Paris has long been referred to as both “the City of Love” and “the City of Light.” As a city that’s full of love and light, it may come as no surprise that a visit to Paris during the holiday season is as romantic as it is festive.
Its most iconic landmark, la Tour Eiffel (or the Eiffel Tower in English) is the ultimate place to visit during the winter months, especially around Christmas. So if you’re planning to visit Paris and the Eiffel Tower in winter, there are plenty of festive experiences you can enjoy during this most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas at the Eiffel Tower
The Iron Lady celebrates the Christmas season in the most spectacular way! While there’s something magical and awe-inspiring about seeing the tower at any time of year, it’s especially so around the holidays.
In winter, both the Eiffel Tower and its gardens turn into an enchanting winter wonderland filled with festivities, merriment, lights, and holiday spirit. And it’s something we should all experience at least once in our lives.
Here are a few of the Eiffel Tower festivities I recommend.
1. Eiffel Tower Christmas market
Set along the Champs de Mars, the Eiffel Tower Christmas market is a place where locals and tourists alike can peruse vendor stalls, sample treats at the food stands, and sip on hot mulled wine, all while in the presence of the Eiffel Tower. Visiting this festive Christmas Village is the epitome of a Parisian Christmas. It’s held from early until late December.
Guests at the Christmas market can also go ice skating and, most exciting of all, do so at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. If you happen to be here at night during the holidays, you can also enjoy a special, dazzling light show — but more on Christmas lights in Paris below.
2. Garden of lights at the Eiffel Tower
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Make sure you set aside some time to stroll through the gardens around the Eiffel Tower. The trees will be aglow with lights that make the whole place look like a storybook, and it’s the perfect place for a wintry stroll.
If you need to warm up after your walk, head inside the cozy transparent dome you’ll find at the base of the tower. You can also order some snacks, sweets, and warm beverages at the terrace bar.
3. Santa at the Eiffel Tower
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Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Saint Nick — there are so many names for Santa. In France, he’s called Père Noël, which translates to Father Christmas. When you visit the Eiffel Tower during the holidays, don’t be surprised if you see this jolly old elf walking around.
You can take photos with Père Noël and let him know what present you want for Christmas. It’s a great memory for the whole family, especially the little ones.
4. A festive Eiffel Tower Guided Climb
An Eiffel Tower Guided Climb is the best way to get the most out of your experience at the city’s most enchanting landmark, especially during the holiday season. You’ll be led up to the first and second levels where you can enjoy the exhibits, visit the gift shop, and most importantly, learn all about the tower along the way from your expert guide.
If you choose to visit the Eiffel Tower summit, you’ll be treated to some of the best views of Paris. Just think of all the Christmas lights you’ll be able to view from the top as the City of Light sparkles even more over the holidays.
While the Eiffel Tower is a must-visit attraction in Paris, there are many other wonderful sites you should see around Christmastime.
Where to find Christmas lights in Paris
The City of Lights is the most decked out in lights during the holiday season. Everywhere you go, you’ll see spectacular displays illuminating the streets. As you stroll down the Champs-Élysées, for example, your eyes will be treated to the glow of over a million twinkling lights. You can catch the display along Paris’s most famous avenue between late November and early January.
From the Champs-Élysées, take a detour down Avenue Montaigne, which is also transformed with lights. While this Parisian street isn’t as colorful as the Champs-Élysées, you’ll still enjoy the elegant white lights all around you. It’s truly a special experience!
Be sure to head to the banks of the Seine for the one of the best views in Paris. Here, you can see the Eiffel Tower twinkling after sunset. You can catch the Eiffel Tower light show every hour from dusk until 11:45 p.m.
Looking for more to do in Paris for the holidays?
There are plenty of holiday activities around Paris beyond the lights and the Eiffel Tower. You can see a ballet, even though it may not be the “Nutcracker.” There are several Christmas concerts at cathedrals around Paris. And, of course, you’ll want to pick up something festive from a local pâtisserie — the bûche de Noël is the classic Christmas dessert in France, a large cake shaped like a Swiss roll and coated in hazelnutty chocolate.
But if you don’t have time to do everything, here are my top three things to do in Paris for Christmas besides the lights and the Eiffel Tower.
1. Shopping in Paris
If you enjoy shopping, then you will love shopping during the holiday season in Paris. Find a one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone (or yourself) at one of the many department stores, shops, or boutiques around the city.
Tip: If you’re looking for discounts, the word to keep an eye out for is “soldes,” which means “sales,” and is often posted outside stores in bold, large letters.
2. Christmas window displays
As you shop, don’t miss the cheerful window displays at department stores like Galeries Lafayette, the Printemps store on Boulevard Haussmann, and Bon Marché. The over-the-top Christmas windows are absolutely delightful.
Even if you’re not much of a shopper, it’s worth checking out the Paris window displays at Christmas — this is very much a “bucket list” holiday activity in Paris. Best of all, it’s free!
3. Christmas markets (Marchés de Noël) in Paris
No trip to Europe during the holiday season isn’t complete without a visit to a Christmas market, and that is especially true for Paris. Sip some mulled wine, get a few fresh roasted chestnuts (they’re really popular here), and browse among the many stalls. Each is festively decorated, and you’ll find unique items you won’t find anywhere else.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some of the best Christmas markets in Paris:
- Marché de Noël Paris Notre Dame
- Abbesses Christmas Market at Montmartre
- La Defense Christmas Market
- Tuileries Garden Christmas Market
- Christmas Market on Place de La Bastille
How to prepare for winter weather in Paris
While planning what to pack for your trip to Paris in the winter, you’ll want to bring plenty of layers as well as hats, gloves, boots, and a warm jacket. Additionally, consider packing an umbrella for any rainy winter days, or you may need to buy one here.
The average temperatures in Paris can range between 36 degrees Fahrenheit as a low and 46 degrees Fahrenheit as a high during the winter months. The chilly air can be a bit uncomfortable to walk in, especially on a windy or rainy day.
If you’re climbing the Eiffel Tower in winter (or taking the elevator up), remember that it’s colder the higher you go, and there’s wind up there, too. Please check the weather forecast, and bring a jacket to stay bundled up.
We have more tips for visiting the Eiffel Tower in winter — and in spring, summer, and fall — in our guide to visiting the Eiffel Tower in every season.
Is the Eiffel Tower at Christmas worth it? Yes!
Despite the possibilities of colder temperatures during your visit, Paris is one of the best cities to explore during the winter months, and spending the holidays here, with the Eiffel Tower glowing and chestnuts roasting, will be as festive and romantic as you could ever imagine.
Have you ever wondered how the tower gets its lights for Christmas and other occasions? Check out our behind-the-scenes story on how the Eiffel Tower is lit for special events.