Paris as many European big cities surprises its visitors every Christmas season. The city gets many festive decorations, the streets are adorned with magical compositions of lights, the shop windows of the biggest Parisian stores amaze with special exhibitions–and all of that change every year so you will always enjoy something new when coming in December to the City of Lights.
You can enjoy Christmas decorations in most of Parisian districts, however there are some places where an extra effort has been made and where even more of the magic can be felt in the air 😉
Conveniently, most of the spots is in the city center (but I’ll also mention one which is in more residential part of the city if you want to explore where real Parisians go to get some Christmas spirit in the weekend).
You will never go wrong when allocating some time to get your Christmas gifts for your precious ones, but I strongly suggest to give a little of time to check out the 5 Parisian Christmas spots where you can really feel magical Christmas atmosphere. After all, Paris becomes a different city for this very special time of the year.
- Shop exhibitions in Galeries Lafayette and BVH Marais Department Store
At the end of November the iconic Parisian department stores Galeries Lafayette (more into fashion) and BVH Marais (focused more on home and lifestyle accessories) have a thematic exhibitions in their window displays. The themes change every year and the exhibition surprises every time with moving figurines embedded in colorful meticulous arrangements. There is of course a product placement in every display, but all is tastefully integrated. The shop fronts with the Christmas animations are popular among Parisians, especially those with kids. Children can even access small balconies to have a better look. One piece of advice: in the weekend and afternoons the area gets quite crowded with Parisian families so better come in the morning/noon to enjoy it without much of disturbance.
- Hôtel de Ville de Paris
Another very nice Christmas spot is just in front of Hôtel de Ville (BVH Marais is just in the corner so you can visit two spots during the same walk). The square where this spectacular building is located changes into a place straight from the fairytale. You will find there plenty of Christmas trees with many delicate lights and decorations subtly intertwining with the evergreens. Ambient, soothing Christmas music oozes from around the corner building festive atmosphere. In the corners few stalls serving hot wine and small snacks are installed. The kids can enjoy the ride on a carousel (better double check, but I’m quite sure this attraction is free). The area is best enjoyed in the evening when all the lights are on and you can really feel as you walk through an enchanted forest. Really recommended!
- Paris Christmas markets
Every year Paris organizes few Christmas markets all around the city. They vary in ambiance, attractions offered as well as on range of products you can buy there. For instance La Défense Christmas market is the biggest in entire Paris, you can get there many snacks as well as there is many chalets where you can buy small Christmas gifts. The Christmas market in Tuileries gardens is more like an amusement park with many fairground rides, games of choice and carousels. There is also many chalets where you can get some food (not only French type of snacks, but also many dishes from Swiss and Spanish cuisine). The park is open until late hours and it’s a convenient stop when coming back from Louvre, Museum d’Orsay or walk along Seine, the location is very central. If you want to learn more about Parisian Christmas markets, check out this post. The themes change of the markets change every year but the locations usually stay the same.
4. Place Vendôme and avenue Montaigne
The iconic Parisian place Vendôme is a home to luxurious Ritz hotel and many upscale boutiques. The square is undoubtedly one of the symbols of style and ultimate luxury that Paris is famous of. The area gets beautifully decorated every Christmas with elegantly decorated Christmas trees (only the area in front Hôtel de Ville has more of the evergreens), the window displays of the shops as well as the facades of the buildings are nicely lit up. All around the square you can find stylish small elegant details enhancing festive atmosphere. Place Vendôme is an embodiment of French refinement and elegance and during Christmas its splendour shines even more brightly. A short walk from place Vendôme gets you to famous avenue Montaigne is known as one of the most exclusive and luxurious arteries in the capital. The street sparkles with lights every year, the facades of the shops are decorated with Christmas style exhibitions and Christmas trees. This is one of the most stylish Christmas decorations in the entire city.
5. Domaine national de Saint-Cloud.
This Christmas spot is located close to Boulogne-Billancourt prestigious commune where affluent Parisian live. Due to less central position of this neighborhood, you will find here more Parisians enjoying Christmas season with their families. The area consists of a huge park with a castle and many elegant fountains and sculptures in the gardens, from the hill you can also admire excellent panorama of Paris. For a pleasant calm atmosphere in the shadow of trees, I also recommend to come here in the summer months. In December though, the place transforms into small Christmas village! You will find here light and music shows and animations, chalets with hot wine and roasted chestnuts as well as souvenir stands. For enjoying the light effects it’s better to come in the evening. The festive area is pretty large, the Christmas installations are varied with the biggest highlight being a light show where the main fountain is located. However, to enter the village you need to pay the entrance fee which is quite high (plus wine and snacks are possible extra adds). This is the only paid attraction I mention in this post. Due to the fact that it’s not free place the atmosphere is more cameral, however it is up to you if you want to pay extra for it.