Where to See the Best Christmas Lights in Paris

City of (Christmas) Lights

December 12, 2018By Emma HussainWhat's New Visiting Paris
Non-traditional Christmas lights at the Jardin des Tuileries holiday market.
Non-traditional Christmas lights at the Jardin des Tuileries holiday market.

‘Tis the season for Paris to live up to its reputation as the City of Lights. From the delicate, artistic display in Bercy Village to the tackier lights of the Jardin des Tuileries Christmas markets, festive illuminations are everywhere as the holidays approach. Here are the best spots for catching some of the city’s finest displays.

Notre-Dame

The Christmas tree at Notre-Dame is an iconic image of Paris at Christmastime, and certainly adds something to the already-dramatic appearance of the cathedral at night.

Métro: Cité

Christmas lights at Au Vieux Paris.
An out-of-the-way festive display on Île-de-la-Cité.

Au Vieux Paris

Just around the corner from Notre-Dame is an off-the-beaten-track display of Christmas decorations, the facade of a small but popular restaurant in the fourth arrondissement. Tastefully decked out with many decorations, from snowflakes to a Nativity scene, it’s a good change from Paris’s better-known Christmas lights.

Métro: Hôtel de Ville

Christmas trees in the beautiful Place Vendôme.
Christmas trees in the elegant Place Vendôme.

Place Vendôme

One of the most renowned spots for Christmas lights in the French capital, Place Vendôme has a display that makes for a chic photo opportunity. Think Paris at its fanciest, with natural white lights adorning perfectly matching trees between the Dior and Louis Vuitton stores. The streets on either side of the square have similarly elegant displays.

Métro: Opéra

Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées.
Christmas lights on Paris’s most famous avenue.

Avenue des Champs-Elysées

The popular Champs-Elysées Christmas market was relocated to the Tuileries this year, but the well-known Christmas-light display remains. The trees along the avenue are bedecked with red lights, and a shooting star theme stretches all the way from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.

Métro: Franklin D. Roosevelt, George V or Charles de Gaulle Étoile

Christmas lights on Avenue Montaigne.
The Eiffel Tower peeks through the stylish lights display on Avenue Montaigne.

Avenue Montaigne

Just around the corner from the Champs-Élysées, the Avenue Montaigne, lined with luxury hotels and boutiques, is transformed into a fairyland by lights that are even more beautiful than those of its famous neighbor. The trees on either side of the street are lit with twinkling white lights, and with the Eiffel Tower in the background, they sum up exactly why Paris is called the City of Lights.

Métro: Franklin D. Roosevelt

One of the animals crafted from fabric and light at the Jardin des Plantes’ Espèces en Voie d’Illumination.
One of the animals crafted from fabric and light for the Jardin des Plantes’ Espèces en Voie d’Illumination.

Jardin des Plantes

Although not strictly a Christmas event, the Natural History Museum’s zoology-themed Espèces en Voie d’Illumination display is well-worth seeing. It celebrates wildlife past and present with luminous models crafted from nothing but cloth, wire and light. (Admission: €14 online or €15 at the door.)

Métro: Gare d’Austerlitz

Christmas lights at Bercy Village.
Christmas lights at Bercy Village. © Aurore Alifanti

Bercy Village

Animals also provided the theme for the light show at this shopping village in a series of small stone buildings, formerly wine storehouses, in the south of Paris. This year, French-Australian artist Laurent Sanguinetti has designed an enchanted forest of populated with mysterious animals formed from white lights.

Métro: Cour Saint-Émilion

Christmas lights on Boulevard Haussmann.
The window displays on Boulevard Hausmann attract crowds of visitors every year.

Grands Magasins

Window displays in the department stores on Paris’s Boulevard Haussmann are a Christmas must for both adults and children every year. For 2018, the windows seem even more commercial than usual, but kids are still catered to with Disney-like animated displays. Galeries Lafayette has created an advent calendar of expensive items, while Printemps has various windows sponsored by its concessionaires.

Métro: Chaussée d’Antin-La Fayette

You’ll come across many other small-scale displays while wandering around the city’s streets in December. OpenTour also operates an “Illuminations of Paris” coach tour, during which you can see the highlights of Paris’s Christmas lights from an open-top bus.

2 Comments

    • Thanks for your suggestion. In every case except one, getting off at the suggested Métro stop will land you in the place mentioned. For the Place Vendôme, you will have to walk a couple of blocks to the square, whose address is … Place Vendôme.

What do you think? Send a comment:

Your comment is subject to editing. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for free!

The Paris Update newsletter will arrive in your inbox every Wednesday, full of the latest Paris news, reviews and insider tips.