From ice skating and light shows to Christmas markets and New Year’s parties, there’s always a lot to see and do in Paris in December. Don’t forget to check out the articles “Christmas in Paris” and “What’s Open on Christmas and New Year’s Day in Paris”
Nov 15-Jan 5
The vast garden courtyard of the Jardins du Marais Hotel (74 rue Amelot, 11th) is home to an outdoor chocolate bar, serving Pierre Marcolini hot chocolate, macarons, chocolates, and even mulled wine in a Winter Wonderland chalet setting. Open Fri-Sun 3-9pm.
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).
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).
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.
December 8, 15 and 22
For a very different kind of tour, check out the Street Art & Feminism Tours of Paris through the Butte aux Cailles (13th). The two-hour tour in English costs €22/person (€16 for students). They also do private tours and Feminists of Paris walks. Check them out!
Plane spotters and aeronautical fans can learn all about the classic Boeing 747 and the Concorde during a guided tour in English of the Air & Space Museum at Le Bourget (suburb between Paris and the airport) with#ExploreParis. Tickets €14 (€11 for under 26 year olds), sign up online.
The 42nd annual Corrida de Noël d’Issy-les-Moulineaux (Issy Santa Run) takes place today with thousands of children and adults dressed in Santa outfits running through the Parisian suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux. There are 1.5k, 3k, 5k, and 10k races. At the finish there is hot chocolate…and mulled wine! Registration is still open (note that you’ll need a doctor’s note to participate, the model letter is online).
Dec 15 & 29
Take a street art tour of the 19th arrondissement in English with #ExploreParis and learn about the history of the neighborhood and its artists, and behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the making of their annual street art festival, Ourcq Living Colors. Tickets €12.50, register online.
The French don’t really do “Christmas films” the way the Americans and British do, but one of their most popular films of all time is the 1982 classic, “Père Noël est Une Ordure” (Santa Clause is a Stinker). Watch it on the big screen with English subtitles hosted by Lost in Frenchlation at the Club de L’Étoile Cinema (14 Rue Troyon, 17th). Doors open at 6pm (the bar will be selling mulled wine and other snacks), and the film starts at 7pm. Tickets €10, reserve online asap to get your spot!
Dec 26- Jan 5
The Musée des Arts Forains 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).
Through December 29
The 15th-century Tour Jean Sans Peur (20 rue Etienne Marcel, 2nd arrondissement) celebrates 600 years of existance and 20 years as a museum open to the public with two expositions, “Crimes et Justices au Moyen Age” (Crime and Justice in the Middle Ages) and “Crimes et Rapines: Petits et Grandes Affaires de l’Est Parisien, 1880-1914” (Crimes and Abductions: Small and Large Cases in Eastern Paris, 1880-1914). Open Wed-Sun 1:30-6pm, tickets for the tower and the expos €6.
Through January 26
Calling all French Revolution history buffs and Marie-Antoinette fans: the Conciergerie is hosting a new exhibit this fall and winter, Marie-Antoinette: Metamorphosis of an Image: “Only a handful of historic figures have been the subject of such an abundance of representations: Marie-Antoinette is one of these, both during her lifetime and more notably after her death on 16 October 1793. Even today, this queen-turned-icon is still a key emblem in popular culture. The exhibition will illustrate the many representations of Marie-Antoinette through almost 200 works, artifacts, heritage and contemporary archives, never-before-seen interviews, film extracts and fashion accessories, and shine a light on this worldwide phenomenon of media overkill through both a historic approach and a critical and comparative examination of forms.” Get your tickets in advance on the official website here.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS & SALES
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, gifts, 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).
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.
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).
Nov 30-Jan 5
The annual Marché de Noël de Saint-Germain-des-Près (Place St-Germain-des-Près, 6th) is a series of charming little 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, 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.
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 on the sidewalk around 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 stands selling the usual toys, jewelry and gourmet foods…nothing particularly noteworthy except the proceeds go to UNICEF France.
Nov 30-Dec 1
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 the Espace du Canal St-Martin (13 rue Jean Poulmarch, 10th). Open Fri 4-9pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm.
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.
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.
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.
Les Grands Voisins (74 avenue Denfert Rochereau, 14th) is hosting their Marché de Noël Solidaire et Bal Swing today and tonight with over 100 stands selling local artisan items, a neighborhood flea market, a boutique of upcycled furniture, and other stands from local shops. There will be plenty of food and drink to choose from throughout the day. Free entry, market open 10am-8pm. Swing party 2-7pm (in the Salle de la Lingerie); tango milonga from 2-8pm. All proceeds help support the residents of the community center.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
To Celebrate Different Cultures
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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!
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).
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.
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
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.
Other Paris Calendar Links
▪ For General Events around Paris (including sports): Que Faire à Paris?
▪ For Off the Beaten Track Tours (in French or English) #ExploreParis
▪ For French Theatre with English surtitles: Theatre in Paris
▪ For French Cinema with English surtitles: Lost in Frenchlation