Christmas in Paris is simply magical! Paris at Christmastime is as refined as the city itself. Every corner of every quartier has its own special enchantment from lively outdoor ice skating rinks to the many charming Christmas markets that line the streets and squares. Paris isn’t called the City of Light for nothing, and especially so at Christmas. Here are just a few of the things not to miss in Paris at Christmastime:
Champ de Mars Christmas Market
The Champ de Mars Christmas Market at the foot of the Eiffel Tower offers Parisians and tourists alike the opportunity to soak up a little Christmas spirit. Visit the 120 chalets for a wide selection of gifts, treats and decorations for the holiday season.
Not to be missed is the outdoor ice skating rink. Nothing is more romantic than skating hand-in-hand at dusk as the Eiffel Tower twinkles near by! Warm up afterward with some vin chaud (hot mulled wine) while admiring the Eiffel Tower as it comes ablaze in glittering lights cascading up and down it like golden bubbles in a champagne flute for the hourly show.
The Champ de Mars Christmas Market takes place from December 15, 2016 – January 3, 2017.
Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysées
While many streets in each arrondissement are decorated, the Champs-Elysées is the most popular and festive of the Parisian light displays. The most beautiful avenue in the world transforms into a Christmas wonderland and the little wooden chalets of the Christmas Market stretch from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place du Concorde. Free shows are held daily along the market and Santa himself makes and appearance to delight the young and old alike.
The Champs-Elysées Christmas Market takes place from November 11, 2016 – January 2, 2017 from 10am – 6pm daily.
My favorite outdoor ice skating rink in Paris is the one at the Trocadero Christmas Village because of the ambiance of the Christmas Village and the stunning views of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine. But there are a few others that are also worth a visit during Christmas in Paris.
Hôtel de Ville
The open air ice rink at the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) is picturesque as you twirl around the rink with the lavish Renaissance building looming behind you. Entry is free and skates can be hired on site for €5 per person. Just remember a pair of gloves because it’s required to have them in order to skate.
The rink at Hôtel de Ville is open from mid-December to mid-March Monday – Friday from 12pm – 10pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9am – 10pm.
Probably one of the most unique places to go ice skating, the Eiffel Tower Ice Rink is located 57 meters (188 feet) above the ground on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. A ticket is required to access the rink and it is an additional €5 per person with skate rental included. The only issue is that the rink is quite small and has a capacity of 80 skaters at a time.
The rink at the Eiffel Tower is open December 15, 2016 – January 3, 2017.
Don’t miss the Galeries Lafayette for holiday lights and windows that arguably rival those of New York City department stores. Classic American musicals were the theme being celebrated in the windows of Galeries Lafayette for during our Christmas in Paris. Blonde haired dolls wearing Santa suits, gold clogs, and red tams are the Radio City Rockettes, teddy bears in bathing suits with snorkels and fins dancing away to the tunes of Mamma Mia, and a mannequin with a snow white afro sitting on a huge shiny red Christmas ornament belting out Life is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum were some of the highlights of the singing windows. Inside, the famous 20 meter tree under the glass dome is gorgeous as ever with gold, turquoise, violet and pink balls.
Galette des Rois
The Galette des Rois (King cake) is found in Paris at Christmastime. Its most notable feature is the hidden fève (prize), usually a porcelain figurine, in the cake. Whoever finds the fève in their slice of cake gets to wear a paper crown and be King (or Queen) for the day. I can imagine that in the U.S. a hard, pointy figurine baked into a cake would be considered a safety risk, but that’s not at all the case here in France with lines of galette-hungry customers snaking out of every bakery that you pass. Tim found one of these porcelain collectibles in his cake and was king for the day! Of course, we only learned of the tradition after he thought a piece of the mixer had fallen into his cake. Definitely a memorable experience!
Christmas Tree at Notre Dame
Go home from your Christmas in Paris holiday with the perfect holiday card photo in front of the Christmas tree at Notre Dame Cathedral.
This post has also been published in Danish at RejseTanker.dk.