Paris has a bounty of holiday events that makes a visit to the City of Light more alluring than ever. Here are our top 10 picks for the 2019 holiday season.
Department Store Windows
Every year the department stores of Paris pull out all the stops to dazzle passers-by. Printemps delights with puppets and friendly animals depicting favorite fairy-tale characters. American icon Barbie is the star of the windows at Galeries Lafayette along with a pop-up boutique on the main floor. Look up when you arrive inside to marvel at the towering Christmas tree, made of extra-large bulbs and winter flowers in amber colors, with Queen Bee perched on top. Across town at Le Bon Marche is a subtler presentation of animated birds perched on Paris rooftops.
64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009
Le Bon Marché
Rive Gauche - 24 rue de Sèvres, 75007
Ice Skating At The Grand Palais
The largest indoor skating rink in the world at the Grand Palais will give you plenty of room to show off your figure eights in style. At night the rink turns into a jumbo dance floor with disco balls, a light show and a DJ. This year sculptor Richard Orlinski has installed a 20-foot polar bear.
From December 13, 2019 to January 8, 2020
3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008
A royal palace which rivals the grandeur of Versailles, Vaux Vicomte opens its doors to celebrate Christmas in a magical way. Every inch of the palace is covered with fanciful lights, decorations, trees, fireplaces with burning fires and Christmas music playing in every room. An enchanted outside garden is illuminated with special lights, with a parterre of flowers and a 15-foot-high squirrel greeting guests. The highlight of the holiday festivities is an eight-minute long illumination show that blankets the entire outside of the palace.
From November 23, 2019 to January 5, 2020
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
The most glamorous boulevard in the world will be decked out in a shower of eco-friendly red lights as part of a show named Flamboyance, created by Company Blachère. French actress Ludivine Sagnier will christen the event on November 24 at 6 p.m. against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe.
From November 20, 2019 to January 8, 2020
Nobody knows how to put on a holiday spectacle better than Disneyland. For 2019, events include a Christmas parade down Main Street with Disney favorites Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, a fairy tale waltz with Disney princesses, a holiday sing-along with Santa, Mickey and Minnie, and a New Year’s Eve party where all the attractions will be open past midnight.
November 4, 20019 to January 6, 2020
Attending a Christmas concert in Paris is a must-do event to embrace the holiday spirit. Saint Chapelle is the most beautiful of the venues for holiday concerts with its excellent acoustics and background of stunning stained-glass windows. Holiday programs this year include Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the waltzes and polkas of Johann Strauss. The Madeleine church hosts a concert with performances of Silent Night, Ave Maria, O Holy Night and Canon by Pachelbel. Prince Igor at the Paris Opera Ballet, a classic Christmas concert at Theatre des Champs Elysees, Bach at Chateau de Versailles and Gospel & African-American Spiritual music in Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre are some of the additional concerts playing.
Festive Christmas markets abound in almost every neighborhood of Paris. High on the hill of Montmartre is the rue des Abbesses market of 20 mini-chalets offering local wares. At the Champs de Mars not only will you find an impressive market but also a terrific view of the Eiffel Tower. More specialized markets are the Alsatian Christmas Market at Gare de l'Est with gourmet treats, including the irresistible Kougelhopf, a brioche loaded with raisins and almonds introduced to France by Marie Antoinette. There is also a Japanese market with 40 stalls of arts, crafts, foods, and teas.
Mass on Christmas Eve and Day
The essence and spirit of Christmas is celebrated in Paris at its beloved churches. The perennial favorite Mass is at the Sacre Coeur Basilica rising above Paris in Montmartre. This year the festivities start with a concert played on the Cavaillé-Coll pipe organ at 10 p.m., a Christmas Vigil at 11 p.m. and Midnight Mass at midnight. Over at Saint Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris and site of the book the DaVinci Code, they offer a children’s mass at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day, High Mass is from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., followed by Christmas Vespers at 6 p.m. There are services in English at the American Cathedral of Paris, an inter-denominational Protestant church, and at the Episcopal American Cathedral.
Grand Roue de Paris
After an absence of two years, the big Ferris Wheel is back. Presiding over the Tuileries Garden, riders get a 360-degree aerial view of Paris and many of its popular attractions, including the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower.
Musee des Arts Forains
Musee Forains, the museum of amusement parks, offers a truly magical experience at The Festival du Merveilleux during the holiday season. Guests are treated to rides on vintage merry-go-rounds, games from the 1900's, a hall of mirrors, an exploration of the wonders of Venice with the show “Venise la Sérénissime” and impromptu shows all day from jugglers, performers and acrobats.
Open December 26, 2019 to January 5, 2020
Les Pavillons de Bercy - 53 avenue des Terroirs de France 75012