visiting paris in the winter

Visiting Paris in the Winter

Don’t let the colder temperatures deter you, visiting Paris in the winter is a wonderful idea. You can experience Christmas markets, taste plenty of seasonal foods and drinks, and finish your holiday shopping – all with the City of Light decked in holiday lights and decorations in the background. We’re sharing some of the highlights of visiting Paris in the winter.


Visiting Paris in the Winter

Take in the Holiday Lights and Decorations

visiting paris during the winter notre dame decorations

They take holiday lights and decorations very seriously in the City of Light. As a result, pretty much anywhere you go you’ll be struck by the magic of the season. Even small boutiques and neighborhoods participate in decorating – the results are charming and make Paris feel like a small village.

However, don’t miss the holiday lights and decorations found along the major avenues and places in Paris. Highlights year after year include the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne, Place Vendôme, and Boulevard Saint Germain.

paris by night 2cv

Illumination Tour of Paris with A Glass of Champagne in a Classic French Car

Paris, City of Light, is never more stunning than at night, when she truly lives up to her name. With illuminated avenues and spot-lit monuments Paris takes on a fairy-tale dimension. The city becomes extra magical during the holiday season!

You’ll be welcomed with a glass of champagne and visit Paris in a classic Citroën 2CV with an English-speaking guide. See the highlights of central Paris including the Avenue des Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, Pont Alexandre III, the Petit and Grand Palais, the Place de la Concorde, the Garnier Opera, the Place Vendôme, the Louvre, the Île de la Cité, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. You’ll also enjoy a stunning perspective of the city from the top, at the balcony in Montmartre. Truly the perfect way to see all of the holiday lights!

See the Christmas Markets in Paris

paris christmas market in the tuileries

A must-see when visiting Paris in the winter is one or more of the fabulous Christmas markets in Paris. You’ll find the markets sprinkled throughout the city. Each is different and provides a festive mix of ways to take in the holiday spirit. We recommend getting a cup of hot chocolate and wandering the various stalls. You’ll find holiday decorations, regional and seasonal food specialties, music, sometimes rides and attractions and just general merriment!

Some of our favorite Christmas Markets in Paris can be found in the following locations: the Tuileries Garden (formerly along the Champs-Élysées), Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint-Sulpice, Place de la Nation, Place des Abesses in Montmartre, Gare de l’Est and Trocadero.

Get Your Holiday Shopping Done

visiting paris in the winter shopping

Year-round, the shopping is fabulous in Paris. Once the department stores and boutiques install their famous holiday window and interior displays they become nearly impossible to resist. And what better way to surprise someone on your list than with a special gift from Paris? The Grands Magasins, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have some of the most impressive window displays in the city year after year, and the Christmas tree inside Galeries Lafayette is truly incredible. On the Left Bank you’ll find the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, which always has impressive window displays and decorations. This year Samaritaine reopened in Paris after extensive renovations and the holiday display is sure to be fabulous!

Paris’ Wonderful Covered Passages Private Walking Tour

Your guide will take you through these secret passages and shopping arcades on a wonderful walk. Located on the Rive Droite and near the main boulevards, these structures were created for wealthy clients. The passages experienced their prime in the first half of the 19th century.

You will get to enjoy the beauty of these passages that have been finely preserved over the years. It truly feels like traveling back in time! This is not only a wonderful opportunity to do some holiday shopping, but also a great time to see some more fabulous decorations and take a break from the chilly weather!

Taste Traditional French Christmas Foods and Drinks

vin chaud and chocolat chaud

Throughout the holiday season you’ll find seasonal foods and drinks sprinkled throughout restaurant and café menus, bakeries, as well as in markets and grocery stores. There’s always plenty of seafood including oysters, scallops, smoked salmon and lobster, as well as foie gras and capon. Bûche de Noël is a favorite dessert. Many of the city’s top pastry chef’s each create a version with their own special touch.

To drink you’ll find the Alsatian specialty vin chaud at many cafés and Christmas markets. There’s no better way to warm up than with a glass of mulled wine. Chocolat chaud is also a must. Angelina is known for their thick and rich version of hot chocolate, but we also love chocolate master Jacques Genin’s delicious version of the drink. For people-watching, you can’t beat a cup of hot chocolate at Café de Flore.

And of course, when in France, Champagne is always a good idea. Stop for a glass at a café or restaurant, treat yourself to an exceptional setting at a hotel bar, or better yet, enjoy a private Champagne tasting in a magnificent cellar to learn even more about this delicate drink.

galerie vivienne christmas decorations

Luxury Christmas Food & Decoration Private Walking Tour

Get into the Christmas magic with this exceptional walking tour. Your itinerary will start at the Grands Magasins, where you will discover what makes Christmas in Paris so special: food, wine and decorations. We’ll enter into a paradise of gourmet connoisseurs for an oyster and white wine tasting. Next, we’ll discover the best of Christmas foods all in one place (cheese, salmon, caviar, foie gras, chocolate, gingerbread and more).

After the tasting, you will admire the Christmas lights, decorations and trees in the stores. We’ll continue our walk to Madeleine where we’ll see the church as well as numerous gourmet shops.

Finally, we will take the little streets and passages, full of Christmas lights and decorations until we reach one of Paris’ best wine bars for a foie gras and champagne tasting!

Where to Stay in Paris During the Winter

hotel vernet paris

To maximize your holiday spirit and experience in Paris during the winter we recommend staying in the heart of the city. The five-star Hotel Vernet is located in one of Paris’s favorite neighborhoods, just off of the Champs-Elysées and close to the Arc de Triomphe. You’ll have the best of Paris during the holidays at your fingertips with incredible access to Christmas markets, lights and decorations, shopping and more. After a long day, enjoy a dinner at the hotel restaurant featuring fine cuisine and a lovely glass dome ceiling by Gustave Eiffel.

If you’re visiting Paris with children, consider an extra memorable stay at the Palace Hotel Plaza Athénée. This absolutely gorgeous hotel turns its inner courtyard into an ice-skating rink for children. They also create a gourmet cabin surrounding the ice-skating rink for adults to warm up with a sweet treat or a beverage while watching the children delight in their fun.

plaza athénée ice skating rink christmas
© Romeo Ballancourt

Ready to visit Paris in the winter? There’s still time to plan a trip for this year! Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you.

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