Ah, December in Paris! This time of the year gets both charming and chilly, in equal measure. Crisp mornings cloaked in gentle sunlight can give way to afternoons when the sun may or may not shine. Or worse, lead to rainy days. But considering it is also holiday season, the lights and decorations all over the city of lights make up for all the gloom.
There is distinct festive energy coursing through the city, making it one of the best time to visit Paris. This is especially true if you love the Christmas season, or want to get your holiday shopping done. Check HiP Francophile gift guide and French-inspired book guide for more.
Paris weather in December
From late December, Paris experiences damp and cold weather with average temperatures ranging from 3 to 8 degrees Celsius. Expect overcast skies and occasional rain. Carrying an umbrella and waterproof layers is a must. Dress warmly with coats, scarves, hats, and gloves to stay comfortable while exploring the city.
The city gets festive with holiday decorations, bustling Christmas markets, and crowded shopping areas, especially closer to Christmas. Tourist attractions might be less crowded early in the month, but as the holidays approach, expect increased visitor numbers.
In cold or rainy days, you can always cosy up with hot chocolate in a Parisian cafe, or visit one of the elaborately decorated department stores. While the evenings can be spent attending a Christmas concert or doing some Christmas shopping. Moreover, the elaborate Christmas glass windows displays of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette gives the term ‘window shopping,’ a whole new spin.
Do note that timings for restaurants and cafes would be affected on Christmas and Christmas Eve Day. For a list of restaurants that put together a feast on these days, peruse our curation of where to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and how to spend an amazing New Year’s Eve in Paris.
Here’s all that’s happening in Paris this month, and all best places to visit to fully enjoy the holiday lights and Christmas decorations in Paris.
Political Animal by Gilles Aillaud- 4 Oct 2023 – 26 Feb 2024, Centre Pompidou
Painter Gilles Aillaud captures the relationship between humans and animals in this meditative exhibition, called ‘Animal Politique.’ It puts into perspective our relationship with living things and at its core, questions our relationship with nature.
L’art urbain à l’ère numérique- Grand Palais Imersif, 6 December-21 July 2024
The 360° exhibition recounts the history of urban art while showing how technologies have impacted the work of artists in this field. What visitors get to see run the gamut, from paintings created using drones, to NYC subway graffiti to huge murals.
Mark Rothko- Foundation Louis Vuitton, 18 October, 2023- 4 February, 2024
This retrospective brings together 115 of Rothko’s work under one roof. These have been curated from prestigious institutions such as National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Tate in London. This show is a rare opportunity to discover various trajectories of the remarkable artist’s career.
Fireworks on New Year’s Eve, Champs-Elysées
Every year, Paris celebrates the coming New Year in grand style, with gorgeous fireworks at Champs-Elysées at midnight. It’s truly an unforgettable experience. Best part is that the event is free, but expect huge crowds.
Festival of Lights at Paris’s Jardin des Plantes 2023, November 22 – January 21, 2024
This nocturnal walk in the beautiful Jardin des Plantes is a light show unlike any other. Prepare to feel like you’re walking in an enchanted forest complete with giant glowing creatures.
Open Studios 2023: Pere Lachaise, 2-3 December
Open Studios in Paris are usually scheduled on four weekends throughout the year (March 25, June 3 in conjunction with Nuit Blanche, September 30, and December 9). The aim of this weekend is to make art more accessible to the public.
During the weekend, artists would open up their studios and workshops for people to come in, and explore their creations and processes up close. The event is completely free of charge, and open to everyone.
Le Grand Tasting Paris- 1 & 2 December 2023, Carrousel du Louvre
The is one of the largest wine events in France, bringing together the best wine producers, critiques and buyers. Visitors are allowed entry. Find all the details here.
Salon Nautique de Paris- 3-10 December, Paris Expo Porte de Versailles
This exhibition is about everything and anything related to boats. So if you are a boat aficionado, you know where to go!
Africolor Music Festival
This festival promises to explore the intersection of electronic music in Africa and Europe. The event this year presents an exciting line-up of musicians redefining genres, and pushing conversations on diversity, innovation and collaboration in the world of music.
Black Legends Le Musical- 13e Art, 5 Oct. 2023 – 28 Jan. 2024
This show won the ‘2023 Trophy of the musical show collective,’ and for good reason. Black Legends is an exciting dive into the history of America through its music. There’s every genre here, from soul, gospel, Motown, disco, funk, hip hop and R&B vibrations!
The Nutcracker- Opéra Bastille, 08 December 2023 – 01 January 2024
There’s no better time to enjoy this classic ballet show than during this time of year. The story begins when one Christmas Eve, young Clara receives a puppet, a nutcracker. As she falls asleep, she enters a realm of fantasy, coloured by Tchaikovsky’s sparkling, magnificent score.
Apart from these, there are several Christmas concerts held in various churches in Paris. Plus a ton of New Year’s Eve Concerts at various locations.
Of course, this being the month of Christmas, exploring different Christmas markets is imperative. While there are many markets being set up in different neighbourhoods, and by different collectives, here are some of the bigger and more popular markets in Paris:
- Tuileries Christmas Market
- St Germain des Prés Christmas Market
- La Défense Christmas Village
- Eiffel Tower Christmas Village in Quai Branly
- Alsatian Christmas Market at Gare de l’Est
- Christmas Market at Hôtel de Ville
- Bastille Christmas Market at Place de las Bastille
- Christmas Market at the Feeries d’Anteuil
- Notre Dame Christmas Market
- Abbesses Christmas Market in Montmartre near Sacre Coeur
- Apprentis d’Auteuil Christmas Market
- 15th Arrondissement Christmas Market
- Christmas Market at La Défense
Most of these markets open between the last week of November and the first week of December. Needless to say, expect long lines if you go at peak hour.
Paris is a twinkling wonderland during the holidays! Many of the holiday lights and displays are put in place between end of November and early December, and can be viewed until early January.
Here are some spots where you can soak in the magic of Parisian holiday decorations:
The iconic avenue is lit up gorgeously in December. Take a stroll and revel in the breathtaking illuminations.
Many big stores in Paris set up elaborate displays during this time of year, some featuring some giant, not to mention, stunning Christmas trees.
Some stores not to miss are Galeries Lafayette. Its grand Christmas tree and dazzling lights draw in crowds every year. Head to their rooftop terrace for a stunning view of the city.
Just across from Galeries Lafayette, Printemps’ holiday window displays are a visual feast. Also head to Le Bon Marché for some chic and sophisticated decorations.
Avenue Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Both streets are known for high-end shopping. The luxury stores here set up some truly unmissable decorations.
Le Village Royalé
The cobblestoned passage of this luxurious space is also filled up with glamorous Christmas decorations, including, last year, a giant crystal encrusted teddy bear!
This area transforms into a magical wonderland with lights and decorations every holiday season.
Hôtel de Ville
The square in front of Paris’s town hall is converted into a winter wonderland in December, complete with a Christmas market, light shows and even an ice skating rink.
Apart from these specific locations, entire neighbourhoods also go out of their way to deck themselves up. Some recommended walks would be in Montmartre and Le Marais. While the former comes though with all its bucolic charm, Le Marais embodies the spirit of Christmas in a more modern and hipper avatar.
- For more Paris in Christmas, go behind the scenes of the most dazzling holiday display in Paris
- In the mood for movie night, check out the best French streaming service for Francophiles
- For something arty and dreamy, read HiP interview with Jamie Beck and her new book ‘The flowers of Provence’
Written by Pronoti Baglary. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.