Paris has endless holiday events and the City of Light is never brighter than at Christmas. Don’t miss out on the exceptional seasonal cuisine and desserts. Read on for our top tips for spending Christmas and New Year trip in Paris on Paris Christmas Markets, Paris Christmas gift ideas and where to buy them, our top Paris Christmas dinners, Paris New Year’s Eve and more.
The lovely Parisian Christmas decorations will create memories you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. From the Champs Elysées to the towering tree inside the stunning Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, the French capital takes holiday cheer seriously.
Paris Christmas markets
Tuileries Gardens Christmas Market
After the famous Champs-Elysées Christmas market will be taking place this year in the Tuileries Garden. The royal gardens just next to the Louvre will be very festive and bright this winter to celebrate La Magie de Noel, or The Magic of Christmas! You will find food, beverages and some carousels.
Dates: November 15, 2019 – January 5, 2021
Address: Place de la Concorde, 75001
Access: Tuileries – Line 1
Traditional Alsace Christmas Market
Located on the courtyard of the Gare de l’Est, this is the go-to market for delicious food specialities from Alsace. Alsace is a north-eastern region in France that is right next to Germany and Switzerland. Alsatian food is all about conviviality with a lot of great local specialties like cheese and cured meat of all kind. The region is also very well-known for its delicious wine. Make sure to try the traditional pretzels, gingerbread, and Christmas biscuits! As for shopping, you’ll go crazy over the elaborate Christmas decorations, trinkets and fabrics that will be on sale!
Dates: December 4 – 20, 2019
Address: Place du 11 novembre 1918, 75010
Access: Gare de l’Est – Lines 4, 5 7
La Défense Christmas Christmas Market
The biggest Christmas market in Paris this 2019 will be held at La Défense. Eventhough the location may be a bit outside of the city, getting there by subway is seamless! The La Defense market will gather over 350 wooden chalets offering a wide variety of artisanal Christmas-themed goods as well as delicious specialties from different regions of France.
Visiting the market at night will be extra special as the buildings around the market will be lit up in colorful lights! Aside from the delicious food and cozy atmosphere, there will also be an ice skating rink on the top of the Grande Arche building! This is probably the most exciting rink in Paris this year as you’ll get to go ice skating 110m above ground! Enjoy 360° panoramic views of Paris while you glide through ice!
Dates: November 21 – December 29, 2019
Address: 1 Parvis de la Défense, 92800
Access: La Defense – Line 1 / RER A
Holiday decorations at the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann – our favourite Pairs department store
Christmas window displays in Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann
Christmas is a truly fairytale-like time of year. We like to let ourselves be carried away by the creative and charming Christmas decorations around Paris. Our favorite department store, the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, has the best decorations in town – and seem to outdo themselves each year. It all starts outside, with their eleven animated window decorations.
2019 Special Edition – Christmas decorations inside Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann
Make sure not to miss Galeries Lafayette Haussmann who always treats the public with their annual Christmas decorations. For this 2019, their theme is ‘La Ruche de Noël’ which translates to The Christmas Beehive. You can expect to see a lot of very festive golden decorations as well as different specially-designed bee characters who will be prominent throughout the entire department store. But of course, nothing will beat the massive and always awe-striking Christmas tree that will be right under the Grande Coupole. You can get really nice photos by going on the Glass Walk still available this year. Catch all of these at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann until early January.
Gourmet shopping for Christmas and New Year in Paris
Lafayette Maison & Gourmet
What would the holiday season be without special sweet treats to celebrate? For unique gourmet Christmas creation, head to Lafayette Gourmet. There are exclusive collaborations for Christmas. Taste the traditional “Buche de Noel” – French yule log cake, by Jean-Paul Hévin. Pierre Hermé has created a decadent caramel version for Lafayette Gourmet as well. The Brioche of Dreams by Thierry Meunier also sounds tempting. Other top pastry chefs including Yann Couvreur, Pierre Marcolini and Alain Ducasse have created exclusive Christmas desserts for the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann. You can also try creating your own French masterpiece during a special cooking class in Paris.
Paris Christmas markets
As mentioned, Paris is home to numerous Christmas markets. There are smaller markets all around the city in addition to the main markets we already mentioned in the Tuileries gardens. There is a traditional Alsatian market at Gare de l’Est, if you want a taste of authentic cabbage and sausage. La Défense is also home to its own Christmas market. The huge skyscrapers provide a charming contrast to the Christmas village. Gare Saint-Lazare and Porte d’Italie, in the south of Paris, also have Christmas markets. We’ve listed them all down with updated practical information on our Paris Christmas Markets Map. Just click the link to access the map on your mobile device.
DIY Christmas macarons
As mentioned, if you want to try your hand at creating your very own French Christmas treat, the city is home to tons of great cooking classes. One of our all time favorites in the macaron class at the Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann. Discover the secrets of the ultimate French cookie in a quiet corner of the store. You’ll learn how to create the shells and rich ganache filling and how to assemble the delicate pastries. You’ll of course get to taste your masterpiece at the end. Macarons make a perfect holiday treat and with this class you can impress your friends and family all year round!
Where to shop for Christmas presents in Paris
French beauty products
The French are known for their flawless, yet mysterious, beauty routine. It’s no wonder that French cosmetics brands are at the frontline of beauty technology. French beauty products therefore make the perfect gift! They’re ideal gifts no matter who you’re shopping for – a cosmetics lover, someone with sensitive skin or perhaps you just want to give a loved one a luxurious break in their busy everyday routine. Head to the Citypharma for the biggest selection of beauty products in the city. You’ll find brands including Darphin, Nuxe, Embryolisse and so many more. The staff are super friendly, but you can also have a look at our top 20 French beauty products and guide to pharmacy shopping in France if you want some extra tips.
Carrousel du Louvre
The Carrousel du Louvre is another great spot to shop for Christmas presents, so make sure to stop by after visiting the famous museum. Opened in 1994, the upscale shopping center houses dozens of shops, restaurants and a gourmet food court in an elegant setting. Combined, you’ll find hundreds of traditional French, as well as international, brands. Some of our favorites include Pylones, Perigot and Caudalie. You’ll find homeware stores, electronics (Appel, Bose, etc.), French cosmetics, clothing and more. And a temporary concept store until the end of December with only local designed French brands! Given the variety of items you’re sure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
Pyramid (until 12/31/2019)
Location: in front of the reverse pyramid
Here at Insidr we truly believe that edible gifts are the best gifts. Paris has numerous fabulous gourmet food shops but our favorite is Lafayette Gourmet. Spread over two floors and 3500 square meters, they have the widest selection of gourmet food products and an exotic spice display that is just divine for the senses. To help you navigate this temple of food, we’ve picked out a few of our favorite gourmet gift options from Lafayette Gourmet.
First off, spreads. With so much good bread in France, it’s no surprise that you’ll find delicious spreads to smear on top. We recommend jams from L’Epicurien if you’re thinking of something sweet. Tapenade and Dijon mustard are also great choices.
You can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of French wine. Talk with the staff who can help you find the perfect bottle based on your budget and taste.
Finally, let’s talk sweet treats. French chocolates make great gifts as well as the caramels au beurre salé (salted butter caramels, yum!). We also love Olives de Provence almonds. They’re coated in semi-sweet and white chocolate for a truly gourmet holiday treat.
Paris Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner with a perfect view of Paris
Booking a table for a memorable holiday meal with your loved ones is a crucial part of any Paris holiday trip. The city has numerous great restaurants perfect for a romantic night out, or a special family outing. We have three perfect picks for your holiday meal that also feature a panoramic view of Paris. Maison Blanche has a gourmet menu with amazing views of the Eiffel Tower. Les Ombres also features spectacular views of the Iron Lady with a more contemporary, audacious twist to their menu. Lastly, Vedettes de Paris dinner cruise is also a fantastic choice for a special dinner with one of the best view of the Tour Eiffel & the Seine river. Make sure to book your special evening in advance!
Christmas dinner in a lively local restaurant
If you’d rather opt for a livelier, local restaurant we also have our favorites! Pain Vin Fromage (Bread Wine Cheese) is our first pick. The name pretty much says it all. Choose from a variety of fondues or go for the famous raclette cheese. The ideal restaurant for a warm, hearty Christmas dinner. L’Aller Retour wine bar and steakhouse has mouth-watering steak and a friendly, cozy atmosphere. We also love Gigi. The traditional creperie has elaborate galettes topped with smoked salmon, burratina, truffle oil and more. On the sweet side, they also have decadent dessert crepes, the perfect way to end Christmas dinner.
Perfect spot for New Year’s Eve in Paris
New Year Eve special show in Moulin Rouge
The iconic Moulin Rouge cabaret is a must-see during your time in Paris. If you’re lucky enough to be in town during the holidays, you really can’t miss the special New Year’s Eve show. The famous “Fériee” main act features the international Doriss girls and the original French cancan dance. Chef David Le Quelles puts on a special New Year’s Eve menu with unique, gourmet culinary creations. Immerse yourself in the colorful costumes, elaborate sets and festive atmosphere to fully enjoy your evening. Book your tickets now as the show sells out fast.
Champs Elysees on New Year Eve
There is no better place to ring in the new year than Paris. The best place to enjoy the New Year’s festivities is near the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees, it’s where the heart of the party is. The famous Arc is transformed into an unforgettable show each each year. Amazing 3D images are projected onto the arc to create a stunning light show There are also plenty of spots nearby to enjoy dinner, or go dancing before midnight. The impressive show starts at 11PM, followed by fireworks. The avenue draws a huge crowd so we recommend getting there early if you want to get a good spot!
Eiffel Tower on New Year Eve
The Eiffel Tower with its own impressive light show, is a magnificent sight 365 days a year. However, on New Year’s Eve, it’s simply spectacular. The official fireworks show tends to start around 11:30PM with the Eiffel Tower providing the perfect backdrop. Enjoy the artistic bursts of colors. At the stroke of midnight, the true show begins. The dazzling display on the Eiffel Tower illuminates the Parisian sky and is sure to leave you breathless. As with the Champs Elysees, the show draws a big crowd so you’ll also want to get there early if you want a decent view.