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