Paris festive guide

Immerse yourself in the wintery wonders of Paris!

As the chilly winds sweep through the cobbled streets of Paris, the City of Lights transforms into a magical winter wonderland, reminiscent of scenes from classic movies and vintage tales. The enchantment of Paris in winter captures the essence of old-world glamour and holiday cheer, blending traditions with contemporary splendor.

From the chic boutiques along the Champs-Élysées to the charming cobblestones of Montmartre, Paris dons a festive cloak during the holiday season. The scent of freshly baked croissants and mulled wine fills the air, luring both locals and tourists alike to savor the timeless allure of the French capital. As Audrey Hepburn once famously said in Funny Face, “Paris is always a good idea,” and during winter, it’s an exceptional one. The Eiffel Tower stands tall, adorned with twinkling lights, casting a radiant glow against the night sky. The Louvre Museum, bathed in a wistful winter light, whispers stories of artistic mastery to those who venture near.

Winter in Paris, much like the drama of Manhattan’s elite, has an allure that captivates and mesmerizes. Paris in winter transforms into a breathtaking spectacle, where the City of Lights illuminates with an unparalleled radiance courtesy of a dazzling array of twinkling bulbs. Each nook and cranny of this romantic city embodies a festive spirit, inviting visitors to partake in delightful window shopping amidst opulent stores, wander through lively Christmas markets, glide gracefully across outdoor ice rinks, and rediscover the joy of vintage funfairs. Wrapped snugly in scarves and gloves, prepare to immerse yourself in the sheer magic that Paris exudes during the splendid Christmas season of 2023.

Allow this meticulously curated guide from KHAMSA to navigate you through the enchanting corners of the City of Love during the festive season.

The Most Lavish Display of Christmas Lights

Place Vendôme, Paris 1st

Prepare to be captivated by the grandeur of Place Vendôme adorned with a breathtaking display of Christmas lights. Immerse yourself in the dazzling charm of this elegant square, where eight magnificent 10-metre-high Christmas trees, accompanied by 160 smaller ones, illuminate the area in a splendid festive aura. Wander through the district’s luxury boutiques along Rue de la Paix, Rue de Castiglione, Rue Saint-Honoré, and Rue des Capucines, each adorned with fir trees and starry garlands, creating a magical landscape that feels straight out of a fairy tale.

Ritz

It’s time to add a touch of sweetness to your winter escapades with a visit to the Ritz in Place Vendôme. Trust me, this hotspot’s got a treat that’ll make your taste buds sing! Picture this: a pop-up stand right outside the hotel adorned with adorable blue wearing teddy bears. What’s the catch? Only the most decadent, delicious hot chocolate that your lips will touch! Once you’ve had your fill of heavenly cocoa, take a spin around the Ritz to feast your eyes on their breathtaking decorations. Lights, glam, and the Ritz’s exquisite taste—this is where Parisian elegance meets winter wonderland dreams.

Avenue Montaigne, Paris 8th

As the holiday spirit embraces the city, Avenue Montaigne takes on a truly enchanting vibe. Twinkling string lights adorn the trees, their warm golden glow reflecting off passing cars, creating a mesmerizing sight that bathes the entire street in a magical aura. This breathtaking scene leads you to the iconic Champs-Elysées, where the festive ambiance reaches its peak. It’s a delightful experience that captures the heart and spirit of the season for anyone wandering down this enchanting street.

Stroll along, and you’ll encounter some of the most stunning Christmas decorations adorning the storefronts of iconic places like Dior, Chanel, and Plaza Athénée Paris. Keep an eye out for the gorgeous, sparkling trees that add an extra touch of enchantment to this festive scene.

Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann

At Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, the Christmas tree, born from nostalgic memories of a radiant holiday glow, now stands as a reinvented tradition. It’s a spectacle of dancing creatures beneath the iconic dome, a symphony of awe. But that’s just the start. Along Haussmann Boulevard, captivating window displays by Galeries Lafayette and Atelier Bournillat spin tales of a girl and her enchanted paintbrush, mingling contemporary fashion with artisanal mastery. Amidst these enchanting characters, the Star Lady reigns, symbolizing the night and extending a warm welcome into this mesmerizing Christmas saga. Galeries Lafayette becomes a must-visit during the holidays, where tradition meets innovation, beckoning all into a world of Parisian magic and wonder.

Visit The Best Christmas Markets

Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, Paris 4th

Paris’s Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market shines as one of 2023’s most captivating spectacles. The dazzling light show transforms the building’s facade into a neo-Renaissance marvel, casting falling snowflakes against a brilliant blue backdrop. Inside, an enchanting forest of evergreen trees adorned with silver ornaments and twinkling lights awaits, alongside charming chalets offering ‘Made in France’ treasures and traditional stalls serving mulled wine, raclette, Nutella-drizzled crepes, and roasted chestnuts. Find this magical market on Rue de Rivoli, across from BHV Marais (52 Rue de Rivoli).

The Magic of Christmas – Tuileries Garden Christmas Market

The Tuileries Garden’s “Magic of Christmas” extravaganza near the Louvre is Paris’ largest and most popular Christmas market. It’s a festive blend of a carnival and market, drawing over 13 million visitors yearly. Indulge in fun rides, games, shopping for artisanal crafts and global gifts, and a delightful culinary experience.

Notre Dame Christmas Market
Source: Paris Insiders Guide

Experience the Notre Dame Christmas Market, an essential stop for any traveler exploring Paris during the festive season. Nestled across the Seine River from the famed cathedral, in Square Viviani on the Left Bank, this market exudes a relaxed yet elegant vibe against the backdrop of the cathedral’s majestic towers. Discover a treasure trove of French-made artisanal delights here: from exquisite clothing and accessories to delectable gourmet foods, and my personal favorite, souvenir gift mugs adorned with the iconic Eiffel Tower. What sets this market apart is its nostalgic nod to medieval markets of the past. Delight your senses with roasted chestnuts and indulge in the quintessential taste of traditional hot mulled wine, known as vin chaud. And keep an ear out for impromptu musical performances that might just elevate your visit to this enchanting spot!

Ice Skating

Plaza Athénée

When the frosty season arrives, La Cour Jardin transforms into a luxurious ice-skating paradise. Introducing the Plaza Athénée Chalet—an Alpine-inspired dream brought to life in collaboration with Mauviel 1830. Picture this: twinkling lights, cozy chalet vibes, and the pièce de résistance—cheese fondue and champagne, dahling! It’s not just dinner; it’s a VIP ticket to indulgence in the most fabulous winter setting. Your reservation includes an hour of access to their picturesque ice rink. Slip into those skates provided by Plaza Athénée and glide like a pro.

AMI’s Ice Skating Extravaganza

AMI is bringing the ultimate holiday charm to Palais-Royal with La Patinoire AMI. From December 16 to December 31, this swanky ice rink is where the magic happens, and guess what? It’s free for everyone!

The historic Cour d’Honneur is adorned with icy allure, making it a dreamy setting for gliding through the holidays. AMI’s making a statement, embracing friendship and love, channeling those festive vibes into an experience Paris won’t forget. This isn’t your regular skate sesh; it’s a rendezvous with the holiday spirit, brought to life by AMI’s chic touch. It’s where community, love, and style collide in the most Gossip Girl-worthy fashion!

Galeries Lafayette Rooftop Ice Rink

Imagine gliding across the rooftop ice skating rink, surrounded by the breathtaking views of the City of Light and the iconic Eiffel Tower. This exclusive winter wonderland offers a delightful 160m² of pure icy delight, providing a perfect setting for both seasoned skaters and novices to revel in the magic of the season. As you gracefully twirl on the ice, soak in the panoramic views of Paris’s skyline, adorned with its sparkling lights and the majestic silhouette of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It’s a scene straight out of a fairytale, set against the backdrop of one of the world’s most romantic cities.

Grand Palais
Source: Pinterest

Unmissable Cafés: Their Christmas Decorations and Signature Hot Chocolates

Angelina Cafe

For a sip of Gabrielle Chanel’s favorite hot chocolate, Angelina Cafe is a must-visit this Christmas season.

Café de la paix

After a visit to the magnificent Opera Garnier and a delightful shopping spree at Galeries Lafayette, take a leisurely stroll towards Café de la Paix. The café, pulsing with life and stories, gets dressed up for the season, adding twinkling lights and a cozy vibe to its already charming ambiance.

Ralph Lauren Café

“Step into the world of Ralph Lauren at Ralph’s, the chic café nestled in the heart of Paris, and experience the magic of Christmas in a uniquely stylish way. Amidst the holiday season, Ralph Lauren Café adorns itself with festive flair, transforming into a haven where timeless elegance meets seasonal charm. The ambiance at Ralph’s exudes a cozy yet sophisticated vibe, enhanced by delightful seasonal decorations that evoke a sense of warmth and celebration. The café becomes a sanctuary where visitors can bask in the joy of the season while savoring delectable culinary creations amidst an atmosphere that exudes the classic Ralph Lauren aesthetic.”

Enchanted Escapes Near Paris

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Imagine Christmas at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte as stepping into your very own 17th-century Parisian fairytale. With festive decor lighting up the chateau, the ambiance feels like being in a movie. It’s like living the elegance and warmth of a Parisian Christmas celebration from centuries ago —truly magical and unforgettable.

Disneyland Paris

And to top off your Parisian adventure, don’t miss Disneyland Paris during this magical time of the year. The park is a wonderland of enchanting decorations and festive delights, making it an absolute must-visit for an unforgettable holiday experience just a stone’s throw away from the city.

What items are essential to pack while exploring Paris during the winter?

When exploring Paris in winter, it’s crucial to pack very comfortable, cozy, yet trendy and timeless clothing items to stay warm and stylish. Don’t forget to bring gloves, as Paris can get quite cold during this season, ensuring you’re well-equipped to enjoy the city comfortably.

What are some aspects or activities to avoid during Christmas in Paris?

During Christmas in Paris, it’s wise to avoid relying solely on public transportation, especially on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, as services might be limited or even suspended. Additionally, it’s recommended to steer clear of certain tourist attractions or popular sites on major holidays, as they could be crowded or have altered schedules.

To ensure a smoother experience, plan ahead, check for specific opening hours, and consider booking reservations in advance for dining or special events during the holiday season.

Leen is a writer, designer and creative director, holding a fashion design degree from ESMOD. She is currently pursuing an MBA in fashion management, specializing in luxury, in Paris. Living in various Western and Eastern locales, Leen writes on fashion, culture, and lifestyle at KHAMSA as she interns in the editorial department.
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