Christmas is always special, no matter where you spend it, but the holidays in the city of lights are just something else entirely. If you thought Paris was gorgeous, wait until you see it under the colourful holiday lights.
Cold but never freezing, a bit rainy and somewhat cloudy, winter in Paris has a special glow, and there’s plenty to see and do to feel that cosy Christmas vibe. These are my favourite things to do in Paris during Christmas.
The Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental is a classic for the holiday season. The authentic palace knows how to celebrate in style and offers special festive menus along with two pop-ups — a French toy store and a winter garden bar. The Mandarin is planning a big six-course Champagne dinner for Christmas eve, and they’re partnering with Cognac Martell for one tremendous New Year’s Eve party.
The Mandarin is a splendid alternative for the holiday season for the decorations alone. Still, it’s the small details, pop-up experiences and seasonal menus that make you feel at home.
Christmas Afternoon Tea
While at the Mandarin Oriental, don’t miss the opportunity of tasting the masterpieces coming out of Chef pâtissier Adrien Bazzolo’s kitchen. Expect the classic wintry baking treats you remember and cherish and a few special surprises not traditional at all.
I won’t spoil the surprise, though. I’m just saying; you might even catch a Gospel concert to pair with your one-biters. Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin is already a tradition for many; why not make it a holiday tradition?
Parisian Christmas Lights
During the holidays, the city of lights really earns its moniker. The awe-inspiring Place Vendôme becomes a Christmas tree forest during the holidays. The sparkling lights give the already handsome square a grandiose feel.
The Avenue Montaigne, perpendicular to Champs Élysées, is always a feature during Christmas as well. Just walk the streets, get lost for a while and enjoy the charming city in all its splendour. If you’re like me, you’ll want to do your shopping in Paris at Le Village Royal during the Christmas season, at 25 rue Royal. They put a wonderful effort into their holiday decorations!
Shopping at Printemps and Galeries Lafayette
Talking about shopping, visiting Printemps and Galeries Lafayette is one of my own holiday traditions when in Paris. Two of the most inspiring Grands Magasins in the city are great ways to stay clear from the chilly wind for a while.
Galeries Lafayette and its colourful dome host restaurants, fashion and even wine. Champagne anyone? We’re talking about forty floors within six different buildings. Loud but beautiful, crowded but attractively familiar, shopping at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps is an excellent opportunity to pick up those last-minute gifts.
Christmas Markets in Paris
There’s no doubt Christmas markets across Europe are the highlight of the season. Form artisan bakes and roasted chestnuts to mulled wine or something heartier; you feel like you want to try everything. And then you have the gifts and crafts, too.
Well, Paris is no stranger to the street market tradition, so expect to find over twenty markets scattered across the city, including some gems that pop up in some of the smaller neighbourhoods.
Some Christmas markets to visit include, La Magie de Noël at Tuileries Garden, the Notre-Dame Market at Square Viviani and the Montmartre Christmas Market near Sacre Coeur.
Are You Visiting Paris for the Holidays?
If you are, you’re in for a great time — the food, the decoration and the overall Christmassy feel permeating Paris is life-changing. What a way to end the year! Wishing you peace and joy all season long. Happy Holidays!