During the holiday season, Christmas lights are among my favorites. In the Winter, it gets dark early in Paris, so the lights are available to enjoy starting as early as 5pm.
In addition, the lights are on display on the streets and public buildings, so there is no need to book ahead of time, or to agree to a specific time to see them.
All you do is walk the streets, and you can turn up whenever you are ready!
If you're curious about the best places to look for these holiday lighting displays, you'll find several excellent locations covered below.
- Lights on Avenues and Streets
- Department Store Window Displays
- Christmas in Paris
- Christmas Markets
- Paris in December
- Walking Tours of Paris
BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN PARIS
Now "the city of light" takes its nickname seriously. The Christmas lights are just splendid. My practical advice is to do one neighborhood at a time. No need to do the illuminations all on the same day.
You can do the Champs Elysées and the Gold Triangle/Avenue Montaigne as one block. Then Place Vendôme and the Galeries Lafayette together. Then Notre Dame and the City Hall/hotel-de-ville can also be covered in one go.
For the Avenue Montaigne portion, I suggest starting from metro Alma-Marceau (metro line 9). You can then walk your way towards Champs Elysées.
For the Vendome and Galeries Lafayette, in my view it is best to book our private tour.
However, if you want to go on your own, then start at Place Concorde, walk to Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and then Vendome. This means you finish at Galeries Lafayette.
Now be careful that Galeries closes at 8pm, and you need over 1 hour for that part, so start at Concorde not much later than 6pm.
For Hotel de Ville and Notre Dame, you can start at either end. If you finish with Notre Dame, you can continue by walking along the river, downstream, towards Louvre.
If you finish at Hotel de Ville, you can then visit Marais - and find plenty of cafés to warm up in.
You can see the lights on foot but the locations are spread across Paris, as our map shows.
If you want to see lots of the lights in a short amount of time, take this 90-minute Paris Christmas lights bus tour. It’s a good idea when temperatures are too cold.
TIP: For a panoramic view of the holiday lights and the city, visit the Eiffel Tower, the tallest viewing point in Paris.
Avenues and Streets
The various Paris Illuminations as the lights are known are switched on around mid-November and last through typically through the New Year.
Along this grandest of avenues from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, over a million lights are strung on hundreds of trees. The sight is marvelous.
Typically they are switched on at dusk and switched off before midnight. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the lights remain on until 2 am.
The 2023 dates have not been announced, but in 2022, the lights were on from November 20 to January 2. Check back for updates.
Close to the Champs-Elysées, elegant Avenue Montaigne and its fashionable boutiques are tastefully lit and decorated.
Tree branches are wrapped with small white lights and some stores hang giant baubles.
The decorations stretch from the Champs-Elysées to Place de l'Alma.
The 2023 dates have not been announced, but in 2022, the lights were on from November 12 to January 2. Check back for updates.
Between Rue Royale and Palais Royal, the chic Rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré is decorated with fir trees and lights. The boutiques have gorgeous displays as well.
The surrounding streets and their lights add to the overall feel of celebration in the most sophisticated way.
The 2023 dates have not been announced, but in 2022, the lights were on from November 17 to January 30. Check back for updates.
The Christmas trees lit simply but elegantly fit in perfectly with this grand 18th-century square, commissioned by King Louis XIV, the king who lived in Versailles.
Exclusive designer boutiques and jewelry shops like Bulgari, Cartier, Dior, and Chanel are in the square and will be stylishly lit as well.
The 2023 dates have not been announced, but in 2022, the lights were on from November 22 to January 2. Check back for updates.
City Hall is always keen to host Christmas spectaculars. The vast empty piazza in front of this building welcomes Christmas trees each year.
The theme that they have picked for 2023-24 is of course… the Olympics. As Paris will be hosting the Olympics and the Paralympic games in August and September 2024.
The Christmas market here, with Evergreen trees wrapped with lights and ornaments, makes the square feel like a winter wonderland.
The 2023 dates have not been announced, but in 2022, the lights were on from December 2 to January 1. Check back for updates.
Department Store Window Displays
Every year, Paris’ grand magasins (department stores) dress their windows for the season.
Each year, stores present a new theme brought to life with decorations, animated shows, and other creative ways that bring those themes to life.
The interiors are also decorated with giant Christmas trees and other lights and ornamentations.
Some of the stores (purple markers) are near each other as well as some of the avenues and streets with light displays (red numbered markers) as the map below shows.
Christmas window displays (Les Vitrines de Noël) are unveiled generally in early to mid-November and remain on display until December 25th and in some cases until the end of the year.
Opened in 1912, this is the grandest of Parisian department stores and it is quite beautiful. Inside the store is a giant magnificent Christmas tree not to be missed!
The 2023 window theme is “The Little Girl and the Magic Paintbrush”, about a girl who escapes into a fantasy world of her making where her Christmas dreams come true.
- Dates: November 15 to December 31, 2023
- Location: 40 Boulevard Haussmann
- Nearest metro: Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette
The theme in 2023 is “Paper Christmas”, with thousands of letters and messages delivered by animated birds, along with other whimsical bird and paper-related displays.
- Dates: Starts November 9, 2023
- Location: 64 Boulevard Haussmann
- Nearest metro: Havre - Caumartin
For 2023, the theme is “Christmas in the Forest”.
Onlookers will be transported to an enchanted forest where foxes, hedgehogs, blue jays and even bears lead them through the woods for a delightful Christmas Eve.
- Dates: Starts November 8, 2023
- Address: 52 Rue de Rivoli
- Nearest metro: Saint-Paul le Marais
The 2023 theme is all about gourmet delights and the windows will be dressed accordingly, but the fun doesn't stop there!
Inside, the sumptuous Atrium incites guests into the delicious world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
- Dates: November 8, 2023 to January 9, 2024
- Address: 9 rue de la Monnaie
- Nearest metro: Pont Neuf
No theme has been announced yet, so check back with us for updates!
- Dates: Not announced, but in 2022 the windows were unveiled in late October
- Address: 24 rue de Sèvres
- Nearest metro: Sèvres-Babylone