The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: The Holiday Season in Paris

It’s le plus merveilleux time of the year! Christmas in Paris is a magical time; the boulevards are lined with shimmering lights as the city transforms itself to celebrate the holiday season and the coming New Year.

Read further to indulge in our ‘Christmas in Paris Checklist’ so to guarantee you don’t miss anything Paris has to offer during this festive season.

  1. ‘Window shopping’ at Paris’ Grands Magasins

Every year the Grands Magasins reveal their fabulous window displays, attracting everyone from Parisians, children and tourists. Allow yourself to be transported to a real winter wonderland with help from the magnificent Christmas splendor these windows demonstrate. The music, lights and vibrant atmosphere is sure to give you that warm Christmas feeling.Sans titreTake a stroll past BHV, located in the Marais or Le Bon Marché, located in St. Germain.

Our “Paris Haussmann” apartment is conveniently close by  Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, a perfect location for shopping addicts.

If you love to shop, this is also a good time to step inside as the holiday decorations and lights are not limited to the imaginative window displays.

Galeries Lafayette features a beautiful Christmas tree made from gold and silver meteors, linking to this year’s theme ‘Christmas from Another Planet’.

Be sure to be present at 12 pm, 3 pm, 4:30 pm or 6 pm to experience the spectacle of lights and sound around the tree that happens every day.

  1. Make a stop at the many local Christmas Markets

If you haven’t experienced the ambiance of a European Christmas market, you’re definitely in for a treat.  Bundle up warm and go and explore how the French celebrate Christmas.

Festive booths are filled with trinkets, gifts and crafts in outdoor plazas throughout the city. If shopping isn’t your thing, go to experience the food – trying to resist the aroma of the vin chaud (hot mulled wine), roasted chestnuts, and the cheesy tartiflette is surely a feat!

There are several markets throughout the city, but we have handpicked a few of our favorites for you to visit:

      Christmas Market at La Défense

19th November – 27th December

Open every day from 11 am – 8 pm

This Christmas market is the largest in the Paris region, with over 350 wooden chalets, offering a large variety of Christmas crafts and cuisine of the French regions.

      Christmas Market on the Champs Elysées

18th November – 3rd January

Open every day from 12 pm – midnight

The market extends from the foot of the Champs Elysées to the Place de la Concorde. It has over 200 wooden chalets and offers a great variety of Christmas crafts. The Christmas decorations and illuminations of the famous Champs Elysées stretch for almost 2.5km.

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Both our “Monceau Majestic” and “Elysées Modern” apartments are situated close to the Champs Elysées, enabling you to sip on your mulled wine whilst on route back to your apartment.

      Christmas Market on Place Saint-Germain-de-Près

1st December – 4th January

Open every day from 11 am – 9 pm

This Christmas market is located around the church of Saint-Germain-de-Près. There are around 30 wooden chalets offering a great variety of Christmas crafts in a charming neighborhood and conveniently close to A La Carte’s “Saint Germain Elegance apartment.

      Christmas Village Quai Branly

17th December – 3rd January

Opens every day 10 am – 7 pm

This Christmas market is situated at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and has more than 40 wooden chalets boasting an array of festive gifts.

You are sure to find something to bring home to friends and family!

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  1. Go for a spin in one of the many ice skating rinks: Sans titre3

What better winter activity is there to enjoy than ice skating? Get your skates on while taking in some of Paris’ most impressive surroundings.

The rinks can be found throughout the city, but the most popular rinks are located at first level of the Eiffel Tower, in front of the Hotel de Ville, and the start of Champs Elysees at Place de la Concorde.

Most are free to enter and with a low skate rental fee, it makes it a reasonably price and fun outdoor activity for the whole family.

Our apartments in Le Marais; “Marais Charm“, “Marais Nest and “Marais Sublime are all within walking distance to the Hotel de Ville in central Paris

  1. ‘Noel Gourmand’ Christmas Food Market

11th-14th December

10 am – 8 pm

10€ with complimentary engraved wine glass

A Christmas market entirely dedicated to food? What more could one ask for! It is situated in the beautiful ‘Carrousel du Louvre’ and plays host to a large variety of food stalls. All the stalls boast a delicious array of French cuisine and are individually managed by the producers themselves. This is an event not to be missed, it only lasts for four days so be sure to add it to your diary.

Our “Louvre Authentic” apartment would provide easy access to this food market as it is situated only a few minutes’ walk from the Louvre.

  1. Try a ‘Galette des Rois’

Sans titre4Typically a Galette des Rois is a buttery, almond-filled pastry which is traditionally reserved for Epiphany celebrations at the end of the Christmas period. In Paris, you will find that these delicious desserts will start appearing in the bakeries and shops before Christmas up until mid January.

The traditional Galette des Rois comes topped with a paper crown, and hidden inside is a ceramic or plastic fève or figurine. Whoever’s lucky enough to get the slice with the fève gets to wear the crown, and is then King for the day. This sweet tradition is a staple around family tables across France.

For this sweet treat you can head to your nearest boulangerie to partake in this well known tradition. Who will be King for the day amongst your family and friends? Good Luck!

  1. Two words: Disneyland Paris

Sans titre5Is there a more magical place at Christmas time than Disneyland Paris? – I think not. After a short RER train journey from central Paris you can visit the magical world of all things Disney. Experience the impressive Christmas decorations and join in the fun with all your favorite Disney characters for Disney’s Christmas Parade. Disney provides endless amount of fun for all the family and the chance to let the big kid inside of you lose this Christmas.

  1. Christmas Mass in one of the many famous chapelsSans titre6

If you traditionally partake in Christmas Mass at home, then this year during your visit to Paris need not be any different. Many of the famous chapels hold mass services, so why not take advantage of this opportunity whilst admiring some of the churches’ extraordinary architecture.

Here is a list of churches that will provide a Christmas Mass service:

      Christmas Mass at the Madeleine Church

24th Dec – 10.00pm      Vigil and Evening Mass

25th Dec – 11.00am      Solemn Verses

                6.00pm            Mass

      Christmas Mass at the Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

24th Dec –  10pm      Organ Concert

                        11pm          Christmas Vigil

                        12pm          Midnight Mass

25th Dec –    7am          Mass

                        11am          Solemn Mass                  

      Christmas Mass at the Saint-Sulpice Church

24th Dec –   12.05pm     Mass

6.45pm       Mass

11pm           Christmas Vigil and Midnight Mass

25th Dec –  11am           Christmas High Mass

                     6pm             Christmas Vespers

                     6.45pm       Mass

      Christmas Mass at the Saint-Germain-de-Près Church

24th Dec – 6.30pm     Vigil

                      7pm                Family Mass

                     10.30pm     Evening Mass      

25th Dec – 11am          Christmas Mass

                     5pm             Christmas Mass in Spanish

                     7pm             Christmas Mass

  1. Celebrate New Year’s Eve under the Eiffel Tower / Champs Elysees

If you’re fortunate enough to welcome in New Years Eve 2016 in Paris, the City of Light, you are guaranteed to enjoy an unforgettable experience.

The epicenter of the best NYE activities in Paris will be the Champs-Elysées, starting around 9pm when crowds start to work their way to the famous avenue.

As 31st December 2015 ticks over into January 2016, you will score a picture-perfect view of the Eiffel Tower as it explodes into a sparkling dance of lasers and lights. Turn to the person next to you, clink your plastic glasses and wish them a happy New Year with a cry of ‘Bonne Année!’

For those who enjoy the warmth of a crowd, the echo of a countdown and the never-ending fizz of some quality champagne, you can’t beat a New Years at one of Paris’ main tourist attractions, the Eiffel Tower.

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Preparing for your American holiday celebrations in Paris:

Craving some of your native seasonal treats while in Paris? Then take a visit to either “Thanksgiving” or “The Real McCoy. Grocery stores that stock all your American favorites right here in Paris. Here you will be able to buy everything you could desire for your Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations.  Some of us at A La Carte are regular customers!

Thanksgiving        20 Rue Saint-Paul, 75004      Metro: Saint Paul

Real McCoys        194 Rue de Grenelle, 75007     Metro: Ecole Militaire

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“Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas” A novel by John Baxter

Sans titre10Immoveable Feast is the charming, funny, and improbable tale of how a man who was raised on white bread—and didn’t speak a word of French—unexpectedly ended up with the sacred duty of preparing the annual Christmas dinner for a venerable Parisian family.”

“Los Angeles–based film critic John Baxter fell in love with a French woman and impulsively moved to Paris to marry her. As a test of his love, his skeptical in-laws charged him with cooking the next Christmas banquet. Baxter’s memoir of his yearlong quest takes readers along his misadventures and delicious triumphs as he visits the farthest corners of France in search of the country’s best recipes and ingredients. Irresistible and fascinating, Immoveable Feast is a warmhearted tale of good food, romance, family, and the Christmas spirit, Parisian style.”

“Everyone Says I Love You”

Sans titre11“Everyone Says I Love You”  is a 1996 American musical comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen, who also stars in the film, alongside  Julia Roberts, Alan Alda, Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore, Gaby Hoffmann, Tim Roth,Goldie Hawn, Natasha Lyonne and Natalie Portman.

This film takes place at Christmas time in Paris and will offer a little taster of the city’s beauty during the festive season. Watch this film to see just how beautiful Paris looks under the twinkle of the Christmas lights and decorations. If you weren’t already itching to leave on vacation, then you certainly will be now!

Upcoming exhibitions that you won’t want to miss:


Using the comments box below, get the conversation started and let us know if you have been to any of these events in the past or if you have an event you would like to add to the list.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Pam Knap says:

    I wasn’t able to open this post.  Could you send it in another format?Thank you.

  2. alcp says:

    Hi Pam, Sorry you weren’t able to open the post. Are you still having the same issue? If so let us know.

  3. Paris would be lovely to visit this time of year. One day, after I visit in the springtime, we will. Hope the A La Carte team has a wonderful Christmas Holiday!

  4. alcp says:

    Hi Sherry and DG, Thank you for the Christmas wishes! Paris is lovely at the holidays with all the lights and activities. Luckily there are things going on all year long in the city, so never a dull moment. We look forward to hosting you again hopefully and happy holidays to you and your family.

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