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Paris in December [2024]

While everyone can agree that Paris is magical all year round, there is something special about visiting the French capital in December. The streets brighten up just a little bit more, and there is a poetic beauty around every corner. While chilly winds and sloshy rains might put a damper on some activities, December transforms Paris into a living, breathing fairyland.

I have been to Paris during Christmas time so many times! Having worked for lots of tech companies that typically have a holiday shutdown, I have had plenty of opportunities to be in the city of light during the Christmas season.

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The city of light takes on a whole new meaning with Christmas lights (and other holiday lights), Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, and one of my favorites, the shop window displays from the Galeries Lafayette and other department stores (Galleries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, etc.) on the Boulevard Haussmann to the small boutiques in Le Marais.

Paris in December

Marchés de Noël, holiday window displays, and beautifully adorned streets are some of the biggest treats of visiting Paris at this time of year. The traditional and modern Christmas markets in Paris pop up all over the city and encourage visitors to stroll through never-ending food stalls amidst flavourful bites of Tartiflette and Aligot and sips of mulled wine (vin chaud).

Although it might seem like Christmas festivities usurp the city for the entire month, December does bring some other magical experiences. The Parisian Opera season peaks in winter, which means you now have a reason to get all dressed up and enjoy a classy night out. The icy weather also brings out some of the most magnificent ice skating rinks in some iconic venues.

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From rooftops and indoor rinks to skating on the Eiffel Tower, the options are endless. All you need is your warmest scarf and the cheerful spirit of the holidays (and maybe some patience for the long queues!).

Paris in December

Whether you’re interested in traditional Christmas festivities or want to have a magical night out, here are some of the unmissable experiences of Paris in December.

What can you do in Paris in December?

Paris is a city that never sleeps and the Christmas season makes Paris even more enchanting. Parisians love to celebrate the holidays. Festivities are everywhere from expensive department stores to outdoor markets, from casual cafes to grandiose monuments.

The general atmosphere in December is one of giving and joy, it is one of the best things about visiting this time of year. There are many things to do in Paris in December, such as partake in the festive events, and eat seasonal food while admiring the Christmas decorations while strolling through Parisian streets.

Go ice skating

Ice Skating in Paris

During the winter season (late November through January), temporary ice rinks are set up all over the city. Ice skate at the Christmas Market in the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) and some of the iconic venues such as Grand Palais, the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette, on the first level of the Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro. What could be more romantic or more fun than ice skating at the Eiffel Tower? (P.S. They all have skate rentals available, no need to pack your ice skates!)

Here are some spots:

  • Grand Palais des Glaces: The biggest ice rink in Paris continues to operate until January 9th.
  • Champ De Mars is a small “village” near the Eiffel Tower. You can skate there until the end of January.
  • La Defénce: It opens in winter and stays up until January 14th.
  • Hôtel de Ville: skating in front of Paris’ City Hall is a lot of fun and is usually open until March!
Paris in December

Here is a list of the highlights.

Events, Exhibitions, Festivals, and Experiences

  • Christmas Concerts are a regular feature at some of the gorgeous churches of Paris all through December. With stunning architecture and excellent acoustics, the concerts are quite popular and tend to run out of seats quickly.
  • Festival des Lumières is a must-visit winter light festival at Jardin des Plantes with extraordinary giant light sculptures with moving parts and changing colors. (Through Jan 21, 2024.)
  • Noël en Bio is an organic Christmas fair at Parc des Expositions in the 15th Arrondissement bringing together original and unusual, ethical gifts along with cooking and DIY workshops.
  • Alternative Pop Up Christmas Markets are different from the traditional Parisian stalls and have unique international themes such as Japanese, Nordic, Norwegian, or Swedish.
  • The Paris Illuminations bring out some of the best Christmas decors on the Parisian streets, from Place Vendôme and Place des Vosges to Champs Élysées and Avenue Montaigne.
  • Centre Pompidou Exhibition on Gilles Aillaud (through Feb 2024) showcases this painter's work in a wonderful display of man and nature.
  • Grand Palais exhibition on the history of urban art (L’art urbain à l’ère numérique) through July 2024.
  • Féérie des Eaux, offered by Le Grand Rex, is a 15-minute laser light and water fountain show before the screening of a film. Be sure to book tickets and arrive early, as it tends to fill up fast.
  • Les Enchanteurs de Noël is a magical Christmas show at the Château de Vincennes with a parade of performers, stunning sets, and a legendary storyline.
  • Dinner cruises are a popular way to not only discover Paris from the indoor warmth but also enjoy the festive rides for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
  • Festival du Merveilleux is a 10-day event held at the Musée des Arts Forains that transforms the Bercy Village area into a poetic garden of festive shows and spectacular performances.
  • Salon Nautique de Paris is the largest indoor tradeshow for the nautical community presenting products and nautical savoir-faire from more than 800 exhibitors.
  • Africolor, a music festival celebrating African music and performance throughout Paris and its suburbs. The event also hosts workshops and masterclasses with Parisian institutes.
  • Disney’s New Year’s Eve Party is a magical fiesta at Disneyland Paris with exclusive access to late-night attractions, fireworks, parades, and a whole lot of music to welcome the new year.
  • Salon du Cheval de Paris is a horse show featuring national competitions, demonstrations and exhibits.

Why Paris in December?

Visiting Paris in December allows you to experience the city during one of the most enchanting times of the year. Parisians look forward to the Christmas season, and Paris in December is a perfect time to be in Paris! You can attend festivals and enjoy the seasonal activities that Paris has organized for you.

Christmas Market in Paris in December

The benefit of Parisian restaurants will also provide you with amazing food during this time of year. Paris in December combines everything that Paris does best: Parisians, food, Paris, and holidays!

Culinary Delights of December in Paris

Parisian restaurants and cafes offer special dishes and various menus for the holiday season. Parisian chefs usually prepare delicious desserts and typically offer a variety of chocolate delicacies such as chocolate mousse, chocolate tartlet, and chocolate cake.

Various markets also invite Parisians to their seasonal celebrations with food stands that serve traditional dishes such as pintade, chestnut stuffing, or ham (this is France after all!). Parisian bakeries will also provide Parisians with unique holiday flavors including pain d’épices (spice bread) and traditional pâtes de fruits (fruit pastes).

pain d’épices (spice bread)

Parisian gourmet stores will also provide Parisians with specialties like foie gras. Parisians will also enjoy going to the Christmas markets and eating a variety of tasty street food, such as crepes with various sweet or savory toppings. Paris in December is a wonderfully enchanting time to visit Paris! Parisian chefs have delicious dishes that everyone can enjoy while strolling through Parisian streets during winter!

What to eat in Paris in December

Parisian food is rich and decadent, but these dishes can be enjoyed any time of year. In December, you have a chance to indulge in some of the best spreads as the winter begins to set in. Parisians settle down to big feast for their traditional holiday meals.

The French are well known for their gastronomic wizardry and local cuisine – a simple yet hearty fare that is rooted in delicious meats and cheeses.

There are a few key foods that you should keep an eye out for during this time of year:

Beef dishes like Beef Toulouse, a variation of what is known in America as beef stew, or pot au feu. Although the main ingredients are the same, this meal is made with red wine, garlic, and mushrooms. Or the classic, Boeuf Bourguignon, another beef dish with slow-roasted meat in a rich sauce made up of onions, carrots, bacon cubes, garlic cloves, and herbs.

paris cafe cold weather

Or try duck. Like duck confit which is made by first curing the duck with salt, pepper, and spices. The legs are then cooked for hours in their own fat until they're nearly falling off of the bone. Or canard à la pressed duck (pressed) is an even more extravagant dish consisting of a whole roasted duck that has been pressed and roasted on top of a bed of bacon and vegetables. It is then served in its own juice.

If beef and duck aren't your thing, consider guinea fowl. France is the largest producer and consumer of this poultry dish in Europe!

You can find all these delicacies at French restaurants, traiteurs, and markets during December. This time of year also brings the excitement of holiday markets where you can buy goods from local artisans and treats from local bakers. Parisian holiday markets are a time-honored tradition that dates back centuries.

Bûche de Noël (Yule log cake)

Don't forget to try some French treats for Christmas, especially if you're a fan of sweets and pastries! You can find many cakes, chocolates, and other desserts that are associated with this holiday in France. Don't miss the possibility of trying a Bûche de Noël (Yule log cake) that comes in so many shapes and sizes these days! If you are in Paris at the end of December (through early January) you will see the Galette des Rois in preparation for Epiphany.

Paris weather in December is chilly and lots of festive food.


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Clementines are in season in Paris in December

What you will find in season and in restaurants in December:

  • Fruits in season: clementines, lemons, limes, guava, kiwi, pomelos, lychee, passion fruit, pears, pineapple, apples, chestnuts, and hazelnuts.
  • Vegetables in season: carrots, watercress, lentils, endive, Jerusalem artichokes, Brussel sprouts, celery, cabbages, beets, squash, pumpkin, salsifis, mâche, cèpe and chantrelle mushrooms, turnips, and parsnips.
  • Seafood is in season: scallops (important for French Christmas meals), sea bream (dorade or daurade), bass (bar), and oysters (another French Christmas staple) .
  • Did you know that there are seasonal cheeses (fromages)? It’s true! Try Beaufort (made from Tarine and Abondance cow's milk), Cantal (cow's milk, 3 types: Jeune (young), Entre-deux (mid) or Vieux (old)) and Pélardon (goat’s milk from 5 regions: Gard, Lozère, Hérault, Tarn and Aude).

The winter months in Paris are cold and dark, but this time of year brings even more excitement to the city that never sleeps. If you can put down your fork long enough to go outside, you'll find yourself walking through the streets of Paris wrapped up against the chilly wind inside a warm cocoon created by the city's festive decorations and holiday cheer.

Do not forget the drinks! It is a great time of the year for chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and vin chaud (mulled wine or hot wine). One of the best places to get vin chaud is at any of the wonderful Paris Christmas markets (Marché de Noël).

Hot chocolate in Paris

December is a great time to visit Paris for those who enjoy the winter season. A trip here during the month of December will give you an authentic taste of French culture and cuisine.

Save on food costs by visiting the local markets and shops.

Paris restaurants can be expensive, and while it’s worth splurging on one good meal, you don’t want to blow your entire travel budget just on food. Luckily, you can find a lot of treats at the local markets (here's the etiquette). You can also ask the hotel staff or locals to recommend small cafes and bistros that they go to. This may save you from “tourist rates” and will definitely have good food.

Paris in December

Important tips to remember

A trip to Paris is wonderful but there are some tips to make it even better. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Sunrise and sunset shooting are a really good idea in Paris and in December the short days and reduced daylight hours mean that those mornings aren't so brutal nor those evenings so late!
  • You will want to maximize each of your precious minutes of daylight. The average length of the day is short so have a plan for where you want to go each day. Use my arrondissement guide to help you figure out what your possibilities are in each of the areas you visit.
  • The Eiffel Tower is generally open from 9:30 am to 11:45 pm and around the holidays days, there are extended hours. Be sure to catch the holiday lighting!
  • If you are planning to have your Christmas meal in Paris, please note that the French have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day!
  • Although Notre Dame Cathedral is closed, there are plenty of cathedrals that you can visit to see the holiday decorations, a choral show or other special events, and of course, Christmas mass.

The Weather in Paris in December

Paris in the Rain

Paris weather in December

Weather patterns these past few years are very unpredictable, so I want to share the averages and then what we have seen in the last few years. (I used World Weather Info as my source of information.)

Weather in December in Paris:

  • The temperatures in December in Paris: It can get low temperatures as low as 45 degrees F (7 C) and a high temperature as high as 49 degrees F (9 C).
  • Sunrise and Sunset: You can expect sunrise at around 8:30 – 8:40 AM and sunset at 4:50 – 5 PM.
  • Rain: December is the most rainy month, so pack an umbrella or raincoat.
  • Snow: A small chance of snow but it melts soon after hitting the ground.
Temperature°F°C
Average Daytime Temperature499
Average Nighttime Temperature457
Days of Rainfall
(From light rain or drizzle to a storm)
6
Temperature°F°C
Average Daytime Temperature436
Average Nighttime Temperature415
Days of Rainfall
(From light rain or drizzle to a storm)
5
Temperature°F°C
Average Daytime Temperature478
Average Nighttime Temperature457
Days of Rainfall
(From light rain or drizzle to a storm)
7

Be prepared for cold weather! December weather in Paris is winter weather! The average temperatures in the daytime are a high of mid-40s °F. You will get a few warmer afternoons, but in early December, the max you are going to reach is about about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. At night and in the morning, the average temperature tends to hover around 30 °F. However, on occasion, they can dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit! It is rainy or icy but rarely snows.

What to Pack

I'm sure that packing for a trip to Paris in December seems daunting, but it's not that difficult. It's important to remember when you are packing for Paris in the winter, it's going to be cold, so make sure you pack warm clothes and bring layers like sweaters and scarves!

Make sure to plan ahead when you are packing for your stay in Paris with little difficulty.

Packing for Paris in December

Here are some tips on how to pack light:

  • Pack clothes according to their needs.
  • Plan your outfits before packing and dress in layers instead of packing complete outfits.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
  • Wear your heaviest items on the plane.
  • You are probably going to have some rainy days, so bring an umbrella, which you can use to protect yourself from the rain and snow.
  • Wear a scarf for warmth. Scarves also help diversify your outfits, giving you a different look when you are wearing the same outwear day in and day out!
  • Warm hat too!
  • You'll have to think about the types of bags you'll want in Paris too.

December in Paris is magical, with the city adorned with holiday lights and bustling Christmas markets. The weather is cold and often damp, and the possibility of snow adds to the festive atmosphere. Packing for December means preparing for the cold and fully embracing the holiday spirit. Here’s what you’ll need for a festive and cozy stay in Paris.

  • Thermal layers: Start with a good base layer to keep warm.
  • Heavy coat: A down coat or a stylish wool coat is essential.
  • Warm trousers and jeans: Choose thicker fabrics for extra warmth.
  • Holiday attire: Bring a festive outfit or two for holiday dinners and celebrations.
  • Warm accessories: A scarf, gloves, and a hat are must-haves for the cold.

Check out these posts for a full list of what to pack for Paris in the fall and winter.

The festive season in Paris, with its chilly air and holiday cheer, requires footwear that’s both practical and festive.

  • Waterproof, insulated boots: For snowy or rainy days.
  • Comfortable, warm walking shoes: Essential for exploring Christmas markets and the city’s decorations.
  • Stylish dress shoes: For holiday parties and nice dinners, choose shoes that offer both style and warmth.

December’s festive activities and chilly weather call for bags that are versatile for day-to-night transitions and can carry your warm accessories.

  • Large, waterproof tote: Ideal for daytime explorations and market visits.
  • Secure, stylish cross-body bag: Keeps your valuables safe during crowded holiday events.
  • Chic evening clutch: Perfect for carrying your essentials to holiday gatherings and performances.

Following these simple guidelines, you will be able to pack for a trip to Paris in December with little difficulty!

Read more suggestions in my What to Wear in Paris: Tips for Packing for Paris in the Winter (+ Packing List!) post. I have a free printable packing list for winter in Paris.

Is December the best time to visit Paris?

Paris is popular all year round, it is one of the reasons why I have written this series. I try to detail the best (and worst) parts of Paris every month throughout the year.

Paris in December is enchanting. During this festive season, Parisians take advantage of the city’s holiday markets and enjoy the beautifully decorated parks with twinkled lights and Christmas trees, and people young and old make their way through the streets wearing colorful scarves, buttoned-up coats, and winter hats.

That French joie de vivre shines bright during the holiday season and you should consider planning a trip during this month!

PARIS IN:  Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec

Have you ever visited Paris in December? What was your experience? Did you go to any events? Do share!

AUTHOR BIO

Andi Fisher

I am married to a French man, lived in France for 3 years, and have been to Paris more than 50 times. I am always a tourist so the information, tip, and tricks I share are created to help you!

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Paris in December eiffel towerParis in December tree and eiffel towerParis in December
Tips
  • Flights
    • Look for fares using sites like Skyscanner or Expedia.com
    • For France (Paris) coming from the West Coast, I typically fly Air France or United. From the East Coast, I typically fly Air France or Delta.
    • If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. Not only will you have a spot to relax before your flight and charge your devices, but you can eat and drink for free (without paying crazy airport prices!)
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
    • For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. When traveling in Europe, I use AutoEurope to make reservations. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. I typically book with Sixt.
    • For transportation from the CDG airport to anywhere within Paris, consider pre-booking with Get Transfer. It is one way to be stress-free and you can request an English-speaking driver.
  • Tours + Atractions
    • I book tours with companies like Viator and GetYourGuide. Both have a wide variety of activities for every travel style. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
    • If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City.
    • Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities.
    • If you are looking to buy tickets to attractions, check out Tiquet.
  • Don't Forget Travel Photos
    • One of my favorite things to do is to get photos taken of me while on vacation. Flytographer is a great option with photographers all over the world.
  • Peace of Mind
    • It’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. I always travel with insurance and would recommend SafetyWingSquareMouth or Travelex Insurance are good options.
    • Should you have any trouble with flight delays to the extent you feel you deserve compensation, I encourage you to check out and use AirHelp. I used them and for 1 claim I got compensated (transparency: a 2nd claim did not, but I was still glad I tried!).
  • Planning

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17 Comments

  1. Tara Pittman says:

    This would be a magical time to visit. Paris sounds so picture-perfect in December.

  2. MELANIE EDJOURIAN says:

    It must be quite magical to visit Paris in December with all the decorations. I’d love to go to the markets.

  3. Amber Myers says:

    I imagine it would be magical in Paris in December. I would love to be able to visit then.

  4. Yes, we have been to Paris in December. We’ve been in summer, too. Have to say December was the favorite. Christmas time in Paris is different from the States, beautiful, more subdued in my opinion. A favorite was a visit to Sacre-Coeur. The Nuns we’re doing Vespers and the Cathedral was modestly decorated. Leaving, on the stairs looking out over the city was quite magical. I’d recommend visiting Paris in December to all! Many wonderful memories!

  5. I would love to see how Paris looks during the holidays, I can imagine it looks magical.

  6. Terri Steffes says:

    Paris anytime is a good idea! I know I would love it at Christmas. It’s my special time of year.

  7. Paris in December sounds wonderful. All the holiday stuff AND the awesome things that make Paris great anytime. Now I have to go.

  8. Monica Simpson says:

    I would never think to travel to Paris in the winter. It sounds amazing! I’d love to hear a Christmas concert in one of the churches.

  9. Richelle Milar says:

    I’m really sure it would be magical in Paris this December. I always wanted to go to Paris with my family.

  10. Rose Ann Sales says:

    This is the place that my kids would always want to go. This would be a magical time to go to Paris!

  11. I would love to visit Paris in December, it looks magical!

  12. Gervin Khan says:

    Wow, these are amazing! I haven’t seen a snow in person and I wonder how it feels. Paris in December looks really nice!

  13. Everything Enchanting says:

    Paris is on my wish list and hope to visit this place in December someday 🙂. Thanks for sharing all the details 😍.

  14. I think Paris beautiful any season, but in December it must be special.

  15. I bet Paris looks magical in December. I certainly would love to go there this time of year.

  16. Paris sounds so lovely and festive during the winter. I have never been there before and it is fun to consider the different times of year.

  17. I would love to explore Paris one day, too! A dream destination for so many!