INSPIRELLE’s Ultimate Guide to Christmas 2021 in Paris

INSPIRELLE’s Ultimate Guide to Christmas 2021 in Paris

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Christmas in Paris
Fun at the Christmas Market in the Jardin des Tuileries - Paris. ©️GWF/INSPIRELLE

Pinch yourself! It’s the 2021 holiday season in Paris and this year, there are many ways to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. Despite an ongoing pandemic, dazzling Christmas lights brighten up the main avenues, while decorations deck the city’s restaurants and storefronts. Everywhere you turn, charming holiday villages pop up here and there, offering freshly roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and chocolat chaud to keep you warm and lots of opportunities for unique shopping at Christmas markets throughout the French capital.

INSPIRELLE has curated this list of over 48 seasonal must-sees to celebrate the holidays in the City of Light! From spectacular Christmas displays to traditional markets, pop-up ice rinks, winter wonderlands, and holiday shows, the season is filled with festive activity.

NOTE: Details are correct at the time of publication. Please check each organizer’s website before heading out in case of any last-minute changes. The wearing of masks is obligatory at outdoor public venues and have your sanitary passes ready for inspection.


Charming Christmas Markets

Christmas market at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris
Christmas market at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris © GWF/INSPIRELLE

Snack on regional delicacies, sip hot chocolate or mulled wine (vin chaud) and pick up some artisanal crafts at one of the many Christmas markets (marchés de Noël), charming little villages composed of chalets which line many of the avenues in different arrondissements of Paris.

INSPIRELLE TIP: All the big markets will be crowded, so hang on to your kids and belongings. And be sure to bring your mask and sanitary pass as eating and drinking will only be allowed in controlled, designated areas this year.

Christmas Magic in the Tuileries Gardens
The Magic of Christmas in the Tuileries Garden is back in full festival splendor this year, after being canceled last year due to the pandemic. Discover a winter wonderland in the heart of the French capital. Christmas chalets will be offering warm cider and hot chocolate, regional foods and products as well as plenty of original gift ideas. Ride the giant Ferris wheel for a spectacular view of the city of light or treat the children to a holiday guignol (marionette) show. There’s even an ice rink to test your skating skills!
When: Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022
Where: Tuileries Gardens
 at Place de la Concorde, Paris 75001

Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market
The Hôtel de Ville Christmas Market could easily win a prize for the most beautiful Christmas market in Paris, with its brilliant light show of falling snowflakes dancing across the blue-lit facade of the neo-Renaissance building. Walk through enchanting forests filled with white and green trees decorated with sparkling gold lights, and enjoy mulled wine, raclette, and roasted chestnuts from the traditional market stalls. For gift ideas, there are mouth-watering displays of French regional delicacies including foie gras, terrines, and cheeses. Families will have fun riding on the carousel, trying out the toboggan and climbing wall, and visiting Santa.
When: Through Jan. 2, 2022
Where: Hôtel de Ville, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004

Christmas Market at La Défense (L’Arche de Noël de la Défense)
The largest and most authentic Christmas market in the Ile-de-France region is under the big illuminated arch presiding over the Esplanade of La Défense. The square is now transformed into an enchanting village of over 350 wooden chalets. Bring the whole family here to find a wide variety of Christmas trinkets and French regional cuisine, as well as arts and crafts from as far as Morocco, Tunisia, China, Iran and Nepal. Around the esplanade, there’ll be music and games for the kids, ice skating atop the Grande Arche and even a chance to get a photo taken with Santa Claus.
When: Through Dec. 29, 2021, Sunday to Thursday 11 am – 8 pm; Friday 11 am – 10 pm, 10 am – 10 pm Saturdays. Closed Dec. 25.
Where: Esplanade de La Défense, 92800 Puteaux

Christmas Market in Vincennes
The magic of Christmas is in full festive splendor at the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in Vincennes. Chalets decorated in festive colors, savory and sweet treats, many gift ideas and a space reserved for Christmas decorations await visitors during this holiday season. All December long, Santa will be strolling through the neighborhood, so be on the lookout! The Metro line 1 will take you directly from Paris to Vincennes, making this an easy outing for the entire family.
When: Dec. 10 – Dec. 24, 2021, 10 am – 8 pm
Where: Place Pierre Sémard, 94300 Vincennes

If you prefer to stay away from the mega-markets, there are plenty of smaller ones around Paris, each with its own slightly different ambiance and charm, in local neighborhoods. To locate them – including the arts and crafts-themed market near Notre Dame Cathedral, an Alsatian market at Gare de l’Est, others at Saint-Germain-des-Près and at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in the Champ de Mars, and more – check out the city’s official visitors bureau website, or the X-Mas Markets website, a guide to Christmas markets around Europe.

Spectacular Shows to Captivate You

Prefer to stay indoors when it’s cold outdoors? How about enjoying one of these captivating performances on in Paris this winter.

Cole porter musical serenade in Paris. © Theatre du Chatelet

Cole Porter in Paris at the Théatre du Chatelet
Don’t miss this musical journey recounting composer Cole Porter’s creative years in Paris during the roaring twenties. Inspired by contemporaries like Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray and others of the Lost Generation, Cole Porter thrived in the city of light and his love for Paris is reflected in his songs.
Where: Théâtre du Chatelet, 7 rue Edouard Colonne, 75001 Paris
When: Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 – Dec. 21, 2021 and Jan. 1 – Jan. 21, 2022. Check WEBSITE for showtimes and bookings

Dingue! at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione
For a guaranteed moment of enchantment, head to the historic Cirque d’Hiver for a show that will take you from laughter to amazement with its signature mix of classic juggling and clowning with cutting-edge acrobatic and aerial feats.
Where: 110 rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
When: Through Mar. 6, 2022. Check WEBSITE for showtimes and bookings

Pixel Dance at the Théâtre le 13eme Art
Choreographer Mourad Merzouki has created a mesmerizing combination of hip-hop dance and 3D projection for a futuristic ballet that will blow your mind.
Where: Place d’Italie Centre Commercial Italie Deux, 75013 Paris
When: Through Dec. 31, 2021. Check WEBSITE for details and bookings

Folies Gruss by the Alexis Gruss Circus
The Compagnie Alexis Gruss is back with a show highlighting the follies of the Belle Epoque era. Les Folies Gruss 2021 version includes the possibility of a pre-show dinner or after-show drink while being entertained by the company’s artists.
Where: Carrefour de Cascades, 75016 Paris
When: Through Mar. 6, 2022. Check WEBSITE for details and bookings

Le Bal de Paris by Blanca Li
The famous Spanish director and choreographer has created an immersive live show incorporating virtual reality where the spectators also become performers in a poetic ballrom-set love story.
Where: Théâtre le Palace, 8 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris
When: Through Jan. 16, 2022. Check WEBSITE for details and bookings

Gaïa at the Cirque de Phénix
This spectacular circus production showcases 40 female virtuoso artists (jugglers, trapeze artists, clowns and dancers) plus an all-women orchestra to dazzle you. Don’t miss out on this fabulous epic filled with humor and acrobatic delights. Great family entertainment for a special night out!
Where: Place Cardinal-Lavigerie, 75012 Paris
When: Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 16, 2022. Check WEBSITE for details and bookings

Holiday Ice Skating

Skating fun at Park Asterix. © Parc Asterix

Something about skating under the wintery stars or in a holiday-themed setting makes the experience a little more magical. With current health restrictions, some of the annual pop-up rinks in and around Paris have been canceled, but we’ve found quite a few places to glide your way into the holidays this year. So, grab your skates and gloves and head over to one of these seasonal skating rinks (with your sanitary passes in hand):

Outdoor Ice Skating at the Tuileries Garden
Don your earmuffs and gloves and enjoy a magical ice skating experience in the heart of the Christmas market at the royally beautiful Tuileries Garden. There’s even a zone dedicated to younger skaters. Surrounded by colorful Christmas lights and rides for kids and adults of all ages, you’ll be sure to get into the holiday spirit!
When: Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022, everyday from 10 am – 7 pm
Where: Jardin des Tuileries, 75001. Métro: Tuileries
Cost: 6€ for children; 10€ for adults

Roller Dance to Disney Classics at Galeries Lafayette
After admiring the elaborate Christmas decorations, taking a photo with Santa and doing your Christmas shopping, you can roller dance to the cult soundtracks of Disney classic films and series on the fourth floor of the flagship store of Galeries Lafayette! Bring your roller skates and head up to the ephemeral indoor playground. Did we forget to mention that it’s free?
When: Dec. 1 – Dec. 23, 2021, everyday from 10 am – 8 pm
Where: Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, 25 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, 75009 Paris.
Visit the Salon Opéra on the 4th floor of the Coupole Store (next to the Studio Céleste and Galeries Lafayette Paris corners)
Cost: FREE. Register at the reception desk for a 30-minute session. More info on their WEBSITE

Ice Skating and Winter Games at Parc Astérix
Pack up the family and head out to the Parc Astérix amusement park for a full day of Gallic-themed holiday fun and winter games — just 40 minutes outside of Paris! Among the many Christmas-themed attractions, shows and artisanal food and crafts stands, you’ll discover the Village de la Glisse — a 2500 sq m covered skating village with separate giant ice skating rinks for kids and adults, five sledding slopes, an ice garden reserved for kids and more… Too much excitement for one day? Why not make it an overnight getaway and stay in one of the three family-friendly hotels nearby?
When: Dec. 18, 2021 – Jan.2, 2022
Where: Park Astérix, 60128 Plailly
Cost: 45€/person for a
Billet Noël to enter the park between Dec. 18 – Jan. 2, or 42€ if you book at least 7 days in advance. Free for kids under 3 years old. Parking available onsite: 15€.
Skate rental is free. Gloves are required. More info and tickets available on their WEBSITE

Christmas Skating at Vincennes en Fêtes
Just on the outskirts of Paris, at the end of Métro line 1, the seasonal ice rink in front of Vincennes City Hall is back this year as part of a host of holiday festivities throughout December. Check out their WEBSITE for more information.
When: Dec. 3, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022
Where: Esplanade de l’Hôtel de Ville, Place du Général-Leclerc, Vincennes 94300. Métro: Château de Vincennes
Cost: Tickets are 6€; 4€ for kids under 6, including skate rental. Gloves are required.

You’ll also find seasonal ice skating rinks in some of the suburbs of Paris and Christmas markets around Ile-de-France. More information HERE.

Enchanting Window Displays and Christmas Shopping

 grand sapin at Galeries Lafayette
The grand sapin at Galeries Lafayette © Thibaut Voisin (2021)

 

In keeping with the tradition of the big department stores in major cities around the world, the Grands Magasins of Paris go all out each year and transform their display windows into mini-Winter Wonderlands. Elaborate displays are an orchestra of ornate decorations, scintillating lights, animated figures and music sure to offer a feast for the eyes for visitors of all ages. A perfect stop while doing your Christmas shopping!

Visit the websites of each store for details of their holiday programming and opening hours: PrintempsGaleries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, BHV.

Festive Family Fun  

If the Parisian Christmas Villages, light displays, and ice skating are not enough to keep your kids entertained, here are some more ideas they’ll love!

Christmas Magic in Vincennes
This festive Holiday show, Les Enchanteurs de Noel, runs for two weeks in December on the grounds of the Château de Vincennes, and features Merlin the Wizard, Santa Claus, battling knights and a spectacular parade with stilt walkers, acrobats, fire-eaters, witches and fairies. After the show, continue the merry fun with a mini-amusement park with rides, inflatable structures, trampolines, giant bubbles and much more for the entire family!
When: Tickets will be available soon, check HERE for showtimes.
Where: 1 Avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes

Storytelling and Fun With a Historical Twist
Guided visits with festive events and French fairytale storytelling at famous historical sites throughout Paris: Conciergerie, Hôtel de la Marine, La Sainte-Chapelle, Château de Champs-sur-Marne, Château de Vincennes, Rambouillet and many more…

When: Dec. 18, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022, more information and reservations on the Centre Des Monuments Nationaux website.
Where: At various locations such as Conciergerie, Hôtel de la Marine, La Sainte-Chapelle, etc.

Disneyland Paris Christmas
The festive magic comes to life with an unforgettable holiday experience for kids of all ages at Disneyland Paris.. Once again, Mickey Mouse hosts the biggest holiday party with a new dazzling Christmas Parade, the world-famous night-time Disney Illuminations lights and fireworks spectacle, special holiday menus at all the restaurants and hotels, and meet ‘n greets with Santa and the usual Disneyland cast of characters, all decked out in their best Christmas attire. Plenty of holiday cheer to keep the spirits high!
When: Christmas festivities daily from Nov. 13, 2021 – Jan. 9, 2022
Where: Disneyland Paris, 77777 Marne-la-Vallée

Santa Sightings

Christmas in Paris: Santa
© Milles Studio / Shutterstock

For “believers”, a photo with Santa, better known as Père Noël in France, is a must to ensure they get their presents for being nice. It’s amazing how the jolly guy gets around, isn’t it? Here are some places around Paris for your little ones to pay a visit to Father Christmas:

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann 1,2,3 Christmas!
Ho ho ho! Get ready to meet Santa and capture a memorable photo with the legend at Galeries Lafayette!. Kids can even join the Santa letter writing workshop to ensure that he knows exactly what they want for the holidays!
Where: 5th floor, 51 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris.
When:  Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays
Nov. 27 – Dec. 19, 2021: 11 am – 7 pm
Dec. 20 – 23, 2021: 11h – 7 pm
Dec. 24, 2021: 10 am – 6 pm

Christmas Market at La Défense
Father Christmas can also be found at the largest Christmas market in the Paris region. Look for him in his special cabin where children can deliver their letters and have their picture taken with him!
Where: Esplanade de La Défense, 92800 Puteaux
When: Nov. 25 – Dec. 29, 2021
Sundays to Thursdays: 11 am – 8 pm
Fridays: 11 am – 10 pm

Saturdays: 10 am – 10 pm

BHV
Immortalize your child’s visit to see Pere Noel with a studio portrait located in the Observatory at this downtown department store. Also, to help you Christmas shop, a garderie or babysitting station has been set up near Santa’s studio with nounous to keep your kids enthralled with games and fun!
Where: 52 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris, at the Observatoire on the 5th floor
When: Through December 22, 2021, every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Centre Commerciale So Ouest
This ultramodern shopping center on the northwest edge of Paris is hosting a traditional visit with Santa on certain dates throughout the month plus Christmas storytelling and musical fanfare.
Where: 31 rue d’Alsace, 92300 Levallois Perret, Place Central, -1 floor
When: Through Dec. 24, 2021 on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 10:30 am – 1 pm, and 2 pm – 7 pm.

Christmas Concerts in Historic Settings

Sainte Chapelle in Paris. © Wikimedia Commons

What’s Christmas without a bit of Christmas music? From classical music in historic surroundings to traditional Christmas carols in the churches, there are plenty of places where you can get inspired by beautiful voices this month.

Churches serving the Anglophone community:

The American Church in Paris in the 7th arrondissement is performing a Candlelight Christmas Concert featuring numerous choirs on December 11th at 5 pm and 8 pm, as well as a Christmas Vespers Service accompanied by the music of Ensemble Lumina on December 5th at 5:30 pm. Tickets for the Candlelight Christmas Concert are available for purchase online until November 30 and in-person at ACP up until the day of the event.

The American Cathedral in the 8tharrondissement has a large choir and extensive music programs. For the Christmas season, they are offering a Christmas Jazz Vespers on December 11 at 8 pm, a Messiah Sing-Along on Sunday, December 12 at 3 pm, and Christmas Lessons and Carols on December 19 at 6 pm.

NOTE: Both churches offer Christmas pageants and services on December 24th and 25th. Check their websites above for times.

Performances at other locations:

Paris is blessed with a non-stop roster of cultural events, including plenty of seasonal concerts – from classical to Gregorian chants and sacred music – being performed in extraordinary historic settings. The best place to find out what’s on in the classical music scene and to buy tickets is Classictic.com (in English).

Candlelit classical concert in Paris. ©sortiraparis

Here are some highlights of the Christmas season performances to search for on Classictic.com so you can book your tickets in advance (click on title links for more details and bookings):

Candlelight Concerts
Listen to Daft Punk, Queen, Louis Armstrong, Beatles and Coldplay, as well as some classics, like Schubert and Rachmaninov, surrounded by candlelight in magnificent iconic settings of Paris.
When: Dec. 7 – 30, 2021
Where: See WEBSITE for details and dates for the Candlelight program

Christmas and New Year’s Concerts at the Eiffel Tower
Don’t miss your chance to hear classical masterpieces by Schubert, Vivaldi and Caccini performed by the Orchestre Paris Classik in one of the world’s most famous landmarks — the Eiffel Tower! Tickets are going fast.
Where: Salle Gustave Eiffel, Eiffel Tower, Paris
When: Dec. 25, 2021

Christmas Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle
Gazing at the stunning stained glass windows of the magnificent Gothic La Sainte Chapelle while enjoying a classical concert is nothing short of magical.
Where: 4 boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris
When: Dec. 19 – 24 and 26 – 30, 2021

Classics at l’Eglise de La Madeleine
The historic neo-Classical Église de la Madeleine offers a rich program of classical concerts, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Gounod, Pachelbel, Mozart, and more.
Where: Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris
When: Dec. 17, 24 – 27 and 31, 2021

Dazzling Christmas Lights

Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue Champs Elysee ready for celebrations. © Parisinfo.fr

They don’t call Paris the City of Light for nothing! By night, the city dazzles as seasonal decorations, luminous arches, and colorful light projections deck the avenues and storefronts across the French capital. More than 150 streets in 70 neighborhoods will be lit up!

The largest display of illuminations is along the entire 2km length of the renowned Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Other popular spots include the adjoining Avenue Montaigne, the grandiose Place Vendôme, the charming Montmartre area which is home to the Sacré Coeur Basilica, and Bercy Village. For a dreamy Christmas walk, stroll by the Paris City hall in the evening between December 13 and January 1 to see projections of white snowflakes over a winter wonderland on the town square.

Parcours Lumineux (illuminated trails) are becoming more and more popular all over France. These festive immersive experiences, mixing lights, music, sculpture and fun activities for children can be found at the Parc Saint-Cloud, Jardin des Plantes, Parc de la Villette and Thoiry ZooSafari.

For the grande finale on December 31st, everyone’s invited to welcome the new year together on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. An hour before midnight, the iconic Arc de Triomphe will be illuminated with a vivid light show followed by fireworks when the clock strikes midnight to ring in 2022! Bonnes Fêtes everyone!

UPDATE: Due to the rise in Covid cases, New Year’s Eve festivities on the Champs-Elysées have been cancelled this year.

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