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Christmas in Paris 2019

Christmas Decorations

Whether you’re visiting or living in Paris, there’s plenty to see and do during the holidays to enjoy the festive season from mid-November through early January.

Check out the Holiday Lights and Decorations

Holiday decorations in France

Of course there are the lights! Almost every major street is decorated for the holidays, but in particular the Champs Elysées is worth a peek (especially late at night when all of the shops have closed and the crowds of shoppers have disappeared) and any pedestrian market street such as Rue Mouffetard (5th), Bercy Village (12th), and Rue Montorgueil (2nd). You can also check out the elaborately decorated shop windows of the Grands Magasins (department stores): Printemps and Galeries Lafayette (on Boulevard Haussmann, 9th), BHV (across from Hôtel de Ville, 4th), and Le Bon Marché (near St-Germain-des-Près, 6th) are usually worth a peek, and they even have little wooden platforms for the kids to see better. I also highly recommend the Covered Passages, which are magical during the holidays.

Department store window Christmas decorations

Christmas Sightseeing & Activities in Paris

  • Nov 20-Jan 5
    The historic Grand Rex Cinema (1 Blvd Poissonnière, 2nd)  is putting on their annual laser-light-water-jet-pop-music show (you have to see it to believe it…), Féérie des Eaux. €15 (€12 for students under 26), includes your film of choice and the pre-film show. You’ll want to be on time for this, people line up early! If you want to splash out a bit more cash, €35 gets you a Carré d’Or ticket with your own priority line, a special goodies box from the snack bar, and the best seats reserved just for you. Note that all Féérie des Eaux screenings are in VF (dubbed in French). You can also see other great holiday films in this magical setting (without the pre-show), including Last Christmas, Star Wars, and Knives Out (regular tickets €9).
Grand Rex Christmas show
  • Nov 21-Jan 19
    Larger-than-life illuminated marine wildlife sculptures are on display each evening in the Jardin des Plantes (5th) for the “Illuminated Ocean” exposition, which beautifully features the magic of the oceans as well as the vulnerability of those who call it home. Tickets are available ONLY online, purchased in advance (€15, €12 for kids 3-12; Family tickets €48 for two adults and two kids; discount rate of €12 for 9:30pm tickets Monday-Thursday nights). Access every 30 minutes from 6pm-9:30pm (open until 11pm).
Illusimated Ocean show
Photo from “Illuminated Ocean” exposition at the Jardin des Plantes
  • Nov 21-Dec 29
    Le Manoir de Paris (18 Rue de Paradis, 10th), the city’s year-round haunted house, has a special Christmas Apocalypse experience for the holidays with zombie elves and other fright-inducing scenes for those looking for a few thrills. Tickets €20-39 (not recommended for kids under 10 or anyone with heart problems; strobe lights and smoke machines are part of the show). Open Fridays 6-10pm, Sat-Sun 3-7pm.
  • Dec 7, 14 & 21
    The Château de Vincennes (12th) is hosting a Medieval-themed parade and live show, Les Enchanteurs de Noël, with fire-breathers, magicians, jousting knights, acrobats, and music. The show lasts 90 minutes, and takes place inside the heated château, with the parade taking place outside in the castle grounds. Shows on the 7th and 14th at 8pm; three shows on the 21st (3pm, 5pm, and 8pm); tickets €19 (€17 for kids 3-11; €65 for families of two adults and two kids). In French, but pretty easy to follow even for kids just by watching. See photos on their FB page.
  • Dec 7-Jan 4
    For carnival rides with a holiday spirit check out the Jours de Fête à la Villette (Place de la Fontaine aux Lions, 211 avenue Jean Jaures, 19th) with 60 rides and stands. Free entry, ride tickets €2. Open daily noon-11pm.
  • Dec 7-8, 14-15, 21-22
    The pedestrian-only Bercy Village (Cour St-Emilion, 12th) is decorated with light sculptures and a giant Christmas Tree for the holidays, and each weekend there are free concerts, activities for kids, as well as parading penguins and Santa Clause with his elfin assistant. Check their website for specific times for the events, or just hang out at the shops, the large cineplex, or heated sidewalk cafés for the ambience.
  • Dec 13-Jan 1
    The esplanade in front of the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall, 4th) will be decorated with an “enchanted forest” of pine trees that come from sustainable nurseries in the region, and will either be composted in Parisian gardens or reused next year (the ones still in pots). A holiday light show will be projected onto the façade of the building, and there will be two free merry-go-rounds, a free curling court (on ice!) and a small handful of chalets selling products “Fabriqué à Paris” (made in Paris) and mulled wine and warm pretzels. Santa will be on site for the kids through the 24th. Free entry, open 11am-9pm.
  • Dec 26- Jan 5
    The Musée des Arts Forains (Carnival Arts Museum) at Les Pavillons de Bercy (53 Avenue des Terroirs de France, 12th) is a private museum of carnival rides and decorations usually closed to the general public (the venue can be hired for private events). It’s exceptionally open for the holidays for the 10th annual Festival du Merveilleux, decorated in winter wonderland style, with antique merry-go-rounds, carnival games, automatons, and live magicians and jugglers. Open daily December 26 through January 5th from 10am-6pm, entry €16 (€10 for kids 3-12), get your times-entry tickets online in advance (there are huge lines otherwise). Tip: you can buy skip-the-line open date tickets exclusively at the Culture au Quai Festival (Dec 14-15).
Antique carousel horses at Carnival Arts Museum
Antique carousel horses at the Carnival Arts Museum

Christmas Markets in Paris

Christmas Markets, aka Marchés de Noël  are traditionally found in the French region of Alsace (the most famous is the Strasbourg Christmas Market), but Paris has quite a few Christmas markets of its own, some small with just a few wooden chalets, others huge affairs with rides and entertainment. All of them sell a selection of holiday gifts and decor, mulled wine and other gourmet goodies. The latest trend is seeing a lot more emphasis on sustainability, quality and artisanal products made in France and supporting charities. This isn’t an exhaustive list (see the Paris Tourism Office for that), but it includes many of the noteworthy ones worth crossing town to visit, as well as special holiday sales benefitting local charities. Note that these markets are usually closed on Christmas Day.

Markets For Fun

  • Nov 15-Jan 5
    The biggest Christmas Market in Paris is in the Tuileries Gardens (1st), which combines carnival rides, a Ferris wheel, a 500m² skating rink (€10 for adults, €6 for kids), live music concerts, and a village of 100 wooden chalets selling decorations, toys, gifs, and gourmet treats. A special food market representing 20 French regions sells plenty of hot food and drinks to enjoy seated at picnic tables or as you walk around. They are supposed to focus on quality and products made here in France (there are even crafts people making their wares right at the market), but double-check before spending. Free entry. Open Sun-Thurs 11am-11:45pm; Fri-Sat until 12:45am (11am-8pm on Dec 25th and 31st). See last year’s video here (on mute recommended).
Alsatian Christmas Market pretzels
Alsatian Christmas Market pretzels (aka bretzels)
  • Dec 4-20
    The annual Alsace Fête Noël market at the Gare de l’Est train station is open all day long, 9am-8pm, featuring all of the traditional Alsatian specialties like pretzels (or “bretzels” in France), Pain d’Epices ginger bread, Gâteaux de Noël (Bredala), and regional wines. I would certainly not cross town for this one (besides, every Christmas market has an Alsatian stand or five), but if you’re catching the train or meeting someone at the Gar de L’Est, it’s a nice little detour.
  • Dec 13-29
    Although the reconstruction scaffolding can be seen where the roof used to be, Notre Dame Cathedral is still a magnificent backdrop for the Marché de Noël Paris Notre Dame across the river in the Square Vivani (5th), with two dozen artisan stands selling crafts, décor, gifts, and gourmet foods. Open 10am-8pm (until 9 pm weekends).
Notre Dame Christmas Market
Notre Dame Marché de Noël (photo from 2017)
  • Nov 30-Jan 5
    The annual Marché de Noël de Saint-Germain-des-Près (Place St-Germain-des-Près, 6th) is a series of little wooden chalets along the Boulevard in one of the poshest shopping districts of Paris. It’s a nice little market to visit if you’re in the neighborhood anyway, open daily 10am-7pm.
  • Dec 7-Jan 5
    The swanky Ritz Hotel has its own little Châlet de Noël on the Place Vendôme (1st), serving gourmet hot chocolate and pastries (€9 each, or €15 with a cup of cocoa) daily from 3-8pm. On January 4-5 they’ll be serving a gourmet version of the traditional Galette des Rois to celebrate Epiphany.
  • Nov 21-Dec 28
    The 25th annual Marché de Noël de La Défense is a massive 13,000m² Christmas market on the esplanade of La Défense, overlooking Paris (end of metro line 1). There are 300 chalets with all of the standard Christmas decorations, gifts and regional foods, and a special section for local artisans from the Hauts-de-Seine department. Open Sun-Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-10pm and Sat 10am-8pm. Free entry.

Christmas Markets for a Good Cause

  • Nov 8-Dec 8
    To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the International Convention on the Rights of Children, UNICEF is hosting an International Children’s Village with 30 chalets in the park at the foot of the Tour Saint-Jacques (39 rue de Rivoli, 4th). They will be selling their holiday cards and gifts alongside crafts, toys, jewelry and gourmet foods, with proceeds going to UNICEF France. There will also be workshops for kids on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2-5pm. Opening hours not posted (usually afternoons). If you miss the market, you can stop by the UNICEF boutique to purchase cards and gifts year-round (7 rue St-Lazare, 9th, M° Notre-Dame-de-Lorette).
  • Dec 3
    For Giving Tuesday, the Secours Populaire Français is holding a Grande Braderie Solidaire de Noël (at the Espace Solidarité Julien Lauprêtre, 9 rue Froissanrt, 3rd) selling Christmas decorations, toys, and other small gifts at affordable prices to support their Père Noël Verts (Green Santas) campaign to raising funds for victims of poverty, natural disasters and conflicts in France and worldwide. Free entry, open 10:30am-4:30pm.
  • Dec 7-8
    The socially-minded community center Les Grands Voisins (74 avenue Denfert Rochereau, 14th) is hosting a Marché de Noël des Créateurs artisan market this weekend, featuring jewelry, toys, cosmetics, accessories, artistic prints, gourmet treats, home décor, and fashions made by 50 independent, ethical, and socially engaged designers. Free entry, open noon-7pm, with food stands, live music and film screenings. All proceeds help support the residents of the community center.
  • Dec 7 and 11
    The Super Noël d’Emmaüs Défi toy sale for charity takes place this year at Le 104 on Dec 7th at 40 rue Riquet, 19th (open 10am-6pm) and Dec 11th at 5 rue Curial, 19th (open 1:30-6:15pm). There are thousands of new toys and boardgames available at rock-bottom prices starting at €1. All proceeds help Emmaüs’s mission to help those in need with clothing, housing and finding employment.
  • Dec 7-15
    Les Féeries d’Auteuil (40 rue Jean-de-La-Fontaine, 16th), is a Christmas Market in the gardens of the Fondation d’Auteuil that welcomes carefully selected exhibitors, craftsmen and designers from all over France, as well as a choir, puppet shows, and a flea market. Open 11am-7pm daily, all proceeds support the foundation’s child protection services and teen training programs.
  • Dec 19-22
    Unique and hand-made items for the home, clothing, accessories, children’s items, and crafts for sale at the annual Etsy “Made in France” market at Team Petit Paris (30 rue de Picardie, 3rd). Open Thurs 1-9pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-8pm, Sun 10:30am-6pm.
  • Dec 21
    La Grand Vente de Noël at the Parc Floral de Paris (Bois de Vincennes, 12th) is a marketplace for 30 French brands of clothing, toys, home décor, books, food and gifts on sale for 70% off, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Association Mecenat Chirurgie Cardiaque Enfants du Monde (charity that helps treat children who need cardiac surgery). Open 10am-6pm, free entry.

If you’re looking to volunteer for the holidays, check out Serve the City,  or the American Cathedral (specifically, they do an annual Love in a Box project). And more opportunities (in French only) at the Secours Populaire and on these sites that group multiple calls for volunteers: Jemengage.paris.fr and FranceBenevolat.org. You can also check out the updated information in the article, “Volunteer Opportunities in Paris: Get Involved!”

Christmas Markets for the Planet

  • Nov 30-Dec 1
    Le REcyclerie (83 blvd Ornano, 18th) is hosting a Marché de Noël (autrement) de Ta Mère Nature with green, local and ethical alternatives of the traditional holiday gifts, including plants, useful gifts, toys, and gourmet treats, as well as workshops for making your own gifts. Free entry. Open noon-8pm.
  • Dec 6-8
    The vintage furniture webstore Selency is hosting a Pop-up Store de Noël in Paris at 51 rue de Turenne, 3rd, selling a stylish selection of second-hand vintage furniture and home décor. Open 9:30am-8pm (Fri from 11am). Free entry. Only credit cards are accepted.
  • Dec 6-8
    Noël en Bio is the organic fair at the Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles (15th), with 150 stands selling everything organic, ethical and local: clothing, food, décor, books, beauty products, gifs, etc. Open 10:30am-7pm. Entry €10 unless you download the free ticket from their website in advance. The ViniBio organic wine fair is in the same location.
  • Dec 7-8, 14-15, 21-22
    Bundle up and get out into nature for the Marché de Noël Ecologique et Solidaire each weekend at the Fondation Good Planet (Domaine de Longchamp, 1 carrefour de Longchamp, 16th, Bois de Boulogne). Gourmet food, toys, décor, fashion, zero-waste, travel and beauty products, all chosen for their eco-friendliness and commitment to social inclusion. Free entry, open 11am-7pm.
  • Dec 7-8
    Point Ephémère (200 quai de Valmy, 19th), the edgy nightclub/concert hall/art space/neighborhood bar on the Canal St-Martin, is hosting their own vintage CrushON Christmas Market featuring “upcycled” thriftshop clothing, French designer creations, “customize your clothes” workshops, a “troc” used clothing exchange (get rid of that horrible Christmas sweater from last year!), a bar and live DJs. Bring your own reusable shopping bag. Free entry. Open 1-8pm.
  • Dec 8
    Le Hasard Ludique (128 Ave St-Ouen, 18th) is hosting a Marché de Noël “Made in the 18th today featuring fashions, accessories, décor, jewelry, stationary and treats made in the 18th arrondissement. Bundle up and browse the stands along the old Petit Ceinture railway line, enjoy the brunch, and fun activities like the kitsch photo call. Open noon-8pm, free entry.
  • Dec 13 (register Dec 6th)
    The MAIF Social Club (37, rue de Turenne, 3rd)  is hosting a special “Noël Alternatif” edition of the Giant Free Troc Party, where 300 lucky “troqueuses” and “troqueurs” meet in Paris to exchange clothes, games, books, decor and objects of all kinds that they no longer use but are still in good condition. Participants will be able to take home any items they wish without limits. The catch? You have to apply for one of the spots when registration opens online Dec 6th at noon (only in French). There are three sessions on the 13th with 100 spots each: 2-3pm, 3:30-4:30pm and 5-6pm.
  • Dec 13-15
    Les Canaux (6 quai de la Seine, 19th) is hosting a Marché de Noël Ethique & Solidaire this weekend with cosmetics, ethical fashion, jewelry, home decor, crafts, toys, and gourmet foods to find ethical and original gifts during this festive event dedicated to sustainable consumption and solidarity. Open 11am-9pm, free entry.
  • Dec 13-15 and 20-24
    The courtyard of La Grande Halle de la Villette welcomes a sustainable Grande Hivernale de Paris Night Market featuring stands in five major themes: Zero Waste, Green Tech, Green Fashion, Ethical Home, and the Artisans Village. There will also be live music, mulled wine and a large food court. Free entry, open Fridays from 4-11pm, other days from noon to 10pm.
  • Dec 15
    The third and final themed Marché de Noël hosted by Le Hasard Ludique (128 Ave St-Ouen, 18th) is Le Marché de Noël Végane de Merci Bernard, featuring clothing, perfume, cosmetics, book, home décor, chocolates, Faux-Gras, vegan cheese, and all sorts of other specialties 100% animal-free. The stands stretch along the covered terrace of the Petite Ceinture railway tracks. Open noon-8pm, free entry.
  • Dec 20-22
    The Marché de Noël Durable (Sustainable) pop-up store hosted by the Eco-friendly French website French Does features the best French, eco-conscious fashion accessories, limited editions and “Made in France” bags, jewelry, home décor, and stationary. Open Friday from 7pm-midnight, Sat 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-6pm at La Villa des Créateurs (9 rue Ganneron, 18th).
Christmas decorations at the Marché aux Fleurs
Christmas decorations at the Marché aux Fleurs

Christmas Markets that Celebrate Different Cultures

  • Dec 1
    Le Hasard Ludique (128 Ave St-Ouen, 18th) is hosting a Marché Afro today featuring African fashion, deco, gourmet treats and beauty products as well as literature. Thirty African creators and Afro-descendants will display their wares in stands along the old Petit Ceinture railway line. Bundle up! Open noon-8pm, free entry.
  • Nov 29-Dec 1
    Swedish Christmas Bazar “Julbasar” at the Église Suédoise (9, rue Médéric, 17th), Fri 11am-7pm, Sat until 8pm, Sun 12:30pm-5pm. Swedish Christmas food and other Swedish specialties like lingonberry jam and Swedish candy, Swedish glass, Christmas ornaments, crafts, lotteries and raffles, homemade bread, mulled wine, pea soup and meatballs. Free entry.
  • Dec 4-7
    The Marché de Noël Japonais celebrates Japanese culture at the Espace Cinko (12-18 passage Choiseul, 2nd) with two levels of 40 artisans and specialists selling everything from ceramics and martial arts accessories to specialty foods and Japanese fabrics. Open Tues noon-7:30pm, Wed-Sat 11:30-am-7:30pm. Free entry.
  • Dec 7
    The AAWE (Association of Women in Europe) is hosting their annual Winter Festival & Holiday Sale at the American Church in Paris (65 Quai d’Orsay, 7th), featuring vintage clothing, holiday crafts, baked goods, English books, toys and an American Snack Bar. Open 10am-6pm. Entry €2.
  • Dec 13-15
    The Marché de Noël Afro-Caribéen  takes place three days at the Galerie Joseph (116 Rue de Turenne, 3rd). Food specialties, home décor, book, toys, natural beauty products, an Afro-Caribbean fashion show, and a Christmas dinner on Saturday night. Open Friday 2-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-7pm.
Grand Palais des Glaces
Photo from the Grand Palais des Glaces

Ice Skating in Paris

Ice Skating is a popular activity in Paris, but locations tend to change every year (Eiffel Tower, Hôtel de Ville, Plaza Athénée…). Gloves are always required, but along with skates can usually be rented on-site. Aside from the one mentioned at the Tuileries Marcé de Noël, here are some others this year in and around Paris:

  • Dec 13-Jan 8
    The Grand Palais hosts the largest ice skating rink in the world, the Grand Palais des Glaces, under the impressive verrière. Open in three acts (with an hour closed in between) from 10am-1pm, 2-7pm and 8pm-2am (early closures on the 24th and 31st). The night openings include live DJ atmosphere. Entry €20-€25-€29 for morning, afternoon, and night (€12 for kids 12 and under in the morning and afternoon). Skate rental is free. Small backpacks allowed (no big bags or suitcases). Kids under 14 must be accompanied.
  • Nov 20-Dec 31
    The Haussmann department store Galeries Lafayette has opened a 176m² ice rink on their rooftop for the holidays open daily 10am-8pm. Free entry and skate rental for kids and adults.
  • Dec 21-Jan 5
    Ice skate on the rooftop of La Grande Arche de La Défense with incredible views over Paris for €15 (€3 for skates and gloves; bring your own if you have them). This temporary rink is 300m², open during the Marché de Noël, 10am-7pm. Snack bar available. A bit pricey, but it’s actually just the price to go to the roof (whether you skate or just look at the view).
  • Dec 6-Jan 5
    There is an ice rink on the esplanade of the Hôtel de Ville de Vincennes, along with a little holiday market. Open daily 4:30-8:30pm (Wed from 2:30pm and weekends from 9:30am; open 25th and Jan 1st). Entry €6 with free skate rental, gloves required. €4 for kids under 6.

Christmas Concerts

Christmas Concerts usually take place in the city’s many churches throughout the holiday season, but there are also a few big holiday concerts in concert halls. You can find most of the listings on the ticket sites like FNAC: https://www.fnacspectacles.com/ , ClassicTic: https://www.classictic.com/ , and Musique Sacrée de Notre Dame de Paris: https://www.musique-sacree-notredamedeparis.fr/saison-2019-2020

  • Dec 21
    The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Maison Radio France is hosting a Concert de Noël: Viva El Tango! featuring the American composer Aaron Zigman playing his Tango concerto with Jean-Yves Thibaud, accompanied by a bandoneon player, and directed by Finnish conductor Mikko Franck. Tickets €10-€67, show at 8pm.
  • Dec 20, 22, 23
    The Hélios Orchestre will be performing their grand Concert de Noël in three different Parisian churches: St-Germain-des-Près (20th at 8:45pm), Eglise St-Roch (22nd at 3:30pm) and Eglise de la Madeleine (23rd at 8:30pm) with choir, soloists, orchestra and “participation of the audience” for all of the traditional Christmas classics. Tickets €15-€30 available through FNAC or online.

There are many excellent shows taking place over the holidays that aren’t specifically holiday-themed (tant mieux!): An American in Paris the musical at the Théâtre du Châtelet; Swan Lake at the Théâtre du Champs Elysées; War Horse the musical at La Seine Musicale (Ile Seguin); the new circus show “Nomad” by the Cirque Phénix; and “The World of Jaleya” by the Cirque de Paname at the Hippodrome Paris Longchamp. You can check out French theatre and musicals with English subtitles through Theatre in Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral 2013
Notre Dame Cathedral in 2011 (photo for Secrets of Paris by Henry Chan)

 Midnight Mass in Paris

Most Catholic churches in Paris celebrate midnight mass on December 24th. Sadly, this will be the first time since …(anyone?)…that there will be no service at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Alternatives include St-Sulpice (6th) and Basilica Sacre-Coeur (18th), both with services at 11pm and midnight mass; and St-Eustache (1st) at 10pm. All will be filled completely and may be standing room only if you’re not there early.

Eglise St-Paul St-Louis (99 rue St Antoine, 4th) at the intersection of rue de Sévigné, is beautiful church worth visiting. This 17th-century church was built when the Marais was the heart of aristocratic Paris, very much in the bright style of Versailles. Don’t miss the newly-restored Delacroix painting in the southeast transept. Mass at 11pm.

You can find a short listing of other Christmas services and Nativity Scenes (“les crèches de Noël”) on the Paris Tourism website.

Smiling angel statue Reims Cathedral
Smiling angel statue at Reims Cathedral

Christmas Activities Beyond Paris

  • Nov 23-Jan 5
    The privately-owned Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte always puts on a good show for the holidays, making it worth the hassle of getting there from Paris. Aside from the elaborate Christmas decorations both in the château and vast gardens, this year they also have a special 8-minute light show projected directly onto the château’s façade every 30 minutes from 5:30-7pm. In the evenings the gardens are lit by twinkling garlands of light. This year they’ve partnered with the Croix Rouge (Red Cross), so kids are asked to bring a gift which will be distributed to those in need. Open 11am-6pm (the domain closes at 7pm). Wed-Sun from Nov 23-Dec22, then daily (except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from Dec 23-Jan 5. Tickets €19.90 (€14 for kids 6-17). Buy them online to avoid waiting in line. The weekends are the biggest crowds; come on a weekday or as early in the day as possible to avoid the sardine effect!
Noël at Vaux le Vicomte
Photo from Château Vaux-le-Vicomte
  • Nov 30-Jan 5
    Just north of Paris, the princely Château de Chantilly is all dressed up for its first Christmas festival, with decorations, an illuminated winter wonderland, choir concerts, Santa visits, Christmas equestrian shows, and special visits of the historic Bibliothèque du Théâtre (Theatre Library) for €5 (tour in French). Entry to the Domaine + Show ticket: access to the entire Christmas offer + Christmas show is 30 € (€24 for kids 3-17). Family Domain tickets for access to the entire Christmas offer (excluding Christmas equestrian show) for 2 adults + up to 3 children is 43,20 € instead of 74,50 € (for the dated ticket).
  • Dec 14-29
    The Château de Versailles is always overcrowded, but you can escape some of the frenzy with one of the special evening shows, such as The King’s Tour: “A visit and performance in the Hall of Mirrors and Grand Apartments for the 2019 holiday season with baroque actors, dancers, singers, fencers and musicians.” Basically you are guided through the rooms as the performances take place (watch video). There are five tours per evening for six days, at 6pm, 6:20pm, 6:45pm, 7:10pm and 7:35pm. Prices are €35 (€30 for kids 4-17) or €45/€38 for the Prestige ticket which includes a glass of Champagne and a gift at the end of the visit.
  • Dec 14-15
    The Medieval town of Provins has their 10th annual Marché Médiéval de Noël de Provins, with 60 artisans and a historic setting better than any movie set. The atmosphere is festive, with street performers, costumed actors, medieval shows and concerts, and of course plenty of food and stands selling every kind of craft and original gifts. Free entry. Open Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 10am-7pm.
  • Nov 9-Jan 6
    Disneyland Paris celebrates Christmas each year with holiday decorations, a huge Christmas tree on Main Street, and a holiday parade for Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, as well as a New Year’s Eve party when the park is open past midnight. There are special shows on the different stages, Disney Christmas souvenirs (of course), and a Christmas Market at Disney Village (open free to the public, no park tickets required). Tickets from €56 for the Enchanted Christmas, and New Year’s Eve Party from €99 (or from €245 for the dinner and show).  See some photos from previous years here: http://www.secretsofparis.com/heathers-secret-blog/disneyland-paris-for-the-holidays.html
Christmas at Disneyland Paris
Christmas at Disneyland Paris
  • Dec 21-Jan 5
    The Château de Fontainbleau (an hour south of Paris) is celebrating the holidays by bringing Fontaine’s Fables to life with 15 theatrical scenes illustrating the stories by costumed actors throughout the château. One-hour shows daily at 2pm and 4pm (closed Dec 25 and Jan 1st). Suitable for kids over 6 years old. Tickets €9 (plus Château entrance fee) for adults over 25.
  • Nov 22-Dec 30
    Strasbourg is the uncontested Capital of Christmas, a magical town where every street is hung with illuminated garlands, every façade covered in decorations, and every square hosting its own special Marché de Noël. It’s a bit of a hike from Paris on the TGV, doable in a day but so much more enjoyable (and affordable) if you stay a night or two to enjoy all the activities, sights and tastes of Alsace. For more info read Heather’s “Daytrip to Strasbourg Christmas Market
Holiday lights at the Strasbourg Cathedral
Holiday lights in Strasbourg, France

How Do the French Celebrate Christmas?

Even though France is a staunchly secular country, Christmas celebrations are still a big deal, much like in the US, with special food, gifts, decorations, and a bearded guy in a red suit. There are, however, a few big differences you’ll notice if it’s your first time in France for the holidays. Parisian transplant Alysa Salzberg wrote a very comprehensive article “These Are the Surprising Differences Between Christmas in France and Abroad” which also includes some useful holiday greetings vocabulary, information on New Year’s Day and Hanukah, and gift suggestions for French friends. Another handy article that fills in some of the gaps is A Guide to 25 French Christmas Traditions.

And if you’re in the mood for a different  kind of Christmas story, gather around the fire with a mug of mulled wine (or two) and read Heather’s classic holiday tale: “Santa was a Pirate