Hot Mulled Wine, Roasted Chestnuts, & Holiday Gift Shopping at Marchés de Noël
A visit to a Paris Christmas Market is the fastest way to get into the holiday spirit when visiting the City of Light during the shortest days of the year.
With sparkling lights, Christmas trees full of bright decorations, and even occasional visits from Saint Nicolas - or Père Noël, as Parisian children call him - these festive street markets filled with Swiss-style wooden chalets transport a tradition begun in the Middle Ages in Alsace and Germany to the French capital.
Copy the Parisians - sip hot mulled wine, munch on roasted chestnuts, and sample delicious sausages and cheese while shopping for arts and crafts, festive Christmas decorations, regional food specialties, and other gifts until well into the night.
During a typical year, about 15-20 Paris Christmas Markets appear across the city, joined by occasional "pop-up" weekend markets.
Traditionally, these picturesque markets span the Advent season beginning four Sundays before Christmas.This year, look for opening dates from mid-November to mid-December 2019. Although a few markets stay in place for only a week or two, most remain open through Christmas Eve and some continue to stay in place early January.
Here are Paris Discovery Guide's recommendations for six outstanding large Paris Christmas Markets, plus more Christmas Market locations around the city.
Paris Christmas Market at Canopée des Halles
Relatively new, the Canopée des Halles Christmas Market is one of the largest in Paris.
The Canopée des Halles Christmas Market offers an enchanting mix of festive attractions such as a Christmas tree maze, lighted reindeer, and Santa's cabin along with the traditional market stalls offering mulled wine, raclette, freshly cooked crepes with Nutella, and the tantalizing smell of roasted chestnuts.
Look for about 75 chalets featuring gift items made by French craftsmen, and mouth-watering displays of regional sausages, foie gras, terrines, cheeses, salted nuts, and other gourmet foods under La Canopée at newly splendid Forum des Halles. You'll see some non-gourmet favorites too - crepes filled with nutella, raclette, and onion soup.
Displays of sparkling lights make this Christmas market especially festive at night.
Location: Forum des Halles, 101 Porte Berger
Métros: Chatelet, Les Halles
Open: Mid November through late December
More to Do Nearby: Shop in Forum des Halles (the below-ground shopping complex surrounding the metro/train station), visit adjacent Église Saint-Eustache, or explore market street Run Montorgueil to the right (as you face it) of the church
The Magic of Christmas: La Magie de Noel at Tuileries Garden
La Magie de Noël (The Magic of Christmas) in Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre is a somewhat smaller version of the former Champs-Élysées Christmas Market, once the largest and most famous Marché de Noël in Paris before a dispute between its owner and the Mayor of Paris.
Look for around 100 chalets featuring mostly French-produced food products, wine, and gifts plus a dozen carnival rides, and an ice rink - and of course lots of glittering lights, festive crowds, and perhaps even guest appearances from Santa.
And even though the Christmas Market will no longer take place along Champs-Élysées, you're only five minutes by foot from the famous boulevard's dazzling Christmas lights and decorations.
More to Do Nearby: Need to do more holiday shopping? Walk up Rue de Castiglione to Place Vendome, or turn left or right on Rue Saint-Honoré and explore the chic boutiques. Check out the brightly-lit stores in the underground shopping mall Carrousel du Louvre (enter near the Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre Metro station). Or walk across Place de la Concorde to explore all the stores lining both sides of Champs-Élysées and the designer showrooms along nearby Avenue Montaigne. If you continue walking down Avenue Montaigne toward Place de l'Alma, you'll soon see the spectacularly lit Eiffel Tower framed by the street's lovely white Christmas lights.
Special Christmas Cruises
Paris Notre-Dame Christmas Market - 2019
Perhaps the most picturesque of the Paris Christmas Markets is the Marché de Noel Notre Dame, located in Square Viviani on the Left Bank's Quai Montebello just across the Seine from the famous cathedral.
Despite the tragic fire last April, the Marché de Noël continues this December.
With Notre Dame's soaring medieval towers as a backdrop and especially poignant this year and their near-destruction, this cheerful market offers the usual vin chaud (hot mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts. Occasional appearances by musicians add to the festivities.
However, its specialty is high-quality arts and artisan crafts made in France. You can usually find an especially nice selection of gift-worthy clothing and accessories here, as well as fancy gourmet foods.
Best of all, Santa makes frequent appearances - sometimes with a glass of vin chaud in hand.
Getting to the Marché de Noel Notre Dame:
Location: Square René-Viviani on Quai Montebello, at the edge of the Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement
Métro: Saint Michel, Maubert-Mutualité
RER: B and C, Saint-Michel - Notre-Dame
Open: Mid-December until (usually) Christmas Eve or later
More to Do Nearby: Visit the lovely medieval church next door, Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, which dates back to 1160. Or cross the bridge and check out the Christmas decorations inside Notre-Dame. For books, café fare, and perhaps some conversation, stop by Shakespeare & Company, an English-language haven adjacent to Square Viviani at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie
Place des Abbesses Christmas Market in Montmartre
Located next to the Place des Abbesses Metro station on one of the most photo-worthy streets in Montmartre, the Place des Abbesses market is small but charming.
Fortify yourself with a cup of warm spiced wine and a small packet of hot roasted chestnuts, straight off the grill - look for Vin Chaud and Marrons Chaud signs, or just follow your nose.
Look for hand-knit scarves, one-of-a-kind fashions, and children's toys.
For kids, there's a colorful carousel, and usually appearances by Père Noël on the weekends.
This is a fun market to visit if you want to get a taste of the Christmas markets but avoid the crowds filling the larger markets.
Coming here is also a great excuse to explore the winding hills of Montmartre and make your way to Sacré-Coeur to enjoy the sweeping city vistas.
Location: Next to the Abbesses Butte Montmartre Métro station in Montmartre, 18th Arrondissement
Métro: Abbesses Butte Montmartre
Bus: 80, 95 (get off at Cimetière de Montmartre and walk a few blocks east on Rue Joseph de Maistre/Rue des Abbesses to the market)
Open: Late November - end of December
More to Do Nearby: Check out the "Wall of Love" (le mur des je t'aime) while sipping a cup of hot mulled wine in Square Rictus next to the market. Explore Montmartre. And of course visit the boutiques along Rue des Abbesses, one of the great market streets in Paris.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market
The 25 or so chalets of this Christmas Market border Boulevard St-Germain next to the famous St-Germain-des-Près Church.
This is one of the smaller markets in the city, and specializes in luxury items, such as fine leather pocketbooks, lovely jewelry, French gastronomy products, and handcrafted items. This is a good place to buy scented candles, leather-bound notebooks and bags made in France, and fine chocolates filled with liquor.
Fortify yourself with the usual hot mulled wine and roasted chestnuts as you walk past mouth-watering displays of artisinal macaroons, marrons glacés(candied chestnuts) from Southern France, and jewel-like jars of fruit jams.
For even more variety, walk a couple of blocks to the Saint-Sulpice Christmas Market, where you'll find delicious prepared food to eat on the spot from various regions of France.
More to Do Nearby: Walk over to the Christmas Market at Saint-Sulpice Church (Place Saint-Sulpice on Rue Bonaparte - from Saint-Germain-des-Prés, walk south along Rue des Rennes) - and explore all the tempting boutiques along the way. Continue walking for a few more blocks and you'll be at Luxembourg Garden
More Fun Things to Do & See in Paris at Christmas
La Défense Marché de Noël
The huge Christmas Market along the Esplanade at La Défense boasts 350 chalets, making it the largest in the Paris region. The holiday decorations and displays next to it on the Esplanade are also fabulous.
The market's spectacular setting in this glittering business district make the 9-minute ride from the Étoile/Charles de Gaulle metro station well worth your time - plus you'll find a vast selection of gifts ranging from trinkets to high-quality jewelry and leather goods, and well-equipped kitchens and restaurants turning out steaming plates of delicious Alsatian fare and Spanish-style paella.
You'll find lots of specialty items not seen in smaller markets - Santa costumes, stuffed animals, huge bins brimming over with clementines and other seasonal fruits, candies from the South of France, freshly baked gingerbread, antique books and fine paintings, and large pop-up stores filled with Christmas decorations.
One stall features many different varieties of exquisite nativity figures at surprisingly affordable prices - you may be tempted to fill your suitcase!
Several stalls offer gorgeous finely-tooled leather goods from Morocco, while others have large selections of fashionable scarfs and coats, candies, and tins of herbal teas.
Kids will also find lots to do and see here, including multiple Santas who happily pose for photos and a small pen filled with very cute miniature donkeys for petting.
You can easily spend an entire evening at this market. And definitely plan to have a meal and glass or two of wine here - this is one of the best Paris Christmas markets for dining.
Location: Esplanade de la Défense
Métro: Grande Arche de la Défense
RER: A (from Étoile Metro Station)
Open: Late-November - late-December
More to Do Nearby: Arrive in daylight hours and check out the 60 sculptures and monuments along the Esplanade. Ice skate on top of the huge arch, which along with the Arc de Triomphe at Étoile and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel near the Louvre, forms the Historical Axis of Paris. After you've explored the Christmas Market, check out the enormous Quatre Temps shopping mall next to the Esplanade. Sports fans won't want to miss the gigantic Décathlon store on the other side.
11 More Paris Christmas Markets for You to Explore
Saint-Sulpice, near the St-Sulpice Métro station, Luxembourg neighborhood in the 6th Arrondissement, usually early December through Christmas Eve; a pop-up Alpine ski rink sometimes also appears here, but not this year
Christmas Market at Hôtel de Ville - Small but nicely curated Christmas market Paris City Hall, 4th arr) - Mid December through early January - This is an occasional market, not held every year (sometimes there's an ice rink here instead)
Trocadéro Christmas Market, at Palace of Chaillot in the 16th Arrondissement next to the Trocadéro Métro station, typically mid-December through early January
Christmas Market at the Feeries d'Anteuil ( 40 rue Jean de la Fontaine, 16th arr) - In addition to crafts, leather goods, jewelry, and even an oyster bar, you can enjoy magic shows, puppets, concerts, and other family entertainment. Early December, about 9 days. Find the event schedule here: https://www.apprentis-auteuil.org
Montparnasse, next to the train station; small number of chalets with nice gift items
Marché de Noël Paris Beaubourg - Christmas Market at Pompidou Center, 4th arr; usually open for the month of December until just after the New Year - Very close to the jazz clubs along Rue des Lombards, in case you need to reward yourself with music and a drink after shopping
15th Arrondissement, in the courtyard in front of the district's Town Hall (31 rue Péclet, near Vaugirard Metro Station) - Look for about 20 chalets offering regional specialities, crafts, jewelry, and Christmas decorations, plus plenty of free fun activities including pony rides, sleigh rides, and even a merry-go-round. About 10 days before Christmas
Parc de la Villette, across from the Philharmonie concert hall (221 avenue Jean-Jaurès) - Early December to Christmas Eve - Small, but you'll find all the essentials: hot mulled wine, crepes filled with Nutella, and gifts - this is different from the pop-up market at the Pavillion des Canaux coffee shop
Alsatian Christmas Market at Gare de l'Est (in front of the Gare de l'Est train station, 10th Arrondissement) - First two weeks in December (check December Events Calendar for exact dates) - Stock up on tasty Alsatian traditional food, with daily free tastings. December - early January
Place d'Italie, at the Italie 2 shopping center (30 Avenue d'Italie, 13th arrondissement) - About 20 chalets offering gifts and specialty food items; usually early December through Christmas Eve
Eiffel Tower Christmas Market on Quai Branley, next to the famous attraction. During some years, there's also a pop-up ice skating rink next to the market. Last 2 weeks in December/early January. Closest Metro: Bir Hakeim, 7th Arrondissement
Pop-Up Stalls Selling Holiday Fare
Pop-up stalls come and go in some areas, so you will most likely happen upon them. One area where this frequently occurs is near Galeries Lafayette, across from the main building on Blvd Haussmann. Look for luxury goods, such as perfume, designer scarves, and fine leather gloves.
Even the regularly-held Paris street markets expand their offerings at this time of the year.
For example, even the small tucked-away Marché Saint-Honoré (Wednesday afternoon/evening and Saturday until 3pm) in the 1st Arrondissement expands with stalls offering knit garment, fancy confits, and jewelry.
Where to (Maybe) Find a Pop-Up Market
Pop-up Christmas markets, by their nature, are ephemeral and can be hard to find if you don't live in Paris - but a place always worth checking is the spacious Halle des Blancs Manteau (48 Rue Vielle du Temple, 4th Arrondissement), an old covered market dating back to the early 1800s in the heart of the Marais.
If you don't find a pop-up market underway, you'll find plenty of other shopping opportunities in this part of the Marais - or walk a few more blocks to Village Saint-Paul.