christmas market in paris

5 Festive Activities to Celebrate the Holidays in Paris

If you’re in Paris for the holidays, you’re in luck! The City of Light does it up right in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and there are lots of ways that you can get in on the celebrations.

1. Go to A Christmas Market

Christmas markets are a tradition that you’ll find all over Europe, and Paris plays host to over a dozen options. A full list of the Christmas markets that will be open in Paris this season is available here, but be sure to check out some of our favorites:

  • The new Christmas market at Les Halles has just become the biggest in Paris, with 70 individual cabins selling goods from all over the world. Families with children will love meeting “Père Noël” here.
  • Montmartre is one of Paris’ most picturesque neighborhoods, and when it’s all decked out for Christmas, it’s even prettier! Montmartre is home to two different Christmas markets: one by the Abbesses métro stop and the other just below the Sacré Coeur Basilica. Take an afternoon to stroll through both.
eiffel tower

Image care of Majunznk

2. Go Skating at the Eiffel Tower

Paris isn’t known for white Christmases, but the city does its part to make up for the lack of snow with artificial skating rinks. Usually, the Eiffel Tower puts a patinoire on the first floor of the tower, but this year, big changes are afoot.

While the first story of the tower is still home to a winter wonderland, complete with a family of giant (3-meter-tall) penguins and a Cocoa Corner, the skating rink is located on the ground, within the Champ de Mars Christmas village, making it accessible whether or not you decide to climb to the top of the tower. Entry into the village is free, and it costs 6 euro to access the rink (skate rentals included!)

Champs elysées

Image care of David Monniaux

3. Take a Ride Up the Grande Roue

The Grande Roue or Ferris Wheel overlooking Concorde has graced Paris for years, but due to ongoing negotiation problems, it’s possible that this will be the last year you can get this view over Paris. While the roue is open day and night, consider timing your trip to coincide with the Eiffel Tower’s nightly shimmering lights, which  sparkle every hour on the hour for five minutes. There’s perhaps no better way to take in the City of Light lit up in all her splendor.

galeries lafayette

4. Check Out the Decorations at the Grands Magasins

Paris’ department stores do things right for the holidays, with window displays and interior holiday decorations galore. The Bon Marché (24 rue de Sèvres) and Printemps (64 boulevard Haussmann) are both good options, but our absolute favorite is the Galeries Lafayette (40 boulevard Haussmann), complete with a tree stretching towards the 19th century ceiling and a rooftop view (just take the escalators all the way to the top – no purchase needed!) over the city.

notre dame

Image care of Theud-Bald

5. See the Christmas Tree by Notre Dame

Paris may not rival New York’s Rockefeller Center in terms of tree size, but the sapin on the parvis in front of Notre Dame Cathedral is nothing to spit at. Pay it a visit one evening to see it all lit up, and then enjoy one of the regular free concerts taking place at the cathedral itself in the days leading up to Christmas.

Top image care of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

arc de triomphe

Top 5 Delicious Treats for Warming up in Paris

vin chaud - mulled wine

Image care of Jameson Fink

Winter has arrived in Paris, and that means lots of twinkle lights, Christmas markets, and, yes, rapidly falling temperatures. Luckily, Paris has just the thing to take the chill off.

1. Vin Chaud

Vin chaud is called mulled wine in English (a better term, in our humble opinion, than the direct translation of “hot wine”). A combination of red wine, fruit, and warm spices, vin chaud can be found at nearly every outdoor Christmas market in Paris. But if you want to try a truly exquisite version of this wintertime classic, head over to Chez Georges, a bistro and wine bar that cooks up our fave vin chaud in the capital.

Chez Georges – 11, rue des Canettes, 6th arrondissement

angelina hot chocolate

Image care of Angelina

2. Hot Chocolate

If you’d like a warm beverage with a bit less of a kick than vin chaud, you’re in luck: Paris, as home to some of the best pastries in the world, is also home to some of the best hot chocolate. There’s no contest for our favorite: the exquisite African hot chocolate at Angelina. The legendary cocoa here is served with a side dish of unsweetened whipped cream – ostensibly to temper the nearly impossible richness of the brew. If you’re traveling with friends, consider ordering one African and one white hot chocolate – the latter is served with a chocolate whipped cream instead.

Angelina – 226, rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement

fondue savoyarde

Image care of Varaine

3. Fondue and Raclette

These two Alpine specialties are classics of après-ski or after-ski dining: the former is a bubbling cauldron of melted cheese and a touch of white wine into which you dip croutons of crusty, day-old baguette. When you order the latter, meanwhile, you’ll be brought an apparatus featuring a half-wheel of melty raclette cheese which you heat and scrape (racler, in French) over a plate of potatoes, cured meat, and pickles. To satisfy all of your cheesiest dreams, Le Brasier is the place to go.

Le Brasier – 58, Avenue des Ternes, 17th arrondissement

french onion soup

4. French Onion Soup

French onion soup was originally invented in the Paris Les Halles market: market vendors would throw a hodgepodge of leftover veg into a pot and cook it up for a nighttime snack. While Les Halles has since shuttered (and Parisian markets these days take place during the daylight hours), you can still find excellent soupe à l’oignon in Paris.

A perfect French onion soup is a labor of love, with deeply caramelized onions and a rich beef broth topped with a generous handful of gruyère cheese before being gratinéed under the broiler. While some still seek it out at holdover restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, located a stone’s throw from where Les Halles once stood, we prefer the slightly less touristy dining room (and even better soup) at Bistrot des Vosges.

Bistrot des Vosges – 31 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 4th arrondissement

roasted chestnuts

5. Roasted Chestnuts

If you want to warm up but you don’t want to slow down, Paris has a solution! For just a few euros, nearly every street corner affords the opportunity to get your hands on a paper cone of freshly roasted chestnuts, which you can snack on as you walk to your next adventure. Bon appétit!