Christmas Markets in Paris: Our Top Picks

The Christmas markets of Paris are in full swing, enveloping the capital in a festive whirlwind of twinkling lights and hot spiced wine. But the choices are numerous, and it’s sometimes hard to know which ones are worth bundling up and braving the cold for. That’s why in true Localers style we’ve scoured the city and personally visited each of them, selecting the best and giving you all the tips and tricks you need to enjoy Noël in Paris. Allons-y!

La Défense

- Nov 27 - Dec 28, 11am to 8pm (9pm on Sat)
- Metro stop: La Défense (Line 1, RER A)

This business district hosts the city’s largest market with some 300 vendors. Although nestled within a forest of skyscrapers, the cozy arrangement of stalls actually feels quite village-like and offers plenty of comfort foods – sandwiches of melted raclette cheese over ham, foie gras either pan-fried or sliced inside baguettes, overflowing baskets of cured sausages – it all made us awfully sad we had eaten lunch before coming. Certain food stalls are attached to semi-heated dining areas, handy if you’re looking to take a load off. Once you’ve enjoyed some festive nibbles it’ll be time to shop; you’ll find an array of jewelry, hats, scarves, and cashmere sweaters to name a few. If the spirit overtakes you, you’ll even find affordable Christmas trees...though we can’t guarantee your fellow train passengers will share your enthusiasm on the ride home.

Tip: Exit the metro using “Sortie A” to arrive at the foot of the arch of La Défense. Climb the stairs in front of the arch and turn around to take in the view – you’ll find that perfectly lined up with this one is another arch in the distance, the Arc de Triomphe. Cameras out!

Avenue des Champs Elysées

- Nov 15 - Jan 5, 10am to 11pm (midnight Fri and Sat)
- Metro stop: Concorde (Lines 1, 8, 12)

Finally, a Champs Elysées shopping experience that doesn’t involve taking out a mortgage on your house! This lively stretch of holiday stalls extends from Place de la Concorde all the way to the Franklin D. Roosevelt station. This market is the most popular, and for good reason. It’s centrally located, infinitely walkable, and great for kids: attractions include an ice rink, animatronic animal displays, trampolines, a toboggan slide, a “5D” interactive theater and live donkey rides. Parents can keep warm with cups of vin chaud (hot mulled wine), roasted chestnuts, and fillets of salmon smoked on-site over an open fire. Objects for sale include scented soaps, flavored loose leaf teas, handmade wooden puzzles, and an assortment of gadgets for the home.

Tip: To really get in the mood, take a ride on the nearby Ferris wheel for a killer bird’s eye view of Paris and its monuments.

Montmartre

- Dec 6 - Jan 5, 10am to 8:30pm (10:30pm Fri and Sat)
- Metro stop: Abbesses (Line 12) or Anvers (Line 2)

As if we needed another reason to visit charming Montmartre, the neighborhood hosts two Christmas markets this year: at Place des Abbesses and in front of Sacré Coeur Basilica. Both are on the small side so we recommend maximizing holiday cheer by combining the two. Start by exiting the Abbesses station (use the elevator to avoid climbing 200 stairs), and after sampling its handful of stalls head up to Sacré Coeur. Here you’ll find chocolates, flutes of champagne, and some classic market fare like sandwiches and chocolat chaud. Ironically, the 10€ women’s handbags normally sold illegally at the foot of the church now have their own legitimate Christmas cabin. But what really makes this market shine is the ambiance the top of the hill offers, with extraordinary views of the basilica above and the city below.

Tip: For a view of the far-away Eiffel Tower, go behind the first stall at the market’s entrance on rue Saint Eleuthère and look out to the right.

Trocadéro

- Dec 12th - Jan 5th, 11am to 8:30pm
- Metro stop: Trocadéro (Lines 1 or 9)

This one offers unparalleled views of the Eiffel Tower and a selection of ethnic cuisine we didn’t find in any other market. Here you can eat your way around the world with Slovakian tea, Russian soup, as well as Turkish and Croatian delicacies. France is well represented too, with a stall dedicated to oysters and champagne, and another serving up handmade artisanal macarons (a must!).

This is a rather food-centric market, but shoppers can still find handbags, socks, slippers, scarves, and creative antique metallic toys. An ice rink sits at the top of it all, and though it’s quite tiny, the view of the Eiffel Tower is picture-perfect and will remind you that this isn’t just any old Christmas market -- you’re in Paris!

Tip: Don’t miss the vendor offering plates of free chocolate truffle samples, each more decadent and delicious than the last. After you’re done, you’ll find the family-friendly Paris Aquarium just a few steps to the east.

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