Opera Bastille
• Various Dates in December
That most Shakespearean of directors, Calixto Bieito, brings truth, passion, and humanism to this staging of Verdi's opera, which was inspired by conflicts between 14th-century landowners and peasants. Performed in Italian with French and English surtitles.
• Opera Bastille
• Ends December 13
Do not miss star choreographer John Neumeier's exploration of this stirring legend. It will a performance to remember with music by Chopin and story by Alexandre Dumas.
• Palais Garnier
• December 5, 2018 to January 3, 2019
This Latin Quarter church was originally built in 1335, but was completely rebuilt in the 17th century. The soaring ceilings make for ideal ideal acoustics for classical music concerts. Saint Ephrem is a small church and feels more like you're listening to a concert in your living room than in a concert hall.
During the holiday season, there's no better place on Earth to hear great classical music played in superb venues in this ancient city, like the historic church, Eglise de la Madeleine. Here's the best of the music coming to La Madeleine this Noel.
With roots going back to a 6th-century Benedictine abbey founded by Childebert, son of Clovis, first king of France, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the oldest church in Paris and a wonderful place to listen to classic music pieces. Take in a seasonal concert, then wander through the most iconic of Paris neighborhoods, the Left Bank.
• Église Saint-Germain
• December 22, 2018 to January 1, 2019
Paris features so much music during the holiday season that these are just a handful of the stellar classical performances to be heard. There are many more concerts this month, performed at other Paris venues — like the Salle Gaveau, Philharmonie de Paris, and other churches. Be sure to check out what will be playing when you're in Paris in December.
Check with Booking.com to find today's sale prices on hotel rooms in every arrondissement of Paris. Save 20% to 30%… or even more!
Take a break from shopping and gawking for a lunch cruise along the River Seine. This fun, casual, and affordable activity serves up a classic multi-course lunch while cruising the river. Combine great dining with a tour of the Paris sights as you leisurely drift past them. This lunch cruise has become very popular, so book early. Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays in December.
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.
What better place to take a cooking class that 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. Cooking finished and plated, you sit down to enjoy your creations with your fellow students… and a glass of wine!
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 …
Imagine a gourmet 4-course meal with wine as you gaze down on Paris from the Eiffel Tower — a birds-eye view of the Champ de Mars, Les Invalides, Montparnasse Tower, Montmartre, and the river Seine. Your priority-access pass gets you past the lineups and up the tower to restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel. Wine is included, of course.
Here's the ultimate Eiffel Tower dining experience. Up above 58 Tour Eiffel, on the second level of the tower, is where you'll find Alain Ducasse's Le Jules Verne, with one Michelin star. It's a place where not only is the view unequaled, but where the 6-course dinner menu will amaze you. Guarantee a window table by following the link below — you'll also get some extra-special perks, like a glass of champagne and a copy of Alain Ducasse's cookbook. It will truly be a night to remember.
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.
Cruise slowly down the Seine on a La Marina de Paris bateau while sipping champagne before dining on a 3-course French meal. The glass walls of the boat provide perfect viewing of the sights of Paris as they drift by — Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre, and the islands of Paris. On the Saveurs Menu you'll find all the French classic dishes — seared escargot, beef tartare, grilled beef and roast chicken.
Delicious tastes and artistic discoveries are found at every turn up on the hill of Montmartre. And this guided food tour gets you to the best of them. With a flourishing food scene, Montmartre is the perfect Paris neighborhood for a tour like this. As you taste your way around the neighborhood you'll also learn about the many hidden & artistic landmarks of Montmartre.
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 —
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
• Galeries Lafayette, 9e
• Printemps, 9e
• Le Bon Marché, 7e
• BHV, in the Marais • Faubourg Sainte-Honore, 2e
• Avenue Montaigne, 8e
• Place Vendome, 1er
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 !
Admire the amazing Christmas trees created by top designers that are auctioned to raise money for cancer research.
• Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
The first first large-scale collaboration between the d'Orsay and the Musée Picasso.
• Musée d'Orsay
• Ends January 6, 2019
The long-awaited retrospective at Jeu de Paume. This is going to be huge.
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