From open-air ice rinks to merry-go-rounds on the Champs-Elysées and a general air of festive romance, the atmosphere of Paris is enhanced at Christmas to offer visitors an unmissable magical stay.
What to doIce skating: ice rinks are very popular during the festive season. For open-air ice rinks we recommend the rink on the Champs-Elysées and the one on the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville. A warmer option is the indoor rink Grand Palais des Glaces which opens only from December to January, when the Grand Palais theatre becomes the biggest ice rink in France and the most fashionable one.
Attend Christmas Mass: large-scale concerts performed by impressive choirs are staged in the main churches of Paris for Christmas Mass. However, our favourites are the ones celebrated in the Sacré-Cœur, Notre Dame and La Madeleine.
Paris Big Wheel and free merry-go-rounds: ideal to get a panoramic view of the city and enjoy the magic atmosphere that floats around every inch of it. It is a major hit with the youngest ones and couples.
Ladurée: take a break from the cold and treat yourself to some seasonal and festive macarons in the shop or go upstairs to the delightful dining room to enjoy a hot beverage. The only downside is the queue to get in.
What to see
City lights and windows displays: during Christmas, Paris shines unlike in any other time of the year and department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps fight to outdo each other and display imaginative and animated shows in their windows that enchant both children and adults.
Les Marchés de Noël: there are many Christmas Markets in Paris selling from decorations to regional products and crafts. The most popular one is the Christmas Village, located on the Champs Elysées, but theres lots more, including a market dedicated to arts, crafts, and fine cuisine set to spring up on the square outside Notre Dame Cathedral.
Nativity scenes: displayed at the entrance to or inside almost every church in Paris these scenes are very popular and can be life sized even! This year there is also a unique collection displayed at 112 Avenue Simon Bolivar that is really worth visiting.
Giant trees: like many other cities, Paris has its own centrepiece Christmas tree located on the Place de la Concorde. One of the biggest Christmas trees in Europe, it is festooned with thousands of twinkling lights, a remarkable sight in the majestic surroundings of the square. The best views are to be had from the giant Ferris wheel, which also lets you glimpse the Champs-Elyseés.
Where to eatLe Meurice: this Michelin 3-star restaurant under the command of Chef Alain Ducasse serves haute cuisine amidst an elegant and romantic atmosphere that will captivate you. Its wine list is also impressive.
Les Ombres: the restaurant of the Musée du Quai Branly is a gastronomic experience in itself. Located on the roof of the museum and featuring a glass-roof it offers exquisite menus and unbeatable views of the city.
Le Pied de Cochon: this Parisian institution is the stop for anyone wanting to taste traditional French recipes at their best. Their specialities are French onion soup, pig’s trotter grilled with Béarnaise sauce and chips and crepes flambéed in Grand-Marnier.
Bateaux – Mouches: travel along the Seine in one of these sight-seeing cruises while you enjoy lunch or dinner and live commentaries from knowledgeable guides that will tell you everything about the many monuments located on both sides of the river.