8 good reasons to visit Paris in winter

While the image of Paris is often associated with sunny café terraces and strolls along the Seine, winter reveals an equally enchanting side to the French capital. The streets are decorated with twinkling lights, the Christmas markets create a warm atmosphere and Parisian cafés are the place to go for a hot chocolate. From the spectacular illumination of the Champs-Élysées to the enchantment of the department stores, the City of Light has never lived up to its name. So if you needed one good reason to visit Paris in winter, here are at least eight!

#1 Lighting up the streets of Paris

Paris is lit up in winter and the architecture of Haussmann meets the Christmas spirit.

  • The Champs Élysées: a must see in Paris. Every year, from November to January, the most beautiful avenue in the world is lit up. Lily-Rose Depp, Jean Dujardin and Tahar Rahim have all had the honour of flicking the famous switch to start the festivities.

  • Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré: every year, a gilded shop window decorates this upmarket Parisian promenade.

  • Christmas Montaigne (External link) : From the Champs-Élysées to the Place de l'Alma, winter in Paris has never been so chic. Luxury homes are decked out in thousands of lights and even offer creative workshops.

  • Bercy Village (External link) : Whoa! More lights! The Cour Saint-Émilion is all lit up and all that's missing is Santa Claus. Happy shopping!

#2 The magical windows of department stores

It's THE place to be for children (and nostalgic parents). It's been a must for every self-respecting Parisian since 1909. Nestled in a themed decor (enchanted forest, XXL gifts, sparkling Christmas, etc.), the toys come to life and the eyes light up.

  • Les Galeries Lafayette (External link) : undoubtedly the best-known department stores' in the world. And the most famous Christmas windows too. You can't spend a winter in Paris without visiting the "Galeries" windows.

  • Le Printemps (External link) : here too, automatic toys are famous and popular. And just as well, Le Printemps Haussmann is next door to the Galeries. So you can move from one magical setting to another, and off you go! Under the dome, don't miss the traditional (and gigantic) Christmas tree, which gets more fantastic every year.

  • Le BHV Marais (External link) : the famous bazaar has also started decorating its windows for Christmas. So much the better, it's one more address to feast your eyes on. Look up, the lights are twinkling under the canopy!

  • La Samaritaine (External link) : back with us after years of absence, the sublime art deco building seems as if it were designed to celebrate Christmas. Let yourself be transported by its magical window displays, and don't forget to push open the door. The magic continues inside.

  • Le Bon Marché (External link) : when it comes to festivities, the Left Bank is not to be forgotten. In front of Le Bon Marché, too, children have stars in their eyes.

#3 A good hot chocolate

#4 Festivals of light

For the past few years, Paris in Winter has been offering fun (or romantic, if you prefer) walks. What's on offer? Light installations to discover at dusk in some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Paris.

  • Jardin d'Acclimatation (External link) : the famous park in the Bois de Boulogne is hosting a festival of lights this Christmas. An evening stroll for young and old.

  • Jardin des Plantes (External link) : when night falls, plants aren't what you think! An illuminated walk with different themes: tiny animals, tropical forest fauna and flora.

  • Parc de la Villette (External link) : the city also lights up. We're particularly excited about "Lumières!", an ecological and magical event about new ways of producing electricity.

  • In the Parc Floral (External link) : the worst-kept secret in the Bois de Vincennes is the illuminated walk offered by the Parc Floral. We loved "L'Odyssée lumineuse" and its enchanting fauna, all dressed in coloured light.

#5 Christmas markets

For a cosy winter in Paris, there's nothing like a stroll through the Christmas markets.

#6 Funfairs and amusement parks

What to do with kids in Paris? A merry-go-round! And you're spoilt for choice.

  • Le Festival du Merveilleux (External link) : without doubt the most magical winter event in Paris. Every year, the Musée des Arts Forains presents a must-see event. Shows, centuries-old rides, cotton candy...

  • Les Tuileries: the famous Ferris wheel towers over the French capital and candy apples flirt with waffles. This is where winter takes on a festive air.

  • Disneyland (External link) : hop on the RER and you're in Mickey's kingdom, decked out for the festive season.

  • Parc Astérix (External link) : if you don't want to make anyone jealous, try the fairytale atmosphere of the home of the indomitable Gauls.

#7 Covered passageways

A cool breeze, a few snowflakes? Take refuge in one of Paris's favourite covered passages (External link) .

  • The Galerie Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement. Probably the most beautiful covered passage in Paris.

  • The Passage du Grand-Cerf. Famous for its glass roof.

  • The Colbert Gallery in the 2nd arrondissement. Its rotunda and dome are very popular.

  • The Passage Brady in the 10th arrondissement. For an impromptu trip to India. Here you can have lunch and do some exotic shopping.

#8 Cultural events

Theatre, cinema, concerts? Paris in winter offers a range of festive and cosy cultural events.

  • Take in an opera or ballet at the Opéra Garnier (External link) : feast your eyes on Chagall's frescoes. What more could you ask for?

  • A concert at the Olympia (External link) : shake your hips in Paris' legendary concert hall. Enough to make you forget the cold!

  • A show at the Théâtre Edouard VII (External link) : There's nothing more chic and cosy than the Théâtre Edouard VII. All of Paris gathers there to cheer on (often) French celebrities.

Sustainable travel

The Paris public transport network is practical and efficient. So don't hesitate to get around by bus or metro. Want to feel a few snowflakes on the tip of your nose? Think Vélib'!

Also read:
7 good reasons to travel in France in winter