Paris changes its appearance during the Christmas holidays. In addition to the things to see and do in Paris, there are the street lights, shop window decorations, skating rinks and, of course, the wonderful Christmas markets, from the Jardin des Tuileries to the one in St Germain des Prés.
If you are planning a trip to the French capital at this time of year, whether you are travelling with children, as a couple or even alone, you can't miss a visit to one of these markets. You'll be totally immersed in the Christmas spirit, enjoying the atmosphere while sipping a revitalising mulled wine.
1. The magic of Christmas - Tuileries Garden
Located in the Tuileries, one of the most beautiful gardens in the city, the location of this Christmas market makes it a must for anyone visiting Paris at Christmas time.
Thousands of Parisians and tourists flock every year to this market located halfway between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre Museum. It is made up of more than 200 huts offering the best of French gastronomy and decorative objects in a festive atmosphere.
If you go to this market, especially after having spent the day visiting the best museums in the French capital or other tourist attractions, you can't miss the Vin Chaut, the name given in France to hot spiced wine. It's also worth buying some chestnuts (marrons) or a Galette des Roi, the equivalent of the Three Kings' Cake.
As well as the stalls serving food, there are also stalls offering all kinds of crafts and high-end lighting items so you can imitate the Parisian Christmas lights at home.
At the beginning of the market, in the Place de la Concorde, a large Ferris wheel is set up every year from which you can get the best views of the city. Finally, you will also find a huge skating rink of about 500 m².
- Opening dates: usually opens in mid-November and closes on 5 January.
- Opening hours: every day between 11:00 and 20:00
2. Paris Notre Dame Christmas market
One of the great attractions of this Christmas market is its great location: in front of the river that bathes the Notre Dame cathedral. Without a doubt, an incomparable setting for strolling among the stalls that are set up during the Christmas season.
The market is located in a small park from where you can get a perfect view of the medieval towers of the cathedral. As in the rest of the markets of this type, strollers come to sample some of the gastronomic specialities typical of winter in Paris, such as chestnuts and mulled wine.
The atmosphere and ambience of this market are two of the factors that make it a must-visit. As well as food, the stalls sell a wide variety of works of art, jewellery, crockery and ceramic objects made by artisans selected for the quality of their work.
Children travelling to Paris also have their place at this market, as there are activities such as drawing competitions and there are often storytellers to delight the little ones. Not forgetting, of course, the presence of Father Christmas himself on the premises.
- Where: Place René Viviani, next to Notre Dame Cathedral.
- Opening dates: from mid-December until before Christmas Eve.
- Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 10:00 to 20:00. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays closed at 21:00.
3. Christmas Market of St Germain des Prés
Near the well-known church of St. Germain des Prés, another Christmas market worth visiting opens every year. With almost 30 huts, its main attraction is the luxury goods on offer, such as jewellery, leather bags and handicrafts. In addition, it is also common for Parisians to come and buy candles and scented chocolates.
The setting up of this market is encouraged by the large shops in the area, which take advantage of the occasion to offer their merchandise while at the same time organising a large number of activities for all ages.
Of course, the market is also home to many of the seasonal gastronomic specialities that you would find on a guided tour of Paris, so you can also sample everything from delicious chocolate to mulled wine.
But, without detracting from the market itself, the best thing about it is undoubtedly the neighbourhood in which it is located. It is an area with a modern atmosphere in which you can glimpse its past as a reference point for intellectual life in the French capital.
A stroll through this neighbourhood means not only seeing some interesting monuments, but also discovering great art galleries, small bookshops and various cafés in a totally Parisian style.
- Where to find it: on Place Saint Germain des Prés in the Saint Germain des Prés district. The market is set up right on the esplanade of the church that gives its name to the square.
- Opening dates: from the beginning of December until around 6 January.
- Opening hours: every day from 10:00 to 19:00.
4. Christmas Village in the Parvis de La Défense
Along the Esplanade de la Défense is the largest Christmas market in the city, with more than 400 huts. It is an authentic village offering a wide variety of products perfect for gift-giving, especially leather goods and quality jewellery.
This market is also usually one of the earliest to open its doors to the public, in mid-November. Its location makes it one of the most comfortable to visit thanks to the absence of traffic and, therefore, of noise caused by traffic.
In its huts, in addition to gift items, you can try Alsatian food specialities, the region where the tradition of Christmas markets in France began. Other dishes to try include waffles, mulled wine and crepes worthy of the best creperies in Paris.
Strolling through this Christmas village is the best way to take you back to your childhood. A magical atmosphere envelops the whole place with its festive decorations and the activities organised for you to enjoy with or without children.
- Where to find it: Paris La Défense - Parvis de la Défense
- Opening dates: from mid-November until just before New Year's Eve.
- Opening hours: 11am to 8pm Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays
5. 15th Christmas Market
The 15th arrondissement of Paris, like so many others in the capital, could not fail to have its own Christmas market. This is the area where the famous Montparnasse tower is located and the best way to get there is by metro. Here is a small guide to the Paris metro so you know how to use this transport if you have any doubts.
This Christmas market brings together stalls set up by local artisans and traders to display their products. You'll find everything from fashion items to food. It's one of the best if you're looking for a gift for your homecoming.
In total, between 20 and 30 booths are usually set up, but the most striking feature of the market is the entertainment that takes place every day. Many, such as the distribution of chocolates for the children or a ride in Santa's sleigh, are designed for the little ones, but others, such as the carol singing, can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Finally, as a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas, one of the stalls is run by various charities that sell sweets and donate the proceeds to the causes they defend.
- Where: on Rue Péclet, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.
- Opening dates: from mid-December until the day before Christmas.
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday, between 11am and 7pm
6. Les Halles Christmas Market (Canopée des Halles Christmas Village)
The central district of Les Halles has had its own Christmas market for quite a few years now. The best thing about it is that it has managed to create a totally magical atmosphere, which is why it is considered one of the best in Paris to visit with the family.
Part of its attraction is the place where it is set up, with the huts arranged around an ice rink (La Canopée) and a 20-metre high fir tree that is fully decorated and illuminated. You've probably seen the place if you've taken one of the Paris sightseeing buses from the capital.
The market has around 30 Christmas stalls made of wood. Here you can buy all kinds of Christmas accessories, as well as food, crafts and fashion. If you're looking for ideas for decorating your home for Christmas, this is where you'll find the most variety and quality.
Of course, while strolling through the market you can have some of the typical hot drinks, such as spiced wine, chocolate or tea. If you accompany it with tartiflettes or waffles, the sensation will be truly wonderful.
- Where: located in the Quartier des Halles, just under the dome of the Les Halles shopping centre.
- Opening dates: between the second week of November and the last days of the year.
- Opening hours: Every day from 10:00 to 21:00.
7. Alsace Christmas Market
The tradition of setting up Christmas markets in Paris (and other French regions) comes from Alsace, in the north of the country. This area, in its troubled history, was part of Germany on several occasions, so it has some cultural differences that are reflected in its markets.
Every year in Paris, a Christmas market is set up in the image of the Alsatians. Here you can find typical products from the region, such as sauerkraut, kougelhopf (a kind of sweet brioche in the shape of a volcano), jams, gingerbread and various types of cheese.
If you go with children on 6 December, St. Nicholas' Day, they will receive a free gift of gingerbread and cinnamon in the shape of the saint.
- Where: at the Gare de l'Est train station, Place 11 November 1918.
- Opening dates: from the beginning of December until about the 20th of December.
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm, Sundays from 10am to 7pm.
8. Place de Abbesses Christmas Market (Montmartre)
Although it is not a very big Christmas market, the one located in Place de Abbesses is considered to be one of the most charming in the whole city. To begin with, its location is extraordinary, right in the heart of the Montmartre district, one of the most bohemian in Paris.
Every Christmas, the market fills up with tourists and locals alike who immerse themselves in its intoxicating atmosphere. The stalls offer a huge variety of food and drink, clothes and crafts. There is also a beautiful carousel that delights children.
With a glass of mulled wine in hand, it's worth climbing to the top of the hill that forms the neighbourhood and visiting the Sacré Coeur to enjoy the views of the city.
- Where: Place Abbesses, in the heart of the Montmartre district.
- Opening dates: from the beginning of December until Christmas Eve.
- Opening hours: 10am-5pm every day of the week.
9 Champs de Mars Christmas market, next to the Eiffel Tower
The Champs de Mars in Paris is home to one of the Christmas markets with the best views in the city: of the Eiffel Tower, no less.
With around 100 stalls, the market has a wide range of traditional foods that you can sit and enjoy with a view of the French capital's most famous monument. Among the most popular dishes are foie gras, salmon and poultry, all accompanied by a glass of champagne.
If you have a sweet tooth, don't miss the bûche de Noël, a roll with cream and ice cream. You'll also find small cakes, marzipan and chocolate.
As well as food, this market stands out for its Christmas decorations and handicrafts. If you are looking for a gift, here you will also find many toys that will delight the youngest members of the family.
Like other markets, the one located on the Champs de Mars includes a great skating rink. If you dare, you can do a few laps around it with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
- Where: on the Champs de Mars, between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire.
- Opening dates: from the end of November until after 6 January.
10 Les Féeries d'Auteuil Christmas market
Although it is not one of the biggest Christmas markets in Paris, the intention with which Les Féeries d'Auteuil is set up every year makes it worth a visit.
This market is organised by the Auteuil Foundation in order to raise funds for their organisation, which helps children and young people in difficulty. To do so, they sell items such as furniture, candles, ceramics, hats and jewellery, all at a very affordable price.
In total, the market is made up of some 27 huts. All of them are decorated in great detail, creating a beautifully illuminated ensemble full of Christmas details.
During the few days that the market lasts, around 9 days, various shows of all kinds are held, such as concerts and exhibitions.
- Where: in the gardens of rue Jean de la Fontaine, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
- Opening dates: usually held in the second week of December.
- Opening hours: from 11:00 to 19:00, daily