Sure, most of the small shops and restaurants are closed, as well as a majority of museums. But you might be surprised to discover that there’s actually a lot of things still open on Christmas and New Year’s Day in Paris. Note that aside from restaurants holding special “Réveillon” celebrations, most shops, museums, and markets will close a bit early on the 24th and 31st December, and nightclubs have been closed for the month because of Covid.
Eating & Drinking
The French tend to celebrate the holidays with big family dinners on December 24th and 31st, so many restaurants will have special prix fixe “Réveillon” menus that night instead of their usual à la carte options. That also means the 25th and January 1st may be more casual affairs except in the fanciest restaurants, so do check before booking what menu will be available.
The larger brasseries and luxury hotel restaurants are usually sure bets for holiday meals. For the smaller bistros and cafés, you simply need to call and find out, since some are open and some aren’t, and just because they were open last year for Christmas doesn’t mean this year will be the same (which makes so any outdated lists you find everywhere online to be…well, outdated). If calling from abroad seems like a daunting task, you can check in advance on booking sites like The Fork/La Fourchette to see what your options are (but the smaller, independent restaurants tend not to be listed).
Generally speaking, there will be more cafés and bistros open in the eastern districts of Paris because of the multi-cultural population (Chinatown in the 13th and Belleville, for example), and less in the business districts and more upscale 8th and 16th arrondissements. In any case, you won’t starve! But if you’re looking for something “special” then definitely plan ahead and book at least a month in advance if possible.
A selection of restaurants typically open on December 25th (best to confirm in case of last-minute changes):
- Gallopin, 40 rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 2nd
- Le Grand Colbert, 2 rue Vivienne, 2nd
- Le Petit Colbert 8 rue Monsigny, 2nd
- Breizh Café, 14 Rue des Petits Carreaux, 2nd
- Le Mesturet, 77 rue de Richelieu, 2nd
- La Tartine, 24 Rue de Rivoli, 4th
- Verse Toujours, 3 ave des Gobelins, 5th
- Flocon, 75 rue Mouffetard, 5th
- Breizh Café, 1 rue de l’Odéon, 6th
- La Closerie des Lilas, 171 blvd du Montparnasse, 6th
- Les Deux Magots, 6 Place St-Germain des Près, 6th
- Brasserie Thoumieux, 79 rue Saint-Dominique, 7th
- Café Constant, 139 Rue Saint-Dominique, 7th
- Fouquet’s, 99 ave des Champs-Elysées, 8th
- Chez Françis, 7 Place de l’Alma, 8th
- Au Petit Marguery, 9 Blvd de Port Royal, 13th
- Comme à la Compagne, 41 Place Jeanne d’Arc, 13th
- Le Coq Rico, 98 rue Lepic, 18th
- I don’t usually recommend Dinner Cruises because the quality of the food isn’t worth the high price tag. But if you can afford it, the Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse’s “Ducasse sur Seine” dinner cruises are available on the December 24th, 25th and 31st.
Find more listings for restaurants in open throughout the holidays at Paris By Mouth (updated for 2021).
Many of the city’s 105 museums are closed on Christmas Day, but there are a handful of notable ones that remain open for your cultural enlightenment, including the Musée de Montmartre, Bourse du Commerce – Pinault Collection, Mundolingua, Atelier des Lumières, Musée Jacquemart-André, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme, Institut du Monde Arabe, Musée Maillol, and the Centre Pompidou. On January 1st the Musée de l’Orangerie, Conciergerie, Musée du Luxembourg, Musée du Quai Branly, Musée d’Orsay, and Musée Bourdelle, in addition to the ones open on the 25th.
Monuments open on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day include the Eiffel Tower, Tour Montparnasse, and the Châteaux de Versailles, Chantilly and Vaux-le-Vicomte (all three outside Paris). If you bundle up, the city’s cemeteries are also open on holidays, and are particularly beautiful and peaceful when it snows.
There’s normally a traditional New Year’s Day Parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées the afternoon of January 1st, however all municipal New Year’s celebrations have been canceled due to Covid in 2021.
For entertainment, check out the schedule of shows at the Opera de Paris or one of the many Parisian theatres as well as circuses, cabaret and dance usually found listed at the FNAC ticket office or in the Pariscope. (if you can’t follow any French, check out Theatre in Paris for shows with English subtitles). Cabarets like the Moulin Rouge and Lido cabarets are usually open for the holidays, although the Christmas shows at the Moulin Rouge were canceled for Covid. Nightclubs are closed throughout December and early January.
Movie theatres are all open over the holidays, and Paris has one of the widest selections of blockbusters, classics, and indie films showing at any given time. You’ll find the English-language films (marked “VO” if they’re in their original language with French subtitles, or “VF” for French dubbing) at cinemas all over the city including the Champs-Elysées, Latin Quarter, and the Forum des Halles. Movies come out each Wednesday and you can only see the schedule for the week in advance. Allociné is one of the best sites for finding the film you want in VO in a cinema near you (you may have to Google translate to read it, though).
Don’t forget to check out the Secrets of Paris Calendar to see other events going on during the holidays.
If you really feel like you have to shop every day of the year, yes, there are a few places open in Paris on Christmas day. Most Christmas markets and department stores are closed. Stores catering specifically to tourists may be open on the Champs-Elysées, in the Latin Quarter and in the historically Jewish district of the Marais. There is usually at least one bakery and convenience store open in residential districts, although much like the cafés and restaurants, more will be open on the Right Bank’s eastern districts such as Belleville and Faubourg St-Antoine.