Christmas in Paris is a long-awaited holiday. Everyone prepares for it a month in advance. On the 25. December Per Noel, the French Santa Claus, brings presents to children and leaves them under the Christmas tree. Finally, New Year’s Eve serves as a festive end to the Christmas holidays. Drink champagne, rest on the 1. January off, and then it’s back to work again!
The installation of fairy lights on the most important Christmas avenue in Paris begins in September. The festive lighting will be at the end of November, around the 20. November, be switched on. A whole staff of engineers and designers working on the lighting of the avenue. Lighting must not only be beautiful, but also energy efficient. You will be amazed at what they accomplish.
Most of the Parisians are not religious. But all celebrate Christmas together. It is a celebration of family, friendship, coziness and delicious food. The most important Christmas tradition in Paris are the Christmas markets. They open from the end of November. Some close directly on 24. December, others at the turn of the year. A few will remain open into January.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the Christmas markets, take a one-hour walk through the Tuileries Garden. It’s so nice to warm up in the freezing cold Parisian winter with hot soup and mulled wine between the shopping huts. And after enjoying a treat, you can start shopping for souvenirs and gifts.
What would a vacation be without delicious food? French chefs are true masters of holiday delicacies. By Christmas, there are a million traditional cakes called Galette des Rois and as many Christmas stollen. Be sure to try these seasonal treats.
All kinds of cakes and chocolates occupy a good part of the houses at the Christmas markets. The smell of chocolate with roasted chestnuts and mulled wine together create the Christmas spirit.
In France, carousels and the Ferris wheel are temporary phenomena that occur only on holidays. Just before Christmas, the Ferris wheel is set up in the Tuileries garden. Booths are closed so it’s not too cold when you drive and admire the town in its festive lights. Free ride carousels are available in various parts of the city. You are sure to find them at the great Christmas markets at the Eiffel Tower or La Defance.
Ice rinks are a popular Christmas entertainment in Paris. There’s not always snow in the city at Christmas time, but there’s always ice cream. These ice rinks are artificial, but they complement the Christmas atmosphere so well.
The largest ice rink opens in the Grand Palais. Near the Paris City Hall and under the Eiffel Tower you can skate in the open air. Every year new ice rinks are opened on the roofs from where you can enjoy the view of the city. Try out the ice rinks at the Lafayete Galleries and the Big Arc La Defance.
It’s a common misconception that Paris has sales before Christmas. It is indeed a very unprofitable time for sellers. The winter sales in Paris begin on the second Wednesday in January.
But a stroll through the malls and stores on the Champs-Elysees is still worthwhile. It is beautiful! There are twinkling Christmas trees in every display case and at the entrances to the stores. Major shopping galleries host puppet shows in their display cases. These "live showcases are known all over the world.
Not everyone is religious, but those who are celebrate with a festive Christmas Mass The main Christmas Mass in Paris has traditionally been held at Notre Dame Cathedral, but this year the cathedral is closed for renovations. A Christmas market and a Christmas tree will continue to be organized in front of the cathedral, but the main Mass will be held in the church of Saint Eustache.
Festive masses are held in many churches and cathedrals in Paris. As a rule, on the 24th. December from 18:00 or later an evening mass. Night Mass begins at 22:00 or 24:00. The next day, the 25. December, the afternoon mass takes place almost all day from 11:00 to 18:00.
In the Basilica of Sacre Coeur on 24. December a festive concert with organ music takes place. It is a unique opportunity to listen to the oldest organ in Europe. The concert starts at 22:00. From 11:00 p.m., the evening mass begins, which seamlessly transitions into the night mass.
Christmas in the castle
We usually warn our readers that parks and palaces on the outskirts of Paris are closed in winter. It is not a great pleasure to walk in the wet snow among the bare flower beds. Most people don’t want to go to Versailles in the winter and forgo the beautiful gardens.
But Vaux-le-Vicomte has made Christmas an extra reason to visit. The park will be decorated with garlands and inside the castle there will be a cozy Christmas theme. Lovers of antique beauty will be interested in visiting the carriage museum. Many of them were used by French princes and princesses.
The Château de Chambord has also decided to celebrate the winter vacations this year. From 1. December to the 5. January, the Château is open to the public and prepares some Christmas surprises.
Christmas at Disneyland
All children love Christmas because of the Per Noel and the presents. A vacation to Disneyland Paris will be the best Christmas in a child’s life, and many adults will believe in fairy tales again after such a vacation.
Disneyland’s Christmas program is richer and more entertaining than the usual days. Even the daily parade happens twice a day on Main Street! Santa welcomes obedient children to his office every day.
To give as many children as possible the chance to meet Santa, Disneyland’s Christmas program begins in early November and runs through 6. January. Tickets are better to buy in advance. You can arrange everything at this link.
Christmas is a family celebration. After enjoying themselves at the Christmas markets and participating in the fair, Parisians head home to the festive table. There are no noisy night parties or fireworks at Christmas. It’s still a week before New Year’s Eve, so you need to save your energy to have enough for the New Year’s celebrations!