Christmas in Paris is a magical season, with so many fantastic things to do to celebrate.  Sparkling decorations light up the city, hot mulled wine and roasting chestnuts warm you as you browse through the Christmas markets, and Bûche de Noël cakes and other seasonal treats fill the windows of every patisserie you pass by.

With dazzling holiday window displays at all the city's biggest department stores, fun Christmas markets to explore throughout the city, spectacular Christmas and New Year concerts in historic churches (plus a don't-miss Handel's Messiah sing-along), and tempting sales to make your holiday shopping even more exciting, you'll discover lots of wonderful things to do and see during the holiday season in Paris.

Here are our recommendations for 20 special ways to enjoy Paris during the winter holidays, including the best places to enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations, wonderful holiday tours and cruises, the best seasonal Christmas markets, churches where you can see nativity scenes and attend Christmas mass and church services, tips for where to enjoy Christmas dinner in Paris, and everything else you need to know to experience the spirit of the Christmas season in Paris.

Top photo: Christmas tree in Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris

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1.  Feel Dazzled by Christmas Lights Sparkling across Paris

Christmas lights along Champs Elysees in Paris
Christmas lights & shoppers along Champs Elysees in Paris

To see the most lavish display of Christmas lights and decorations in Paris, head straight to Champs Élysées, where over a million (yes, literally!) sparkling lights cover the 400 street trees between Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. 

As you walk along the sidewalk, you'll also see festive decorations and even more lights in most of the stores lining this famous avenue. 

Although the Christmas lights usually stay on from 5pm to 2am, they will shine all night for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Stay nearby:  Hotels near Arc de Triomphe

More fantastic places to see Christmas lights in Paris

Go on a Christmas lights tour

Popular Paris Christmas Experiences

Get into the holiday spirit with these special "only in Paris" activities:

  • Christmas Gourmet Tour of Saint-Germain-des-Pres - Enjoy a special 3-course lunch, live music, and magical views of famous sights and landmarks along the Seine River as you cruise by in a comfy glass-covered boat.  These holiday cruises always sell out - so book early to avoid disappointment!  Book now
  • Moulin Rouge Dinner & Show - Enjoy a magical cabaret show by a troupe of 100 costumed performers paired with a delicious tradtional French dinner and Champagne.  Book now
  • Paris Christmas Lights Tour - Snuggle under a warm blanket as an open-top bus takes you past the city's most brilliant Christmas lights as well as other famous illuminated Paris attractions - Arc de Triomphe, Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier), Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and more.  It's an unforgettable way to see Paris!  Book now
  • Private Christmas Tour of Paris with a Ferris Wheel Ride - On this special tour, you'll see the most famous Paris holiday lights and decorations plus a few "insider's gems," enjoy a glass of mulled wine (or hot chocolate), and a ride on the giant Paris ferris wheel.  Includes hotel pick-up/drop-off.  Book now

2.  Sip Hot Mulled Wine As You Shop at Paris Christmas Markets

Paris Notre Dame Christmas Market
Notre Dame Christmas Market, with the famous cathedral in the background

Starting in November, Christmas Markets pop up all over Paris, offering a wide variety of arts and crafts, regional food specialties, and other gifts. 

Each market has its own special ambiance, activities, and seasonal foods and beverages to enjoy. Here are just a few to consider: 

  • Square René Viviani Christmas Market - Small and tranquil, with vendors offering handmade artisan gifts, specialty foods, and mulled wine, plus visits from Santa and tranquil views of Notre Dame Cathedral across the Seine River
  • Hotel de Ville Christmas Market, with "forests" of evergreen trees, a light show of "snowflakes" falling across the front of the building, an old-fashioned carousel, and fun free kids' activities
  • Tuileries Garden "Magic of Christmas" Christmas Market - amusement rides, fantastic food and beverages, artisan gifts, and even a Champagne "hut"
  • Alsatian Christmas Market at Gare de l'Est train station - Fantastic regional specialties from Alsace
  • Montmartre Christmas Market at Place des Abbesses - Small and charming, with hot roasted chestnuts, a Champagne kiosk, and a friendly neighborhood vibe
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market - Lovely assortment of artisan products (look for the kiosk with high-quality leather items), specialty foods and wines, and tempting snacks
  • La Defense "Marche de Noel" Christmas Market- The Paris area's biggest holiday market, less than 10 minutes on the Metro's Line 1 from Etoile/Charles de Gaulle and not to be missed, with 350 vendors, gift selections you won't see anywhere else, and fantastic food choices. Their tartiflette (cheesy potatoes in a creamy sauce plus optional smoked ham) is the best!  Bonus:  Festive lights and decorations along the La Defense Esplanade - and spectacular views from on top of the Grande Arche!

Find details for all the Paris Christmas Markets

With sparkling lights, brightly decorated Christmas trees, and visits from Saint Nicolas - or Père Noël, as Parisian children call him - these festive street markets attract crowds of shoppers until well into the night.

So copy the Parisians - sip hot mulled wine, munch on roasted chestnuts, and sample delicious sausages and cheese while exploring all these markets have to offer (and getting your Christmas shopping done) - a tradition that's been around since the Middle Ages.

3.  Treat Yourself to a Christmas-Time Dinner & Show at Moulin Rouge Cabaret

Moulin Rouge, Paris cabaret
Moulin Rouge in Paris - Photo credit: iStock/sonny2962

Celebrate the best of the holiday season while savoring a traditional French dinner and Champagne at Moulin Rouge as you experience their spectacular Féerie show performed by 100 artists, 80 musicians, and 60 choral singers. 

Get ready to be dazzled by the gorgeous costumes, set designs, and music at this famous cabaret! 

For a special treat, book a show with champagne only, or a show and dinner for Christmas Day (but do it early, because they always sell out far in advance). 

Book the Moulin Rouge Caberet Show with Champagne

Book Dinner with Champage, Transportation, &and Show at Moulin Rouge

More Ways to Enjoy Moulin Rouge

4.  See the Best Christmas Windows & Displays in Paris Department Stores

Christmas window at Galeries Lafayette department store
Christmas tree suspended from the stained glass dome in Galeries Lafayette

Starting in late October, the five biggest Paris department stores - the grands magasins - dazzle children and adults alike with imaginative Christmas window displays featuring elaborate animated scenes complete with sparkling lights, holiday music, and plenty of jolly Santas, festive Christmas trees, teddy bears, and beautifully wrapped gifts. 

This year, Bon Marché windows celebrate French cuisine, including a mesmerizing display of animated baguettes "dancing" to music.

Galeries Lafayette usually boasts the most elaborate - and most anticipated - windows, showing a holiday adventure along with lots of animations and music. 

Don't miss the biggest showstopper of all: Galeries Lafayette's gigantic flamboyant Christmas tree suspended from the glass dome.

BHV Marais features a journey to a different country each year, while Printemps's windows are fanciful and whimsical. 

Samaritaine (so far) embraces elegant minimalism, with no animations, music, or other effects.

Find out more about the Paris department stores' holiday windows, including locations & map

Find dates for when each store reveals its holiday windows

5.  Hear Fabulous Christmas Music in Historic Churches

Breath-taking stained glass at Sainte-Chapelle
Soaring stained glass windows in Sainte-Chapelle

Each year, special holiday concerts featuring Christmas and classical music take place in several of Paris's spectacular historical churches and other venues - Sainte-Chapelle, Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Eglise de la Madeleine, Saint-Sulpice, Saint-Eustache, and even the Eiffel Tower.

Christmas & Christmas Eve Concerts in Paris

Christmas and New Year's concerts make December a blockbuster month in Paris for holiday music of all sorts.

Tickets for the most popular shows and concerts including those at Sainte-Chapelle and the Eiffel Tower sell out quickly, so don't wait too long to book yours!

Christmas & Christmas Eve Concerts in Paris

More Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Performances

New Year's Eve Shows in Paris

More December Concerts, Operas, & Ballets

Looking for non-holiday music?  See all concerts for December

More Paris classical concerts, opera, & dance performances during December

More rock, pop, jazz, rap, indie, & other concerts during December

Find Paris concerts for other months

6.  Rainy Day? Be Dazzled by Decorations in Covered Passages

Holiday lights and decorations at Galerie Vivienne
Holiday lights and decorations at Galerie Vivienne

Hidden from street view, Paris's 19th century covered passages transform into holiday wonderlands and give you a dazzling refuge on rainy days. 

For merry decorations and lots of greenery, stop by Galerie Vivienne in the 2nd arrondiseement.  

The passage's high-end boutiques overflow with potential gifts, and the bistros and wine bar will tempt you to take a well-deserved relaxation break.

Find out more about Paris's covered passages

Christmas decorations in Le Village Royal passage
Christmas decorations in Le Village Royal passage

When the rain stops, stop by Le Village Royal (Cité Berryer) near Place de la Madeleine in the 8th. 

This almost-hidden enclave of designer boutiques such as Dior, Chanel. and Gucci features creative decorations and a calm ambiance in this busy part of the city. 

Sidewalk Christmas decorations add to the holiday spirit.

Christmas sidewalk display on Rue Royal near Place de la Madeleine
Christmas sidewalk display on Rue Royal near Place de la Madeleine

7.  Plan in Advance Where to Eat Your Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Dinners 

Tins of foie gras displayed in Bon Marché's La Grande Épicerie de Paris on Rue de Sèvres
Tins of foie gras displayed in Bon Marché's La Grande Épicerie de Paris on Rue de Sèvres

Parisians typically celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home with family and friends over sumptuous feasts featuring traditional French holiday specialties - raw oysters, foie gras, Bûche de Noël, and much more! 

If you're visiting Paris during this special holiday season, you can enjoy the same type of meal - but you'll need to do some pre-planning and make reservations - or shop. 

Join a Paris cooking class to learn how to make the perfect Christmas dinner

Although many restaurants, cafes, and even brasseries will be closed for the holiday, you can still discover a few places open in most neighborhoods, especially those known to be popular with tourists.  In Saint-Germain, for example, Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore stay open and do a brisk business all day.

You'll also find plenty of excellent choices among the city's larger brasseries and restaurants, especially those in 4- and 5-star hotels.  For a fancy dinner, expect to pay in the range of 100€-250€ per person, depending on the number of courses, Champagne, and wine.  Be prepared to spend even more if Michelin stars are involved - but you can expect a meal to remember!

For something less elaborate, less traditional, and considerably less pricey, head to the Marais where plenty of Jewish delis will be open or to the 13th arrondissement's Quartier Asiatique (Chinatown) around Place d'Italie for tasty Chinese and Vietnamese food. 

If you're staying in an apartment, putting together your own Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners can be a lot of fun as well as the perfect excuse to sample special French Christmas treats.  Seek out specialties in your neighborhood shops, or head over to Bon Marche's La Grande Épicerie de Paris (38, rue de Sèvres, 7th arr, or 80, rue de Passy, 16th arr) where you'll be surrounded by tempting displays of foie gras and caviar, glistening sides of salmon, and the world's finest Champagnes. 

Don't want to cook?  Head to the prepared food section and buy a rotisserie chicken or duck, roasted potatoes, already-cooked veggies, microwave-ready hors d'oeuvres, and everything else you need for a gourmet meal.  Or go to the nearest Picard, where everything is flash-frozen and all you'll need to do is heat and serve.  Most stores stay open until 7pm on Christmas Eve (verify before you go in case of last minute changes) but are closed on Christmas Day. 

If you wait to shop until Christmas Day itself, you still won't starve.  A few bakeries in each area will be open until early afternoon, and the tiny epiceries crammed with basics such as cheese, fruit, and wine found in most neighborhoods may stay open all day.  In the 6th arrondissement, you can buy wonderful breads, gourmet prepared foods, and superb pastries including Bûche de Noël at Maison Mulot (76 Rue de Seine) until 6pm.

And for Christmas dinner dessert, a traditional (and delicious) Bûche de Noël yule log cake is a must!

Learn how to cook an authentic French Christmas dinner from a Parisian chef 

8.  Sample Bûche de Noël & Other Special Christmas FoodsBûche de Noël and other confections at Arnaud Larher Pâtissier Chocolatier on Rue de Seine in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood

Bûche de Noël and other confections at Arnaud Larher Pâtissier Chocolatier on Rue de Seine in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood

By early December, every pâtissier in Paris has filled its windows to overflowing with creative versions of Bûche de Noël, the traditional French Christmas log cake. 

The city's top chefs compete to see who can create the most creative, most beautiful, and most precious cake.  Needless to say, these bûches de Noël can cost small fortunes. 

However, most Parisians buy their Christmas cake (often ordered a couple of weeks in advance) from their favorite local pastry shop to take home and serve to family and friends for Christmas dinner.  

If you haven't ordered in advance, don't worry - most neighborhood patisseries will still have bûches for sale on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, although selections may be somewhat limited.

If you are visiting Paris, you can easily experience this seasonal treat in many Paris tea rooms and restaurants. 

A slice of Bûche de Noël being served as dessert at "La Cuisine de l'E7" restaurant at Hotel Edouard VII near the Paris Opera House
A slice of Bûche de Noël being served as dessert at "La Cuisine de l'E7" restaurant at Hotel Edouard VII near the Paris Opera House

Some suggestions:

  • Angelina, 226 Rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement
  • Cafe de la Paix, 5 Place de l'Opéra, 9th arrondissement
In this Parisian bakery, a large Bûche de Noël costs 45 euros (and serves about a dozen people), but you can buy a slice for just 7.50 euros
In this Parisian bakery, a large Bûche de Noël costs 45 euros (and serves about a dozen people), but you can buy a slice for just 7.50 euros

More Bûche de Noël ideas:  Some pastry shops sell Bûche de Noël by the slice (look for a "per person" price, usually about 5-10€) - a more affordable option than a restaurant or tea room. 

Other patisseries sell les bûches in multiple sizes - small, medium, and large.  The small size is perfect for four people (or for two, if you'd like seconds or left-overs).  A few bakeries even have tiny 1-person bûches.

More Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Paris

9.  Take a Holiday Cruise on the Seine River

Cruise boat on Seine River at night - Photo credit: iStock/ake1150sb
Cruise boat on Seine River at night - Photo credit: iStock/ake1150sb

To see famous Paris lighted attractions, sparkling Christmas lights, and even the Eiffel Tower light show, take one of these popular Paris Illuminations cruises:

  • Paris Christmas Lights Tour - For a spectacular tour of Paris Christmas lights, bundle up and hop on this open-top double-decker bus as it takes you on a Christmas-themed tour to see the city's most brilliantly lighted streets and attractions - Find out more
  • Seine River Dinner Cruise and Moulin Rouge Show with Champagne - Enjoy dazzling views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, and then cruise along the Seine past lighted attractions.  Dine either at the tower or on a dinner cruise (you choose), and cap your spectacular evening by watching a performance at the famous Moulin Rouge while you sip Champagne - Find out more
  • Christmas Day Lunch Cruise - Enjoy a special 3-course lunch, live music, and magical views of famous sights and landmarks along the Seine River as you cruise by in a comfy glass-covered boat.  These holiday cruises always sell out - so book early to avoid disappointment!  Book now

More Paris Christmas & New Year Cruises:

10.  View Nativity Scenes in Paris Churches

Christmas nativity scene at Saint-Etienne-du-Mont Church behind the Pantheon in the Latin Quarter
Christmas nativity scene at Saint-Etienne-du-Mont Church behind the Pantheon in the Latin Quarter

Paris churches also get into the spirit of the Christmas season.  Look for special Advent calendars and displays, nativity scenes, garlands and flowers, and even the occasional Christmas tree.

For an especially memorable experience, attend a candlelight concert in a church during December.  

More about Paris church concerts

11.  Attend Christmas Eve Mass or Church Services in Paris Churches 

Christmas tree in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Christmas tree in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Want to attend special Christmas Eve Mass or church services in Paris? 

You'll find lots of wonderful options throughout the city, from the city's grandest historic churches where you can view nativity scenes and hear spectacular organ and choral music to six smaller places of worship offering services in English.

More about where to attend Christmas Eve services, and what to expect

12.  Visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas

Christmas at Disneyland Paris during December
Christmas at Disneyland during December - Photo by Kevin Gaudin

Christmas celebrations begin at Disneyland Paris in early November with plenty of entertainment and fun for everyone.

You'll find a spectacular giant tree, entertaining shows, festive Christmas parades, and dazzling holiday decorations everywhere.  Don't miss two brand-new holiday shows at Walt Disney Studios® Park this year, a new immersive nighttime extravaganza, and singing carols with Santa, Mickey, and Minnie for a magical experience you won't forget!

When:  Early November through early January

Disneyland Paris and Transportation

Take RER A to the Marne-la-Valee station, walk across a small plaza to Disneyland Paris, and buy your tickets at the gate - or check out these advance ticket options to make your trip faster and easier:

13.  Ice Skate in Iconic Paris Locations - 2024

Ice skating rink at the Tuileries Garden Chrismas Market
Ice skating rink at the Tuileries Garden Chrismas Market

Ice skating rinks (les patinoires, in French) normally pop up in a few iconic Paris locations just for the holidays.

Locations vary each year, but you can almost always find rinks open at the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market, the Grande Arche at La Defence, and at the Grand Palais.

This year, with the Grand Palais still being renovated and so many preparations elsewhere for next summer's Olympics, only the Tuileries rink will be open and generally accessible, although you can also see another tiny pop-up "rink" at Palais-Royal:

  • Tuileries Garden Christmas Market Ice Skating Rink (1st arr; metro: Line 1: Tuileries; check our December Events guide for opening dates)
    Despite its relatively small size, the Tuileries Marche de Noel ice skating rink packs in a lot of fun and gives you a wonderful opportunity spend some quality time on the ice while enjoying all the other festivities, food, and entertainment at this huge holiday market across from the Louvre Museum. And as a bonus, like most other activities at this Christmas market/amusement park, your ice time and rental skates will cost you just a few euros.  More about the Tuileries Christmas Market and ice rink
  • Cour d'Honneur at Palais-Royal Pop-Up "Ice Rink" - Open from December 16-31, this rink contains not ice but instead, eco-friendly self-lubricating synthetic tiles for sliding, which is why we put quotes around "ice rink."  Unfortunately, the free tickets booked up within a few hours of being offered, so if you're in the area, you can see it but not access it.
Ice skating at the Grand Palais in Paris
Ice skating at the Grand Palais in Paris (during a previous year)

In future years, these patinoires should (hopefully) reopen:

  • Grande Arche de la Défense (1 Parvis de la Défense; 5 minutes outside of Paris on the Metro - take the Metro 1 line or RER A to the La Défense Grande Arche station) - Enjoy fantastic views of Paris and the surrounding area from the rooftop pop-up ice rink set on top of the Grand Arche anchoring the Défense Esplanade (where you can also visit the largest Christmas Market in the Paris area).  
  • Grand Palais (3 Avenue General Eisenhower, 8th arr; metro: Champs-Elysees Clemenceau) - Please note:  This venue will not be available this year due to ongoing renovations which may not complete until 2024.  Here's what to expect when it reopens:  Dubbed the Grand Palais des Glaces ("The Great Hall of Ice"), the ice rink set up in the nave of the glass-enclosed Art Nouveau Grand Palais is the largest indoor pop-up ice rink in the world, with a huge silver disco ball and onsite cafe offering French-style hot dogs, waffles, hot chocolate, and more.  There's even a separate area for young children.  During the evening hours (8pm-2am), the skating rink remains open and there is also a dance floor plus light shows, mirror balls, and a DJ. 
    Useful tips:  Gloves are required, but no worries if you don't have any - you can buy a pair from a vending machine at the rink for 5€.  A coat check is available for 2€ per coat, bag, or other major item.  Wear thick leggings or long pants to protect your knees in case you fall on the ice.
    More information:

14.  Shop for Gifts at Pre-Christmas (& Black Friday) Sales

Pre-Christmas sale at Zadig & Voltaire
Pre-Christmas sale at Zadig & Voltaire

Although the famous January sales don't begin until a week or so after New Year's Day, pre-Christmas sales during December are a "Paris insider's secret" that can save you significant money on your holiday gift shopping. 

How much?  Clothing by well-known designers and brands usually runs around 20% off, but home decor and gift items may be reduced as much as 50%.  You have to look around because by no means does every store do this - but if you happen to spot something you want, you'll be thrilled! 

Stores along and around the Grands Boulevards and Champs-Elysees, as well as boutiques in the Marais are a good place to start looking - but be alert as you're walking around, because you'll see these discrete "reduction" signs all over the city.

Black Friday sign in Paris boutique
Black Friday sign in Paris boutique

And in late November/early December, don't forget about Black Friday.  This American post-Thanksgiving sales tradition has slowly crept across the Atlantic and into even some of the most posh Parisian boutiques. 

Whereas in the U.S., Black Friday rarely continues beyond the Sunday or Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, Black Friday signs in Paris may continue to appear for a week or even 10 days into December.

15.  See Paris at Night on the "Big Wheel"

Ferris wheel at Jardin des Tuileries
Ferris wheel at Jardin des Tuileries

Take a ride on the "Big Wheel" Ferris wheel at the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market and get a panoramic view of holiday lights across Paris.

You'll find lots of other fun things to do, yummy snacks and beverages, and even a nice assortment of artisan gifts in this popular Christmas Market.  

The biggest draw, though, are the carnival-like amusement rides (in fact, many are the same ones that set up here for the summer festival, now decked out with Christmas decorations). 

Find out more about the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market

16.  Sing Handel's The Messiah in the American Cathedral

Celebrate the holiday season in Paris by joining the Paris Choral Society and a group of other Messiah enthusiasts in their annual sing-along of Handel's Messiah Part 1 plus the famous Hallelujah Chorus at the American Cathedral (23 Avenue George V, 8th arr). 

If you don't already know the words or have a score, no worries - you can rent or buy one at the door.

The concert usually takes place in early December.  See our December concerts listings for date and ticket information.

17.  Buy Yourself (or Someone Else) Some Christmas Flowers

Christmas flowers in front of a flower shop on Rue du Bac in Saint-Germain
Christmas flowers in front of a flower shop on Rue du Bac in Saint-Germain

You'll see Christmas flowers everywhere throughout the city - exquisite displays of crimson amaryllis, hellebores (especially the December-blooming variety sometimes called the "Christmas Rose"), and even sweet-scented hyacinths spilling onto the sidewalks, along with lots of evergreens, holiday wreaths, and perhaps a decorated Christmas tree or two.  Bonus points for spotting sparkling Eiffel Towers.

So don't resist - buy yourself a bouquet or a small pot of your favorite blooms.  They also make lovely gifts if you're visiting friends or family for the holidays.

18.  Be Dazzled by the Winter Festival of Lights at Jardin des Plantes

Walking through a tropical rainforest during the Festival of Lights at Paris's Botanical Garden
Walking through a tropical rainforest during the Festival of Lights at Paris's Botanical Garden

The annual winter Festival of Lights returns to the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden) in Paris's 5th arrondissement, with giant illuminated statues of animals creating a magical experience during the evening. 

The topic year is the ecosystem of the jungle and the balance of nature in tropical forests of Asia, Oceania, South America, and Africa.

Although the exhibition attracts almost 400,000 visitors each year, the garden never seems crowded.You can see the creatures unilluminated during daytime hours without a ticket (in other words, for free), but the ticketed event which begins after dark is more spectacular.

Brightly lighted dinosaurs flank the entrance to the Light Festival at Paris's Botanical Garden - Photo credit: Yann Caradec
During a previous show, brightly lighted dinosaurs flank the entrance to the Light Festival at Paris's Botanical Garden - Photo credit: Yann Caradec

Dates:  November 22 - January 21, except for Dec. 24 & 31, 6pm l- 9:30pm, with last entry at 8:30pm, and until 11pm (last entry at 10) on Friday, Saturday, & school holidays

Location:  Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier, 5th arr
Tickets for evening strolls: 15€-17€, with reduced prices for children and families; tickets must be bought online (and get yours early, as they will sell out on many nights, especially during weekends and school holidays)

19.  Hear the Bells Ring at Midnight on Christmas Eve

Eglise Saint-Sulpice in Saint-Germain
Eglise Saint-Sulpice in Saint-Germain

Go outside at midnight on Christmas Eve.  You'll hear church bells ringing all over Paris as Christmas Day begins.

Tip:  For the best sound, stroll over to the nearest Catholic church.

20.  Salut the Season with Vin Chaud

Vin chaud at the Abbesses Christmas Market in Montmartre
Vin chaud at the Abbesses Christmas Market in Montmartre

As soon as the first hint of chilly weather hits Paris around mid-November, vats filled vin chaud - hot mulled wine - start steaming their delicious brew in the Christmas markets and many of the city's bars, cafes, and even a few bakeries. 

What exactly is vin chaud?  It's a festive seasonal beverage made from red wine mixed with a little sugar, bits of orange peel, cinnamon, a hint of cloves, and perhaps a few other spices or ingredients and then heated to blend and mellow the flavors.  

Don't expect the wine to be the best quality - that's why the heating, blending, and mellowing process is important.  But you can also easily make it yourself using whatever wine you want (as long as it is read).

Of course, an even better way to toast the season is with Champagne, also offered by the glass or cup at many Christmas markets as well as virtually every bar and restaurant in Paris.  The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market even sets up a special Champagne bar.

Cheers and santé! 

21.  Celebrate with Champagne & Look for Santa on Rue des Bulles (a.k.a. Rue des Martyrs)

Rue des Martyrs becomes Rue des Bulles to celebrate Champagne and Christmas
Rue des Martyrs becomes Rue des Bulles to celebrate Champagne and Christmas

The Nicolas Feuillatte champagne house celebrates the Christmas season by renaming a Paris street "Rue des Bulles" and erecting a giant canopy of 12,000 gold and white "bubbles" - actually, biodegradable balloons which light up at night during December.

This year, the honor is bestowed on Rue des Martyrs, the famous food street in the 9th arrondissement.  Look for glasses of bubbly at all the bars, cafes, wine shops, and restaurants along the street and a festive mood, especially during musical entertainment on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Saint Nicolas and his donkey arrive on Rue des Martyrs
Saint Nicolas and his donkey arrive on Rue des Martyrs

Even without Les Bulles, Rue des Martyrs offers plenty of Christmas cheer, especially around the carousel in the square.

If you happen to be there at the right moment, you may even see a small procession with Saint Nicholas, a donkey, and a brass band as they may their way to the carousel where Santa greents the neighborhood children and even takes gift requests.

Carousel and Christmas trees on Rue des Martyrs¸
Carousel and Christmas trees on Rue des Martyrs

More Things to Do for Christmas in Paris

Need to Book a Paris Hotel for Your Christmas Visit?

Planning a trip to Paris during the holiday season?  Use this hotel map to find hotels near your favorite Christmas events and Paris attractions:

Check out the newest Paris hotels