55 Perfect Holiday Activities – Things To Do In Paris, December 2018

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.

Christmas in Paris

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.

Most Popular Activities

Things to Do in Paris December 2018

Dinner on the Eiffel Tower + River Cruise + Moulin Rouge

A Magical Evening in Paris

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

Skip the Lines at the Louvre

Skip-the-Line Louvre Museum Guided Tour

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

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Evening Tour Of The Louvre + Wine Tasting

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?

Christmas Dinner Cruise

Christmas Dinner Cruise

Reserve your place for the Christmas version of a Seine River dinner cruise. It's another 5-course extravaganza as you watch the holiday lights of Paris Insiders Pass by. The Christmas Eve boat sails at 8:30 PM and the Christmas Day lunch heads out at 12:40 PM. These are definitely going to sell out.

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Dinner & Dancing on the Seine – The New Years Eve Party!

Even better than a nighttime dinner cruise along the Seine is this all-night New Years Eve dinner cruise with a 4-course gourmet French meal, champagne, and wine. Even better, the evening starts with an illuminations tour of the City of Light. Next you marvel 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

Eiffel Tower Dinner + Nighttime Seine River Cruise

Eiffel Tower Dinner & Seine River Cruise with Hotel Pick-Up

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.

Champagne Cruise Along the Seine

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

Champagne Cruise Along the Seine

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.

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. 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 check the Big List of Eiffel Tower Tours…

Paris-in-One-Day City Tour

Paris-in-One-Day Sightseeing Tour

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 two river cruises. Also see, The 6 Best Paris City Tours…

Historic Literary Tour of Paris – NEW!

Historic Literature Tour of Paris

Where else could you visit a cafe where Hemingway & F. Scott Fitzgerald met for cocktails? Or stroll past the hotel (called appropriately, L'Hotel) where Oscar Wilde died? Paris is the stuff of literary history, and it's a literature expert who guides you through that history on a fascinating 3-hour tour that starts off in Saint Germain-des-Prés at Café de Flore. The Beats, Dumas, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Hemingway, not to mention Benjamin Franklin — all the hits!

VIP Dinner Cruise with Live Music & Hotel Pickup

Dinner Cruise with Hotel Pickup

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 VIP Privilege cruise puts you in the front of the boat with extra perks like champagne. When the night is over, your driver will be waiting. Also see, The Six Top Dinner Cruises in Paris

Vintage Tour of Paris

Vintage Tour of Paris

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

Moulin Rouge Dinner + Show + Roundtrip Hotel Transportation

Moulin Rouge Dinner + Roundtrip Hotel Transportation

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…

Paris by Night: Cruise + City Tour + Skip-the-line Eiffel Tower

Paris by Night

For five hours you experience the best of Paris by night. See the holiday lights three ways. Start with an illuminations tour of the City of Light, then get on board a bateau to experience the splendor of Paris from the river. Finally, your skip-the-line ticket gets you up onto the Eiffel Tower fro what may be the best view of them all. Everything is included.

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. Also see, Airport Transfers – Our Complete Guide

VIP Private Airport Transfer

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! Also see, Travelers Praise for Manu's Service

Paris Insiders City Pass

Paris Insiders Pass Discounts

We know that travelers want to save time in Paris, but why not save money as well? That's why we created our very own Paris Insiders Pass — you get into the museums for free and ride the Metro for free. Even better, we've arranged special savings for you. Use the discount code INSIDERS5 for extra savings. But to us the big advantage is skipping the looong Paris lines. Also see, Complete Guide to the Paris Insiders Pass

The 7 Best Latin Quarter Hotels

7 Best Latin Quarter Hotels

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.

Fave Day Trips From Paris

Things to Do in Paris December 2018

Loire Valley – Visit the Castles, Taste the Wines

Castles + Wines

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…

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Three Magnificent Loire Valley Chateaux

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.

Best of Versailles with Priority Access + Grand Canal Lunch

Best of Versailles

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

Spend a Day in the Magical Champagne Region

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

A Day In Champagne

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! Also see, The 3 Top Day Trips to Champagne

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A Small-Group Visit 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 in December.

Visit the D-Day Beaches – Remembering WWII

D-Day Tours

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.

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

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. Also see, Choose Your Own Mont-Saint-Michel Experience…

Visit London for the Day… From Paris!

Visit London for the Day

It's only relatively recently that high-speed trains have made it easy to visit London on a day trip from Paris. At Gare du Nord in Paris you meet your tour guide and hop on the Eurostar to London. The day includes an extensive, open-top bus tour around London and guided walking tours, including The Beatles London Walking Tour. It's an exhilarating trip that gets you back to Paris the very same day.

10 Iconic Day Tours from Paris

10 More Iconic Day Tours from Paris

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.

Classical Music, Opera & Ballet

Things to Do in Paris December 2018

Cinderella – Paris Ballet

Cinderella

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. This annual Christmas ballet will sell out quickly. Make sure you book your seats now!
• Opera Bastille
• December, 2018 & January, 2019

La Traviata – Paris Opera

La Traviata

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
• December 17, 20, 23, 29

Verdi's Simon Boccanegra – Paris Opera

Simon Boccanegra

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

La Dame aux Camélias – Paris Ballet

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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

Christmas Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle

Performances at 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 dazzled by the recently restored mile-high stained glass windows and the Gothic architecture. Sitting amongst these magnificent windows is an experience not to be missed, especially while listening to some of the greatest pieces of music ever composed. Christmas concerts from December 22 to 29.

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New Years Performances at La Sainte Chapelle

End-of-year concerts will be performed December 30 & 31.

New Years Day Concert on the Eiffel Tower

Concerts on the Eiffel Tower

This is the first of its kind, and a one-of-a-kind opportunity. Up on the Eiffel Tower, for two days only, you can hear the best of classical music being performed live while you gaze out over Paris. On January 1 hear Strauss, Brahms, and Bartok. Buy your tickets now, before they sell out. Includes priority access to the tower.

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Vivaldi's The Four Seasons

On January 5, 2018 hear Vivaldi's most famous work, The Four Seasonsl live on the Eiffel Tower.

Performances 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? Believe us, attending a concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral will be one of the highlights of your trip to Paris. This December there are four opportunities to experience a concert at Notre Dame Cathedral — Christmas concerts, Gregorian Chants, and English music. Check the schedule for more information and to book your seats.

Église Saint Ephrem

Eglise Saint Ephrem

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. This December experience Chopin by Candlelight, Goldberg Variations, Liszt, Satie, Beethoven and Bach Suites for Violoncello. There are also special holiday concerts with one held on Christmas Day. But you must book soon!

Holiday Concerts at La Madeleine

Concerts at La Madeleine

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, Église de la Madeleine. Coming to La Madeleine this Noël is a stellar lineup of seasonal concerts including Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Handel's Messiah, and Ave Maria.

Église Saint-Germain Christmas Concerts

Saint-Germain Christmas Concerts

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

Classical Music in Paris – December 2018

Classical Music in Paris

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.

Our Top Food & Wine Activities

Things to Do in Paris December 2018

Christmas Eve Lunch Cruise on the Seine

Lunch Cruise on the Seine

Take a break from shopping and gawking for a Christmas Eve 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.

Chocolate & Pastry Walking Tour

Chocolate and Pastry 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 (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.

Cheese & Wine Tasting in a Paris Cheese Cellar

Cheese & Wine Tasting

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…

Gourmet Food Walking Tour

Gourmet 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! The Christmas version of this popular tour is not to be missed. Also see, The Top Ten Food & Wine Experiences

La Marina de Paris Dinner Cruise on the Seine

Dinner Cruise on the Seine

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.

The Food & Wine of the Marais

Food & Wine of the Marais

Everyone seems to love this new 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.

Eiffel Tower Gourmet Dinner

Eiffel Tower Gourmet Dinner

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.

Wine Tasting in the Heart of Paris

Wine Tasting

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…

The Best Events in Paris

Things to Do in Paris December 2018

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 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.

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

The Best Christmas Window Displays

Christmas Lights

Galeries Lafayette, 9e
Printemps, 9e
Le Bon Marché, 7e
BHV, in the Marais • Faubourg Sainte-Honore, 2e
Avenue Montaigne, 8e
Place Vendome, 1er

Paris Christmas Decorations & Food Walking Tour

Paris Christmas Food & Decorations Walking Tour

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 !

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Noël en Bio – Organic Christmas Show

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Salon Nautique de Paris

France's largest boat show!

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European Women's Handball Championship
  • AccorHotels Arena, 12th Arrondissement
  • December 14 to 16
  • Information

Discover Even More December Events in Paris

More December Events

We've only been able to include a few of the many events to experience and sights to see in Paris this December. There's a lot more going on, so take a moment to visit our complete guide to December events.

What's On at the Museums

Things to Do in Paris December 2018

Picasso. Blue and Rose.

Picasso

The first first large-scale collaboration between the d'Orsay and the Musée Picasso.
• Musée d'Orsay
• Ends January 6, 2019
Information

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Dorothea Lange

The long-awaited retrospective at Jeu de Paume. This is going to be huge.

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Color Engraving in Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries

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Jakuchu (1716-1800) – The Colorful Kingdom of Living Beings
  • Petit Palais
  • September 15 to October 14, 2018
  • Website

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Alejandro Cesarco

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Alfonse Mucha
  • Musée du Luxembourg
  • Ends January 27, 2019
  • Website

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The Cruel Stories of Paula Rego

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Fernand Khnopff – The Master of Enigma
  • Petit Palais
  • December 11, 2018 to March 17, 2019
  • Website

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Michael Jackson – On the Wall
  • November, 2018 to February, 2019
  • Grand Palais
  • Website

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