Coming to Paris for Christmas or during the holiday season? I highly recommend it. I think it’s a wonderful time of year to be in Paris because there aren’t as many people plus you get to see Paris all decked out for the holidays. Trust me, there’s nothing more charming than seeing your favorite, already picturesque Parisian café decorated for Christmas. Here are my top 10 recommendations of things to see and do.
Walk through Place Vendôme
The simple, elegant decorations at Place Vendôme take my breath away every year. There’s just something about the classic, stately Christmas trees with the beautiful Parisian architecture in the background that is simply the best. While you’re there, check out the Ritz Paris’ Christmas Chalet serving hot chocolate and pastries – or go inside the iconic hotel for a stronger drink.
Visit a Christmas Market
There are Christmas Markets all over Paris, from Hotel de Ville to Les Halles to Boulevard Saint-Germain and more. My favorite is at the Tuileries, which used to be the market that lined the Champs-Elysées. There’s something for everyone: rides, including a ferris wheel with great views of Paris, artisanal products, not so artisanal products, shows, and lots of food and drinks. My favorite part is definitely the food and drink area – there’s lots of cheese, lots of vin chaud, and lots of French food. It’s a great way to get a sampling of lots of French specialties at once!
Go Ice Skating
There are several places you can go for ice skating in Paris, including the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette (although the ice isn’t real). My pick is the Grand Palais, which turns into a massive ice skating rink (the largest indoor ice skating rink in the world) from mid-December until January. We went for a night session to enjoy the light show around the giant disco ball on ice. Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance here.
Have a Hot Chocolate (or a three)
This year I was on the hunt for hot chocolate. I sampled a lot, from super rich pure chocolate (which is maybe too rich for a full cup) to just average, not worth mentioning hot chocolate. My top pick? The hot chocolate at Café de Flore. Yes, it’s a touristy and expensive place, but it has one of the best terrasses for people watching and otherwise in Paris. And the hot chocolate really is perfection. Just chocolatey enough.
Look at the Christmas Lights
There are Christmas lights all around Paris, and since the sun sets so early it isn’t difficult to enjoy them. Lots of streets are decorated by the block, so often times you’ll just turn a corner and stumble upon something festive. Some of my favorite streets include Rue du Bac, Avenue Montaigne, Rue Saint-Honoré, and Rue Montorgeuil, which is already a fabulous pedestrian street. You can also just take in the lights at one of your favorite cafés or a covered passageway like Galerie Vivienne.
See a Christmas Concert
This year I went to the Église de Saint-Germain des Prés to listen to Christmas carols on a Saturday afternoon. It was casual, beautiful, and a great way to get in the holiday spirit. A concert at Sainte-Chappelle is an equally magical experience. You can look out for flyers posted around Paris for concerts any time of year or check the schedules here.
Check out the Jeff Leatham’s creations at the George V
A lot of hotels have wonderful holiday decorations, but nothing tops Jeff Leatham‘s over-the-top creations for the Four Seasons Hotel George V. Every year he seems to outdo himself, and it really is art. Word to the wise – avoid going on a weekend if at all possible or you’ll be waiting a while for a photo without a person in it.
Do Something Hands-On
This year I attended a floral workshop with a Christmas theme that was a collaboration between Baccarat and Flowerbx. It was so much fun getting creative and learning something new from the Flowerbx expert in the beautiful Baccarat boutique setting. Plus, at the end of the workshop I got to take home two Christmas bouquets that have my apartment looking and smelling extra cheerful.
Take in the Decorations at a Department Store
The main department stores in Paris all have wonderful window displays outside as well as decorations inside. While BHV and Printemps have great window displays and the tree at Galeries Lafayette is always a highlight, my personal favorite is Le Bon Marché. The decorations are not only whimsical and fun, but I think you can find some of the best gifts at Le Bon Marché. It’s a win-win!
Go Ornament Shopping at Astier de Villatte
Last but not least, what better way to remember a holiday trip to Paris than with a special ornament. Astier de Villatte has the best. As far as ornaments go, if you can dream it, Astier de Villatte probably has it. In fact, I wrote a whole post about their ornaments here.