Christmas in Paris

Celebrating Christmas 2016 in Paris can be a truly magical Christmas vacation. This divine European capital ushers in the holiday season with considerable grace, its many fine boulevards and districts either lined with Christmas trees or adorned with a multitude of Christmas decorations. The department store district is among the best places to enjoy holiday displays of varying kinds, and visitors won't want to miss the elaborate tree on the main Notre Dame Cathedral plaza. These are just some of the highlights when it comes to spending Christmas 2016 in Paris, and you won't want for variety when it comes to all the other terrific options.

Paris Christmas
Paris Christmas  Image: Paris Tourist Office/Jacques Lebar

In late November, Paris starts transforming itself into a winter wonderland. Along the famed boulevard that is the Champs Elysees, immaculate lights displays signal that Christmas Day is fast approaching, and it's not uncommon to see other boulevards lined with Christmas trees and holiday displays of all kinds. Before all of this happens, the department stores along the Boulevard Hausmann have already set up their elaborate holiday window displays and put their holiday lights on. The overall beauty of Paris is spectacular at any time of year, though it might just be at its most sublime when all the holiday decorations are in place.

While spending Christmas in Paris, venturing over to the Notre Dame Cathedral at some point is essentially a must. Visitors to this endearing edifice can admire the large Christmas tree in the main plaza, and should time allow, they can also hope to catch a sound and light show inside the nave. From December 1 to December 31, these sound and light shows aim to tell the nativity story, and you don't have to pay anything to enjoy one. Show times begin approximately every half hour.

Visiting one or more Paris Christmas markets is a very popular thing to do in France once the holiday season rolls around. The markets, which have their roots in the Alsace region, feature wooden chalets that sell all kinds of delicious treats, as well as a wide range of clothing, handicrafts, and gift items. The largest of the Paris Christmas markets is the market on Champs Elysees. This certainly isn't the only one worth visiting, however. There are many to choose from, including the Christmas market that can be found at Disneyland Paris. Coincidentally, Disneyland Paris puts on quite the Christmas parade, and all season long, the resort and amusement park offers impressive decorations and displays, not to mention a variety of special dining experiences.

Whether you are traveling alone, with that someone special, with a group of friends, or with the family, there will be many tempting options for things to do when it's Christmas in Paris. Among the highlights on Christmas Day itself is visiting the famed Eiffel Tower. You can actually climb the Eiffel Tower on Christmas Day, as unlike many other Paris attractions, it remains open. Enjoying a rewarding dining experience at one of the city's many divine restaurants is also a popular pursuit, however, reservations will most likely be needed, especially at the more renowned eateries. Concierges at hotels can help you set up reservations if you need help.

As a side note, it is possible to book a Christmas in Paris tour if you don't want to go it alone. These kinds of tours generally last for a few days and include a variety of rewarding things, such as a multi-course Christmas dinner, relaxing boat ride down the River Seine, and a guided side trip to Versailles. They also tend to include a room at one of the Paris hotels and ground transportation, thus leaving the traveler with little to worry about in terms of the planning process.

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