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 Nicholas - 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 additional "pop-up" markets lasting just a day, a weekend, or a few days.
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. 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 until early January.
The spectacular Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market would win the prize (if there were one) as "most beautiful" this year thanks to the gorgeous light show bathing the building's neo-Renaissance facade with falling snowflakes dancing across a brilliant blue background.
The Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market offers an enchanting forests filled with white and green trees decorated with silver ornaments and sparkling gold lights, traditional market stalls offering offering mulled wine, raclette, freshly cooked crepes drizzled with Nutella, and the tantalizing smell of roasted chestnuts, and free family-oriented activities such as a carousel, hurling, and visits with Santa.
Look for about 30-40 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. You'll see some street food favorites too - crepes filled with nutella, raclette, and onion soup.
The light show, numerous sparkling lights, and tranquil ambiance makes this Christmas market especially charming at night.
Location: Rue de Rivoli, across from BHV Marais (52 Rue de Rivoli)
Métros: Hotel de Ville
Open: Mid December - early January
More to Do Nearby: Cross over Rue de Rivoli and shop at BHV Marais department store, or continue farther into the Marais neighborhood and explore the many fantastic boutiques - you'll find some wonderful options along Rue des Francs Bourgeois.
Although the Canopée des Halles Christmas Market easily ranked as one of the largest Paris Christmas Markets just a few years ago, it has now shrunk to one of the smallest, with only 20 or so chalets offering sausages, Belgium waffles, and other seasonal specialties, plus vin chaud (hot mulled wine).
Under the Canopée, an enormous sparkling Christmas tree reminds you that more shopping and dining opportunies can be found among the shops inside the multi-storied complex.
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. Hungry? Stop by Alain Ducasse's Champeaux restaurant in the Forum for a glass of wine, a snack, or a full meal.
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 grew out of the former Champs-Élysées Christmas Market and is huge - by far the biggest Marché de Noël within Paris, stretching along the garden's entire north edge from Rue des Pyramides to Place de la Concord. It is also easily the most popular, attracting over 10 million visitors each season.
What's the theme at this market? Fun, entertainment, food!
Look for a huge ferris wheel, more than a dozen other carnival rides and "fun house" amusements, a small ice skating rink including a separate section for young children, a Champagne bar, steaming copper vats of traditional onion soup and hot mulled wine, French-produced specialty food products, artisan crafts and gifts, glittering lights, numerous larger-than-life-sized plastic Santas and reindeer - and much more!
La Magie de Noël truly is magic. Come experience it for yourself!
And even though Champs-Élysées no longer hosts this popular Christmas market, you're only five minutes by foot from the famous boulevard's dazzling Christmas lights and decorations - so exit Tuileries Garden near Place de la Concorde, and walk over to see them.
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 under the sparkling of lighted trees, 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 at Square Viviani
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 due to the cathedral's 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 renovations underway at 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 areas in Montmartre, the Place des Abbesses market is small (about 15-20 chalets in total) 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. Alternately, you can also join the crowd at the Champagne bar!
Look for hand-knit scarves, one-of-a-kind fashions, and children's toys.
For kids, there's a brightly lighted 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.
If you're heading back into central Paris after your visit, walk down pedestrian-only Rue des Martyrs and enjoy the holiday lights stretching across the street and all the Christmas and New Year specialty foods offered in the dozens of gourmet shops lining this famous market street.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés Christmas Market
The 40 or so chalets of this Christmas Market border Boulevard St-Germain next to the famous St-Germain-des-Prés Church.
This is one of the city's best mid-sized markets, 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.
Location: Blvd Saint-Germain, next to Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church, 6th Arrondissement
Bus: 39, 63, 70, 86, 96
Open: Mid-December until early January
More to Do Nearby: Walk a few blocks to the Cluny Christmas Market, (next to the Cluny Museum at the Saint-Germain/Boulevard de Saint-Michel intersection) where you'll find a half-dozen or so stalls offering delicious prepared regional French food to eat on the spot. Spend an hour or two at the Cluny Museum (free entrance with a Paris Museum Pass) - also known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages - and immerse yourself in medieval treasures including the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, as well as the 3rd century Roman baths.
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.
12 More Paris Christmas Markets for You to Explore
Parc de la Villette, across from the Philharmonie concert hall (221 avenue Jean-Jaurès) - Early December to Christmas Eve - Small (although it seems to grow a bit larger each year), 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
Gare Saint-Lazare Marché de Noël, in front of the Saint Lazare train station in the 8th arrondissement, sports a modern look and feel - in fact, purists might not even consider it a Christmas market. But it's fun and all in good cheer, especially if you like Disney and Legos, and who can resist the Champagne bar?
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
Trocadéro Christmas Market, at Palace of Chaillot in the 16th Arrondissement next to the Trocadéro Métro station, typically mid-December through early January - another occasional market
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
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. About 2 weeks during the first half of December
Sacre Coeur Christmas Market, next to the carousel in the small park at the foot of the hill leading up to the church - This is a small, occasional market, with just a handful of chalets. It is not here this year - so head over the the market at Place de l'Abbesses instead
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 (formerly located on Champs de Mars). 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, Alma Marceau (across the Seine) or La Tour-Maubourg, 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 (currently undergoing reconstruction, but ignore the mess and enjoy the number of shops still open while the work progresses).
Opening dates vary - but the larger markets usually open during the middle or end of November, or early December. Closing dates vary from just before or after Christmas to New Year's Eve or even early January.
A few smaller markets wait until mid-December to open. Pop-up markets may take place for only 1-3 days.