Where to Celebrate the Festival of Lights in the City of Light
Celebrate Hanukkah in Paris by attending one (or more) of the public menorah lighting events held each evening at sundown at different sites around the city throughout the 8-day holiday, with a special ceremony at a different location each night.
For 2020, Hanukkah takes place from December 10-18.
This year's first-night menorah lighting celebration takes place in front of the Eiffel Tower.
After the first candle on the giant 30-foot menorah is lit, you can enjoy a Hassidique concert on the Champs de Mars.
One additional candle is lit on each following night until all candles on the public menorahs around Paris (and of course those in private homes of the Jewish community as well) are glowing.
Attending one or more of these public menorah lightings is a special way to participate in Hanukkah commemorations in Paris.
You'll find the schedule and locations below, plus more suggestions for things to do during Hanukkah, including where to find Jewish bakeries as well as Ashkenazi and Sephardic Paris synagogues.
Photo credit: Photos of the menorah in front of the Eiffel Tower on this page are courtesy of Chabad Lubavitch - Photo credit: Thierry Guez / Chabad.org
Menorah Lightings in Paris - Schedule & Locations
Please note: All dates/times/locations to be confirmed for 2020
Here are some of the public squares and other Paris locations where you can see lighted menorahs during Hanukkah, including the schedule (dates and times) for special lighting ceremonies, which may include short blessings or prayers and perhaps a few songs:
1st Candle - Sunday, December 22, 7:30pm - Champs de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower, 7th arrondissement
2nd Candle - Monday, December 23, 7:30pm - Place de la République, 3rd/10th/11th arr
3rd Candle - Tuesday, December 24, 7:30pm - Place des Fêtes, 19th arr
4th Candle - Wednesday, December 25, 7:30pm - Place de la Bastille, 4th/10th/11th arr
5th Candle - Thursday, December 26, 7:30pm - Place du Maréchal Juin, 17th arr
6th Candle - Friday, December 27, 7:30pm - Place du Châtelet, 1st arr
7th Candle - Saturday, December 28, 8pm - Place Guy Môquet, in front of BNP, 18th arr
8th Candle - Sunday, December 29, 6pm - Place de l'Opéra, 9th arr
More Paris Locations with Lighted Menorahs during Chanukah:
Place Vendôme (1st arr)
Place de la Bourse (2nd arr, in front of Palais Brongniart)
Monceau Park (8th arr, near the Malesherbes Boulevard entrance)
Place Étoile (8th arr, near the Champs Élysées/Friedland Avenue intersection)
Many of the public menorah lightings for Hanukkah in Paris are sponsored by Chabad, an Orthodox Jewish Hasidic movement. Check their website to confirm dates, times, and locations.
Why Is Hanukkah Celebrated?
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, dates back to the 2nd century BCE. After a small band of Jewish warriors called the Maccabee defeated the Syrian Greeks who had occupied the Holy Land and banned Judaism, they lit a lamp in Jerusalem's Holy Temple. Although they had enough pure oil for only one night, the oil miraculously burned for eight nights until they were able to get more, and that's what Hanukkah celebrates: the miracle of the light.
The Hanukkah holiday commemorates the miraculous event over a period of eight days by lighting menorahs - 8-branch candelabra holding either candles or tiny cups of oil with floating wicks. A 9th "helper" candle or oil cup is used to light the others, starting with one flame on the first night and then adding one each night until all are lit. Traditionally, menorahs are displayed in windows of homes.
Where to Find Jewish Bakeries with Hanukkah Pastries in Paris
Paris's Jewish bakeries give you plenty of opportunity to sample special Hanukkah foods made with oil, such as potato latkes and sufganiyot (fried jelly-filled doughnuts).
For a large selection of latkes, doughnuts (look for the beignets signs), and other pastries such as almond cakes, head over to Rue des Rosiers in the Marais, the historic heart of the Jewish community in Paris.
Several renowned bakeries cluster within a few feet of each other along this narrow cobbled street dating back to the early 13th century.
Although most of these bakeries originally featured Ashkenazi (Eastern European) cuisine, they now incorporate Sephardic (Mediterranean) specialties as well.
Each bakery has different selections and flavors, so conduct your own food tour and try them all - and don't miss the terrific falafel shops nearby:
Sacha Finkelsztajn - 27 Rue des Rosiers - you can't miss the bright yellow exterior
Murciano Patisserie-Boulangerie - 14 Rue des Rosiers - look for a bright blue storefront, and a menorah in the window surrounded by delicious pastries
Korcarz - 29 Rue des Rosiers - you'll see all the mouthwatering pastries through the large front windows
Florence Kahn - 24 Rue Ecouffes (at the corner with Rue des Rosiers - look for the appealing blue and white mosaic facade
More Ways to Visit Marais Bakeries, Jewish Delis, & Falafel Stands
Shabbat & Hanukkah Services: Paris Synagogue Locations
In case you would like to attend a religious service as part of your Hanukkah commemoration in Paris, here are several of the city's oldest, most historic, and best known Orthodox and Reformed synagogues to consider.
Please check their websites for service schedules plus any restrictions regarding visitors or security.
Grande Synagogue de Paris (44 Rue de la Victoire, 9th arr; Orthodox) - Known as La Victoire, the Grande Synagogue is the largest synagogue in France, built in 1874 in Romanesque style with Byzantine and Second Empire features, offers many different services throughout the week. Visitors are welcome to participate in services, especially the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat at 7:30pm, Shabbat morning (with Cantor and Choir) at 9:30am, and Tuesday and Friday mornings at 7:45am. Friday night Shabbat dinner is open only to the Jewish community, including tourists. Please check the Grande Synagogue website for details, including sign-up and security requirements.
Union Libérale Israélite de France (24 Rue Copernic, 16th arr; Liberal/Reformed) - Typically called the Rue Copernic Synagogue or in English, just Copernicus. Founded in 1907, this is the oldest Reform community in France and one of the few in Paris. Shabbat services are celebrated on Friday evenings at 6:30pm and Saturday mornings at 10:30am. A Hanukkah celebration is held for the lighting of the first candle; there is also a children's festival and a concert. Copernicus also offers special concerts once or twice each month throughout the year (except for August). Copernicus Synagogue website
Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue (10 Rue Pavée, 4th arr; Orthodox) - Often called the Pavée or Guimard Synagogue, this stately temple in the heart of the Marais was designed by famed architect Hector Guimard, better known today for his sinuous Art Nouveau metro signs, for Russian and Eastern European Orthodox Jews who immigrated to Paris in the early 1900s. Guimard also designed much of the furnishings and decorative elements for the synagogue, which opened in 1913 and continues to offer Shabbat, weekday, and holiday services to worshipers. Although visiting is not normally possible, the synagogue does occasionally open its doors to visitors on special occasions such as European Heritage Days in September. Pavée Synagogue website
Nazareth Synagogue (15 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, 3rd arr; Orthodox) - The oldest synagogue in Paris, built in 1852 in Moorish Revival style by Parisian Ashkenazi Jews but now dedicated to Sephardic rites to serve the North African Jews in its Upper Marais neighborhood. In addition to Shabbat, it offers numerous other services during the week, special presentations, and concerts. Nazareth Synagogue website
Although the Marais in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements are often associated with Paris's Jewish community, in reality synagogues can be found almost anywhere in the city.