Christmas time in paris

I am planning to spend Christmas in Paris (first time) and wondering if I am wasting my time going at that time. Has anyone been there at that time? Any tips/hints? I have dreamed of going to Paris my whole life. I am wanting to go and see all the major sites/museums....but I want to walk and enjoy the neighborhoods-not just use the metro to get around. Thank you!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11078 posts

"and wondering if I am wasting my time going at that time. Has anyone been there at that time?" I was there for Christmas a number of years ago... well, actually, I arrived the day after Christmas. Everything was open. Not sure why you would consider it a waste of time.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5772 posts

As long as you're prepared to bundle up and go, you can have a great time. It won't look like it does in the summer, and the daylight hours will be short (Paris is farther north than most USers think; I just looked it up and found that it's almost at 49 degrees, so it's as far north as the US-Canadian border). There are plenty of indoor attractions, and many of the outdoor cafes have heaters so you can sit outdoors if you like. If you really want to stroll around town, you may want to go when it's warmer. But there should be less precipitation than in the spring, and while I'm not a fan of walking in the cold, I'm REALLY not a fan of walking around in the rain. Here's another thread on a similar subject:

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

I really like Paris at Christmas time. You've got the decorated windows (and insides) of the grand department stores. Lights all over buildings in some areas. Three different Christmas markets to visit. Ice skating at Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower in the background, or not far from Notre Dame, in front of the beautiful Hotel de Ville. There's (usually - not guaranteed) free merry-go-rounds in each arrondissement. Yes, you'll need to bundle up. You'll also find things close early on the 24th, and maybe a few places close for longer, but it would be very few. I highly recommend an apartment at this time of year, as you might spend more time inside (ie you won't be walking the banks of the Seine at night unless you love the bitter cold winds that can blow that time of year). But if you dream of walking amidst flowered gardens, then I suggest you wait until a different time of year to fulfill your dream of going to Paris.

Posted by Trish
Ft. Smith, AR, USA
38 posts

Thanks So much for your replies. I am going to go for Christmas! YEA! That is the only time I will be able to take my vacation for the next two or three years (company policy). I will be sure to bundle up so I can enjoy Paris no matter the weather! Can't wait to see the Christmas markets and go to Christmas services at one of the gorgeous chruches there! Thanks again!

Posted by Christine
Northridge, CA, USA
124 posts

Trisha My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary this past Christmas and had a fantastic time. We were there December 17th thru January lst and it hardly rained. Christmas decorations are subtle are beautiful, the markets are fun.
More is open for Christmas than you would think. Transportation runs, cafes are open (restaurants can be closed) the Marais is bustling with visitors and all stores, shops, etc are open. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. To be honest, more is closed during New Years Day. Don't miss Paris during this beautiful time, I would go back in a second. (an apartment did come in very handy)

Posted by Kim
1612 posts

Christmastime is nice here, the only thing that's a drag is that it gets dark SO EARLY (i.e. 4:30 or so, I think). This is nice for seeing the lights, etc., but limits how much time you will spend out and about compared to if you were here, say in June. But then you're here for a totally different experience! It can be bitterly cold, but then again it might be pretty mild. You just can never know.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
1025 posts

Christmas in Paris is MAGIC. I confidently predict you will LOVE it. My husband and I go at that time nearly every year, on purpose. Every neighborhood has different, characteristic, lights and decorations up. There's an ice skating rink at Trocadero, and another in front of the Hotel de Ville. Tiny fir trees sprayed with pink and red and white flocking stand on many of the street corners. All the department stores are glittering with amazing lights. There's an enormous Christmas market offering booths selling food and drink and gifts and sparkly stuff. There are rides! And great people watching! Yes, it gets dark early, but the city is festooned with lights. You can grab a glass of mulled wine and some roasted chestnuts and stroll the market, shopping and eating and drinking. Or shop les grands magasins. Or take in a service in a church - I recommend St. Merri on Rue Saint Martin. They have lots of music at Christmas, and it's a friendly neighborhood parish. Wear comfy shoes and warm socks and just get out and tramp around. You will not be disappointed! Have fun!

Posted by Melissa
Long Island, New York
51 posts

I was there last December! I had the most amazing trip. So much so that I will be going back this November to spend my 25th birthday. I did have a apartment that was a help with the shorter days. The Christmas markets are not to be missed. The trip was well worth every moment. I flew in Sunday and left Dec 23 Sunday. During my stay I did take good use of If you need any help planning let me know!!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

I spent 10 nights over the holidays in Paris, arriving right after Christmas. As others have said, it is beautiful that time of year. The daylight hours are short and it can be very cold. If you go prepared for the weather and have realistic expectations you should have a great time. Expect to do mostly indoor activities. For obvious reasons you won't be strolling around any gardens. I highly suggest an apartment that is equipped with a washer and dryer. You can pack lightly knowing you have a way to do laundry. We found we spent more time in the apartment in the evenings than we have on other trips, mostly because it got dark so early and it was so darned cold. It's nice to have a kitchen, and with one it would be easier to deal with any holiday closures. How long do you plan to be there?

Posted by Trish
Ft. Smith, AR, USA
38 posts

Thanks SO much everyone! I am planning to be in Paris for 6 days-through December 26th. I CAN'T WAIT!

Posted by Diane
Houston, TX, US
13 posts

I'm going to spend Christmas there too, well actually Holidays. We will leave Houston on the 25th, so arrive on the 26th. I am so looking forward to it. I love the cold, and walking in the cold, and the limited daylight. I've been before, and the lights are spectacular, with limited daylight in December, we will have lots of dark, so I'm excited. I fell asleep most nights before the Eiffel Tower was lit. In dead winter, it's earlier. I am so very excited.

Posted by Diane
Houston, TX, US
13 posts

OK, I'm new to the site. I am not Trish in AR. I thought I was logged in. Will try again!

Posted by Diana
Michigan, United States
359 posts

Paris is ALWAYS a good idea! Just bundle up and enjoy the beautiful city at a very special time of year. I am so jealous! LOL You will want to go back. I went in April & it was chilly but amazing. I'm going back next summer. Christmas in Paris is on my bucket list now.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4040 posts

If you'd like a church service in English the American Church is very nice, very welcoming. It's very close to the Musee d'Orsay. Just google for more info.

Posted by Brekker
Winnipeg, Canada
2 posts

Notre Dam du Paris has a wonderful Christmas day service. We went last year. Arrive before 6pm for the Vespers and stay for the Christmas Service.

Posted by david
837 posts

Trish, you don't say how long you have. If you have more than 4 days, I would definitely consider spending time in Paris and going elsewhere as well. For Christmas 2012, we flew into Paris, then went to Strasbourg, Salzburg, York, and London. Of these, Paris was by far the least festive. Strasbourg is marvelous, and very accessible by train from Paris. Sorry, hadn't read all posts; now see you have six days and if that is the entire trip, stay in Paris. Wonderful, just not so wonderful as other cities over the holidays.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1497 posts

Forgot! If at all possible, take a day trip to Versailles by train! I can't even imagine how beautiful it would be at Christmas!

Posted by BG
SF Bay Area, USA
1647 posts

I would love to make a trip to Paris at Christmastime a yearly thing too! It is wonderful.
-PS, if you need to buy a reasonably priced warm coat when there, try C&W on the Rue de Rivoli, second floor.

Posted by christie
upland, ca, usa
10 posts

This is the second sojourn to paris for christmas- what i hope to be an annual trip. It is the most wonderful place on earth and dont think twice about your visit. Buy a great coat and bring lots of money and prepare to fall in love. We should meet for dinner somewhere!