The winter holiday season in the city of lights would feel degrees less cheerful and inspired without the traditional Christmas markets in Paris, or marchés de Noel, that spring up every year all around the city.
The markets, with their clusters of wooden chalets offering holiday treats like mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages and specialties from various regions of France, are an essential part of celebrating Christmas in Paris. They also make an ideal outing with kids in Paris. Visit one of Paris's many holiday markets for a scenic winter stroll, or stock up on traditional foodstuffs, handcrafted toys, clothing, and other unique gifts and souvenirs.
Scroll down to find information on markets open in 2019 and 2020, or read more about how to make the most of them in the sections just below.
A Bit of History
Christmas markets in Paris and elsewhere in France have their origins in the northern Alsace region, which has belonged to Germany at various junctures in history and therefore draws on German Christmas market traditions stretching to as early as the 14th century. The most famous—and largest—marché de noël in France is in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace.
All around France, including the French capital, these traditions have endured—whether it comes to the delicious treats they peddle or the cheerful wooden chalets occupied by the vendors. Yet Paris, being France's biggest city, has some of its own traditions, too.
Typical Attractions at Parisian Christmas Markets
Like its counterparts in Alsace and around the country, the marchés de Noel of Paris offer plenty of things to see and do, from shopping, nibbling, and drinking to fun activities for the whole family.
Kids will especially appreciate the "Santa's Village" operations at many of the city's markets. These include visits with Santa and his elves, rides, and games, and ice skating or pop-up snow parks are pop of the fun on select years.
Of course, Christmas lights are another delightful attraction to enjoy at the annual markets. The chalets and surrounding streets are strung with festive lights, bringing warmth and joy after dusk.
What to Eat at the Markets
There are plenty of delicious treats to sample during a whirl through the markets. First, on a cold day, you might head to a soup stand like the one below. Traditional soups, from French onion to vegetable, are served from heavy copper cauldrons, adding ambiance as well as warming comfort.
Next, why not sample one or more of the following delicious specialties: traditional Alsatian sausages and French cheeses, hot roasted chestnuts, crepes filled with cheese and mushrooms or Nutella, Christmas cookies, macarons, gingerbread, or spice bread?
Most of the markets around Paris peddle these and many other seasonal treats, so we advise that you not worry too much about calorie counts when you visit.
Finally, indulging in a good, hot cup of mulled wine is an excellent way to warm body and spirit. Laced with cinnamon, clove, and other spices, gluhwein is a Germanic and Alsatian specialty that's become popular around the world as a holiday drink.
Of course, not everyone will want the alcohol: Kids and those who don't drink can always enjoy a steaming cup of spiced apple cider as a special treat.
Gift Shopping & Souvenirs
If you're in the market for a unique gift or souvenir from Paris, Christmas markets are an ideal place to look. Numerous artisans from all over France reserve stalls, selling wares from painted ceramics (shown here) to woolen hats, mittens and gloves, gorgeous scarves, wooden toys, kitchenware with a regional touch and handcrafted jewelry.
This is also an excellent way to choose a unique Christmas decoration to adorn your tree back home or send to a loved one.
Christmas Markets in 2019 and 2020
No matter where you're staying during your holiday trip to the French capital this year, you're bound to find a market close by. From the Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris to a Medieval-style market in Provins, there's no shortage of festive cheer to be found all around France this holiday season.
Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
Sadly, due to an ongoing dispute between Parisian city authorities and the main vendor who historically operated the Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées, the city's largest and most beloved, was canceled for the second year in a row. This has come as a major disappointment for some 15 million visitors who flocked on the market every year.
The good news? The enormous operation has been transferred to an area nearby the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre Museum, to the likely delight of visitors and locals who would have missed the traditional installation on the Champs. As for the world's most-recognized avenue itself, it will still be strung with thousands of festive holiday lights starting in late November, so it won't be completely bereft of holiday cheer.
Louvre/Tuileries Christmas Market
Featuring around 100 "chalet" stands, rides for kids, and an ice rink, the Tuileries Christmas market is slated to bring fun and warmth for all in 2019 to early 2020. Typically open from the last week of November through the first week of January, this holiday market is located in Jardin des Tuileries in Paris and is easily accessible via the Tuileries or Concorde Metro/RER transit service in the city.
Christmas Market at La Défense
Boasting upwards of 300 stands selling everything from artisanal and regional products to decorative objects and toys, this is one of the largest and most festive holiday markets around-- in the surreal setting of high-rise buildings and the looming white structure of the Grande Arche de la Defense.
The Marché de Noël de La Défense takes place along the promenade de La Défense, near the Grand Arche in Paris. It typically runs from late November through the end of December, daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can take the Metro Line 1 or RER Line A to La Défense station from almost anywhere in Paris.
Christmas Market & Ice Rink at Champ de Mars
Featuring some 100 stands peddling gifts, decorations, and goods perfect for the Christmas season, in addition to an ice-skating rink and "snow village," the Christmas Market and Winter Village at Parc du Champ de Mars, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, is an idyllic spot for feting the holiday season. It's also ideal for the kids, who'll find plenty to keep busy in the holiday village.
The Village Noël de Champ de Mars typically takes place over the last two weeks of December and the first week of January the next year. Guests can access this Paris village at the base of the Eiffel Tower from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily by taking the Metro to Trocadero or Pont de l'Alma stations.
Christmas Market at Hotel de Ville/City Hall
For the first time, a holiday-themed market is springing up outside Paris City Hall (there was traditionally an ice rink set up on the same square, but they've decided to discontinue it). Enjoy festive decorations, warming treats, toys, games and artisanal products, most of which originate in the Paris region.
The City Hall Christmas Market is open from mid-December through the first week of January and is located at Parvis de l'Hotel in Paris' Fourth Arrondissement. You can get there by taking the Metro to the Hotel de Ville station. While you're there, head across the street to the BHV Department store to take in the sight of their elaborate, fairy-tale inspired holiday window displays.
Christmas Market at Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés
This market makes the picturesque St-Germain neighborhood even more inviting during the holiday season each year. Featuring a Christmas village complete with decorations, toys, and delicious goodies that pops up in front of the St-Germain church, the Marché de Noël de Saint-Germain-des-Prés is located just steps from the metro exit of the same name in the Sixth Arrondissement of Paris.
The market and village are both open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from the first of December through the first of January each year. Nearby, you can also visit a smaller Christmas market at Place Saint-Sulpice or stop by the Musee d'Orsay for an afternoon of educational fun.
Christmas Market at the Montparnasse Tower
Boasting around 40 festive wooden "chalets," the Christmas Market at Montparnasse Tower, a center point of Paris' southern hub, specializes in regional French delicacies. The Marché de Noël de Montparnasse Tower is typically open from late November through early January each year and is held at Place Raoul Dautry, in front of the Gare Montparnasse train station.
Christmas Market at the Place des Abbesses, Montmartre
The festive Christmas Market at the Place des Abbesses in the heights of hilly, arty Montmartre is a guaranteed joy for all, with vendors selling gifts, mulled wine, crepes and other treats. It affords nice panoramic views of the city from up high, too, so be sure to stop to take in the gorgeous view while you're shopping for holiday gifts.
The Marché de Noël de Place des Abbesses takes place from early December through early January each year in the 18th Arrondissement of Paris. You can access this market via the Metro at both Abbesses and Montparnasse-Bienvenue stations.
Montmartre Christmas Market/Sacre Coeur
The Montmartre Christmas Market—nestled in the heart of the quaint Montmartre neighborhood in Paris' 18th Arrondissement—is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and until 10 p.m. on weekends from early December through early January each year. Located at Parvis de la Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, this gorgeous market is easily accessible from the Anvers Metro station.
Alsatian-Style Christmas Market at Gare de l'Est
Located near the Gare de l'Est train station heading east from Paris, the Marché de Noël de Gare de l'Est is well-known for its Alsatian specialties because the trains departing from this station have the Franco-German region as a major destination on most of its train lines.
This is a great market for artisanal gifts and regional treats such as gingerbread, pretzels, sausages, mulled wine, sauerkraut, and many others. The market is typically open from early through mid-December (just before Christmas) daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at Place du 11 Novembre 1918, outside the station on the main square.
Christmas Festival "Feerique" at Porte d'Autueil (West Paris)
Cheerful chalets selling artisanal food and drink and traditional Christmas decorations are peddled at this quieter but equally charming market. The Feerique Christmas Festival at Porte d'Autueil in West Paris' 16th arrondissement is a great market if you're looking to get a little outside the city and sample some truly local craftsmanship. Located at 40 rue Jean de La Fontaine—steps away from the Porte d'Auteuil Metro station—Feerique at Porte d'Autueil is typically open for the first nine days of December each year.
Christmas Market at Notre Dame Cathedral
This year, a market dedicated to arts, crafts, and fine cuisine is set to spring up on the square Viviani nearby Notre Dame Cathedral, where a giant Christmas tree generally stands on the main plaza as well. Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, warm chalets, and even Santa Claus are reportedly set to bring the square to festive life for the holiday season.
Open for the week before Christmas from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the Christmas Market at Notre Dame Cathedral is sure to delight in splendor alone. You can get to the event by taking the Metro to St Michel, Maubert, or Cité stations and walking to Square Rene Viviani at 2 rue du Fouarre.
Christmas Market at Place d'Italie
A smaller, charming market comprising around 20 stands and located at the southern tip of Paris at the Place d'Italie metro station, the Marché de Noël de Place d'Italie is centered around a giant illuminated Christmas tree.
This unique, small market is typically open from late November through December from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (and until 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings). Located at Centre Commercial Italie 2 in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris, the market is easily accessible by Metro to the Place d'Italie station.
Norwegian Christmas Market/Vegan Market
For those interested in procuring Scandinavian-style goodies and decorations, you're in luck this year: a newer market at one of Paris' quirkiest and artiest cafe-restaurants promises to deliver plenty of holiday coziness from the Northern country. The next day at the same venue, an all-vegan Christmas market promises to regale anyone who's looking for holiday treats free of all animal products.
Head to La Recyclerie at 83 Boulevard Ornano in Paris' 18th Arrondissement—within steps of the Porte de Clignancourt Metro station—on the second weekend in December for both the Norwegian and the vegan holiday markets this year.
Markets Just Outside Paris: Take a Festive Day Trip
These markets are just a train or metro ride away from the city and can provide some real village-like charm for the whole family to enjoy. Take a holiday-inspired day trip from Paris by stopping into these Christmas markets in Versailles, Provins, and Vincennes.
Christmas Market at Versailles
The town that harbors one of France's grandest palaces, Versailles, has its own annual market, complete with warm chalets selling wintery treats, decorations, and gifts from local artisans. This year, the market is being held on the grounds of the Orangery at the Domaine de Madame Elisabeth and will be open over the first weekend in December. You can get here from Paris by taking the RER Line C5 to Versailles/Rive Gauche.
Medieval-style Christmas Market at Provins
The adorable medieval village of Provins is located outside Paris and features a fortified tower, walls, and moats. Its Christmas market is delightful and offers regional products including artisanal honey and rose jams. The Marche de Noel de Provins will take place on the second weekend in December this year at Place du Chatel in Provins. You can access this charming village by taking the regional SNCF train from Gare de L'est to Provins.
Christmas Market at Vincennes
The adorable little market of Vincennes is located just east of Paris, near the Bois de Vincennes. A relaxed, more suburban vibe reigns at the stalls, which are located in the town's center (Place Pierre Semard). Head to Porte de Vincennes on the Metro Line 1 from the second week in December through the day before Christmas this year, any time from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., to catch this exciting event.