Paris Travel Planner   Christmas Day in Paris
Although many places are closed on Christmas day, there are plenty that are open and lots of fun to be had!

 Tour St-Jacques, Paris
Above, Tour St-Jacques, seen from the Centre Pompidou, late afternoon on Christmas day.


 

 

We spent a wonderful Christmas in Paris in 2015, blessed with warm, mostly dry weather and plenty of things to see and do. We enjoyed the many Christmas lights, the Christmas markets, and the wonderfully decorated department stores. We heard lovely music at the Église de la Madeleine, and heard the big bell of Notre-Dame.

We wondered what would be open on Christmas day, and were pleasantly surprised to find there was lots to do. First of all, this being France, the best bakeries and charcuteries and seafood shops were all open in the morning, so that you could pick up some gourmet items for your Christmas dinner, some fresh baguettes, and of course your Bûche de Nöel, or Yule log cake.

I started the day with a visit to one of our favorite patisseries, Gérard Mulot, near Saint-Sulpice church. I had ordered a Bûche de Nöel in advance, and I wasn't alone. In fact, they had set up a huge covered tent next to the bakery just for people picking up their bûches!

Fortified with that, some bread, a delicious leek tart, and some salads, I headed back to Rue Mouffetard to pick up some fresh shrimp and smoked salmon. Add some champagne, and we were set for Christmas dinner!

But on a beautiful Christmas day, we wanted to go out. And we also wanted to make the best use of our four-day Paris Museum Passes. We found that the Institut du Monde Arabe was open, so we spent some time there (including a good lunch in their cafeteria and wonderful views from the roof top terrace). We then ventured to the Pompidou Center, also open on Christmas. In addition to enjoying the Center's wonderful modern art collections, we were able to enjoy some lovely views of Paris as the sun set.

Then it was off to Notre-Dame de Paris, to hear Emmanuel, the big bell. It is rung on special occasions like Christmas, and we were there on the parvis to hear it at 5:30—along with a lot of other people. Be aware that there is a security check to get onto the parvis, but it's wonderful to see the cathedral lit up and to hear the bells.

Although many restaurants are closed on Christmas day, there were enough cafés open so you could enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate. There are quite a few places open in the Marais.

The Eiffel Tower is also open on Christmas, if you want a memorable Christmas view. For the kids, some of Paris's many carousels (called manèges) are not only open, but they're free!

If you want a little adventure, weather permitting, you can take a boat ride on the Seine, and wave to all the merry makers on the various bridges you'll pass under.

And if you want a more contemplative experience, you can stroll in one of the famous Paris cemeteries, or visit some of the beautiful parks and gardens. Even on Christmas the Jardin des Plantes still had colorful poppies and other flowers.

And of course, Paris is a wonderful walking city, and you can spend a lot of time exploring neighborhoods, enjoying the architecture and historic monuments.


What to See & Do in Paris

Christmas in Paris

Christmas Lights in Paris

Christmas Markets

Department Stores at Christmas

Churches at Christmas

Best Itineraries & Tours

Where to Stay in Paris

Paris Restaurants

Paris Transportation

Finding Your Way in Paris

 

Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan

 

  Buches de Noel, Paris

Above, Yum! A tempting display of Bûches de Nöel (and some other tasty tarts).


Below, Notre-Dame Cathedral on Christmas, in the late afternoon waiting for the big bell, Emmanuel, to be rung.

Notre-Dame at Christmas, Paris

 

 

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