INSPIRELLE’s Ultimate Guide to Christmas 2023 in Paris

INSPIRELLE’s Ultimate Guide to Christmas 2023 in Paris

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

Ho ho ho! It’s the 2023 holiday season in Paris and this year, there are many ways to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. 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 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. 


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 in many arrondissements of Paris. This holiday season, discover smaller festive markets that promote a sustainable Christmas spirit or share how different cultures celebrate Noël.

** INSPIRELLE TIP** All the big markets will be crowded, so hang on to your kids and belongings. Eating and drinking will only be allowed in controlled, designated areas.

Christmas Magic in the Tuileries Gardens
The splendor of the season is on full display inside one of Paris’ famous gardens. Organizers moved the traditional holiday chalets along the Champs-Élysées to create the winter wonderland in the heart and labyrinth of the French capital’s garden. Sample warm cider and hot chocolate, regional foods and products and find 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. 18, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024
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 one in Paris, with its brilliant light show of falling snowflakes dancing across the blue-lit facade of the neo-Renaissance City Hall building. To add to its beauty and excitement, this year, the city Christmas market pays tribute to the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic games! Enjoy free games to play, walk through enchanted forests filled with white and green trees sparkling with gold lights and enjoy mulled wine, raclette, and roasted chestnuts from the traditional market stalls. For Made-in-France gift ideas, there are mouthwatering 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: Nov. 28, 2023 – Dec. 31, 2023
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 180 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: Nov. 16 – Dec. 27, 2023, Mondays to Thursdays 11 am – 9 pm, Fridays 11 am – 10 pm, Saturdays 10 am – 10 pm, Sundays 11 am – 8 pm. Closed Dec. 25.
Where: Esplanade de La Défense, 92800 Puteaux

Christmas Market in Vincennes
The magic of Christmas has transformed the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in Vincennes. Chalets decorated in festive colors, savory and sweet treats from France, Canada and La Réunion, 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. 2 – 24, 2023, 10 am – 8 pm (closes at 16h on the 24th)
Where: Parvis de l’hotel de Ville et rue de Fontenay, 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 for a full list of traditional and innovative holiday sites, or the X-Mas Markets website, a guide to the 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 this winter?

West Side Story at the Théatre du Chatelet
Trouble is brewing on New York’s Upper West Side: rival street gangs, heated rhythms, a bitter feud and, in the midst of it all, a great love fighting but tragically failing to overcome the obstacles standing in its way. Allow yourself to be swept away by a thrilling new production of West Side Story, a re-make of the iconic classic for a new era (in English with French subtitles).
Where: Théâtre du Châtelet, 7 rue Edouard Colonne, 75001 Paris
When: Oct. 20 – Dec.31, 2023. Check the WEBSITE for showtimes and bookings

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Lido2
This Stephen Sondheim gem, perhaps his most laugh-out-loud musical, arrives in Paris in English for the first time. Starring the inimitable Richard Kind, the show follows a Roman slave who tries to win his freedom and woo a girl at the same time. Don’t miss this fabulous farce that will have you singing “Comedy Tonight” for days on end!
Where: 116 bis Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris
When: Dec 1, 2023 – Feb 4, 2024. Check WEBSITE for showtimes and bookings

Délire 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. 3, 2023. Check WEBSITE for showtimes and bookings

My First Nutcracker at the Théâtre Mogador
It’s never too early to introduce children to the magic of classical music and dance. This show has been simplified and adapted for children 5 and up, but still features the stunning dancing, costumes and decor that are the hallmarks of this Christmas classic, all under the direction of artists from the Opéra de Paris.
Where: 25 Rue de Mogador, 75009 Paris, France
When: Through February 25, 2024. Check WEBSITE for details and bookings

Starmania
This beloved French musical returns to Paris for an updated show at the Seine Musicale. With a huge cast of singers and dancers interpreting songs anchored in contemporary popular culture, audiences will delight in hearing memorable hits reworked into a compelling story of the future, celebrity and the enduring power of love.
Where: La Seine Musicale, Île Seguin, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt
When: Through January 28, 2024. Check WEBSITE for showtimes and bookings.

Cirque du Soleil: KURIOS-The Cabinet of Curiosities
A Seeker believes that in his enormous cabinet of curiosities lies a secret, invisible universe of the most eccentric concepts and highest aspirations. So when characters from another world appear, they try to awaken the Seeker’s creativity by turning his world upside down! Cirque du Soleil will entrance audiences with wit, poetry, and as always, amazing acrobatic feats.
Where: Under the Big Top, Mail de l’Île des Impressionnistes, Paris (Chatou) 78400
When: Through January 14, 2024. Check the WEBSITE details and booking.

Folies Gruss by the Alexis Gruss Circus
The Compagnie Alexis Gruss celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new show featuring no less than 50 magnificent horses and 25 acrobatic artists. Enjoy a pre-show dinner and concert or after-show drink to keep the festive ambience going.
Where: Carrefour de Cascades, 75016 Paris
When: Through February 25, 2024. Check WEBSITE for details and bookings

The Stars of the Peking Circus at the Cirque Phénix
The “games of the circus” is this year’s theme at the Cirque Phénix, with rousing music and more than 40 acrobats from the Peking Circus to delight and amaze audiences. Perfect family entertainment for a special night out!

Where: Place Cardinal-Lavigerie, 75012 Paris
When: Through January 14, 2024. 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. So, grab your skates and gloves and head over to one of these seasonal skating rinks:

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. Don’t forget to look up to see Santa Claus flying through the skies of Paris!
.When: Through Jan. 7, 2024, everyday from 10 am – 7 pm
Where: Jardin des Tuileries, 75001. Métro: Tuileries
Cost: 6€ for children; 10€ for adults

Illuminated Skating at the Rambouillet Christmas Market
Only an hour outside Paris, the town of Rambouillet hosts a charming Christmas market with two skating rinks for kids of all ages. While you’re there, pick up some handmade gifts or take a snack break with gourmet hot chocolate, mulled wine, crêpes, waffles and other treats.
When: Dec. 9, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024, 11 am-7 pm (8pm Fridays and Saturdays)
Where: Place Félix Faure, 78120 Rambouillet
Cost: 5€/hour, skate rental included, 3€ for under 6 years old

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. 23, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024
Where: Park Astérix, 60128 Plailly
Cost: 51€/person for a Billet Noël. Free for kids under 3. Parking available onsite: 20€.
Skate rental is free. Gloves are required. More info and tickets available on their WEBSITE

Winter Wonderland at the Plaza Athenée
For a truly luxe and gourmet seasonal experience, head to one of Paris’ most beautiful hotels, which has turned its interior courtyard into the setting for a cosy alpine châlet. Set amid twinkling lights, the châlet is open for a special cheese fondue and champagne dinner. Booking includes an hour’s access to the picturesque ice rink, where you’ll be provided with skates to glide in elegant style.
When: Wed-Sun, from 7:30pm, through Jan. 20, 2024
Where: Hôtel Plaza Athénée, 25 Av. Montaigne, 75008 Paris
Cost: 200€/person. Check WEBSITE for details and booking 

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

Magical Christmas decorations at le Bon Marché © le Bon Marché

 

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 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 LafayetteLe Bon MarchéBHV.

Photo courtesy: Disneyland Paris

FESTIVE FAMILY FUN  

If the Parisian Christmas villages, light displays, and ice skating are not enough to keep you entertained, here are some more festive activities your whole family will enjoy both in and around Paris!

An Enchanted Christmas at Disneyland Paris (Marne-la-Vallée)
Kids of all ages will revel in the most enchanting of Christmas wonderlands at the Magic Kingdom, just 35 minutes from Paris by train or car! Mickey Mouse hosts the biggest holiday celebration ever, including a dazzling Christmas Parade, musical performances, spectacular illuminations and fireworks, and special holiday menus at all restaurants. Plus, there’ll be opportunities to meet Santa and the usual Disney cast of characters, all decked out in their finest Christmas attire.
When: Christmas festivities daily until Jan. 7, 2024
Where: Disneyland Paris, 77777 Marne-la-Vallée

Christmas Enchantment at the Jardin d’Acclimatation (Bois de Boulogne)
In the Bois de Boulogne, just on the edge of Paris’s 16th arrondissement, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is decked out with candy canes, giant elves and Christmas-themed rides like the Sapin Merveilleux (Marvelous Christmas Tree), Le Traineau Express (Express Sleigh) roller coaster and Rivière Enneigée (Snowy River). Starting December 23, sledge down snow-covered slopes virtually at Snow Adventure, a new VR attraction!
When: Daily from Nov. 18, 2023 – Jan. 14, 2024
Where: Jardin d’Acclimatation, Carrefour des Sablons, Bois de Boulogne. For information and ticketing, visit their WEBSITE. 

Regal Holiday Fun in Castles around Paris (multiple locations)

The fabulous châteaux around Paris sparkle at their finest with brilliant decorations and special performances during the holiday season! Check each château website for more information and ticketing.

When & Where:

  • Immerse yourself in the festive Baroque atmosphere of the incomparable Château de Versailles. As night falls, Le Parcours du Roi (The King’s Tour) offers an exceptional visit and show, including royal fireworks, musicians, dancers, singers, fencers and actors in period costumes. Expect a special appearance from Baroque Father Christmas also! (Dec. 10, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024)
  • Enter a 17th-century fairytale winter wonderland at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, during its Grand Noël (Great Christmas) festivities. Donning a red velvet cape on arrival, you’ll stroll through the sumptuously adorned castle grounds, enjoying family-friendly activities, including a treasure hunt, dazzling light shows, and even roasting marshmallows. (Nov. 18, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024)
  • Celebrate Christmas at the fabulous Château de Fontainebleau, where you can dress up in costumes and relive Second Empire meals in the castle guard’s room, follow the footsteps of famous Musketeer D’Artagnan, enjoy storytelling with hotel chocolate in hand, Christmas concerts, and more. (Dec. 10, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024)
  • Horse lovers will revel in equestrian-themed holiday storytelling at the Château de Chantillys horse show, which recounts the story of Princess Désirée through vaulting, acrobatics and burlesque entertainment. While you’re there, why not book a chantilly (whipped cream) workshop too? (Dec. 2, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024)

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:

Santa’s Studio at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Get ready to meet Santa and capture a memorable photo with the legend at Galeries Lafayette! While there, kids can drop off a letter with their gift wishlist or participate in a puppet-making workshop inspired by a special Christmas story.
Where: In the Coupole of the main store, 5th floor, 51 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris.
When: Saturdays & Sundays, from Dec. 9 – Dec. 23, 11 am – 7 pm; Sunday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) – Santa’s studio will open open from 11 am to 5 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 at the Christmas Market of La Defense, where children can deliver their letters and have their picture taken with him!
Where: Esplanade de La Défense, 92800 Puteaux
When: Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm; Wednesdays, 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm; Fridays, 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm; and Saturdays & Sundays, 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm from Nov. 16 – Dec. 23, 2023.

Studio du Père Noël at BHV
Immortalize your child’s meeting with Père Noel with a studio portrait at this iconic department store. For carefree Christmas shopping, you can also drop your kids off at the free garderie (babysitting station) near Santa’s studio to keep your kids safe and enthralled with games and fun while you pick up last-minute gifts!
Where: 5th Floor Observatory, 52 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris
When: Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 26 – Dec. 24, 2023, from 11am to 7pm

So Ouest Shopping Mall
Get your shopping and Santa snaps at this sleek shopping center on the northwest edge of Paris. Throughout December, kids can also participate in a variety of Christmas-themed creative workshops most afternoons during the holiday season. Check WEBSITE for detailed agenda.
Where: Level -1 at the foot of the giant Christmas tree, So Ouest Mall, 31 rue d’Alsace, 92300 Levallois Perret, Place Central, -1 floor
When: Nov. 26 – Dec. 31, 2023

See Santa at the Aquarium of Paris!
For something unique and memorable, watch Santa dive — yes, dive! — amongst the fish at the city’s Aquarium in Trocadéro!
Where: 5 Ave. Albert de Mun, 75016 Paris
When: Saturdays & Sundays, Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24 at 11:45 am

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 putting on a Candlelight Christmas Concert featuring numerous choirs on December 16th at 5pm and 7:30pm. Tickets for the Candlelight Christmas Concert are available for purchase online (includes processing fees) and in-person at the Church beginning Sunday, November 12th. Buy tickets HERE.

The American Cathedral in the 8th arrondissement has a large choir and extensive music programs. For the Christmas season, they offer Christmas Lessons and Carols on Saturday, December 16th at 4 pm and Sunday, December 17th 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 the music of Queen, Ennio Morricone, and Joe Hisaishi, as well as some classics like Chopin, surrounded by candlelight in magnificent iconic settings of Paris.
When: Dec.– Jan., 2023
Where: See WEBSITE for details and dates for the Candlelight program

New Year’s Concerts at the Eiffel Tower
Don’t miss your chance to hear classical masterpieces by Vivaldi, Strauss, or Schubert performed by the Orchestre Paris Classik in one of the world’s most famous landmarks: the Eiffel Tower! Book ASAP! Tickets go fast.
Where: Salle Gustave Eiffel, Eiffel Tower, Paris
When: Jan. 1, 2024

Christmas Concerts at La Sainte Chapelle
Gazing at the stunning stained glass windows of the magnificent Gothic La Sainte Chapelle cathedral while enjoying a classical concert is nothing short of magical.
Where: 4 boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris
When: Dec. 27 – 31, 2023

Classics at l’Eglise de La Madeleine
The historic neo-Classical Église de la Madeleine offers a rich program of classical concerts, from performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Gounod, Pachelbel, Mozart, and more.
Where: Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris
When: Dec. 21, 23-25, and 31, 2023

Dazzling Christmas Lights

Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe Christmas lighting
Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue de Champs-Élysées all lit up for the holidays.

 

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 2nd and 31st for a gorgeous video-mapping show to be screened on the façade of the building in 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-CloudJardin des PlantesParc de la Villette and Thoiry Zoo Safari.

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!

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