Paris of course has endless holiday events and the City of Lights is never brighter than at Christmas. Don’t miss out on the exceptional seasonal cuisine and desserts. The famous Yule log is just one of many sweet treats you must try – more on that later. 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, the French capital takes holiday cheer seriously.
Paris Christmas markets
Champs-Élysées Christmas Market
The famous Champs-Elysées Christmas will be getting a makeover for 2018. The largest, and most famous Christmas market, or Marché de Noel was closed in 2017 but will be coming back strong in 2018! The market will be in a new location with a brand new name for 2018: La Magie de Noel, or The Magic of Christmas. The market will be held in the famous garden of the Jardins des Tuileries, right next to the Louvre.
Location: Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) in the 1st Arrondissement
Metro: Concorde, Tuileries
Bus: 24, 42, 72, 73, 84, 94
Open: Late November – early January
Notre Dame Christmas Market
One of the city’s other famous Christmas markets is located just two minutes from the majestic Notre Dame, in the 5th arrondissement. The magnificent church is a breathtaking sight in the winter months and the charming Christmas market only adds to the magic. You’ll find traditional French holiday items including decorative ironwork, leather work, tableware, jewellery and more. Enjoy the festive atmosphere, and warm up, with a traditional glass of spiced mulled wine.
Location: Square René-Viviani, at the edge of the Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement
Metro: Saint Michel, Maubert-Mutualité
RER: B and C, Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame
Open: Mid-December until (usually) Christmas Eve
Montmartre Christmas Market
The village vibe of Montmartre makes it another ideal location for a Christmas market. The collection of 30 wooden chalets decorate the ground below the snowy Sacré Coeur. Enjoy the piping hot spiced wine, traditional street food and other Christmas wares that make perfect gifts.
Location: Next to the Abbesses Butte Montmartre, 18th arrondissement
Métro: Abbesses Butte Montmartre
Bus: 80, 95 (get off at Cimetière de Montmartre and walk a few blocks east on Rue Joseph de Maistre/Rue des Abbesses to the market)
Open: Late November – end of December
Holiday decorations at the Galeries Lafayette – our favourite Pairs department store
Christmas window displays in Galeries Lafayette
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, has the best decorations in town – and seem to outdo themselves each year. It all starts outside, with their eleven animated window decorations. From a moving advent calendar to Santa’s village and on to Christmas dinner, they embody the holiday season as seen through the eyes of children. They choose a new theme each year. For 2018, it’s The Dream Factory, with iconic symbols of the holiday season.
Christmas decorations inside Galeries Lafayette
When you step inside the Galeries Lafayette, you’ll be stunned by the amazing giant Christmas tree below the beautiful glass dome of the store. The Galeries Lafayette and Maison Piaget are working together on this year’s creation. For 2018, the dome lights will put on a show every 30 minutes to create a constellation of stars that glisten around the tree. You’ll be transported into a world with adorable characters made out of elaborate wire and lights. Set against the dazzling, art-nouveau architecture, the tree is a reason in of itself to visit the iconic department store.
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. 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 near Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur and 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.
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. 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 Pharmacie Monge 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. Given the variety of items you’re sure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
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, Monsieur Bleu is also a fantastic choice for a special dinner with one of the best view of the Tour Eiffel & the Seine river.
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.
Where to stay in Paris for Christmas & New Year
One of our favorite neighborhoods to stay in Paris around Christmas and New Years is the Opera neighborhood. You’re within walking distance of the Galeries Lafayette for holiday shopping and the various Christmas markets are also easily accessible. Hotel Chavanel is an beautiful boutique hotel owned by a Parisian design lover Sophie Charlet – who dreamt to create in the heart of Paris a haven of discrete luxury and serenity. Everything in there has been carefully thought to provide the nicest experience to the guests: 25 bedrooms and 2 top-floor suite. Every room features a spacious bathroom, comfortable bed, mini-bar and free WiFi. And a delicious organic breakfast with French specialties and a continental buffet.
Address: 22 rue Tronchet, 75008 Paris France
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 42 26 14
Metro: Opera – Line 3, 7, 8
Madeleine – Line 8, 12, 14
Havre – Caumartin – Line 3, 9
Hotel Crayon Rouge
We particularly love Hotel Crayon Rouge. The boutique hotel features lovely rooms, with unique interior design made of vintage furnitures. Every room is different and features iconic designer’s objects. Don’t miss the delicious buffet breakfast. The Louvre is just 5 minutes away on foot.
The Joyce Hotel
Another hotel option is the Joyce Hotel. A bit further north, the Joyce is a 15 minute walk from the Opera Garnier and 20 minutes from Montmartre. This makes for a perfect base for all things holiday shopping and Christmas. Each room is soundproof with organic toiletries and a minibar with complimentary non-alcoholic drinks. The stunning lounge has a glass roof that provides a light, cozy area to relax. There is free WiFi and a delicious breakfast as well. Located on rue La Bruyere, in the 9th arrondissement, the hotel is surrounded by numerous delicious restaurants and fun bars.
Perfect spot for New Year 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. You’ll definitely need to book tickets ahead 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.