Christmas markets were not invented in Paris, but the city of light has caught up rather fast. Each year, some markets return, others see life for the first time, and I have new favorites.
You will find these markets to be very geared to food - both regional dishes and season specials.
Regional dishes might include choucroute from Alsace, or "calisson" from Aix-en-Provence - similar to marzipan, but with fruit at its heart such as melon or orange.
There will also be seasonal specials - roasted chestnuts, fresh oysters, or mulled wine. So allow me to suggest that you visit the markets on an empty stomach!
The 2023-24 season for Christmas markets is under way already, so I was able to check several of the markets for you all.
From mid-November, Paris is draped with lights - across streets, along grand boulevards, around Christmas trees, and on the facades of grand department stores.
As one can imagine, the iconic Champs Elysées is spectacular. Posh Avenue Montaigne shows off homes lit up in style.
Place Vendôme is slightly more subdued but elegant, as is Rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré.
Paris’s big department stores like Printemps, Le Bon Marché, BHV Marais, and Galeries Lafayette turn their window displays into winter wonderlands.
TIP: If you want to see lots of displays in a few hours, take a Paris Christmas lights bus tour.
These are just some of the places to see Christmas Lights around Paris in 2023. Read our detailed post for even more.
Winter Walking Tours
While temperatures around Christmas may be cooler than other times of the year, that’s no reason to miss out on exploring Paris on foot!
Walking tours at Christmastime are extra special as the historic monuments and grand boulevards you’ll visit will be adorned with lights and decorations.
We run some of our pay-what-you-wish walking tours in December, including on Christmas Day.
We also have private tours available.
Dates: November 25 through December 31.
Location: Place des Abbesses
Ride the metro to Abbesses. That particular station is buried deep from ground level, so ride the elevator or climb on foot -- that climb will turn into a conversation piece, believe me.
Paris’ Christmas markets (Marchés de Noël) typically open in late November and stay open until late December.
There are plenty of markets around the city, each with its own character.
As you walk among the chalets, you will find unique gifts, clothing, toys, ceramics, jewelry, and so much more.
The markets are a great place to try some of the seasonal treats like chocolat chaud (hot chocolate), vin chaud (mulled wine), roasted chestnuts, and raclette (melted cheese with potatoes).
Here are some markets not to miss.
- Jardin des Tuileries
- Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market
- Notre Dame Christmas Market
- La Défense Christmas Market
- Eiffel Tower Christmas Market
- Bercy Village
For complete details about these markets and others, read our post, The Best Christmas Markets in Paris.
Christmas Eve Mass at Notre Dame
A beautiful way to experience both the holiday and a iconic Paris landmark is to attend Christmas Eve Mass at Notre Dame.
The Christmas Tree outside the cathedral is lit all month long.
"I visited Paris for Christmas a few years while living in London in the early 2000s. One of the most memorable things I did was attend a service at Notre Dame.
You do not need to be Catholic to attend and it is open to all visitors.
If you wish to attend a service inside Notre Dame, it is first come first serve.
We ended up lining up 2-3 hours prior to make sure we had a seat, but we were also very cold so having a chance to sit inside the building was welcome." - Canden Arciniega, Tour Guide with Free Tours by Foot in Washington, DC
Tickets are not required, but you will need to go through security.
There are five different services you can attend on Christmas Eve.
- Notre Dame Christmas Eve Mass: December 24 at 4:30pm
- Family Mass at 6pm
- Vespers at 8pm
- Organ concert from 10:30pm-11pm.
- Cathedral's Midnight Mass begins at 11pm.
Disneyland Paris Enchanted Christmas
Disneyland Paris is festive year-round so a visit at Christmas will be nothing other than unforgettable.
From November 11, 2023, to January 7, 2024, you can experience a ‘Disney Enchanted Christmas’ as the theme park is transformed into a winter wonderland.
Disney Main Street twinkles with lights and decorations. Santa Claus will be there to greet the kids. You’ll even enjoy fake snow!
Special holiday events at Disneyland Paris are the Mickey’s Dazzling Christmas Parade, the "Let's Sing Christmas!" musical show, and the Magical Christmas Tree Lighting.
Read more about visiting Disneyland Paris.
Christmas Cruise on the Seine
Have your Christmas celebration while seeing Paris from the River Seine on a three-course Christmas lunch or dinner cruise.
Sip on a glass of Champagne and classic French foods like foie gras as you pass underneath the city’s romantic bridges and past historic monuments.
You’ll dine on a delectable French meal prepared by chefs onboard. Wine, sparkling water and coffee are included as well.
Days: Christmas Eve, December 24 and Christmas Day, Dec. 25
Times and Prices:
- Lunch at 12:30 pm | Adults/€115 / Children (Age 3-11) €60
- Early Dinner at 6:45 pm | Adults €125 / Children (Age 3-11) €60
- Dinner at 9:15 pm | Adults €180 / Children (Age 3-11) €60
- Find out more and purchase tickets.
Read about taking a dinner cruise down the River Seine any time of the year.
Christmas Meal Cooking Class
Imagine how impressed your friends and family will be next Christmas when you can prepare an authentic French holiday feast!
If you prefer to try the delicacies created by others, look into this Christmas Gourmet Food Tour.
Christmas is a time to see lovely musical concerts and recitals.
Many take place in some of Paris’ most beautiful buildings, including Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic chapel with 16 massive extraordinary stained glass windows.
In December 2023, you can see these Christmas concerts and performances:
- Christmas Concert (with optional Champagne or wine & tapas) - Dec. 21-29 (except Christmas Day)
- Christmas Oratorio & Masaaki Suzuki | Dec. 8
- Babar et le Pere Noel (2 shows) | Dec. 10
- Radio Classique Christmas Concert | Dec. 15, 16
- Christmas Concert & Vivaldi's Four Seasons | Dec. 21, 24, 25, 27, 31
- Vivaldi's Four Seasons & Corelli's Christmas Concert | Dec. 27
- Christmas Concert | Dec. 21
- Young Person's Christmas Concert | Dec.10th
One of the very best things about winter and colder temperatures is that ice rinks (patinoires) are open and waiting for you!
Ice Rink at Magie de Noël Marché
Part of the Christmas market at the Tuileries Garden, this outdoor rink is smaller than other rinks, but it’s perfect for those going to the market already.
If you don't have ice skates you can rent some there.
- Dates: November 18, 2023, to January 10, 2024.
- Price: 6 euros for children and 10 euros for adults
- Location: 113 rue de Rivoli
Other Ice Rinks
Many of Paris’s ice skating rinks have yet to be determined for the 2023-2024 season.
The following locations will most likely have ice skating rinks this year:
- Les Halles
- La Defense
- Hôtel de Ville
- Le Grand Palais
- Bercy Village
- Eiffel Tower
- Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Ice Rink
Admission ranges from free to €17, and skate rentals begin at about €3 per person.
Check back with us for updates on these rinks.
The Nutcracker Ballet
This year you can see the renowned Opera Bastille perform this magical Christmas ballet.
See Tchaikovsky's moving score accompanying Rudolf Nureyev’s 1985 interpretation of this enchanting ballet.
This is an ideal activity to do with children in Paris at Christmas.
Performances take place from December 8th, 2023 - January 1st, 2024.