In December, Paris shines bright with merriment and festive buzz. From makeshift markets to seasonal bites and yuletide celebrations, the time leading up to Christmas in Paris offers memorable experiences ideal for business and leisure travellers alike.
Festive events and activities
One of the most enchanting events of the Christmas season is the citywide festival of lights. Every year, over 100 streets, shops and sites are adorned with a dazzling display of shimmering illuminations, most notably at the iconic Champs Elysées and the majestic Notre Dame cathedral. For an exceptional overview of this magical décor, you could book a boat trip around the Seine River or take a Christmas walking tour around the Marais, Montmartre or Left Bank districts.
There’s also a range of ice skating options ideal for groups, some surrounded by spectacular scenery including the rinks at the Eiffel Tower, Hotel de Ville and most dramatically, on the rooftop of the Montparnasse Tower. Christmas in Paris is also a time for festive performances at the Opera Garnier and the Moulin Rouge—each offering private group tours or VIP seating.
Another great way to get into the spirit of the season in Paris is to visit its wealth of Christmas markets. Since the 15th century, artisans from around France have flocked to the capital to sell craftworks from fashion to artwork and specialty foods offered in specially constructed wooden chalets. Though many options abound, you’ll find the biggest and most celebrated market at the crown of the Champs Elyseés. For group travellers seeking an extra-special experience, you could also travel the short distance to Disneyland Paris, which transforms into a breathtaking Christmas village from late November.
Christmas in Paris is all about fabulous food. Traditionally, the French love to indulge seasonal gourmet delicacies like oysters and spiced fois gras. The raclette is a savoury cheese wheel served with cold cuts or on its own. Festive main courses are often game meats or seafood. The most decorative of these holiday dishes is a dessert: the bûche de Noël, a sponge roll with creamy filling available in several flavours and adorned with glittering decorations. Popular drinks include vin chaud (hot mulled wine) and, of course, champagne.
Christmas parties in Paris
When you’re planning Christmas parties in Paris, the scenery becomes just as important as the cuisine. The Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower and L’Opera restaurant in the Palais Garnier opera house offer privileged views amid spectacular design, while the La Marina restaurant offers dinner cruises on the Seine with perfect views of Paris.
Bar and eateries ideal for Christmas parties in Paris include the Blind Bar, a former mansion transformed into a cosy and intimate bar with whimsical décor; the stylish Gentleman 1919, a vintage speakeasy hidden behind a barber’s shop; and Le Coup Chou, an atmospheric restaurant behind an ivy facade, where classic traditional dishes are served to guests amid oversized sofas and antiques under old wooden beams.