Christmas Eve in Paris – there’s nowhere quite like it. Lights sparkle in the streets and windows twinkle with tempting displays. People with a spot of final shopping to do dash about and those lucky enough to be finished their purchases take a break, wrapped up warm, sipping hot chocolate or perhaps Champagne at a terraced café watching the last minute frenzy. Shops often shut early on Christmas Eve though as everyone wants to be finished in order to enjoy the night’s festivities, so don’t leave your shopping too late. Some restaurants will also close, so book in advance to be sure (that goes for any of the major national holidays), and enjoy the festive menus.
Lights, camera, Champs-Elysées
Take a wander down the Champs-Elysées, the wonderful lights will make you feel very festive and the shops are all open on Christmas Eve.
Mistletoe and wine
Visit a Christmas market, buy some mistletoe (called gui) and enjoy a glass of vin chaud (mulled wine)… Details for the Paris Christmas markets
Pop to La Maison du Chocolat, one of the best chocolate boutiques in Paris. They have several stores throughout Paris (and even do a delivery service!): www.lamaisonduchocolat.fr/en
This little piggy went to market
Shop at the market in Rue Poncelet, much loved by Parisians, in fact of the 82 markets in Paris, this one is definitely a favourite for the locals. The pretty street in the 17th arrondisement has a villagey vibe and the shops and stalls are full of luxury goods in the run up to Christmas from foie gras to snails, oysters and high end meats, cheeses and fruit. There are also some great cafés and gourmet food shops – don’t miss Patisserie des Reves at No. 19 – cake heaven!
Craving Christmas Pudding? There are several branches of Marks & Spencer food store in the city. Pop in and pick up a traditional figgy pud and mince pies. www.marksandspencer.com
Tea time delight
Buy some delicious tea from the tea boutique Mariage Frères, a lovely treat for Christmas morning. Some of their stores have lovely tea salons attached, perfect to replenish your energy. www.mariagefreres.com
Why not splash out and have a celebratory drink at one of the city’s top hotels. George V, Ritz and the Bristol all have gorgeous bars and seriously tempting drinks. Not cheap but – it’s Christmas after all…
Enjoy a concert. One of the best places for a classical music concert is at the 800 year old Sainte Chapelle near Notre Dame Cathedral. The stunning interior provides the most incredible backdrop for music by greats such as Mozart and Vivaldi and there is almost always at least one performance on Christmas Eve. You can find details of what’s on in Paris at: www.classictic.com
Yummy Yule log cake
Don’t forget to buy a yule log cake, the traditional bûche de Noël, which you will find at all boulangeries and patisseries. Angelina’s (226 rue de Rivoli 75001) fabulous tea room, which also happens to be open on Christmas Day, will have gorgeous ones in different sizes.
Glorious and spiritual
We hope that one day we’ll be able to say on Christmas Eve squeeze into Midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral to experience the spiritual side of Christmas in Paris. But while work is ongoing to restore it following a fire in 2019, there are plenty of other churches in the city where you can attend a religious ceremony. Sacré-Coeur for instance at Montmartre, holds a Christmas eve concert, vigil and mass.