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The Best Things to Do in Paris in December 2023

Eiffel tower in december

Paris is a city that evokes feelings of love, culture, and beauty. It’s a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime, and what better time to experience the city’s magic than in December? Paris in December 2023 is an enchanting experience that captures the essence of the holiday season. From the sparkling Christmas lights to the cozy cafes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy (or frown upon) :P.

In this article, we will explore the best things to do and see in Paris in December in 2023 and beyond.

when is the best time to visit Paris

Some personal tips for your Paris trip in December

  • Dress warmly with a heavy coat, gloves, scarf, and waterproof shoes to stay dry in case of snow or rain.
  • Visit indoor attractions such as museums, galleries, and other indoor attractions, and consider purchasing a Paris Museum Pass for access to multiple attractions.
  • Experience holiday festivities, including Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées and holiday markets with seasonal treats and gifts.
  • Warm up with hearty French cuisine like fondue, raclette, and cassoulet at cozy restaurants.
  • Attend winter events, such as the Festival du Merveilleux, the Salon de la Gastronomie, and the Festival d’Automne. Check local listings for other events happening during your visit.
  • Take advantage of shorter lines at popular attractions like the Louvre or Eiffel Tower during the off-peak season.
  • Enjoy winter sports like ice skating at the Patinoire de l’Hôtel de Ville or sledding at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
  • Stay cozy indoors at one of Paris’ many cozy cafes and bars with fireplaces and comfortable seating to relax after a day of sightseeing.
  • You wanna blend in? Dress well, like a Parisian. Not Emily.

Skip the line and buy your tickets online. Here are some personal recommendations

For solo traveler: Agate
  • Location: Nation/Bastille district of Paris
  • Proximity to: Metro station Nation
  • Transport: Direct access to main tourist sites
  • Recommended for: Solo travelers (rated 8.9 for one-person stay)
For Couples: Hotel Elysees Opera
  • Location: Chic 8th district in Paris
  • Nearby transportation: Rome Metro Station (350m) provides access to Moulin Rouge
  • Nearby attraction: Monceau Park (15-minute walk)
  • Guest preference: Couples rated the location 8.8 for a two-person trip.
For Families: Hôtel Rosalie
  • Location: Gobelins district
  • Nearby attractions: Place d’Italie Metro Station (121m), Rue Mouffetard (0.6mi) with restaurants and market stalls, Paris’s main Asian quarter, Cité de la Mode et du Design, French National Library, Butte-aux-Cailles area, Street Art murals
  • Guest preference: Families rated the location 8.8 for a stay with kids.

What’s the weather like in Paris in December

In December, Paris experiences the winter season, and the weather is generally cold and crisp. The average temperature during the day is around 7°C (45°F), while at night it drops to around 3°C (37°F). However, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to drop below freezing, especially at night, so it’s important to dress in warm layers and bring a coat, scarf, and gloves to stay comfortable. Paris also receives a fair amount of rainfall in December, with an average of 18 rainy days throughout the month. This means that it’s important to be prepared with appropriate footwear and rain gear, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. Despite the cold and wet weather, Paris is still a magical place to visit in December, with plenty of holiday decorations and events to enjoy.

The Best Things to Do in Paris in December

Visit the Eiffel Tower at Night

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris, and visiting it during December is a must. The tower is illuminated with sparkling lights, and there’s a festive atmosphere in the air. 

You can take a lift to the top of the tower for a stunning view of the city at night. The view from the top is especially magical during the winter months, as the twinkling lights of the city are even more enchanting.

Experience the Parisian skyline from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica 

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a breathtaking landmark located on the hill of Montmartre in Paris. Built between 1875 and 1914, the basilica features a stunning white exterior with domes and towers that offer panoramic views of the city. 

things to do in paris in december

Visitors can climb the dome for an even better view or explore the interior of the basilica, which is adorned with beautiful mosaics and stained glass windows. The Sacré-Cœur is also a popular destination for its peaceful gardens and nearby quaint streets of Montmartre that offer a unique Parisian experience with an artistic and bohemian atmosphere. 

The basilica’s timeless beauty and rich history make it a must-visit destination for any traveler to Paris. You don’t really have to climb up the dome. Seeing the facade and seeing the Parisian skyline is one of the many free things to do in Paris, anytime of the year. 

Visit some of the best English bookstores in Paris

If it’s your first time on BWAB. Hi, I’m Jona, a serial tsundoku—the phenomenon of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them. I often include libraries and bookstore visits on my trips. 

That being said, Paris is home to some of the most beautiful and charming bookstores in the world, including several dedicated to English-language books. One such store is Shakespeare and Company, a legendary shop located in the heart of the Latin Quarter. 

shakespeare and co in paris

This cozy bookstore has been a popular destination for book lovers since it opened in 1951 and is known for its impressive collection of English-language literature, as well as its welcoming atmosphere and eclectic events. 

Another popular English bookstore is The Abbey Bookshop, which has been in business since 1989 and boasts a wide selection of new and used books, as well as a knowledgeable and friendly staff. 

Whether you’re an avid reader or just love the cozy atmosphere of bookstores, these English bookshops are not to be missed while in Paris.

Be awed by Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) | Richelieu

France’s National Library is an absolute must-see destination. The architecture and design of the building and reading rooms are breathtakingly beautiful. 

As a tourist, you can take in the stunning views and capture photos and videos of the reading rooms from the perimeter just inside the security cordon. 

the best of paris libraries

However, if you want to access the reading rooms for research purposes, you need a library card and a valid reason. Nevertheless, it’s still worth stopping by to catch a glimpse of this magnificent place.

Explore the Christmas markets

Paris is famous for its Christmas markets, and they’re a must-visit if you’re in the city during December. 

The markets are filled with charming wooden stalls selling all kinds of festive treats, from hot chocolate and mulled wine to handmade ornaments and gifts. 

christmas market in paris

You’ll find Christmas markets all over the city, but some of the most popular ones are the Champs-Elysées Christmas market, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés market, and the Montmartre Christmas market.

Stroll through Jardin Tuileries

In December, Jardin Tuileries in Paris transforms into a winter wonderland, with festive decorations, holiday lights, and a charming Christmas market. As you stroll through the garden’s tree-lined paths, you’ll feel the crisp winter air on your face and the warm glow of the holiday season all around you.

 Jardin Tuileries in Paris in December 2023

Stop by one of the market stalls for some hot mulled wine or a delicious crepe, and admire the intricate ice sculptures and dazzling light displays. With the iconic Eiffel Tower visible in the distance, Jardin Tuileries is the perfect place to experience the magic of Paris in the winter.

Embark on a delightful journey through the heart of Paris with a 1-hour River Seine cruise.

Relax and unwind as you take in the breathtaking views of the city’s iconic sights, including the majestic Eiffel Tower and the stunning Notre Dame cathedral. With comfortable seating and panoramic windows, you can admire the breathtaking cityscape from the comfort of your seat.

river cruise in Seine river in paris

Listen to fascinating commentary through an audioguide, available in multiple languages, and learn about the rich history and culture of Paris. Marvel at the picturesque scenery and capture stunning photos of the city’s landmarks as you glide along the serene waters of the River Seine. This is the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of Paris at a leisurely pace, and create unforgettable memories.

Enjoy the lights of the Champs-Elysées

The Champs-Elysées is one of the most famous avenues in the world. During December, it’s transformed into a winter wonderland. 

things to do in paris in december 2023

The avenue is adorned with thousands of sparkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic stroll. 

You’ll also find plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes along the way, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening.

Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris, and although it was damaged in a fire in 2019, you can still visit the exterior of the cathedral. 

when is the best time to visit paris

During December, the cathedral is illuminated with festive lights, making it an even more breathtaking sight. If you’re lucky, you might even hear a choir singing Christmas carols.

Hunt Down Cute Parisian Doors

This was really just a fun project during our walking tours. A segue if you may. Paris, just like most European cities, is a paradise for architecture lovers. It’s home to some of the works of popular architects.

free things to do in paris in december 2023

But, if you’re a kid and just want to break away from the usual things to do in Paris, I highly recommend coming up with your personal project. This was mine, captured by a friend.

Warm up with hot chocolate

Paris is famous for its hot chocolate, and there’s no better time to indulge in this decadent treat than during December. 

You’ll find plenty of cafes and patisseries serving up rich and creamy hot chocolate, and many of them even offer special holiday flavors like gingerbread or peppermint.

Take a stroll along the Seine

The Seine River is one of the most beautiful sights in Paris, and taking a stroll along the river during December is a wonderful experience.

paris in december

 The riverbanks are lined with twinkling lights, and you’ll see many Parisians enjoying the festive atmosphere. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat tour along the Seine to see the city from a different perspective.

Visit the Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world, and during December, it’s a great place to escape the cold. 

what to do in paris in december

The museum is home to some of the most famous works of art in history, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. 

You can easily spend an entire day exploring the museum, and it’s a great way to learn more about the rich history and culture of Paris.

Visit the Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is located just outside of Paris, and it’s a must-visit if you’re in the city during December. 

The palace was once the home of the French monarchy, and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During December, the palace is adorned with Christmas decorations, and there’s a special holiday market on the palace grounds. 

You can also take a tour of the palace’s stunning gardens, which are just as beautiful in the winter as they are in the summer.

Enjoy a festive dinner

Paris is famous for its cuisine, and there’s no better time to indulge in a festive meal than during December. 

dining out in paris
Hanoi x Cebu x Paris

Many restaurants in the city offer special holiday menus, featuring classic French dishes with a festive twist. You can enjoy everything from roast goose to truffle-stuffed turkey, all accompanied by a glass of French wine.

Walk around Paris without a fixed destination in mind

Walking aimlessly around Paris can be a delightful way to explore the city’s many treasures. With its grand architecture, picturesque neighborhoods, and charming cafes, there is always something new and exciting to discover.

things to do in paris

Stroll through the bustling streets of the Marais, wander along the Seine river, or lose yourself in the winding alleys of Montmartre. Take a break to enjoy a croissant or a cup of coffee at a local cafe or browse the wares at a charming boutique.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, walking without a set plan can lead to unexpected surprises and unforgettable memories in the City of Light.

Attend a holiday concert

Paris is home to some of the most famous concert halls in the world, and during December, many of them offer holiday concerts. 

You can attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées or listen to traditional French carols at the Opéra Garnier.

Attending a holiday concert is a great way to experience Parisian culture and get into the festive spirit.

Have your photo taken at Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III is one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris, located in the heart of the city. It is famous for its stunning Art Nouveau design, with intricate sculptures and decorations that pay tribute to the Franco-Russian Alliance, which was signed in 1892. 

what to do in Paris in December

The bridge spans across the Seine River, connecting the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower. Its ornate golden statues and lamps provide a luxurious and romantic backdrop for walks, picnics, and photos. 

The bridge also offers stunning views of the river and the city, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler to Paris.

Shop for gifts

Paris is a shopper’s paradise, and during December, there’s no shortage of places to find unique gifts for your loved ones. 

You can browse the boutiques along the Rue Saint-Honoré or visit the Galeries Lafayette department store, which is beautifully decorated for the holidays. 

You’ll find everything from designer clothing to artisanal chocolates, and there’s something for every budget.

Experience Festival du Merveilleux 

Festival du Merveilleux, translated to the Festival of Wonders, is an annual festival held in Paris in the winter. The festival is a celebration of magic, circus arts, and variety shows, offering a unique and enchanting experience to visitors of all ages. 

Attendees can expect to see spectacular performances by magicians, acrobats, jugglers, and other circus artists from around the world, as well as a variety of interactive exhibits and workshops. 

The festival is held in the Musée des Arts Forains, a museum of fairground arts, which provides a perfect backdrop to the whimsical and surreal performances of the Festival du Merveilleux. It’s a must-visit destination for those who want to add a touch of magic to their Parisian winter adventure.

Discover Paris at your own leisurely pace with the Tootbus Hop-on Hop-off Discovery Bus Tour

With a choice of 1, 2, or 3-day open-top bus tour tickets, you can explore the City of Lights on your terms. This flexible tour allows you to visit the landmarks and attractions that interest you most, with the freedom to get on and off the bus as you please.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with family or friends, the Tootbus tour offers an audio guide for adults and children, providing insightful commentary on Paris’s history and culture as you journey through the city. From the comfort of the bus, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Paris’s famous monuments and landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe.

things to do in paris

The Tootbus tour includes stops at all the must-see attractions and popular landmarks, making it easy for you to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, from the charming Montmartre to the elegant Champs-Élysées. With buses running regularly throughout the day, you can hop on and off as often as you like, creating your own itinerary and experiencing Paris at your own pace.

Explore the cute cafes exploding around the city

Paris is known for its charming cafes, and some of the most Instagrammable ones can be found tucked away in quaint corners of the city. One such cafe is Cafe Kitsuné, a tiny coffee shop in the gardens of the Palais-Royal that boasts a minimalist aesthetic and serves delicious Japanese-inspired drinks.

cute cafes in paris

Another hidden gem is La Fontaine de Belleville, a retro-style cafe in the trendy Belleville neighborhood that serves artisanal coffee and pastries. For those seeking a more whimsical experience, the enchanting Ladurée tea room is a must-visit, with its pastel-colored decor and delectable macarons.

These cafes are just a few of the many charming spots in Paris that are perfect for a cozy afternoon of sipping coffee and indulging in French pastries.

Gorge at Salon de la Gastronomie

Salon de la Gastronomie is an annual food and wine expo held in Paris, attracting thousands of food lovers from around the world. The 2023 edition of Salon de la Gastronomie promises to be a gastronomic feast with a wide range of food and drink options available for sampling and purchase.

Visitors can expect to see and taste a diverse selection of French and international foods, wines, spirits, cheeses, and other culinary delights. The event provides a unique opportunity to meet and interact with renowned chefs, producers, and artisans, and attend workshops and tastings led by food and wine experts.

The Salon de la Gastronomie 2023 is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to indulge in the world of food and drink.

Attend a New Year’s Eve celebration

If you’re in Paris for New Year’s Eve, you’re in for a treat. The city puts on a spectacular fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower, and there are parties and celebrations all over the city. 

You can attend a gala at the Opéra Garnier or dance the night away at a club in the Marais. Whatever you choose to do, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Paris is an unforgettable experience.

In conclusion, Paris in December is a magical experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. From the sparkling Christmas lights to the cozy cafes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Whether you’re exploring the Christmas markets, taking a stroll along the Seine, or attending a holiday concert, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime. So, pack your warmest coat and head to the City of Light for an unforgettable holiday season.

A little appeal to my readers. It takes time to create these resources. These affiliates share a teeny weeny portion of their margins with me. No, you don’t pay extra at all. If in any way BWAB helps you in planning your trips, do consider using any of my links. That would make this website live a little longer. One booking at a time. Explore our affiliate shop. Or if you are particularly generous, consider tipping me.

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Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com. For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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1 Comment

  1. […] to me and only traveled there in December 2022 to meet some dearly missed friends. Traveling to Paris in December has its own charms and pitfalls. I would love to visit the city of light (and endless uncollected […]

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