Christmas in Paris: Best Activities to Do

december 2023

The enchanting charm of Paris during the holiday season is a truly magical experience. From twinkling lights adorning iconic landmarks to festive markets bustling with joyful shoppers, there’s no shortage of holiday cheer in the City of Light. In this guide, you will find some of the best activities to make your French Christmas in Paris memorable, including a captivating dive into the world of the Moulin Rouge.

The Activities Not to Be Missed During a Christmas in Paris

Start your Parisian Christmas adventure with a glamorous dinner show at the cabaret. Famous for its extravagant performances and captivating ambiance, the Moulin Rouge offers a special holiday twist to its already spectacular “Féerie Show”. For an unforgettable Christmas Day or New Year’s celebration, the special Christmas evening offer promises a magical night blending music, dance, and dazzling costumes with a gourmet dinner. If you prefer a more lavish experience with surprises and wine or champagne to toast to new beginnings as you ring in the new year in style in the best seats, try the New Year’s Eve evening or the New Year’s Eve “Prestige”.

© Les Aliens

When you wake up from this festive dream, leave your hotel and drop by the rue Lepic Moulin Rouge boutique near Place Blanche to complete the experience and find the perfect souvenir or thoughtful gifts to bring home for your best friends and loved ones.

Now it’s time to discover Paris’ splendor from a new perspective while taking a well-deserved break: a boat tour on the Seine is an absolute must. Some cruise operators also offer special holiday-themed cruises with decorations, live music and French seasonal treats. And if you are lucky you will even pass by the twinkling Eiffel Tower, lighting up as it does for five minutes every hour.

© John Kellerman

Reaching terra firma as the festive spirit fills the crisp December air, you can listen to the magnificent choirs of several famous cathedrals and churches, like La Madeleine and Notre-Dame. Be sure to check the schedule for these special holiday events that might not take place every day.

Discover the Parisian Christmas Markets

Fancy mulled wine and some gingerbread for dinner? It is allowed in December! Taste all the best Christmas flavors in the vibrant markets of Paris.

The Montmartre Christmas Market (open during the month of December)

At the very top of the city, the charming village of Montmartre hosts a delightful market near the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Here you will find artisanal crafts, traditional French Christmas treats, and delightful trinkets all while you check the panoramic views of Paris.

marché de noel montmartre
© Samuel Areny

The Tuileries Christmas Market (open from November to January)

You’d rather be at the heart of the party? The Jardin des Tuileries Christmas market in the middle of the city features an ice skating rink and a Ferris wheel as early in the season as November. It’s an ideal place to spend the day shopping for gifts and food while surrounded by Christmas fun.

marché de noel tuileries paris
© Chun Ju Wu

The Paris La Défense Christmas Market (open from November to December)

However, if you want to see a modern twist on the traditional market, head West towards the La Défense Christmas market and enjoy your warm glass of wine against the backdrop of the district’s iconic skyscrapers!

marché de noel la defense paris
© Panther Media

Enjoy Sporty and Fun Moments with Outdoor Ice Rinks

For those looking to lace up their skates after walking through all the best markets, the ice skating rink at the foot of the Eiffel Tower offers an unparalleled experience. Alternatively, the ice skating rink on the forecourt of the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) in the first arrondissement will provide a historical backdrop for a frosty spin.

Let Yourself Be Carried Away by the Christmas Decorations in Paris

As your journey through the Parisian winter wonderland unfolds, you will find that strolling along the city’s avenues becomes truly magical, especially on Christmas Eve.

In the streets of Paris

Make sure to wander down the iconic Champs-Elysées, where thousands of Christmas lights create a true spectacle. You can also admire the glimmering lights and jewels at the luxurious place Vendôme, or visit the historical yet trendy and artistic district of The Marais.

illuminations champs elysées
© Arco / G. Lacz

The Parisian shop windows display during Christmas

For truly mesmerizing Christmas wonder, create top memories together as you feast your eyes on the captivating Parisian window displays. The BHV department store, the Galeries Lafayette, the Bon Marché and the Samaritaine all paint whimsical pictures of the festive season, making them ideal places for a family outing with children or a romantic stroll. Inside the Galeries Lafayette, a towering Christmas tree under the iconic glass dome is a sight to behold on top of the window displays.

illuminations galeries lafayette
© Peter Lane

Enjoy Family Activities for Children and Their Parents

Your wintertime adventure would not be complete without meeting Santa Claus at Disneyland Paris or partaking in delightful Christmas cookie-decorating workshops at L’Atelier des Sens.

A Bit of Culture with the Iconic Parisian Museums

Finally, don’t forget to indulge in a bit of culture and visit Paris’s world-famous museums open even on Christmas day. Explore contemporary art at the Palais de Tokyo, marvel at timeless masterpieces at the Louvre Museum, or find top design at the Musée des Arts décoratifs.

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