Paris in December: events and activities you cannot miss
The city of light shines more than ever in December thanks to the Christmas atmosphere. In the last month of the year, Paris gives us unique experiences that make it worth visiting the French capital at this time of the year.
To talk about the month of December is inevitably to talk about Christmas. In Paris, and in cities around the world, this holiday marks the whole month. But it is certainly not something negative. Thanks to Christmas the so-called city of light shines more than ever and looks more beautiful and spectacular than in the rest of the year.
It also gives us the opportunity to enjoy events and activities exclusive to this month. Seeing the illumination, visiting the typical Christmas markets or ice skating in some of the most spectacular locations in Paris are just some examples of what we can do. If you want to discover more in this post I share with you the best things to do and see in Paris in December.
1. See the city of light at its best with the Christmas illumination
Paris is known as the city of light because it was the first European capital to install electric lighting. Since then it has been gaining a reputation that does justice to the city, especially at Christmas time. Paris at Christmas is one of the best cities in the world for lovers of Christmas and its lighting.
Some of its streets are the most beautiful in the world in this sense and millions of tourists travel to the French city just to admire its illumination. The Champs Elysées, the Avenue de Montaigne and the Montmartre district are the best places in Paris to see the city at its best.
Obviously, at night is when it looks best. My recommendation is to hire a Paris sightseeing bus that will take you on a tour of these and other streets famous for their illumination. You can't miss the lights in monuments like the Eiffel Tower or Notre Damme.
2. Visit the traditional Christmas markets
Another tradition linked to Paris in December are the Parisian Christmas markets. In many of the emblematic places and squares of the city are installed since early November these markets where you can buy all kinds of items.
French gastronomic products, crafts, winter clothing and Christmas items of all kinds is what we can find in these markets. And where are the main markets located? Well, take out pencil and paper and write down:
- In the Champs Elysées (the most famous).
- In the Tuileries gardens next to the Louvre.
- At the Hôtel de Ville square (Paris City Hall).
- At the Notre Dame Cathedral.
- In the Fields of Mars (under the Eiffel Tower).
3. Go ice skating in some of the most emblematic places in Paris
Parisians love ice skating when winter and Christmas are approaching. It is a highly recommended activity also for tourists. So much so that it has become almost a tradition and the city council installs ice rinks all over the city. Some of them in very special locations:
- The rink at the Grand Palais des Glaces, the largest in France and the third largest indoor ice rink in the world.
- In the Fields of Mars, under the Eiffel Tower.
- And in the Eiffel Tower itself. An ice rink is installed on the second floor at a height of 57 meters.
- On the Champs Elysées.
- On the square of the Hôtel de Ville, the city's town hall.
4. Visit the Galeries Lafayette
One of the most deeply rooted Christmas traditions in Paris is to visit the famous Galeries Lafayette. Located next to the Opéra Garnier, this department store is famous for its glass dome and architecture.
Added to this is a spectacular Christmas decoration that invites visitors to buy their gifts for these dates. Although that is an extra because just visiting them is worth it. In its center is installed a huge interactive Christmas tree with lights and figures and its shop windows are all a show of Christmas spirit.
5. Shopping in the Champs Elysées
Speaking of shopping, what is the best area in Paris for it? Well, there are many options but at Christmas time I choose the Champs Elysées. If you are looking to buy the best Christmas gifts in this famous avenue of two kilometers long are concentrated many of the most recognized stores and brands in the world.
Throughout the year its shop windows and shops attract the attention of any visitor but at Christmas this is multiplied thanks to the spectacular Christmas lighting of this avenue that begins at the Place de la Concorde and ends at the Arc de Triomphe. Shopping is not always a pleasure, but if it is done in what for many is the most beautiful street in the world, things change.
6. See the Eiffel Tower in snow
Snow is quite likely to make an appearance in Paris in December. Seeing the city snowed more than compensates for the cold weather. And to enjoy the snowy French capital the best option is to do it from its most famous viewpoint. From the Eiffel Tower with its magnificent views
The tower has three viewpoints, one on the second floor, another on the second and the last at the top at over 300 meters high. From these you can see monuments such as the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame. The price of admission depends on whether we go up on foot or by elevator among other factors. I leave here all the information you need to know to buy your tickets for the Eiffel Tower.
7. The best time to see the Sacré Coeur, the Madeleine Church or Notre Dame
Paris is also known for the beauty of its churches. A beauty that at Christmas time is enhanced by the special lighting that some of them show. The most recommended at this time of the year are:
- Sacré Coeur Basilica: The church that crowns the hill of Montmartre and offers one of the best views of Paris is illuminated on Christmas nights in a unique and spectacular way.
- Church of the Madeleine: Near the Place de la Concorde is this neoclassical church that at Christmas time receives a large number of visitors thanks to its famous Christmas crib.
- Notre Dame:Although it cannot be visited inside after the fire it suffered in 2019, the illumination of the facade of the cathedral and the market in its square make the most famous church in Paris one of the main Christmas attractions in the city.
8. A fairytale Christmas at Disneyland Paris
Who hasn't ever dreamed of living Christmas like in the Disney movies? Well, in Paris you can do it if you visit the Disneyland park. During the Christmas season, Europe's most famous theme park is decked out with spectacular Christmas decorations and celebrates events and activities exclusive to this holiday season with its most iconic characters.
It is one of the most special Christmas experiences that can be lived especially for the little ones. In addition to meeting Mickey and company, in the park's stores we can find the best gifts for the children of the house. Disney has everything to make Christmas something magical.
9. Attend an opera show to take shelter from the cold
In December there are always alternative plans to take shelter from the cold. One of the best options is to visit the Opera Garnier and attend one of its shows. The spectacular building can be visited to learn the secrets of the opera and what is behind its stage. Doing so will amaze you with its beauty and make you want to attend a show.
You can consult the entire agenda of the opera from its official website. Tickets can be purchased from their website or from the box office, but given the high demand I recommend you do it online.
10. Take a break from Christmas and the cold at the Louvre
So much Christmas and so much cold can be tiring for some people. If you want to escape from both, what better way to do it than to see some of the best works of art in the world. The Louvre Museum allows us to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas streets and under cover while we see works of art such as the Mona Lisa, the Victory of Samothrace or the Venus de Milo among many others.
We will not even have to go out to eat because the Louvre Museum has several restaurants inside. And if you have to do Christmas shopping the Louvre museum also has several stores, in addition to the official store of the museum itself. The latter is ideal for art gifts. The museum is closed on December 25.
December temperatures in Paris
In December the cold is the undisputed protagonist of Paris, however it is the second coldest month of the year after January. Temperatures range between 7 degrees Celsius maximum and 2 degrees Celsius minimum. The rains are also frequent and the average of December is between 15 and 22 rainy days.
But rain does not come alone and snow is also likely to make an appearance. Although it is not usual, it usually snows a couple of days a month. As you can see, if you go to Paris in December, it will be mandatory to dress warmly.
The number of tourists in December in Paris
In the month of December, two elements are set against each other. The intense cold that the capital suffers and Christmas. The cold weather can make more than one to retract to visit Paris at that time but the battle is won in most cases Christmas. Paris looks especially beautiful in December and it is enough to attract millions of tourists.
That is why the tourist influx is very high. At the beginning of December tourism is moderate, but as the Christmas season approaches, it increases significantly. Hotels and restaurants are booked well in advance for the last few days of the month and are frequently sold out. This also increases prices in the city.
But it is a price to pay for visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the world at a time when it shines in all its splendor.
What to bring in your suitcase to visit Paris in December
The cold will undoubtedly be the element that will condition our luggage to travel to Paris in December. Take a big suitcase because winter clothes take up a lot of space and you will also want to leave some room in case you buy a Christmas gift. In your suitcase you must carry if or if:
- A heavy coat. Better if it is waterproof.
- Thick sweaters or knitwear.
- Waterproof clothes for rain and possible snow.
- Winter accessories such as gloves, hat or scarf.
- Comfortable and waterproof footwear. And if snow is forecast, boots with good grip.
- Thick socks are a must if you don't want to freeze your feet.
- Take a large suitcase for winter clothes and if you plan to do your Christmas shopping in Paris an extra one.