We asked our favourite Paris locals for their top tips on what to see and do in the city at Christmas.
They’ve come up with some brilliant recommendations to enjoy Christmas in Paris like a local…
Streets with a festive spirit
Usually Paris is “easy” during the holidays as there is so much going on: Christmas markets, later-than-usual shopping, the ubiquitous after-dark light show on the Champs-Elysées. Many neighborhood streets (not just the Champs-Elysées) get decked out in holiday finery. So taking a walk and enjoying the lights and the pretty store windows is an absolute must.
However Christmas Day, which would seem like a slam-dunk, can be unexpectedly challenging because in France, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day translate into Family with a capital F. This means that finding restaurants that are open are rare, and those that are, will be quite expensive. You really need to book well in advance to make sure you’re sorted for Christmas day in Paris.
Skates, boats and churches
With the rinks open, ice skating is always a favourite for family fun. There are great rinks at the Hôtel de Ville and at the Tour Eiffel. En route, it’s fun to stop off at any one of the many wonderful manèges, or carrousels, scattered about the city for a whizz about. The oldest one is a double-decker carrousel at the Hotel de Ville.
Then warm up on the Bateaux Parisiens, which have musical entertainment, on the Seine in the afternoon.
Before going on home, we like to stop off at a church for some quiet time. Notre-Dame is always a favourite. But there are so many which bring the meaning of Christmas home so very meaningfully. The Bascilica of Sacré Cour, Saint Sulpice and Saint Eustache Church are some of the most famous.