Paris is nicknamed the City of Lights. This moniker is even truer during the Christmas season. From store windows filled with elaborate Christmas displays, to charming outdoor markets, to larger-than-life light displays, Paris completely transforms itself into a dreamland during the holiday season. Read on to find out the best places in Paris for getting into the holiday spirit.
Indulge at the Champs-Élysées Christmas market
This boulevard, known for its luxury shopping and high-end restaurants becomes even more magical during the Christmas season. The trees flanking this busy artery are decked with twinkling lights, an effect that is breathtaking for drivers and pedestrians alike. Christmas shopping can be stressful, but the incredible atmosphere makes shoppers forget their worries.
In addition to the permanent boutiques on the Champs-Élysées, there is also a temporary Christmas market installed between mid-November and early January. Small white houses reminiscent of ski chalets host every type of vendor and shop imaginable. From handmade knitted goods, to jewelry, to toys, you’re sure to find a gift for everyone on your list. In addition, a special effort is made to feature regional products from around France, notably cheese, cured sausage, and jams. It is a great opportunity to discover more about French culture without having to travel far.
Besides the merchant stands, there are also plenty of food vendors who serve everything from waffles to foie gras burgers. If you’re feeling chilly, there are plenty of hot beverages available such as hot chocolate, mulled wine, and cider.
There are plenty of rides and games to keep the kids happy, as well as an ice skating rink and of course, Santa Claus. To reach the market, take lines 1, 8, or 12 and get off at stop Concorde. The market is open from 10.00 AM to 11.00 PM every day until January 8.
Admire the window displays at Au Printemps department store
This store, one of Paris’ oldest, pulls out all the stops for the holiday season. Its eleven massive display windows are filled with an intricate puppet show that illustrates a Christmas story. This year’s display is sponsored by Burberry and tells the story of a boy leaving London to celebrate Christmas in Paris. Along the way he passes a winter wonderland, the English Channel and Santa’s workshop before arriving safely in Paris for the holiday. Parisians spend hours in front of these windows admiring the incredible displays. It’s certainly an amazing sight to see for kids and adults alike. To reach Au Printemps, take Line 7 or 9 and get off at stop Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette.
Be stunned by the giant tree at Galeries Lafayette department store
Touted as one of Paris’ most incredible stores, Galeries Lafayette becomes even more jaw-dropping during the Christmas season. The center of the store is filled with an enormous Christmas tree, lights, and ornaments. The view becomes even more magical as you climb to the top floor of the store. Each year the theme and the tree change so Parisians always wait anxiously to see what masterpiece Galeries Lafayette concocts. Sometimes the tree is even upside down! Even if you don’t end up buying anything, you won’t regret making a special trip to see these incredible decorations. To reach Galeries Lafayette, take Line 7 or 9 and get off at stop Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette. The store is open from 9.30 AM to 8.30 PM from Monday to Saturday and from 11.00 AM to 7.00 PM on Sundays during the Christmas season.
Ride the Ferris Wheel at Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde stands at the eastern edge of the Champs-Élysées. Typically this area is no more than a busy roundabout filled with aggressive drivers, but at Christmas time it becomes home to an enormous 70-meter (230-foot) Ferris wheel. In fact, it is the tallest mobile Ferris wheel in the world! Buy a ticket and hop into one of the enclosed pods for a chance to see Paris from a new angle. You’ll see the Tuileries Garden, the Louvre museum, and of course, the spectacular Champs-Élysées. To reach the Ferris wheel, take lines 1, 8, or 12 and get off at stop Concorde.
Enjoy the lights at Place de la Madeleine
If crowds aren’t your thing, have no fear, there is a place to enjoy Christmas lights in Paris without fighting the masses. Take a nighttime stroll near Place de la Madeleine and find tasteful icicle lights strung across the roads and adorning the buildings. In addition, small Christmas trees flank the entrances to stores and offices adding a simple, festival touch. To reach Place de la Madeleine, take lines 8,12, or 14 and get off at stop Madeline.
Visit Paris for Christmas
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Paris during the Christmas season, make sure to visit as many of these sites as possible. They are all beautiful in their own ways and they’re surely bring you some holiday cheer.
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