The winter holidays are almost upon us and that means there’s definitely something to celebrate. If you’ll be in Paris at the end of December/beginning of January, you’re in luck – there are enough exhibitions, concerts, shows and ballets to keep you occupied even as the temperatures dip below the freezing point. Not only that, December is a great time to see the city all lit up – even the grouchiest of grinches will find it hard not to be won over by all of Paris’s holiday cheer.
The Champs-Elysées gets festive each winter.
So, where do you start to maximize the festive offerings in the French capital this month? A good place is on the Champs-Elysées, which dedicates the holiday season to special illuminations and an expansive Christmas market. While the whole experience is mildly overwhelming, it’s great for a quick dose of holiday spirit. Not to mention a good place for snapping up those last-minute gifts.
The Champs-Elysées isn’t the only spot that lights up for the holidays. Be sure to head over to department stores Printemps and Galeries Lafayette near the Opera metro stop to fawn over their special Christmas storefront windows. Featuring blinking lights, moving parts and creative touches, the displays are usually just as entertaining for adults as for kids. Be sure to step inside to witness the giant Christmas trees planted in the center of the store.
Other neighborhoods to check out over the winter season are Montmartre, the Bercy Village and the Place Vendôme. These spots get in on the Christmas lighting fun and are pleasant for an evening stroll.
If you’re more of a do-er, head over to Hotel de Ville, where an ice rink is set up each winter. Rent a pair of skates and twirl around the rink, with the majestic town hall lit up in the background. Additional skating rinks are set up on the Champs-Elysées and at the Trocadero gardens, where the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, respectively, loom in the background.
The holidays also mean classic performances of dance, music and theater and the French capital is in no shortage of quality, internationally-renowned entertainment. Unfortunately, The Nutcracker ballet is already sold out at the Paris Opera, but tickets to a second version at the Palais des Congrès are still up for grabs. If you’re more into modern dance, why not check out Snow White – performed at the Chateau de Versailles – featuring the symphonies of Gustave Mahler. Or for something more unique, pick up tickets to Pegasus & Icarus, an equestrian and aerial show that combines Greek mythology and aerial dance and acrobatics.
And of course, if nothing on this list strikes your fancy, you can make festive fun all on your own. With the hundreds of restaurants, bars and clubs dotting the city, you can easily dance, drink and talk the night away. What better and simpler way to be merry and spread that holiday cheer?
Looking for a guided tour of Paris, all lit up? Join us on our Skip the Line Eiffel Tower Tour.