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Paris in December: Weather, Festivals, & Things to Do

It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is nearly upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by spending a few days in Paris in December, the most romantic city in the world! 

December is the ideal time to visit Paris, as the city is adorned with holiday decorations, and the atmosphere is truly magical.

Paris in December is usually quiet, and the locals are busy doing their Christmas shopping and visiting the temporary exhibitions around the city. 

Towards the middle of December, tourists start converging on Paris, and it starts to get crowded. It does get cold in December, so pack warm clothing.

Whether you’re looking to do some holiday shopping, enjoy the festive atmosphere, or take in the sights, Paris is the perfect destination for a December getaway. Let’s get to it!

Eiffel Tower in a sunny winter day
Paris in December is simply magical!

Why You Must Visit Paris In December

The Christmas season is perhaps the most magical time to visit Paris. The city sparkles with holiday lights, and the atmosphere is filled with festive cheer. 

In December, the weather in Paris is cold but crisp, and the city is bustling with cultural programs for locals and visitors alike.

The city streets are lined with beautiful lights and decorations, and locals are seen diving in and out of cafes and stores. 

At the start of the December period, Paris is occupied with locals, making the rounds, catching up with their Christmas shopping, and visiting the temporary Christmas exhibitions.

As the peak Christmas period arrives toward the middle of December, the city becomes alive with the tourists stopping by for their annual winter break.

If you’re thinking of spending Christmas in Paris, it might be wise to consider a few things. The beginning of December is considered a low season, so Paris is not so busy at that time. However, it is advised to book well to avoid the last-minute Christmas rush.

To avoid further delays and waiting in long lines, you should plan to visit any temporary Christmas exhibitions during working hours when the Parisians are still at work.

It would help to plan your sightseeing and tourist spots for the weekends, and your Christmas shopping and markets on the weekdays, during office hours to avoid the panic and rush from Parisian locals.

The weekdays, especially Thursdays, are occupied by locals as they gather in pubs, cafes, and restaurants with their family, friends, and co-workers. The month of December for Parisians is a time for year-end meetings and business lunches.

If you plan on visiting any particular restaurant in Paris, it is advised to make a booking ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Notre Dame Cathedral on a winter day

Where To Stay In Paris

Paris is by far the most visually attractive city in Europe. The atmosphere, architecture, and charm are unmatched, and the city of Paris is overflowing with charm during the December season.

Whether traveling to Paris with your partner, spouse, family, or alone, you will not be disappointed. The city of Paris has something to bewitch any traveler, from near or far.

When you plan your December vacation to Paris, it will help if you research your hotel accommodation before heading off into the unknown. We have listed below some hotels that might be worth checking when planning your trip to Paris in December.

1. Best Western Au Trocadéro – This hotel in Paris is situated in the 16th arrondissement and is a five-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. The Trocadero Metro Stations is just 50m from the hotel, which gives you direct access to Champs Elysees. If you plan on doing some city sightseeing on foot, then the Arc de Triomphe is only a fifteen-minute walk, and the Musee Chaillot is a five-minute walk from the hotel.

The hotel has a cocktail bar, but if you wish to sample some Parisian cuisine, you might find some restaurants within 500m of the hotel.

Each guestroom is air-conditioned and soundproofed with a private bathroom. A buffet breakfast is served for guests daily, and you can enjoy your breakfast while sitting on the hotel’s patio. A mini-bar with tea and coffee facilities is also available in every room.

Other attractions close to the Best Western hotel include the Baccarat Crystal Museum, the Modern Art Museum, and Musee de l’Homme. The Louvre Museum is approximately 3.7 km away, and Luxembourg Gardens is 4.1 km away. Click here to book!

2. Holiday Inn Paris Gare De I’Est – The hotel is situated opposite Gare de I’Est Train and Metro Station, which provides easy access to all major tourist attractions like Saint-Michel and Latin Quarter. Gare du Nord is also close by and is a brisk 5-minute walk from the hotel.

Some guests might visit the Arts de Metiers Museum, a 20-minute walk away. An American buffet breakfast is served in the mornings in the breakfast room or guest’s rooms. Click to check availability.

3. Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel – The hotel is situated at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It is open all day and features a fitness room and a terrace where you can enjoy your dining at the restaurant. Almost all rooms at this hotel feature a balcony where you can get stunning views of the Eiffel Tower and surrounding gardens. If you plan to sightsee around the Eiffel Tower, you can get there on foot, and it will take you five minutes to reach there.

The Parc des Princes Stadium is a ten-minute drive away. The Bir-Hakeim Metro Station is located 600m from the hotel, providing easy access to the Louvre Museum, Champs Elysees, and Arc de Triomphe. Click here to check availability!

Pullman Hotel
View from Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel Hotel

4. CitizenM Paris Gare Lyon – The hotel is situated in the 12th arrondissement of Paris and offers scenic views of the Seine. It is conveniently located close to Gare de Lyon train station. The hotel has a rooftop bar that provides you with unrestricted views of the city.

Opera Bastille is less than a kilometer away, and Notre Dame Cathedral is 1.3km from the hotel. Both these tourist spots are accessible by foot. The closest airport is Orly Airport which is 13km away, and Charles de Gaulle airport is a half-hour train ride away.

The hotel provides a 24-hour desk, a food, and a beverage area, canteenM. Draft beers, barista-made coffees, and some of the best cocktails in town are at your disposal to make the most of your stay at this hotel.

Furthermore, each room is fitted with a power rain shower, large beds, and iPads that control the various features of the room. A continental breakfast is served for all hotel guests. Click to check availability!

5. hotelF1 Paris Porte de Chatillon – The hotel is located in the 14th arrondissement and is only 4km away from Luxembourg Gardens. Notre Dame Cathedral is 5.7 km away, and the Eiffel Tower is a mere 6.2km away.

The nearest airport, Orly Airport, is 12km from the hotel. If you feel the need for some fine dining, Chez Pierrot, Monteleone, and Creperie Parisienne restaurants are 1.1km and 1.3km away, respectively.

The Louvre Museum and Opera Bastille are within 4.5km away. If you need to get around Paris by train, the nearest train station, Porte d’Orleans Metro Station, is less than a kilometer away, which would give you easy access to the rest of Paris and other tourist attractions. Click here to check availability!

6. Hotel The Peninsula Paris – The hotel is situated 400 meters away from the Arc de Triomphe and offers a rooftop restaurant that provides its guests with 360⁰ unrestricted views of Paris. Parc des Princes Stadium is only fifteen minutes away by car.

All two hundred rooms of this 5-star hotel are adorned with elegant furniture and contemporary artworks. All marbled bathrooms feature rain showers and deep soaking bathtubs, with inset TVs and luxury bath amenities by Oscar de la Renta.

The Kleber Terrace has one of the largest outdoor dining terraces in Paris. The hotel’s rooftop restaurant, L’Oiseau Blanc, serves contemporary French cuisine.

Visitors staying at The Peninsula Hotel Paris will be lucky to have easy access to at least five Metro rail stations. Kleber Metro Station, Charles de Gaulle-Etoile Metro, Boissiere Metro, and George V Metro Stations are located less than one kilometer away.

The Louvre Museum is about 3.4km away from the hotel. The Eiffel Tower and Avenue des Champs Elysees are 1.4km and 1.1km away. Other popular tourist spots like the Notre Dame Cathedral are 4.5km away. Click here to book your stay!

Young blonde woman portrait sit in a typical coffee shop in the city writing on a notebook in Paris

What To Wear In Paris In December

When packing clothes for your December holiday to Paris, the key thing to remember is to pack a good warm coat for those chilly days. Here are a few of my recommendations for what you should be wearing when you are traveling to Paris in December:

  • Carry a light cardigan: Suppose you visit indoor art galleries like the Louvre or other indoor tourist venues. It might be good to carry a light sweater as it gets pretty warm since most indoor venues are internally heated.
  • A (few) pairs of comfortable walking shoes: If you plan to do lots of walking around the streets of Paris, it might be a good idea to pack a decent pair of comfortable shoes. When packing shoes for your Paris trip, expect to be walking around in the snow or some light rain. Pack a pair of durable all-weather boots and a comfortable pair of walking shoes for women traveling to Paris.
  • Waterproof jacket or umbrella: You can expect to encounter some rain while traveling to Paris in December, so it might be a great idea to carry a foldable umbrella and a nice padded waterproof jacket.
  • Some winter woollies: It will be cold in Paris during December, so a few warm scarves, a pair of woolen gloves, and some thick warm socks to keep your feet warm will come in handy.

The possibility of snow in December is relatively low, and it only snows in December every two to three years. If you plan on visiting Paris in December, be prepared for some rain and snow and pack accordingly.

Paris Weather In December

Before you leave your hotel room, remember to check the weather before going out, and dress accordingly for a change in weather.

Daytime temperatures are mostly around 40⁰F (6 – 8⁰C). On occasion, afternoons may be warmer, especially earlier in the month, ranging from around 50⁰F (13 – 14⁰C). The highest temperature recorded for Paris in December was 63⁰F (17⁰C).

In early mornings and late nights, the temperatures vary around 30⁰F (1 – 3⁰C). 

Sometimes the mornings can get colder, especially around the end of December, when the temperature can drop to as low as 20⁰F (-4 to -3⁰C). In December, the lowest temperature ever recorded for Paris was 14⁰F (-10⁰C).

  • Minimum temperature: 36°F
  • Maximum temperature: 45°F
  • Average rainfall: 1.7 inches
  • Average sunshine hours: Roughly 2 hours 

Things To Do In Paris In December

In December, the City of Light shines even brighter. The festive atmosphere is palpable as shoppers crowd the chic boutiques on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and outdoor markets fill the air with the scent of fresh pine.

If you are lucky to be in Paris during this magical time of year, take in the city’s holiday atmosphere by spending an afternoon at the famous Christmas market at the Place Vendôme.

You could also try going for a festive spin on the Ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde or stroll through the streets and admire the beautiful holiday window displays.

We have listed a few more fun activities that you can try doing when visiting Paris in December. Remember to cover up warmly as you head out into the City of Lights to soak up the Christmas markets, festive lights, and displays.

Special river cruises offered by Bateaux Parisiens along the Seine and bus tours are also available, but if you plan to do any of these activities, remember to book for them in advance.

1. Visit A Christmas Market

Christmas market in Tuileries Gardens
Christmas market in Tuileries Gardens – Mo Wu / Shutterstock

December in Paris is the time for Christmas markets and is the Place to go for authentic French trinkets and gifts. The Christmas markets at Alsace and Provence are something worth doing on the weekend.

To fully experience the Christmas spirit in Paris, be sure to taste a glass of vin chaud (mulled wine) or a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

The biggest Christmas market in Paris is at Champs-Elysees avenue, and it stretches from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde! You can also find markets at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral.

The Tuileries Gardens Christmas market near the Louvre Museum runs from November to early January. In my opinion, Christmas markets in Paris add to the charm and character of Paris and is something worth experiencing.

2. Spend Time At Disneyland Paris

The wonders of Christmas and childhood memories materialize when you think about Disneyland! That will be especially true when visiting Disneyland in Paris during December, which is the perfect day trip from the city.

All Christmas celebrations at Disneyland Paris begin as early as November until January. Giant Christmas trees, Christmas shows, parades, and lights are all set to dazzle and mesmerize visitors to Disneyland Paris.

To avoid missing out on all the Christmas attractions at Disneyland Paris, ensure to book your tickets ahead of time.

3. Go Ice-Skating

Ice rink in Christmas market in Tuileries Gardens
Ice rink in Christmas market in Tuileries Gardens – ilolab / Shutterstock

Suppose you fancy yourself to be an Olympic ice skater or a beginner. In that case, Galeries Lafayette at Boulevard Haussmann has a rooftop open-air ice skating rink that draws locals and tourists.

Entrance to the ice rink is free, and you can get stunning views of the Paris Opera and the Eiffel Tower from over the rooftops. The ice rink usually is open from the 20th of November to the end of December, from 9:30 AM to 8:30 PM.

But don’t stop there; the largest ice rink in Paris at the top of La Grande Arche de la Defense also provides a unique ice skating experience from the 20th of December to around January. You will get 360⁰ unrestricted views of Paris from atop this ice rink.

The world’s largest indoor ice rink at Grand Palais is open between December to January, and you can skate to your heart’s content under a large dome of lights while listening to your favorite music tracks.

At night the ice rink comes alive with an ice-skating disco—other ice skating rinks are near the Eiffel Tower and the Tuileries Gardens close to the Louvre Museum in the 1st arrondissement.

4. See The Festival Of Lights

The Christmas lights at Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement are a must-see during the December holiday season. 

Each year the festival of lights has a different theme, and visitors are encouraged to stroll through the giant animal light attractions conveniently placed throughout the garden.

If you want to see live animals, the zoo at Jardin de Plantes features a few animals that visitors can gawk at.

5. Warm Up with a Traditional French Vin Chaud

Hot wine (vin chaud) stall in Christmas market in Tuileries Gardens
Hot wine (vin chaud) stall in Christmas market in Tuileries Gardens – Mo Wu / Shutterstock

Indulging in a decadent cup of steaming Vin Chaud or hot chocolate is one of life’s greatest pleasures – especially on a cold Parisian day!

So, pop into Angelina situated on Rue de Rivoli to sample their sublime Chocolat Chaud Africain, which is the ultimate indulgence for chocoholics.

Other great options include Carette at the Place des Vosges for a luxurious Vin Chaud where you can sit in the square or get one to go at Lindt, which is situated near the Palais Opéra Garnier on your way to the Jardin des Tuileries, or the magnificent Palais Royal.

6. Catch A Ballet At The Théâtre des Champs-Elysees

The Theatre des Champs-Elysees usually hosts concerts, ballets, and operas. 

If you plan to visit Theatre des Champs-Elysees, check out their calendar to see what’s playing so you can make your bookings to attend a show. 

In December 2019, Swan Lake performed live to audiences at Champs-Elysees.

7. Buy Christmas-Themed Souvenirs

Snow globes with Eiffel Tower is a Christmas souvenir

If you have not found any Christmas souvenirs at any of the Parisian markets, head over to the ‘Il Etait Une Fois,’ situated on six rue Ferdinand Duval, and you will be in for a surprise

This truly unique Christmas boutique and local favorite only stocks unique and rare Christmas decorations, which you will find nowhere else in Paris.

8. Watch A Festive Christmas Concert

Saint Chapelle is possibly one of Paris’s most breathtaking places to visit. If watching a live music concert is your thing, you will not be disappointed! Saint Chapelle is a stunning Gothic chapel surrounded by stained glass windows.

It was initially commissioned by Louis IX in the 13th century (1240) for relics from the Holy Land. Saint Chapelle is a popular venue for concerts, and December plays host to Christmas and New Year’s concerts.

Tickets cost €15, but you should book in advance to confirm your attendance. Bookings can be made through this site.

Things To Remember When Traveling To Paris In December

Paris in December is certainly a memorable experience that very few enjoy. However, if you get the rare opportunity to travel to Paris in the winter, you can expect a few surprises.

Being in Paris in December might be a rude awakening if you are not used to cold weather. Suppose you will be traveling from Australia to Paris in December; the (extreme) climate change might shock your system.

The weather changes drastically from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere in December.

Furthermore, if you are not used to being in crowds, Paris does get a little overcrowded during the festive season, so expect to wait in long queues at tourist hot spots, like the Eiffel Tower or Disneyland. 

To offset the long lines at tourist spots, you could book tickets to these places in advance to avoid those long queues.

It might also be wise to have all of your accommodation in Paris booked in advance, so you are guaranteed to stay at some of Paris’s best hotels. If you follow these basic guidelines outlined above, you will not be disappointed traveling to Paris in winter.

Tourists visiting the traditional Christmas markets in Paris

Is Paris Crowded At Christmas?

December is a popular month for tourists, so some city areas will be more crowded than others. 

However, Paris is a large city, so you can find tranquillity pockets during peak tourist season if you know where to look. A few handy tips for avoiding the crowds in Paris during December are below.

One of the best ways to avoid crowds is to visit during the week rather than on the weekend. Paris is busiest on Fridays and Saturdays, so you’ll likely have a more pleasant experience if you can travel during the week. 

Additionally, many Parisians leave the city for the holidays, so you’ll find that the streets are less crowded during the week.

If you want to avoid tourist traps, you’ll want to steer clear of the most popular attractions. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame are all incredibly crowded during December (and really, any time of year).

Instead, try exploring some of Paris’s lesser-known museums and neighborhoods. You’ll still get a taste of the city’s culture and history without fighting your way through hordes of people.

Finally, remember that Paris is a city that comes alive at night. If you’re not a morning person, you can avoid the crowds by sleeping in and exploring the city in the evening. Many of the busiest tourist attractions close early, so you’ll have the city to yourself once the sun goes down.

Whether you are looking to avoid the crowds or want to experience a different side of Paris, December can be a great time to visit. Keep these tips in mind, and you’re sure to have a wonderful trip.

If you plan on visiting Paris during the holiday season, we would highly recommend visiting Paris in December to experience the magic of Christmas. You can book your next vacation to Paris with Booking.com and make your next visit to Paris genuinely memorable.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

Before you leave for France, make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy because accidents happen on the road. We have been paying for Safety Wing travel insurance for a little over a year now, and we happily recommend them to our family and friends.

If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you'll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what was stolen.

Because, for just a couple of dollars a day (depending on how long your policy is for), you're going to get lots of things covered. Be smart and get travel insurance.