Paris Insider: How to Spend the Holidays in the "City of Light"

Mirroring the U.S., Paris started its holiday festivities in the middle of November, and the city is ablaze with lights, magical store window displays, concerts and jubilant holiday markets. Here’s a roundup of some of the best holiday events and activities happening around the city: 

Store Windows 

At Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, fashion couturier Charles de Vilmorin—who, coincidentally, was born on December 25—has designed enchanting windows and interior displays. The theme, "Noël de mes Rêves" ("My Dream Christmas"), revolves around the "Little Girl and the Paintbrush," a tale about a little girl and her magic paintbrush that draws wonderful characters that she meets on her journey. Other holiday activities in the store include a Santa photo op, a puppet workshop and Santa Claus mailbox.


It's literally for the birds at the Printemps department store, where 170,000 paper birds are flying around in the windows and inside the store. "It’s Paper Holiday, Let Your Wishes Come True" is the message for this season, designed by set designer and paper artist Mathilde Nivet. 


Le BHV Marais department store goes to a mysterious forest for inspiration with the fox, the hedgehog and the blue jay stumbling their way through. A holiday market, free DIY workshops for making advent calendars and gifts and a Santa studio are just a few of the fun events BHV is offering in December. 


Printemps (Photo by Richard Nahem)

Holiday Markets

You get a double whammy this year at the Tuileries Garden: An amusement park and a holiday gift and food court rolled into one. The high-quality merchandise at the 80 chalets is required by the city to only be made in France or French colonies. Rides and activities include an ice-skating rink with skate rentals, a roller coaster, fun house, bungee jumping, Santa visits and games of chance. Sausages, crepes, macarons, hot chocolate, Belgian waffles and hot mulled wine are some of the yummy foods and beverages available to taste. From December 23 to January 7, a singer will perform a story of the Magic Forest, with animals celebrating Christmas. 

The market is open every day, 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. until January 7, 2024. 

The largest holiday market in Paris is at La Defense at the edge of the city. Over 180 stalls sell holiday ornaments and decorations, clothing, jewelry, textiles, fashion accessories and leather goods, along with casual restaurants and food stands. On Thursday and Friday nights, there’s a DJ spinning holiday music, parades with animated figures, and a meet-and-greet with Santa. 

Available until December 27, 2024.

Holiday Concerts and Music 

The Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles has two special concerts at the end of the month. On December 22, the "Christmas Oratorio" by Bach will be performed with a choir and solo singers, and, on December 23, "Messiah" by Handel will be played by The Royal Opera Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Gaétan Jarry

On a rare occasion, the Monnaie de Paris, a spectacular and historic building from 1775, will be opening its doors for a special New Year's Eve opera concert. Four singers will perform excerpts and arias from Puccini’s "La Bohème," Verdi’s "Rigoletto" and Offenbach’s "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." In between, caviar accompanied by champagne, hors-d oeuvre and pastries will be served.


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