Christmas in Paris: Magical & Festive Things to Do in 2022

Christmas tree at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.
Image by vic xia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Christmas in Paris can be genuinely magical. From mid-November onward, the capital transforms into a wintery landscape: one festooned with dazzling lights that twinkle nonstop, as well as shop-window decorations and cheer-inspiring markets. Whether you formally celebrate the holiday or simply enjoy the seasonal festivities, there’s plenty to see and do at year-end.

Traditional Christmas markets, outdoor ice-skating rinks, and department-store windows glowing with fantasy-inspired holiday displays are among the delights that await those of you who visit the capital in late November or December. If you’re planning to celebrate Christmas or other winter holidays in Paris, keep reading for our tips on how to enjoy it to the fullest.

Holiday Lights and Window Displays

Holiday lights in Paris
Christmas lights on Avenue Montaigne/Image from TripAdvisor

At year-end, the City of Lights lives up fully to its name and the streets are illuminated with sparkling colors and extravagant decorations. Dozens of major streets, squares and other landmarks get the festive treatment.

Read related: Why to Love Paris in December (& What to Do)

And for those who can brave some crowds, heading over to the city’s main department stores is in order, too. All the historic grands magasins one-up each other with grandiose, often-animated window displays, one more magical than the next.

These are just a few of our favorite places to head this year For a complete list of areas featuring holiday illuminations in 2022, see this page at the Paris Tourist Office website.

Avenue des Champs-Elysées

Energy-saving, red Christmas lights on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris
Image: Patricia De Oliveira

There is something magical about walking down one of the most famous avenues in the world on a crisp December night. At this time of the year the avenue gets flooded with lights all the way from the Place de l’Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.

This year, the trees lining the iconic avenue sparkle with soft golden light, and can be admired from 5pm to 11:45 pm, the perfect time for an evening stroll, with 200 scintillating trees lighting the way. They will be left on all night long on Christmas Eve (December 25th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st). French actor Tahar Rahim will preside over the inaugural lighting of the avenue on the evening of November 20th.

  • Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt or Champs-Elysées Clémenceau
  • When to see them: From November 20th, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Known for its high-fashion boutiques and Haussmanian buildings, the narrow and intimate Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré shines with festive decorations this season.

The street, which is located in the 8th arrondissement, is a staple of Parisian luxury and glamor. On any given day, it is populated with wealthy tourists and Parisians window-shopping in search of a bit of the celebrated French chic.

For the winter holidays, it shines even more brightly, and the urge to enter its luxurious shops gets all the harder to resist.

  • Metro: Saint-Philippe du Roule or Miromesnil
  • Dates: From November 17th, 2022

Place Vendome

Image credit: Patricia De Oliveira

The quiet yet classically elegant Place Vendome and its iconic bronze column is a must-see when in Paris. Nothing is more glamorous nor feels more grandiosely Parisian than to take a stroll around the magical square. At year-end, the Place is beautifully lit and decorated.

We recommend a stroll across the square in the evening, when all the lights shine in unison. Also don’t miss the Christmas chalet in front of the Ritz Hotel this year, open from early December through early January.

  • Metro: Tuileries, Concorde or Opéra
  • Dates: From November 22nd, 2022 through early January 2023

Bercy Village

Although Bercy Village is quite a ways from the city center, it can make a worthwhile stop, especially if you’re looking for a family-friendly spot.

This off-the-beaten track outdoor shopping and entertainment strip in Paris’ 12th arrondissement is home to cozy restaurants, a movie theater complex, and a great museum dedicated to theme parks.

Every year, a lot of work is put into turning the strip into a convivial and magical destination for the holiday season. It features a giant Christmas tree, a holiday market, and festive lights that should sate both kids and adults. Plus, it’s a great spot for last-minute Christmas shopping.

And if you’re visiting in January and are looking for some continued holiday cheer, the decorations here stay open through late in the month.

  • Metro: Bercy
  • Dates: November 17th, 2022 through January 10th, 2023

Avenue Montaigne

Not far from the Champs-Elysées, the elegant Avenue Montaigne (lined with opulent residences and high-end boutiques) gets decked out with holiday lights and decorations. The decorations stretch from the Avenue southwest to the equally elegant Place de l’Alma.

  • Metro: Alma-Marceau or Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Dates: From November 19th, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023

Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall)

In 2022-2023, the enormous square outside Paris City Hall (Hotel de Ville) will be decked out for the holiday season.

  • Address: Place de l’Hotel de Ville, 4th arrondissement
  • Metro: Hotel de Ville
  • Dates: December 22nd, 2022 to January 2nd, 2023

Galeries Lafayette

The 2022 Christmas tree/Sapin de Noël at Galeries Lafayette

The famous department store near the Opera Garnier always has some of the most elaborate and imaginative window displays.

In 2022, an enormous Christmas tree in an unearthly, glowing green stands at the center of the ornate glass cupola, imagined as an extra-terrestrial lifeform from a planet inhabited by intelligent Christmas trees, called “Elato”. Decked out in objects from Earth that it will shuttle back to outer space, the tree bursts into an animated light show every 30 minutes.

Take a look at the video to get a better sense of what this year’s display is like:

Meanwhile, the annual holiday window displays and illuminations at Galeries Lafayette (and nearby Printemps deparment store) were switched on in mid-November. This year at the Galeries, the theme of the extra-terrestrial Christmas tree from “Elato”, a fir called “Nordmann”, is at the center of an imaginative and warming series of 11 specially designed holiday windows.

The windows are based on a children’s tale written by Claire Castillon and illustrated by Florent Chavouet.

  • Metro: Chaussée D’Antin-Lafayette or Auber
  • Dates in 2021: Through early January 2022

Other department stores worth checking out this season include nearby Printemps (also on Boulevard Haussmann), BHV Marais in the city center, and Le Bon Marché on the left bank, at the edge of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district.

Related: The Rebirth of Iconic Parisian Department Store La Samaritaine

All three of these stores have their own painstakingly designed, inspired window displays to enjoy. This is a genuine treat for kids.

Traditional Christmas Markets in Paris: 2022 Locations (CHECK BACK IN NOVEMBER FOR UPDATED DETAILS)

Trocadero Christmas market in Paris/Jean-Pierre Dalbera/Wikimedia Commons
Image: Jean-Pierre Dalbera, Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing like steaming cups of spiced mulled wine and roasted chestnuts to awaken the holiday spirit while fending off the December cold. Traditional French Christmas markets are an integral part of the winter holiday season in Paris; they’re the perfect place to sample some amazing food and get a sense of both local and regional Christmas traditions.

{Related: French Christmas Traditions to Enjoy at Home or Abroad}

Here’s a list of the main markets springing up around the capital in 2022.

Marché de Noël at the Jardin des Tuileries (“The Magic of Christmas”)

Christmas market, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Image: Patricia De Oliveira

In the heart of the Jardins des Tuileries, this Christmas market and funfair offers great products from all over the country. It’s a convivial space where visitors can get a taste of French gastronomy, including sausages and cheeses, roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. Santa Claus will be present for visits with kids.

This is currently the most-visited Christmas market in Paris and with its wide array of fresh gourmet treats and gift ideas, not to mention the impregnable views over the formerly royal gardens, it’s easy to see why.

  • Metro: Tuileries
  • Dates: November 19th, 2022 through January 8th, 2023; this market is typically open 11am-11:45 pm on weekdays; until 12:45 am on weekends

Marché de Noël de la Canopée des Halles

One of the newest but also largest Christmas markets in Paris, the Marché de Noël de la Canopée des Halles has a little bit of everything, from local products to international crafts; from traditional mulled wine (vin chaud in French) to raclette cheese with potatoes and roasted chestnuts.

With its 75 wooden cabins nestled around the monstrous, mostly underground shopping center, this market has a more modern feel, but it’s also vibrant and packed with delicious treats and festive gifts.

  • Metro: Les Halles or Chatelet
  • Dates: November-December 2022 (check back for specific dates)

Marche de Noël Alsacien at the Gare de L’Est

Image credit: Patricia De Oliveira

There are a few distinctive aromas wafting around the Alsatian Christmas market in Paris. It’s the smell of potato galettes, munster cheese, choucroute (a traditional Alsatian sauerkraut recipe), gingerbread, fresh pretzels and Kougelhopf , a yeasted bundt cake native to the region.

Located in front of Gare de l’Est, this is the ideal place to discover new flavors native to the Franco-German region– and get to meet some of the producers and artisans behind them. You’ll also find a variety of traditional toys, gifts and crafts at this beloved annual marché.

{Related: 5 Traditional French Desserts to Taste & Bake for Christmas}

This one stays open for a shorter time than many of the other Parisian markets in 2022, so make sure to enjoy it while you can.

  • Metro: Gare de l’Est
  • Dates: From November 30th through December 16th, 2022

Christmas Market at Notre-Dame Cathedral

Christmas market at Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2018.

After a tough few years for the beloved Parisan Cathedral, it’s survived the terrible fire that destroyed part of it in 2019 and is offering a warm and festive way to celebrate Christmas in 2022. A traditional market and giant tree is taking over the Parvis (square) outside the entrance from December 9th.

At the market, enjoy regional treats and gastronomic specialities from around France, enjoy performances from live musicians dressed in traditional garb, and take in the warm ambience from the Cathedral just beyond.

  • Metro: Cité (or RER Notre Dame-Saint-Michel)
  • Dates: From December 9th to 26th, 2022
Christmas markets in Paris are always festive

Eiffel Tower Christmas Village

In 2022, the traditional Christmas village is back at the Champs de Mars, beneath the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy a large variety of festive stands, food trucks selling hearty seasonal fare, gifts and more. This year, there’s a regional focus on the gourmet dishes and treats of the French regions Alsace and Savoie, and a large mulled wine stand.

  • Place: Champs de Mars lawns (pelouse)
  • Metro: Bir Hakeim or Trocadero
  • Dates: December 16th, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023

La Défense Christmas Market

Located just west of the city center, the sprawling La Défense business district hosts a large Christmas market most years, with some 350 festive stands and chalets, food trucks and seasonal decor lending a warm yet modern atmosphere. This is an ideal place to look for gifts, since there’s a large shopping center here as well. Christmas carolers, visits with Santa Claus, and other events round out this much-awaited event, which opens earlier than most markets in the capital this year.

  • Place: Parvis de la Défense
  • Metro/RER: La Défense
  • Dates: November 23rd through December 26th, 2022

Full List of Paris Christmas Markets in 2022

Looking for a more complete list? From vegan and African markets to ones focused on regional crafts and eco-friendly gifts, there are more choices than ever this year. See this full list at the Paris Tourist Office to find the right one/s. Sortir à Paris also has a useful and frequently-updated list here.

Stock Up on Classic French Desserts & Sweets

Image credit: Pauline Guillet

Spiced breads, fluffy yeasted cakes dusted with almonds and sugar, rich chocolate logs decorated with marzipan mushrooms and berries? These are all typical French desserts served on and around Christmas.

Image: Special edition bûche de Noël from Sebastien Gaudard

Stock up on some at one of the aforementioned holiday markets, at bakeries around town (see some of my favorites patisseries in Paris here), or at specialty food shops such as Galeries Lafayette, Fauchon, and the Grande Epicerie.

Ice Skating in Paris: Rinks Open in 2022 (CHECK BACK IN LATE NOVEMBER/DECEMBER FOR UPDATED INFO)

Ice rink at the Grand Palais, Paris

Going ice skating in Paris during the holidays is something of a cherished tradition. In 2019, several alluring outdoor rinks open their doors to the public, and put on some enchanting light displays.

They’re fun for pros and amateurs and make for a memorable family outing. In addition to the “patinoire” (ice rink) at the Jardin des Tuileries Christmas market (see more info above), there are two other possible places to get your skates on this year, although full details on when and whether they’ll open are not yet available. Check back in early December for updates.

Le Grand Palais des Glaces

After closing in 2020 due to the global health crisis, the Grand Palais ice skating rink will likely open its doors from sometime in December through early January. With its incredible 3,000-square-meter rink and exceptional light sets, food and drink stands, it’s a great place to bask in the cheer of the holiday season. The elegant Belle-Epoque rooftop in metal and glass offers a pretty unforgettable setting, too.

  • Metro: Champs-Elysées Clémenceau
  • Dates: December 2021 January 2022 (check back for precise dates)

Ice Skating Rink at the Eiffel Tower

Fancy skating 57 meters/187 ftabove the ground? The rink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower will hopefully operate this year from late November or December through early January. The rink will be accessible for the price of a regular entrance ticket.

  • Metro: Trocadero
  • Dates: Check back soon for updates

Other Festive Activities for the Winter Holidays

The Buttes-Chaumont park is sublime year-round, but I prefer it in the winter.

Looking for other interesting things to do this season? Here are just a couple of ideas. You can also see our guide to cozy, quiet things to do in Paris during the winter for a more laid-back holiday season in the capital.

Holiday Tables & Dinner Cruises in Paris

Finally, if you’re interested in booking a table for a special, festive holiday dinner in the capital, you’ll have plenty of choices– but also quite a bit of competition for tables. See this guide for ideas on where to book.

You can also consider booking a dinner cruise on the Seine for a special year-end lunch or dinner.

See this page at GetYourGuide to browse a wide variety of Seine River dinner cruise packages. Make sure to reserve sooner than later to ensure you snag a table.

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. While it comes at no additional cost to you to book products or services through these, they help to fund more free, in-depth features here at Paris Unlocked. Thank you.

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