What to do at the Weekend: Spend Christmas in Paris
Paris at any time of year is incredible…but visiting the French capital over the festive period adds that extra dose of magic!
Christmas lights line the beautiful streets, there are Christmas markets to explore, and luxury stores pull out all the stops with their decorations and window displays – what more could you want?
Visiting Paris over the festive period
Being the fantastic boyfriend he is – no he didn’t ask me to say that – Ben actually booked Paris as a birthday present for me last year (and achieved himself lots of boyfriend points)!
While my birthday is in October, we headed over to Paris for the first weekend in December.
Living in England, a trip to Paris is fairly pain-free, with quick flight times and regular routes from most airports.
This makes it the perfect spot for an easy weekend getaway.
Where we stayed in Paris
For this trip, we stayed in the ibis Paris Eiffel Tower Cambronne 15th.
It was a no-frills type of hotel, but ideal for what we needed.
We don’t spend much time in our room on a city break (too busy exploring)!
The room was compact, but clean and comfortable so no complaints here!
Just 10 Minutes from the Eiffel Tower
The only downside was the lack of tea/coffee-making facilities (we are British after all).
But being in Paris, you’re not short of cute coffee shops and patisseries to treat yourself.
We found the location great for where we wanted to visit, just an 8-10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
It was also really close to the Metro station which was surprisingly easy to use.
Getting in the Christmas spirit in Paris
Paris definitely oozes Christmas spirit.
There’s plenty to see and do to get you in the mood for the festive period.
And even better, there’s plenty you can do for free!
Christmas can be an expensive time as it is, so being able to explore some Christmassy sights without it costing a fortune is a plus point.
See the Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées
As Christmas edges closer, you’ll find most of the city adorned with beautiful twinkling lights.
Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées
We loved walking down the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées – already a sight to behold as it is.
At Christmas, it’s lined with lights all the way from Place de l’Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe, to the Place de la Concorde.
During our visit, some 400 trees that line the avenue were sparkling with red lights, and this year, they’re wrapped in a soft golden light that makes the whole street glow from 5pm until just before midnight.
The lights are up from 20th November until 2nd January in 2022.
So even if you’re planning a trip between Christmas and New Year, it is likely you’ll still be able to enjoy them!
While the Champs-Elysées is one of the most well-known streets Paris has to offer, there are plenty of other spots where you can discover pretty light displays.
Other popular locations to see the Christmas lights include Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Place Vendome to name a couple.
Try an open-top bus tour of the city lights
As we only had a flying weekend visit, we didn’t get time to squeeze this in, but if you’ve got a few more hours to play with you could do an open-top bus tour of the city’s lights.
The bus tour takes you past some key landmarks such as Opera, Place Vendôme, Concorde, Champs-Elysées, Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, the big department stores, and many more.
You’ll even get a nice cosy blanket and a hot drink to keep you warm in the cold December weather!
To us, it sounds like a lovely way to spend a festive couple of hours!
Walking tour of Paris at Christmas
If you prefer to walk the sights, there is also the option of a small group walking tour.
The 2-hour tour takes you down the Champs-Elysées, and even includes access to visit the Arc de Triomphe.
Plus, with this tour, you’ll get to experience one of Paris’ many amazing Laduree where you’ll be able to try some delicious macaroons.
Christmas window & store displays
In a similar vein to the Christmas lights, there are also so many amazing festive window displays to be seen across Paris.
Our personal favourite from 2021 was Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, situated just behind the opera house
Both inside and out, the department store was decorated to the nines.
The widows boasted a fun toy theme, and inside an incredible colourful Christmas tree and inflatable Santa could be seen hanging from the glass-domed ceiling.
It was impossible not to say ‘wow’ at the sight of it!
Other larger stores with impressive displays include Printemps Haussmann and BHV Marais.
As you wander the city streets, you’ll see gorgeous displays throughout most shops – so look around as you go!
Amazing Chocolatiers in Paris
Who doesn’t love chocolate? I’m definitely a chocolate fiend!
And what’s better than chocolate on a normal day? Christmas themed chocolate of course.
If there was ever a time to be decadent and indulgent, Christmas tis the season!
Paris is known for its incredible patisseries and chocolatiers filled with delicious treats.
On our last day, we stumbled upon some of the most wonderful stores, with insane festive chocolate sculptures in their windows.
How anyone can make things so cool out of chocolate is beyond us!
Rue du Commerce
You’ll find these stores all over the city.
However, the specific ones we came across were located on Rue du Commerce between Rue Fondary and Yvette Chauviré Square.
We were mesmerised by the chocolate creations, from snow-topped winter cabins to reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh!
Our particular favourite display was in the window of Yves Thuriès – definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area this festive season.
Paris Christmas Markets
If a Christmas market is what you’re after, there are a several options to explore.
Jardins des Tuileries Christmas Market
In Jardins des Tuileries you’ll find a fun-filled market that combines traditional stalls where you can purchase gifts, food and drink, alongside fair/carnival rides (if that’s your thing).
Probably one of the most popular markets the city has to offer, this is where you’ll find the ‘Big Wheel’, a Ferris wheel that gives you views across Paris.
It’s always nice to sip on a hot mulled wine and some tasty snacks while you wander the stalls wrapped up in your cosy winter clothes!
This Christmas market runs from 19th November to 8th January, and is generally open from 11am-11:45 pm on weekdays and until 12:45am on the weekend.
Eiffel Tower Christmas Village
If you want to enjoy a market close to Paris’ most iconic landmark (we’d say so anyway), then the Eiffel Tower Christmas Village could be the one for you.
Located at the Champs de Mars underneath the Eiffel Tower itself, this market has that ‘traditional’ Christmas village feel.
Here you can find a whole host of yummy festive food and drink stands, alongside seasonal items, gifts and more.
For 2022, the village is shining the spotlight on the Alsace and Savoie regions of France, serving up gourmet local delicacies.
Visit the Eiffel Tower at Christmas
We don’t need to tell you to visit the Eiffel Tower.
It is one of those attractions that makes most people’s lists when planning a Paris itinerary.
Over the festive period however, there is even more of a reason to visit.
At Christmas, the gardens surrounding the Eiffel Tower are transformed into a winter wonderland with the trees lit up by blue lights and wintery snowflake effects.
You don’t have to pay to visit the gardens either, so is a great option if you’re visiting on a budget.
Eiffel Tower Chalet
If you want to splash out and treat yourself, the tower’s first-floor terrace is home to the ‘Eiffel Tower Chalet’.
Redesigned for Christmas with a cosy lights and Scandinavian style furniture, this would make the perfect spot for a drink. Or an indulgent meal.
If you’re traveling with children, on the 11th, 12th and 15th of December, and every day from the 18th to the 24th of December, you’ll even find Santa wandering around the first-floor.
This would definitely add to the Christmas excitement!
Plus, every evening – no matter what time of year – the Eiffel Tower is lit up with warm golden lights.
Eiffel Tower lights flash and sparkle on the hour, every hour for a five-minute period.
It really is something!
We think the tower looks even better at night.
Ice Skating in Paris
There’s something lovely about outdoor ice skating near Christmas.
Whether you’re already a pro, or (like us) are more like Bambi on ice, getting wrapped up in your winter attire and hitting the rink is a must.
Surrounded by festive lights and sights really does bring that Christmas magic.
Ice Skating at Jardin des Tuileries
If you’re already headed to Jardin des Tuileries for the Christmas Market, why not add ice skating to your agenda?
Their rink is open during the same period, from the of 19th November to the 8th of January.
Other ice rinks generally open up across the city throughout November and December.
It is worth doing a quick search to find the best option for you during your visiting dates!
We loved our little Christmassy Paris break last year, and hope this post will give you a bit of inspiration.
If you’re planning your own trip to the French capital during the festive period, let us know what you get up to!