Dazzling Paris Christmas lights begin to appear all over the city in November and continue to fill the City of Lights through early January.
The Paris Illuminations, as they are called, take many forms: lavish displays on Champs Élysées and other famous avenues, sparkling decorations on 150+ more streets throughout the city, elaborate creations in department store windows, spectacular over-the-top light shows at Disneyland Paris, and cheerful strings of lights at the famous Paris Christmas markets.
You'll see some of the loveliest, although more subdued, Christmas decorations and lights inside Notre Dame and other Paris churches. Or, for a completely different type of experience, take one of the evening cruises and see the Illuminations as you perhaps enjoy a gourmet dinner or Champaigne as you float down the Seine River.
And in case you're worrying about the electric bill for all these lights, don't.
Between the energy savings by using LED bulbs and solar power generation, the energy cost for this spectacular annual display is almost zero, which means even more streets will display holiday lights in years to come.
To see the most lavish display of Christmas lights and decorations in Paris, head straight to Champs Élysées, where a million sparkling blue and white lights cover street trees and form huge snowflakes 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 be on all night for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
Location: Champs Élysées, 8th arrondissement
Metros: Charles de Gaulle/Etoile, Georges V, Franklin Roosevelt, Champs Élysées/Clemenceau
Stay nearby: Hotels near Arc de Triomphe
More to enjoy along Champs Élysées in December: Christmas Market (not in 2017, but returning in 2018 in a more upscale format)
2. Avenue Montaigne Christmas Lights
Delicate white lights form giant snowflakes floating in the trees along stately Avenue Montaigne, where top Paris couturier showrooms and designer boutiques occupy the street's ornate mansions.
Want to experience real magic? Walk along Avenue Montaigne on a December evening when real snowflakes are falling.
Location: Avenue Montaigne, 8th arrondissement
Metro: Champs Élysées/Clemenceau
Stay nearby: Hotels near Arc de Triomphe
More to enjoy: Walk to the end of Avenue Montaigne to Pont de l'Alma and watch the Eiffel Tower's nightly light show
3. Lighted Christmas Trees in Place Vendôme
Dozens of Christmas trees shaped like perfect cones and covered with white and blue lights dot Place Vendôme's huge central court.
Surrounded by the façades of palatial 18th century mansions (the Ritz occupies Number 15), the lighted trees make the whole space seem ethereal.
Location: 1st arrondissement
Metros: Concorde, Madeleine, Pyramides, Tuileries
Stay nearby: The Ritz - check reviews and rates
More to enjoy nearby: Christmas lights and decorations along nearby Faubourg Saint-Honoré
4. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré Christmas Lights & Decorations
Blue and white Christmas lights along fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré are elegant and sophisticated, with occasional touches of whimsy. But the most spectacular features are the enormous lighted chandeliers (inside protective glass cases) made by famed crystal maker Baccarat.
Equally compelling are the elaborate holiday window displays along this famous shopping street filled with boutiques offering luxury goods and designer clothing.
Location: Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré between Rue Royale and Palais Royal, 1st Arrondissement
Nearest Métro: Tuileries or Concorde
5. More Lighted Streets & Neighborhood Christmas Trees
Aside from the most extravagantly decorated avenues such as Champs Élysées, where else can you find Christmas lights in Paris?
Well, quite a lot of places, as it turns out: over 150 streets and squares throughout Paris put up lighted decorations, making it truly the "City of Lights."
Here is a small sample of streets where you'll find them in central Parisian districts:
1st arrondissement: Place Vendôme, Rue de Rivoli, Rue Saint-Honoré, Rue Berger
2nd arrondissement: Grands Boulevards, Passage of the Panoramas
3rd arrondissement: Rue Saint-Martin, Passage des Ménétriers, Rue Brantôme
4th arrondissement: Rue Rambuteau, Rue des Archives, Rue Saint-Paul, Village Saint Paul; on Ile Saint-Louis, Rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile usually sports lovely lights and decorations
5th arrondissement: Rue de la Huchette, Rue Dante, Rue du Petit Pont, Rue Frédéric Sauton, Boulevard Saint Germain, Place Maubert
6th arrondissement: Rue de Rennes, Rue Saint Placid, Rue de Sèvres, Rue d'Assas, Rue Notre Dame des Champs
7th arrondissement: Rue de Grenelle, Rue du Champ de Mars, Rue Saint-Dominique, Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, Avenue Bosquet
8th arrondissement: Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, Rue Mathurins, Avenue Montaigne, Carré de la Madeleine, Avenue Champs Elysees
You can see the Paris Christmas lights from mid-November (check the December Events Calendar for the exact date) through the first week or so in January (coming down just before January Sales begin) from 5pm until 2am.
6. Grand Department Stores - Paris's Most Lavish Christmas Decorations
You can see some of the most elaborate Christmas lights and decorations in Paris in the windows of the city's four major department stores. If you're visiting with kids, they'll be entranced by the elaborate animations based on different themes each year.
Go inside the stores to see even more lights and decorations!
Paris Department Stores
Galeries Lafayette: Tuileries or Palais Royal Musée du Louvre
Au Printemps: Loulou (adjacent to the museum)
BHV: Hotels near the Louvre
Bon Marché: www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr
7. Paris Illuminations from Seine River Cruises
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 a 3-course dinner in an glass-enclosed boat as you cruise along the Seine past lighted attractions, and catch a performance at famous Moulin Rouge while you sip Champagne - Find out more
Eiffel Tower, Seine River Cruise, & Paris Illuminations Night Cruise - Experience the magic of Paris lights in December three ways: a cruise down the Seine, a view from the Eiffel Tower, and a wonderful tour by coach around the city - Find out more
7. Christmas Market Lights & Decorations throughout Paris
Bright lights, cheery holiday decorations, and the smell of roasting chestnuts make Christmas Markets an irresistible attraction, whether you want to shop, sip a cup of hot mulled wine, or just soak up the ambiance.
Although the Swiss-style white chalets are similar from market to market, each one has its own unique specialities. Some emphasize holiday gourmet treats, others serve up plates of steaming freshly cooked food (look for Spanish paella, Bavarian sausages, and North African couscous), and still others offer finely crafted artisan products - but you can usually find a great mix at most of them.
8. Chrismas Decorations in Paris Churches
Paris churches also get into the spirit of the Christmas season. Look for special Advent calendars and displays, garlands and flowers, and even the occasional Christmas tree.
For an especially memorable experience, attend a candlelight concert during December. More about Paris church concerts
9. La Défense Christmas Lights
The expansive central esplanade at La Defense is where you'll find the biggest and most flamboyantly colorful Christmas lights and decorations in the city.
As soon as you step off the escalator from the Metro station, you'll see the lighted decorations in front of you.
With shopping centers on both sides of the Esplanade and the brightly-lit La Defense Christmas market at the far end, you can easily spend an entire evening here.
Location: West of Paris, just outside of the city
Nearest Métro/RER A: Grande Arche de la Défense
More about the La Defense and other Paris Christmas Markets
10. Disneyland Paris - A Christmas Light Extravaganza!
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:
12. Christmas Lights at Bercy Village
Each weekend evening, the sky above the chalets lining Bercy Village's Cour Saint-Émilion lights up with magical swirls resembling fairy dust designed by street artist Jordane Saget, who also designed the lighting for the giant Christmas tree in front of the outdoor shopping center's movie theater. The effect is totally enchanting - plus there's lots more to do and enjoy in this popular shopping and entertainment destination.
Location: 28 Rue François Truffaut, 12th arrondissement
When: Mid-November - Mid-January
Metro: Cour Saint-Émilion
More to enjoy: Shopping in Bercy Village