Christmas in Paris: Magical & Festive Things to Do in 2023

Last Updated on December 27, 2023

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 enchanting. From mid-November onward, the French capital transforms into a wintery landscape: streets are festooned with dazzling lights that twinkle nonstop, and department store windows come to life with fairy-tale-inspired window decorations. Traditional, heartwarming Christmas markets, enormous Christmas trees, ice skating rinks, mulled wine and holiday-themed tours of the city round out the festive offering.

Whether you formally celebrate the holiday or simply enjoy the seasonal festivities and rituals, there’s plenty to see and do 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.

Christmas Lights & Department Store Window Displays in Paris

Christmas lights and decorations bring warm light to the cold nights in Paris. Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved

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, strung with miles and miles of holiday lights.

{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 2023, see this page at the Paris Tourist Office website (generally updated in October or November).

Avenue des Champs-Elysées

Christmas lights on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris in 2023. Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved
Christmas lights on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris in 2023. Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved

There’s something magical about walking down one of the most famous avenues in the world on a crisp December night. At year end, 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.

In 2023, 200 trees lining the iconic Avenue des Champs-Elysées will sparkle with soft golden light from Sunday, November 19th to Sunday, January 7th. They can be admired from 5pm to midnight, the perfect time for an evening stroll.

The lights will be left on all night long on Christmas Eve (December 25th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st). This year, fireworks will reportedly be part of the New Year’s festivities in the area, after a hiatus lasting several years.

French actor Gilles Lellouche will preside over the opening ceremonies at 6:00 pm on the 19th, “flipping the switch” on the scintillating spectacle.

  • Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt or Champs-Elysées Clémenceau
  • When to see them: From November 19th, 2023 through January 7th, 2024

Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré & surrounding streets

Christmas lights on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris/Image by Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved
Photo by Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved

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. And in 2023, a festive parade featuring a live DJ set and vibrant decorations will mark the inaugural celebrations in the area on November 16th.

  • Metro: Saint-Philippe du Roule or Miromesnil
  • Dates: From November 16th 2023 (end date to be confirmed)

Place Vendome

Visiting Paris in December can be enchanting, especially amid holiday decorations. Rachel Naismith/all rights reserved

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. Adjoining streets, including Rue de Castiglione and Rue de la Paix, will also be festively lit.

Rue de la Paix festively lit with holiday lights- Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved
Rue de la Paix in Paris festively lit with holiday lights- Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved

We recommend a stroll across the square in the evening, when all the lights shine in unison. In 2023, four enormous Christmas trees and 22 smaller ones will turn the Place Vendome into a veritable wintery wonderland. Follow up with a walk in the nearby Tuileries Christmas Market (see more below).

  • Metro: Tuileries, Concorde or Opéra
  • Dates: From late November 2023 through January 2024 (precise dates to be confirmed)

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, visits with “Père Noël” (Santa Claus) and festive lights strung throughout the complex. 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 6th, 2023 through January 8th, 2024

Avenue Montaigne

Christmas lights on Avenue Montaigne, Paris/Rachel Naismith - All rights reserved
Rachel Naismith – All rights reserved

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.

Don’t miss a special performance from a local choir in front of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées at 6:00 pm on November 20th, to coincide with the “switching on ceremonies” that evening.

  • Metro: Alma-Marceau or Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Dates: From November 20th 2023 through January 7th, 2024

Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall)

In 2023-2024, the enormous square outside Paris City Hall (Hotel de Ville) will be decked out for the holiday season. A Christmas market, live trees and warm lights will take over the Parvis de l’Hotel de Ville, as well as light up the City Hall itself, bringing out its fine architectural details.

  • Address: Place de l’Hotel de Ville, 4th arrondissement
  • Metro: Hotel de Ville
  • Dates: From early December 2023 (precise dates to be announced)

Galeries Lafayette

2023 Christmas tree (sapin de Noël) at Galeries Lafayette, Paris/Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved
2023 Christmas tree (sapin de Noël) at Galeries Lafayette, Paris/Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved

The famous department store near the Opera Garnier always has some of the most elaborate and imaginative window displays– as well as an annual, enormous Christmas tree that changes every year.

In 2023, the tree rising up into the Belle-Epoque cupola at the Galeries features blue, pink and green baubles surrounded by what appears to be an illuminated, sparkling ribbon in light silver. An ethereal angel tops the tree, while a Santa-Claus elf and other enchanting creatures decorate it at other angles.

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

Meanwhile, the theme of the enchanting windows display at “Les Galeries” in 2023 is “The Christmas of my Dreams”, with fairy-tale-inspired, colorful scenes featuring a little girl and her magic wand, designed by Charles de Vilmorin.

{How to Enjoy Paris With a Baby or Toddler?}

  • Metro: Chaussée D’Antin-Lafayette or Auber
  • Dates in 2023: December 15th, 2023 through December 31, 2023

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

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

At Printemps Haussmann, French actress Catherine Deneuve is slated to preside over the inauguration of holiday lights and window displays on November 9th, 2023, while at the Samaritaine, festivities include a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed main atrium, a festive parade on November 8th and 9th, and several gourmet-themed pop-up events.

Traditional Christmas Markets in Paris: 2023 Locations

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 2023

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

Paris Christmas markets are always warming and enchanting. Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved
Paris Christmas markets are always warming and enchanting. Rachel Naismith/All rights reserved

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. There’s also a funfair for kids, complete with carousels, log ride, ferris wheel and more.

{Related: Where to Find Authentic, Inspiring Gifts in Paris?}

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, and a large ice rink, it’s easy to see why.

Christmas market, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Image: Patricia De Oliveira
  • Metro: Tuileries
  • Dates: November 18th, 2023 through January 7th, 2024. This market is typically open between 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 2023 (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 2023, so make sure to enjoy it while you can.

  • Metro: Gare de l’Est
  • Dates: From December 1st through December 17th, 2023

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 2023. A traditional market and giant tree is taking over the Parvis (square) outside the entrance from early December.

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: December 8th-25th, 2023
Christmas markets in Paris are always festive

Eiffel Tower Christmas Village

{Sadly, the traditional Christmas village that typically takes over the Champs de Mars, beneath the Eiffel Tower, is not scheduled for 2023}. In typical years, you can enjoy a large variety of festive stands, food trucks selling hearty seasonal fare, gifts and more. There’s often 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: Not taking place in 2023 (check back for future markets)

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.

{Related: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Unique Parisian Gifts}

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 16th through 27th, 2023

Full List of Paris Christmas Markets in 2023

Looking for a more complete list of Parisian marchés de Noël this year? 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 2023

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.

Ice Rink (Patinoire) at the Tuileries Christmas Market

In 2023, an enormous ice rink can be accessed at the Tuileries Christmas market, running from November 18th, 2023 through January 6th, 2024 (see more on the market above). Entrance to the rink is free for all, but there’s a small charge for skate rentals.

Christmas decorations festoon the rink, there are separate skating zones for younger visitors, and there are several “sleigh” areas for kids to enjoy.

Metro: Tuileries or Concorde

Ice Skating Rink at the St-Denis Basilica Christmas Market

This ice rink’s just outside of Paris, but it’s easy to access via metro– and it offers the opportunity to go see the sublime St-Denis Basilica, one of the country’s most important historic pilgrimage sites and the burial place of dozens of French monarchs. The Christmas market at St Denis runs from November 15th, 2023 through January 7th, 2024.

  • Metro: Basilique de Saint-Denis (line 13)
  • Dates: December 15th, 2023 through January 7th, 2024

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. You can also look for a holiday-themed guided tour, cruise or dinner package in Paris (here (via Viator).

If it’s just the two of you and you want a romantic and purely adult evening out on the town, you might consider an evening of holiday-themed dinner and dancing at traditional cabarets like the Crazy Horse (book here via Viator). Just make sure to reserve sooner than later to ensure you get a table.

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Celebrating Christmas in Paris in 2023- Pinterest pin by Paris Unlocked/All rights reserved

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