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
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 sparking white lights on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the glamorous Avenue Montaigne, the striking Place Vendôme, and the whimsical Boulevard Saint Germain.
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
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 Trocadéro.
Get Your Holiday Shopping Done
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. Don’t miss the tree’s light and animation show every half-hour.
On the Left Bank you’ll find the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, which always has impressive window displays and decorations. The fabulous Samaritaine reopened in 2021 after extensive renovations and features a striking holiday display blended with intricate architectural details.
Private Guided Visit of La Samaritaine
Over the past 150 years, Samaritaine has sparked fond memories for many Parisians – from climbing the theatrical steps that lead to its renowned glass roof to shopping for unexpected gifts in the company of loved ones.
Graced with state-of-the-art architecture and exquisite historical features, the landmark has been gloriously reimagined, fusing original Art Nouveau and Art Deco details with contemporary newness. Located in the beating heart of Paris, this iconic landmark will become a must-visit destination for locals and travelers to indulge in what is quintessentially the Parisian experience.
In this tour, your guide will tell you all about the history of La Samaritaine, its architecture, the renovations which have been recently done and also what’s in store for La Samaritaine in the near future.
Taste Traditional French Christmas Foods and Drinks
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.
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
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 San Régis is located 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, wind down with a drink at the bar or stroll the adjacent Avenue Montaigne to take in the impressive holiday displays.
For interior design fanatics, the 5-star Château Voltaire is a dream. The hotel is a tribute to the Parisian art de vivre. Three buildings dating from from the 17th and 18th centuries were combined to create the hotel. You’ll be steps away from the gorgeous Palais Garnier opera house, lively Jardin des Tuileries, and sophisticated shopping on Place Vendôme.
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.