Planning a trip to Paris for Christmas? One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Paris is to see the lights that fill the city's most iconic landmarks. From grand avenues such as the Champs Elysées to quieter suburbs, light, colour and Christmas splendour flood the Parisian streets, and you're lucky to be able to see this spectacle during your visit!
The lights are usually switched on from the end of November to the beginning of January, so you have plenty of time to go to Paris and experience a special Christmas, visiting tourist attractions that look even more impressive at this time of year. Because when night falls in Paris, Christmas makes its appearance in the form of thousands and thousands of light bulbs that will accompany you on your trip.
1. The light show of the Eiffel Tower
Every night the Eiffel Tower is illuminated, but from November to January, when Christmas comes to the Parisian streets, the lights of around 20,000 bulbs become even more special. But the world's most famous tower is not the only one that shines. The whole road leading up to it is filled with blue and white lights that create a festive atmosphere.
Like snowflakes falling from the treetops, thousands of lights flank the path for visitors arriving on the esplanade of the Eiffel Tower. When you reach the base of the Tower, in addition to the spectacle of lights and colours, you are greeted by a small restaurant in a transparent dome that is placed on the first floor every Christmas. Need a stop before continuing to admire the Parisian Christmas? Here you can have a hot (and sweet!) drink.
Ice skating under the lights of the Eiffel Tower
If instead of resting you fancy a bit more movement, why not go ice skating? That's right, during the Christmas season an ice rink is installed around the Eiffel Tower where you can skate surrounded by a light show that makes this plan even more brilliant. Isn't it a great plan for the whole family?
What's more, if you're travelling to Paris with children, this visit has a surprise that they'll love... I've been told that Father Christmas walks around the Eiffel Tower during the most special weeks of the year. Aren't you going to go and see him? Remember that, although you don't need a ticket to walk around the area, you do need to go up the Eiffel Tower if you want to.
2. An illuminated path on the Avenue des Champs Elysées
In addition to the fact that the Champs Elysées always has one of the great Christmas markets in Paris that you can't miss, at night hundreds of lights and animations fill the busiest avenue in Paris with magic. Without a doubt, it is very exciting to walk more than 2 kilometres between trees laden with luminous garlands. Although the walk is a bit long, I recommend you take it easy and stop at the market stalls while you watch the Arc de Triomphe grow bigger and bigger as you walk towards it.
They say that when you see a shooting star you have to make a wish. Well, although they are not real, the effect created by the Christmas lights on the Champs Elysées is just that. What's more, the LED technology of the most modern bulbs gives even more of that feeling of walking through a landscape full of brightness and colour.
If you are not too fond of crowds, it will be difficult to avoid them, because going to see the lights on the Champs Elysées is one of the main Christmas plans in Paris, especially on the day of the switch-on. However, I would remind you that the lights are on from the end of November until the beginning of January, so you can go during those dates, admire them more calmly and, why not, extend the Christmas spirit a little longer.
3. Christmas lights and trees at Place Vendome
If there's one thing the Place Vendome is, it's elegant. The many jewellery shops that are located there give enough light and sparkle to the place with their shop windows full of diamonds and precious stones. However, from November to January the square is also filled with golden lights to celebrate Christmas. Therefore, this is a must-see if you want to experience Christmas in Paris.
Beyond the garlands of lights that adorn the facades, the illumination of the Place Vendome stands out for its decorations, especially the giant fir trees that during the day are green but at night seem snowy because of the amount of white and blue lights that cover them.
My advice is to go to see these lights at the end of the day, when all you want to do is rest for a while. Of course, you'll soon tire yourself out because the refinement, glitz and glamour of this square will wake anyone up.
4. Discover all the illuminated shop windows on Avenue Montaigne
Christmas has been added to one of the most luxurious avenues in Paris since the end of November. In addition to the general illumination of all Parisian streets, in this area it is the lights in the shop windows that leave everyone who passes by with their mouths agape. Even if you're not going to buy anything in the boutiques there (such as Chanel or Louis Vuitton), my advice is to take a walk while you admire each display, they are worth it!
Don't think that just looking at one of the shop windows is enough, because each fashion brand designs each shop with care and according to its own personality. This way, you can discover them one by one and choose the one you like the most or find the one with the most lights.
One of the great advantages of the lights on Avenue Montaigne is that you don't have to wait until nightfall to see them, as they also dazzle and enliven the cold Parisian winter days.
5. See Paris illuminated from the Ferris wheel on Place de la Concorde
If you walk among the hanging lights on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, you may come to the Place de la Concorde, where the lighting is just as spectacular, creating a Christmas atmosphere that will enchant even the most sceptical. But if there is one thing that has become a must-see when Christmas comes to Paris, it is the Ferris wheel in the Place.
Apart from the lights that inevitably attract us to it, the best thing about this Ferris wheel is the views it offers, which have nothing to envy of the best viewpoints in Paris. Can you imagine being able to see the centre of Paris lit up at Christmas from a metre high? Climb on the Ferris wheel and you'll be left with your mouth open, because I promise you the panoramic view is incredible.
The price is approximately €12, although there are discounts for children, who are sure to be eager to join in. When you come down, you adults can take the opportunity to have a refreshing mulled wine at one of the stalls around while you continue to gaze at the lights. It's delicious!
6. Notre Dame Christmas Tree Lighting
Although Notre Dame Cathedral is not specially lit up at Christmas time, the big tree in front of it is enough to light up the whole square. Never seen it before? Well, now you have one more thing to add to your list. In addition to the lights, the tree is decorated with great care, making it even more imposing and beautiful.
The combination of the natural green of the tree and the blue of its lights are the ideal complements to Notre Dame. You will definitely want to take a picture of the cathedral's façade silhouetted against the tree's illuminated silhouette.
My advice is to spend at least half an hour sitting on a bench nearby admiring the tree and the light it gives off against the starry Paris sky.
7. The most traditional lights of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Do you know this district in the 6th arrondissement of Paris? Some of the greatest intellectuals and artists in history have met in its brasseries and cafés, but as if that didn't make it special enough, at Christmas time all its streets are filled with lights. In particular, I recommend you go to Boulevard Saint Germain and Place Saint Germain des Prés, where all the luminous decorations are concentrated and which can be easily reached on line 6 of the Paris metro.
While many people come to Saint-Germain-des-Prés just to see its Christmas market or have a drink in its traditional cafés, many people are surprised when they come across a light show that adds to the magic of Christmas and the excitement of experiencing it.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés may not have the most powerful lights in Paris, but I can assure you that there is something special about it. And because it's not as touristy as the Champs-Elysées, you can enjoy Christmas in a more relaxed way and feel like you're in the heart of the real Paris.
8. The arrival of Christmas at Galeries Lafayette and Boulevard Haussman in November
Do you want to live the experience of stepping into a Christmas fairytale? Make a note of this recommendation: the Boulevard Haussman. This area is home to the most famous department stores in Paris, such as Galeries Lafayette, so in addition to the lights hanging from the boulevard's trees, expect window displays full of decorations and even automatons welcoming Christmas.
I can assure you that all the big shops will be eye-catching with their lights, colours and Christmas windows, but if there's one place you'll want to head to, it's the Galeries Lafayette and its illuminated façade. You will have heard of it because during the year the architecture of the building is already impressive enough, but during Christmas it is even more so. If you don't believe me, watch this video and wait until you see the 25-metre tree that presides over the Galleries' hall during the festive season.
If you let your eyes continue beyond the tree (although it's tricky), you'll see how the windows of all the shops in the Galleries follow a common style and design to maintain harmony and bring the magic of Christmas to every corner.
9. A village of lights in Bercy Village
When you arrive at Bercy Village you will feel your imagination run wild. The decorations take on a thousand and one forms (animals, spheres, trees...) and all of them are illuminated. The result? A landscape of lights that turns this open-air shopping centre into a sort of Christmas village created by some of the best French designers.
Bercy Village is a historic place, so as well as seeing the lights you can sit on one of its terraces and observe its white stone, wood, steel and glass construction while you sip a good glass of wine, as this small village has an abundance of wine cellars.
Being in the 22nd arrondissement and not as popular as other neighbourhoods, Bercy is a good place to enjoy the lights of Paris without so many people but with the same excitement and Christmas spirit.
10. Christmas nights at the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens
Are you going to the Louvre Museum on your trip to Paris? I recommend that you go at the last minute or even take advantage of the day when they open at night, so that when you leave you find the great Tuileries Garden dressed for Christmas and with lights that illuminate the whole place.
In the centre of Paris, the magnificent garden of the Louvre stretches out and at Christmas time, as well as hosting a beautiful market, it is also full of large luminous structures. In fact, this moment is called "The Magic of the Tuileries", because the switching on of the lights at the end of November marks the beginning of a few weeks where the warmth and glow of Christmas touches every heart.
What's more, while you spend your time walking among the luminous decorations and discovering their myriad shapes, you can do some Christmas shopping at the market stalls.
Have you already made a note of all the stops to see the Christmas lights in Paris? I promise you that you will be dazzled in a good way and that you will experience a magical Christmas.