1. Go ice skating. Ice rinks pop up all over the city.
We recommend the one on the Champ de Mars. From 16 December to 2 January you can skate in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower!
2. And while you’re there, why not climb to the top of the Eiffel tower on Christmas day?
It’s one of the few monuments in Paris that are open on December 25th, and what better way to celebrate than with a glass of champagne at the top of the tower!
3. Go and check out the window displays in the big department stores.
The Parisians take their children to admire them every year. Our favourite ones are at the Bon Marché on the Left Bank :
Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, 24 rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris or the Printemps, 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
4. Go to one of the big department stores food halls
We suggest the Grand Epicerie at the Bon Marché or Lafayette Gourmet across from the Galeries Lafayette. The French take Christmas and New Year eating very seriously. It's a chance to indulge in all sorts of delicacies, and the food is always both delicious and incredibly beautiful. Look out for the traditional Bûches de Noël, or Yule logs.
5. Visit the Galeries Lafayette
Take a look at the Christmas tree hanging in the stunning art nouveau dome :
Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
6. Marchés de Noël (Christmas markets) pop up all around the city.
Our favourite is at Abbesses, at the foot of Montmartre. This year all the stands are selling gifts made in France, and you can taste traditional French food specialties from local producers of cheese, foie gras, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and much more!
Place des Abbesses, 75018 Paris. 26 November - 2 January
7. Enjoy some of the best lights
Walk along the rue St Honoré from the intersection with the rue des Pyramides to the intersection with rue Cambon, and make sure you don’t miss the lovely Place Vendome.
8. Take a walk up the Champs Elysées after dark and enjoy the iconic Christmas lights
then climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for wonderful views across the city, including a bird’s eye view of the Eiffel Tower lit up (remember she sparkles on the hour every hour for 5 minutes). And while you’re on the Champs Elysées, take a short detour and check out the gorgeous lights on Avenue Montaigne.
9. Take a ride on a wooden horse on one of the city's traditional carrousels.
Many are installed all around the city for Christmas and the ones at the Hotel de Ville and Bastille are free throughout the holiday period.
10. Visit a church and see a traditional nativity scene.
Households all over France prepare their own, using traditional 'santons' or clay figurines made in Provence in the South of France. One of the biggest, with over 1000 figurines, is at the Church of St François Xavier, 12 Pl. du Président Mithouard, in the 7th arrondissement.
You can collect an entire village full of colourful, traditional Provencal figures, we buy one or two new ones every year to add to ours. If you want to take some home and start your own collection, there is a small shop on Place St Sulpice that sells them, otherwise look out for them at the Christmas markets. The most famous ones are made by Carbonel, Fouque or Escoffier:
Georges Thuillier, 10 Place Saint Sulpice, 75006 Paris