Note: More events will be listed throughout the month, check back!
Through December 11
COP21 will be one of the largest international conferences ever held in France, with close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society. COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. There are a ton of events throughout the city, some of the best listed here and here.
Christmas Villages, Ice Skating & Ferris Wheel
Through January 3
The annual Christmas Village on the Champs-Elysées includes over 180 chalets selling holiday gifts, local specialties, mulled wine, warm hats and gloves, toys, jewelry and every kind of sweet imaginable. There is also a fun Olympic-sized ice skating rink, amusement park rides for kids and Santa visits. There’s a hand-made 11-meter tall Eiffel Tower and a “Village des Artisans” dedicated to handcrafted items made in France. A great place to wander with an appetite and a Christmas shopping list! I made a Christmas Village video three years ago, but this year’s is much better in terms of quality and variety. Open daily 11am-11pm (until midnight Friday and Saturday).
Through December 27
The largest Christmas Village in the region is the Marché de Noël de La Défense, on the Parvis de la Défense (line 1 metro), with over 300 wooden chalets, a small petting farm, a train (weekdays only), a Bavarian restaurant, and giant igloos housing créateurs…and don’t miss the fabulous evening views over Paris! Open Sun-Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 10am-10pm (closed Dec 24th-25th)
Through January 3
For the first time, the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de bulogne (16th) will have an ice skating rink in a winter wonderland setting, open every day including Christmas and New Year’s Day, 10am-8pm. Entry with skate rental €7. There is also a Marché de Noël and foods from Alsace, hot chocolate and flammekeuche! And of course there will be the regular rides and activities for the kids. If you have kids too young for Disneyland, this is a perfect alternative.
Through January 3
If you’d like a bit of protection from the elements, the Grand Palais is hosting an indoor Jours de Fêtes with a ferriss wheel and fair rides and games (bumper cars, etc), fair food like popcorn and cotton candy, and live musical entertainment under the immense glass atrium. Entry fee is 20€ for adults, 15€ for kids. Open 11am-11:30pm (until 7pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve).
December 1 – January 31
Skate on the Eiffel Tower! This year the ice skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower is back, free for those who already have a ticket for the Tower, open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. Skip the line by taking the stairs, it will help you warm up, too! Skates size 25-47 (EU), sleds and scooters for kids, gloves are required. This year’s theme is COP21, so expect to see an eco-friendly decor.
There’s nothing like Christmas in Alsace, but if you can’t make it to Strasbourg the next best thing is the Marché de Noël Alsacien on the square in front of the Gare de L’Est Train Station (10th), 9am-9pm (Sunday until 7pm). Bretzels, ginger bread, foie gras, vin chaud and many other regional specialities!
The annual Féeries d’Auteuil takes place at the non-profit children’s organization Apprentis d’Auteuil (40 rue Jean de la Fontaine, 16th, M° Jasmin or Eglise d’Auteuil) with a Christmas market, food stands, flea market, concerts, vintage carrousel and nativity scenes, from 11am-7pm. Live singing performances on Sat-Sun at 5:30pm.
The Marché Noël de Montparnasse has 40 wooden chalets at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower, with gourmet foods, snacks and holiday gifts. Don’t forget one of the best views of Paris is from the top of the Tour de Montparnasse, an excellent alternative to the Eiffel Tower for those who can’t stand glass elevators and “open” platforms.
The Marché de Noël Notre Dame is across the river from the Cathedral on the Left Bank, in the little square Viviani (Quai Montebello, 5th). Chalets sell regional foods and crafts and artisan gifts. Open 10am-8pm, Fri-Sun until 9pm.
December 17-January 3
There is a Marché de Noël at the foot of the Eiffel Tower along the Quai Branly of the Seine, with chalets selling gifts and holiday foods.
December 18-February 27
The Patinoire de Paris is a large ice skating rink in front of Hôtel de Ville. Free entry, €6 skate rental, gloves or mittens obligatory.
December 19-January 3
All of the Manèges, aka Carrousels de Paris, in the 3rd through 20th arrondissements of Paris are free for children for the holidays (my favorite is in the Jardins du Trocadéro, but the lines are longest). See the full list here. Open daily 11am-9pm.
Through March 1st
At the Place de la Concorde is the Grande Roue Ferris Wheel. Each enclosed “car” holds six people. €10 for adult, €5 for kids under 10, open daily 11am-midnight (Fri-Sat until 1am).
December 20 – January 3
If you saw Midnight in Paris you’ll recognize the Musée des Arts Forains, a private museum of antique carnival and fair rides and decor in a stunning setting, open by reservation only for the holidays, La Festival du Merveilleux. Guided tours of 2 hours by an elf, where you’ll get a chance to go on the rides and attend a magical music show. Tickets €16, tours daily (including Christmas), in French with an English handout.
Shows & Concerts
December 4-January 15
Book your places now for the English production of Singin’ in the Rain at the Châtelet Théâtre, based on the 1952 film starring Gene Kelly. Reviews have been excellent, so expect this to sell out quickly! Tickets starting at €15 up to €119. Note that the website is in French, but the show is in English with French surtitles (above the stage).
What do you get when you mix a live rock and roll band with karaoké? Kararocké, of course! Celebrate a rockin’ Christmas party with the flamboyant singer and master of ceremonies Nicolas Ullmann at the Bus Palladium Nightclub, featuring a, Aerosmith cover band Young Lust and plenty of fun prize giveaways, crazy performances, and scary Father Hellmann making sure you’re all being naughty. Doors open at 8pm for the bar and restaurant, 9pm for the club. Entry €7 before midnight, €20 after.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Edith Piaf (December 19, 1915), the Théâtre Déjazet is hosting Piaf! Le Spectcle, starring Anne Carerre. Tickets from €23. Excerpt below:
December 20-January 11
Oh La La Oui Oui! Don’t miss this show featuring a modern take on the swing classics from Les Années Folles with two singers and a jazz manouche trio performing hits from Josephine Baker, Django Reinhardt, Mistinguette, and Maurice Chevalier among others who revolutionized the music scene in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. Eight performances on Sunday and Monday nights (what else are you going to do?) at the Théâtre du Marais (37 rue Volta, Paris 3ème), tickets available online from €20.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Edith Piaf (December 19, 1915), the Philharmonie de Paris is hosting two concerts paying tribute to Piaf with songs sung by Camélia Jordana and reading of the texts that Jean Cocteau (who died within hours of the star) wrote to her. Tickets from €25.
December 26 & 31, January 2, 7 & 9
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Edith Piaf (December 19, 1915), one of the best tribute shows in town is Hymne à Piaf by Carolin Nin at the Essaion Théâtre (6 rue Pierre au Lard, 4th, tickets €25), including a Champagne show on New Year’s Eve (€65). More than just songs, Caroline tells the stories behind them. A very entertaining evening in a very Parisian setting.
Through December 31
Bartabas’ Zingaro shows combine equestrian theatre, dance, world music, poetry and many other disciplines.
After having pounded the ground of his Théâtre Equestre Zingaro for more than a quarter of a century, Bartabas is now tackling the skies with his new show “They shoot angels, don’t they? (elegies)“. Get your tickets €42-50 at FNAC.
Through January 31st
Do you like electronic music and want to experience it in a whole new way? Paris Music Club, at the Gaïté Lyrique, is both an interactive exhibition and night club with some of the leaders in the Parisian music scene. “Nestled in the lower depths of la Gaîté lyrique, Paris Musique Club is both an exhibit of augmented music and programming focused on giving carte blanche to creative collectives and labels.” Open Thurs-Fri 6pm-midnight, and Sat-Sun noon-7pm. Check it out here.
Arts & Crafts & Markets
There will be 40 artists’ association from Lézarts de la Bièvre (from the 5th and 13th arrondissements) showing their works at the Mairie du 13ème, Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm, free entry.
The Boutique Ephérmère is a market featuring 35 stands with 80 different designers from all over Europe who create unique gifts: stationary, jewelry, bags, and other fun accessories and gifts. Open December 4-6, 11-13, and 17-24 from noon-8pm, Sunday until 7pm, 24th until 6pm. At the Galerie Joseph, 7 rue Froissart, 3rd. Free entry.
Just one day for the Scandinavian Marché de Noël at La Recyclerie (right outside metro Porte de Clignancourt, 18th), from noon-8pm. Free entry. Iceland and Finland are the countries of honor, with stands for food, drink, decor, and music.
Montmartre aux Artistes is the largest artists’ colony in Europe, housed in an exceptional Parisian architectural monument built in 1932. Usually closed to the public, it’s open this weekend from 11am-9pm, with the chance to mingle with the artists, painters, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists, engravers, and digital artists in their ateliers. Free entry. Cité Montmartre aux Artistes, 189 rue Ordener, 18th, M° Guy Moquet or Jules Joffrin. Below is a video from the open house in 2010:
The 10th annual Marché des Cadeaux Bio et Ecolo (Organic and Ecological Gift Fair) takes place this weekend at the Mutinerie Coworking (29 rue de Meaux, 19th, M° Colonel Fabien), €2 entry for adults, 30 different stands selling everything from handmade soaps and jewelry to home decor and gourmet food items. There will also be free workshops and live music.
Klin d’Oeil is a makers’ market for just one weekend featuring 20 young designers with fashions and decor for young and old, as well as snacks, tea, and music, yoga sessions. Hosted by Coworkcrèche, a coworking space for parents who can bring along their babies (89 rue du Faubourg St-Antoine, 11th), Saturday from 11am-8pm, Sunday until 7pm. Free entry.
The Grand Marché de Noël (indoors) at the Palais de Congrès Porte Maillot donates 100% of the profits to the charity Mecenat Chirurgie Cardiaque Enfants du Monde. There will be many well-known brands selling their clothing, accessories, decor, toys and gourmet foods at a discount price, a great way to stock up on some holiday gifts for a good cause. Open 10am-6pm, free entry, live music and a café.
The Carrousel du Louvre (the mall under the museum) is hosting the free Salon des Beaux Arts with 600 sculptors, painters, photographers, and other professional artists from around the world selected by the Société des Beaux Arts to participate.
The industrial club and event space on the canal, Point Ephémère, is hosting the edgiest holiday market this winter, so don’t expect little wooden chalets, but you’ll find plenty of young, local designers selling their artisan accessories, furniture, jewelry, and gifts. There will also be live DJs, and a canteen de Noël with home made tarts and cakes. Free entry, open 1-9pm.
The antique, vintage and design boutiques of the Village St-Paul are hosting a brocante this weekend, shops and stands open 1:30am-7pm. Look for signs along the Rue St-Paul in the 4th.
Through February 14
The boutique Storie specializes in high quality, hand-made, artisan, fair trade, recycled, and sustainably-made crafts from around the world. They have a boutique near Montparnasse, but for the holidays and through February there is a pop-up boutique near the Canal St Martin (24 rue Yves Toudic, 10th, open Mon-Sat noon-8pm, Sunday noon-6pm).
Book your table at the Paris Shangri-La’s monthly “100% Green” Gourmet Dinner served in the hotel’s gorgeous Bauhinia restaurant, just €68/person (not including drinks), check out the vegetarian menu (PDF). This is an excellent mealeven if you’re not vegetarian. I also recommend getting one of the “jars”, a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie cocktail (with alcohol in it) served in a mason jar.
Join La Ruche Qui Dit Oui (the organizers of the direct-farmer-to-consumer food distribution) tonght for an Open Soupe, a communal soup made from the products fresh from the farm, by participants who help peel, chop and cook up the meal in a fun and inclusive atmosphere, from 4-6pm (for preparing) then 6:30-8:30pm (eating time!). Free to everyone, at la Ruche Petit Bain, 7 Port de la Gare, 13th (at the foot of the Bibliothèque National, M° Quai de la Gare, look for Le Petit Bain boat next to the Josephine Baker Swimming Pool).
Noël Gourmand takes place in the Carrousel du Louvre (99 rue de Rivoli, 1st) from 10am-8pm (Monday closes at 6pm), the €10 entry includes an engraved wine glass (and free tastings), but you can also download a free entry on their website, fill out the info and print. There are stands for wine, liqueur, cheeses, meats, seafood, chocolates, sweets, foie gras and all other kinds of French goodies.
The venerable gourmet food and spirits store, Julhès, is hosting a Salon des Monstres Sacrés du Champagne, a tasting of the best Champagnes so you’ll finally know for sure whether you prefer Krug, Cristal, or Ruinart…just €11.44 per person, from 3-7pm, enter the Salon Julhès through the cheese shop at 54 rue du Faubourg St-Denis, 10th. Reserve online.
Le Food Market is a monthly open-air food festival on Boulevard Belleville (between metro Ménilmontant and Couronnes) with over a dozen stands serving up tasty dishes of all kinds (kind of like a gathering of static food trucks, but without the wheels) from 6pm-10:30pm. Expect lines, it’s a popular event! You can also check out the event on FB.
Daytrips from Paris
The town of Provins, with medieval ramparts making it a UNESCO listed village, hosts a two-day Marché de Noël Médiéval with a Living Nativity show in the church. You can easily catch the train from Paris to Provins for the day, but I should warn you it’s pretty crowded! Two separate markets, one in the “upper” town that has a Medieval/Renaissance Fair style, and a more traditional French Marché de Noël in the “lower” town. In between is the Tour César, a tall dungeon tower that used to protect the city, and the church hosting the free Nativity Concert several times each day. There is no entry fee for the fairs, but there are long lines for the stands, especially the food, so be prepared with a picnic basket!
Through December 24th
If you want to see the best and largest Christmas Market in France, don’t miss the Marché de Noël de Strasbourg, in Alsace-Lorraine, where the entire city is decorated with a dozen separate markets, the towering Cathedral, and countless events throughout the month of December. It’s a doable daytrip (2:15hrs by TGV from Paris), but I recommend staying overnight if you can to have time to visit the museums and enjoy the streets after the daytrippers have left. Avoid weekends if possible.
Through January 3
The family-owned Château Vaux-le-Vicomte (the 17th-century palace that inspired Versailles) becomes a Christmas wonderland in December, decorated from top to bottom, each room in a different holiday theme, fireplaces ablaze, and holiday music playing. And at night the château facade and the gardens are lit with festive lights. It’s a magical experience, not to be missed! And this year there’s a Ferris Wheel inside the Grand Hall! (€5) Open the weekends of December 5-6, December 12-13, and every day from December 19-January 3rd (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from 10:30am-6pm. Entry €17.50 for adults, reserve in advance online (where you’ll also find the schedule for the shuttle from Melun train station to the chateau).
Other Paris Calendar Links
- For general events around Paris: Que Faire à Paris?
- For literary events, readings, and classes: Monthly Paris Listing
- For indie/alternative music concerts see Gigs in Paris
- For art exhibitions in galleries and museum see Slash Paris
- For mainstream events visit the Paris Office of Tourism
- For naughty events, see the Naughty Paris Guide