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A Guide to Christmas in Paris

Christmas in Paris is simply magical! Paris at Christmastime is as refined as the city itself. Every corner of every quartier has its own special enchantment from lively outdoor ice skating rinks to the many charming Christmas markets that line the streets and squares. Paris isn’t called the City of Light for nothing, and especially so at Christmas. Here are just a few of the things not to miss in Paris at Christmastime:

Trocadero Christmas Village

Trocadero Christmas Village

Trocadero Christmas Village

The Trocadero Christmas Village opposite the Eiffel Tower offers Parisians and tourists alike the opportunity to soak up a little Christmas spirit. Visit the 120 chalets for a wide selection of gifts, treats and decorations for the holiday season.

Not to be missed is the outdoor ice skating rink. Nothing is more romantic than skating hand-in-hand at dusk as the Eiffel Tower twinkles near by! Warm up afterward with some vin chaud (hot mulled wine) while admiring the Eiffel Tower as it comes ablaze in glittering lights cascading up and down it like golden bubbles in a champagne flute.

The Trocadero Christmas Village opposite the Eiffel Tower offers Parisians and tourists alike the opportunity to soak up a little Christmas spirit. Visit the 120 chalets for a wide selection of gifts, treats and decorations for the holiday season.

Not to be missed is the outdoor ice skating rink. Nothing is more romantic than skating hand-in-hand at dusk as the Eiffel Tower twinkles near by! Warm up afterward with some vin chaud while admiring the Eiffel Tower hourly light show.

The Trocadero Christmas Village takes place from December 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015.

Christmas Lights Along Champs-Elysées

Christmas Lights Along Champs-Elysées

Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysées

While many streets in each arrondissement are decorated, the Champs-Elysées is the most popular and festive of the Parisian light displays. The most beautiful avenue in the world transforms into a Christmas wonderland and the little wooden chalets of the Christmas Market stretch from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place du Concorde. Free shows are held daily along the market and Santa himself makes and appearance to delight the young and old alike.

The Champs-Elysées Christmas Market takes place from November 14 – January 4, 2015 from 10am – 6pm daily.

Ice Skating in Paris

Jen Ice Skating at the Trocadero Christmas Village

Ice Skating

My favorite outdoor ice skating rink in Paris is the one at the Trocadero Christmas Village because of the ambiance of the Christmas Village and the stunning views of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine. But there are a few others that are also worth a visit during Christmas in Paris.

Hotel Deville

Ice Skating Rink in front of Hotel Deville

Hôtel de Ville

The open air ice rink at the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) is picturesque as you twirl around the rink with the lavish Renaissance building looming behind you. Entry is free and skates can be hired on site for €5 per person. Just remember a pair of gloves because it’s required to have them in order to skate.

The rink at Hôtel de Ville is open from mid-December to mid-March Monday – Friday from 12pm – 10pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9am – 10pm.

Eiffel Tower

Probably one of the most unique places to go ice skating, the Eiffel Tower Ice Rink is located 57 meters (188 feet) above the ground on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. A ticket is required to access the rink and it is an additional €5 per person with skate rental included. The only issue is that the rink is quite small and has a capacity of 80 skaters at a time.

The rink at the Eiffel Tower is open December 15, 2014 – January 31, 2015.

Galeries Lafayette

Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette

Don’t miss the Galeries Lafayette for holiday lights and windows that arguably rival those of New York City department stores. Classic American musicals were the theme being celebrated in the windows of Galeries Lafayette for during our Christmas in Paris. Blonde haired dolls wearing Santa suits, gold clogs, and red tams are the Radio City Rockettes, teddy bears in bathing suits with snorkels and fins dancing away to the tunes of Mamma Mia, and a mannequin with a snow white afro sitting on a huge shiny red Christmas ornament belting out Life is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum were some of the highlights of the singing windows. Inside, the famous 20 meter tree under the glass dome is gorgeous as ever with gold, turquoise, violet and pink balls.

Galette des Rois

Tim finds a fève in his King Cake

Galette des Rois

The Galette des Rois (King cake) is found in Paris at Christmastime. Its most notable feature is the hidden fève (prize), usually a porcelain figurine, in the cake. Whoever finds the fève in their slice of cake gets to wear a paper crown and be King (or Queen) for the day. I can imagine that in the U.S. a hard, pointy figurine baked into a cake would be considered a safety risk, but that’s not at all the case here in France with lines of galette-hungry customers snaking out of every bakery that you pass. Tim found one of these porcelain collectibles in his cake and was king for the day! Of course, we only learned of the tradition after he thought a piece of the mixer had fallen into his cake. Definitely a memorable experience!

Notre Dame Paris

Jen at Notre Dame

Christmas Tree at Notre Dame

Go home from your Christmas in Paris holiday with the perfect holiday card photo in front of the Christmas tree at Notre Dame Cathedral.

This post has also been published in Danish at RejseTanker.dk.

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and communications strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Jdomb's Travels was named one of the top travel blogs to watch by the Huffington Post and has been featured by top publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed , and The Telegraph. Her iPhoneograpy has also been featured on publications such as USA Today and Travel + Leisure. Google+

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27 comments

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  1. samantha

    I love Christmas lights! And decorated trees. Christmas in Paris is something like a movie fantasy for me, I hope to experience it one day! Thanks for sharing :)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    It’s definitely a magical city, and especially at Christmas! Hope you make it to Paris for Christmas one day, Samantha!

    [Reply]

  2. Maria

    Love the night shot – I’d like to see cities dressed up all year round but then I guess I’d take if for granted.
    Looks like a great time of year to be there.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    As Audrey Hepburn said, Paris is always a good idea. And especially so at Christmas!

    [Reply]

  3. Ellen Christian

    Gorgeous photos!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Thanks, Ellen! Tim gets the credit for most of our photography.

    [Reply]

  4. Sand In My Suitcase

    Well, we won’t be in Paris for Christmas. But we can always dream :-). That “king cake” reminds Janice of the Christmas pudding her mother always makes. Inside, she puts coins. The larger the piece of pudding, the more money you get.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    That sounds like a unique tradition! How did she start putting coins in the Christmas pudding?

    [Reply]

  5. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    Though I loathe winter – 30+ years living in Chicago – I’d still love to see Paris in the winter time, it’s such a beautiful city.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Small world, Devlin! Tim is from Chicago and his family still lives there.

    [Reply]

  6. Cheryl Howard

    I really have to visit this city someday! It’s on my very long list. :-)

    Christmas in Paris looks fab.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    You’d love it Cheryl!

    [Reply]

  7. Neil

    Great post, but I just thought I’d let you know having returned from Paris two days ago, that the Christmas Markets are down the Champs Élysées this year near to the Grand Palais. The ice rink is there too.
    Doesn’t look like there’ll be anything going on by the Trocadero this year.
    Keep up the great work!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    You were just a little too early, Neil. The Trocadero Christmas Village is open daily from December 12th, 2013 to January 5th, 2014. Too bad you missed it – it is our favorite in Paris.

    [Reply]

  8. The GypsyNesters

    LOVE that you can ice skate (and in my case, fall) in front of the Eiffel Tour! VERY cool! -Veronica

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Definitely one of my favorite places I’ve ice skated! You can beat the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop.

    [Reply]

  9. Stef

    Must be a unique experience to spend the advent season in Paris with all the lights and christmas atmosphere in the air.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    It’s definitely a gorgeous time to visit Paris!

    [Reply]

  10. Naomi

    Apart from the cold, i think Paris is a great destination to visit over Christmas. I can imagine the decorations that will be all over to give it a Christmas feeling. Its amazing! Good work too. :)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    No where in mainland Europe is particularly warm this time of year, so the cold didn’t bother us. Plus, the cold gives you a reason to snuggle up with your special someone! ;-)

    [Reply]

  11. Heather

    Is there any place more romantic than Paris at Christmas? That tree in the Galeries Lafayette is gorgeous!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    I think NYC gives Paris a run for its money at Christmas. ;-) But there’s definitely no arguing that Paris is indeed romantic any time of the year.

    [Reply]

  12. Simon

    I was in Paris for Christmas about 5 years ago. My most vivid memory is of it pouring down with rain and having to take shelter in the Sacre Coeur on Christmas Eve, which was like an oasis of calm and peace. At that moment, we wouldn’t have liked to be anywhere else.

    (P.S. we use the same WordPress theme!)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    What a great memory! And that’s what Christmas is really about – making memories with your loved ones.

    [Reply]

  13. Charlotte Gade

    Hi there,

    I have been through some of your very exciting blogs and I really like what i’m reading – not only “the stories” but also the way you write, which makes it even more interresting :)

    I am editor on the fairly new Danish Travel portal RejseTanker.dk and I would love to bring some of your Blogposts – translated into Danish – maybe starting with Christmas in Paris…. Ofcause you will have your name and link there as well.

    Please let me know if you could be interested in some co-operation :)

    Have a great weekend ;-)

    Best regards

    Charlotte
    http://www.RejseTanker.dk

    [Reply]

  14. Lori

    Sounds like I have to spend a Christmas here ;) I was in Paris only early spring:)

    [Reply]

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