How to Spend Christmas in Paris

If you are lucky enough to be spending Christmas Day in Paris, there are plenty of ways you can make your holiday extra special. The capital is bustling with festive energy during this season, and you’ll have no shortage of activities to choose from to craft your perfect itinerary. Here are my best suggestions for how to spend the holidays in Paris, celebrate Christmas, and get your fill of holiday cheer.

Visit the Paris Christmas Markets

No Christmas in Europe is complete without visiting the magical Christmas markets. Bundle up so you can leisurely stroll around and enjoy the cheery atmosphere under twinkle lights. Most markets are set up similarly with rows of wooden stalls, called chalets. Here you can find gift ideas among the artisanal products as well as warm foods and drinks to savor. 

There are several Christmas markets in Paris. Located in the 1st arrondissement, the market in the Jardin des Tuileries is the largest within Paris proper. Besides the usual stalls, it also boasts some fair rides, like a giant Ferris wheel, so you can take in views of the city.

Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is a delightful winter activity no matter what your age or abilities in the rink. There are several options within Paris at various price points for entrance and skate rentals.

Le Grand Palais des Glaces, the biggest ice rink in the world, is unfortunately not open for the 2021 holiday season. Temporary ice rinks are installed through the first week of January at a few of the Paris Christmas markets. The Tuileries Garden ice rink is the most centrally located.

Warm Up With a Hot Drink

December in Paris can be somewhat mild but when you’re walking around outside all day, it might feel colder than you expect. Grab yourself a warm beverage to sip and fend off the winter chill. 

Chocolat chaud is a popular choice around this time of year and you can order it at most cafés. For an extra indulgent treat, try out the famous hot chocolate from Angelina or go to a specialized chocolate shop, like Jacques Genin. Hot chocolate in France is particularly rich and delicious. You’ll notice the high quality immediately. 

Mulled wine, known as vin chaud in French is traditionally available in the winter. Made from red wine infused with spices, you’ll find steaming cauldrons of this seasonal favorite throughout Paris. Likely, you’ll smell the fragrant spices before you even see the pot. Served warm, it tastes like Christmas in a cup!

Enjoy a Christmas Concert

Wind down after a long day of sightseeing in the capital with traditional Christmas carols and lullabies. A Christmas concert with classical music will surely put you in the holiday spirit.

Located in the heart of Paris, the Sainte-Chapelle is well known for its beautiful collection of stained glass windows. It is also a stunning venue for concerts. See a noteworthy landmark and enjoy a concert at the same time. Select from a choice of dates from the Sainte-Chapelle concert series.

Indulge in a Bûche de Noël

The bûche de Noël (Yule log) is a cake served for dessert at Christmastime in France. As the name indicates, it is shaped like a log and often decorated like one as well. Many Parisian bakeries and pastry shops craft new variations of this dessert yearly. They can get quite creative with the flavors and ingredients used.

It is a good idea to order your cake in advance in order to avoid disappointment on the big day. You can usually pick it up on Christmas Eve. It is up to you if you want to share it… or keep it all to yourself!

Admire the Christmas Lights and Decorations

Paris is the City of Light and you can especially see how she earned her nickname during the holiday season. Decked out with warm lights and sparkling Christmas trees, the end-of-year celebrations add a special glow to the capital and turn the city into an enchanting wonderland. 

Wherever you wander in Paris, you are bound to discover beautiful decorations strung up throughout the city. Walk around the Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés area for a neighborhood experience or head to the Champs-Élysées to take in an impressive line of lights that stretch all the way down the avenue. Arrive at 5pm to witness the lights get switched on for the evening. 

Make your way to the large department stores in Paris to take in the annual holiday window displays. Galeries Lafayette, in particular, suspends a giant themed Christmas tree every year. You can get up close to this spectacular tree via the Glasswalk for the perfect Instagrammable photo op. Access a reliable phone network in France and post your Instagram photos on the go with the Orange Holiday SIM card.

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