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Christmas in Paris and What You Need to Know?

Here is my advice for spending Christmas in Paris including attraction closures and shopping information.

Here is my advice for spending Christmas in Paris including attraction closures and shopping information.

How Many Ways Can You Say "Yes, Please" to Christmas in Paris?

I'd been to France several times but never saw Paris, and it was certainly a checkmark on the proverbial bucket list. I was so excited! Especially because you can't do much better than Christmas in Paris! The City of Lights is all decked out for the holidays—I couldn't wait! It kind of puts new meaning to deck the halls!

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

December is a wonderful time to visit Paris. Though the weather is typically cold and crisp, the city is festive and feels to be in full swing. The cafes are busy, there are beautiful lights and decorations on the streets, and Christmas Markets sprout up around the city.

And of course, Paris at Christmas time also means great shopping opportunities and seasonal activities for all the family!

Things to Do and See

There are many things to do and see, some of which require tickets in advance, especially during December, when the city becomes alive with visitors. Following is the list of the main Paris attractions you will need advance tickets for:

Paris in December has two main aspects. The beginning of December is busy with Parisians doing the last of their Christmas shopping and going about with their normal busy holiday schedules. All the while, the city begins to take on a different flavor as it fills up with tourists throughout Christmas week.

Since I will be in Paris actually on Christmas Day, I was concerned about attraction closures. And, as it turns out, I was right to be concerned; I learned attractions generally close early on December 24 and are shuttered all-day Christmas.

Making the Most of Your Vacation Dollars

Initially, I had looked into purchasing the Paris Pass (which is available through many tour operators), but since the pass must be used on consecutive days, this wasn't going to work for me.

Instead, I purchased individual tickets for the attractions that I felt were the must-sees: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and a Seine River Dinner Cruise. Reservations were also made for Christmas dinner at a bistro on The Champs Elysses, as I was told that in addition to the extra Christmas crowds, many restaurants are closed on December 25.

Speaking of restaurants, should you tip in Paris? Many restaurants and cafes add a service fee, which usually is split between the server and the establishment. So, unless the service is over the top, it's not necessary to add more tips. There are no rules about tipping in France.

Side Note: Notre Dame, at the time of this writing, is still closed as the repairs after the recent fire is still underway. A typical Christmas Eve would be to attend midnight mass in this iconic Catholic Cathedral. Plans are for the Cathedral renovations to be complete for the Olympics in 2024.

To make the most of your time and avoid the longest lines, I've learned that you should visit attractions and exhibitions during the day when the locals are still at work. Same advice for your Christmas shopping and the Christmas markets in Paris: prioritize these activities for the daytime and do more touristy things.

December Weather

Friends, don't kid yourself, it's cold in Paris in December!

The average high temperature is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the lows during the night fall into the low 30s. You can expect about 15% of the December days in Paris to be rainy, so don't forget to bring a good quality and foldable umbrella.

Shopping in Paris

The Champs-Élysées

The most important thing for me in this shopping area is my hotel is located here! A partially empty suitcase will be taken on this trip with me! Oh yes, living in Albania, where I have been for a few years, is wonderful for many reasons, but shopping is not one of them!

The Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous shopping streets not only in Paris but in the world. Its two-kilometer length runs from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe and is a must-visit. It's the 5th Avenue of Europe! You will find everything from the highest-end section with Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Dior, to the Banana Republic and Sephora.

Rue Saint-Honoré

Like other streets on the list, rue Saint-Honoré is home to many boutiques and is known as the heart of Parisian fashion and design. You will find classic designers like Hermès and smaller lesser-known stores such as Colette. Colette is much more than a fashion store as it stocks the work of up-and-coming designers. You will find fashion, beauty, music, books, and art in this store.

Avenue Montaigne

Avenue Montaigne is located in the heart of the more than glamorous district known as the Golden Triangle. Its focus is luxury labels. Designers such as Chanel, Prada, and Valentino have paved the way for the avenue's contribution to Paris’s title as the "fashion capital of the world."

Boulevard Haussmann

The Haussmann-Saint-Lazare-Opéra district is known to have the best and biggest department stores in Paris. Galeries Lafayette is one of the world’s most famous department stores, having an enormous inventory of clothing, accessories, and luxury beauty products.

The store also has one of the most famous store ceilings on the planet. The Printemps department store is proud of its reputation, and rightfully so, for housing a host of luxury boutiques all under one roof.

Shop on the Rue de Rivoli

Are you looking for an all-around shopping experience? If you are, then rue de Rivoli is the place to go. It features international brands such as Zara, H&M, and Gap, along with fabulous souvenir shops. The Carrousel du Louvre, which is a really cool underground shopping center, is a great place to visit after you visit the Louvre museum. You will find stores such as Apple, Bose, and Swatch in this venue.

Christmas Markets

The famous Christmas markets open in mid-November and run through the end of December.

During a typical Christmas season, about 15–20 Parisian Christmas markets pop up across the city. Then, additional markets lasting just a day, a weekend, or even a week or two will spring up as the holiday nears. There are also small neighborhood holiday markets you will stumble on as you stroll the streets of this district.

These are charming, and there are many seasonal and unique things you can find here; take the time to stop by the ones closest to where you are staying!

The Marché de Noel Notre Dame

The Marché de Noel Notre Dame is located across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral in Square Viviani on Quai Montebello. It is fabulous! While the Notre Dame is still undergoing renovation after the massive fire in April 2019, the Marché de Noël still operates.

I'd recommend indulging in vin chaud (hot mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts during the visit! There are also strolling musicians wandering through the market. This market is known to be relaxing and to capture the festive spirit of the holiday season. And to top it off, Santa makes frequent appearances—sometimes with a glass of mulled wine in hand!

I have a feeling it's going to be pretty amazing. Snow is rare in December, but I'm dreaming of a White Christmas!

Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is to Live!"

© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin