Paris is special year-round, but during the holidays, things get kicked up a notch. Visitors can expect ice-skating beside the Eiffel Tower, cozy Christmas markets, and twinkling lights just about everywhere - Paris definitely lives up to its City of Light nickname this time of year! Here are some of the most fun and festive things to do during Christmas in Paris.
1. See the Windows at Galeries Lafayette
The city's department stores are known for their beautiful Christmas windows, and no one does it better than Galeries Lafayette. The windows are often themed and feature faux snow, glittery lights, holiday music, and state-of-the-art animations. Inside is just as magical, especially the Christmas tree under its famed art nouveau stained-glass cupola.
2. Take a Twirl Around the Ice
Like many cities, Paris has numerous pop-up ice skating rinks during the winter season. One of the most scenic spaces for alfresco ice skating is the rink in the Christmas Village, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower - talk about Instagram bait! Afterward, warm up with some hot chocolate. The large rink in front of the Hôtel de Ville is another popular skating spot.
3. Toast the Holidays With Champagne
You're in Paris, so Champagne is in order. Sip bubbly in some of the city's top hotels - decked out in tasteful holiday decor - including the Peninsula's Le Bar Kléber, a jewel box space with gilded accents and oak paneling and Le Bar at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, which has an exclusive selection of Dom Pérignon, including white, rosé, and vintage.
4. See the Lights Along the Champs-Elysées
The Champs-Elysées, Paris' premier boulevard that stretches all the way from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, goes big for the holidays. All of its trees are adorned with twinkling white lights (designer Karl Lagerfeld will have the honor of switching on the lights this year) and shops and restaurants display festive decorations.
5. Browse in Charming Christmas Markets
One of Paris' top Christmas markets is La Défense, which has hundreds of German-style wooden stalls, where you can shop for stocking stuffers and last-minute gifts. Be sure to try some vin chaud (mulled wine), Alsatian gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts. There are also Christmas markets in the Tuileries Gardens and beside Notre Dame Cathedral.
6. Indulge in Decadent French Pastries
You can't visit Paris and and not try sweet treats in the city's famous patisseries. During the holidays, many shops also sell their own versions of the classic Christmas dessert called bûche de Noël (a yule-log shaped cake). Stohrer, Paris' oldest pastry shop, which opened in 1730, makes delicious bûches, as does Ladurée and Pierre Hermé.
7. Listen to a Church Choir
Heading to one of Paris' historic churches to listen to organ concerts, Gregorian chants, and Christmas songs sung by a church choir is very much a Parisian tradition. Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacré-Coeur Basilica, and the Gothic-style Sainte-Chapelle, known for its exceptional stained-glass windows, are just a few churches that offer Christmas concerts.
8. Dine in Festive Restaurants
Dine on classic French dishes at Le Train Bleu, a Belle Epoque-style masterpiece within Gare de Lyon train station, featuring ornate chandeliers and gilded ceiling frescoes. For a sublime Michelin-starred holiday meal, book a table at places like Restaurant Guy Savoy, Arpège, and Epicure, named one of Paris' best restaurants by Conde Nast Traveler.
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