Each year, elegant holiday lights and decorations adorn over 130 streets in Paris, as well as department stores and historical sites-- ushering the city out of its November gloom. Before checking out our list of the best places to head for festive scenes this year, get a little inspiration by checking out our photo gallery of Christmas decorations in Paris.
Christmas/holiday lights displays on the Champs Elysées
The majestic Avenue des Champs-Elysées is flooded with lights every winter, with light-drenched trees stretching all the way from the Place de l'Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.
This year, 200 trees lining the avenue will scintillate with lights, coupled with glimmering "shooting star" effects. Don't forget to visit the large Christmas market in the area while you're at it, to grab some mulled wine and find some original, authentic Parisian Christmas gifts.
- Location: Avenue des Champs Elysées, metro Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées Clémenceau, or Concorde
- When: The lights are scheduled to be switched on at 6:00 pm on November 21st, 2016. The displays will be taken down on December 9th 2017. The street is lit from 5:00 pm until 2:00 am each day, and all night long on December 31st, to bring in the new year in Paris.
Lights and Decor at Place Vendome and Surrounds
The elegant Place Vendome and surrounding streets are festively lit for the holiday season. Stop for tea at the newly reopened Ritz to warm up, then go out and admire the gorgeous square.
- Location: Place Vendome, Rue de la Paix, Rue de Castiglione, Rue Saint-Honoré, Rue du Faubourg St-Honore and Rue des Capucines (Metro Opera, Tuileries or Concorde
- When: From November 2016 through early January 2017 (precise dates have not been announced).
Christmas Lights on Avenue Montaigne
Known for its luxury boutiques and high-fashion appeal, the prestigious Avenue Montaigne and its elegant houses are getting all gussied up for the holidays this year.
- Location: Avenue Montaigne (Metro Champs-Elysees Clemenceau
- When: From 18 November 2016 to December 26th, 2016
Lights and Holiday Window Displays at Paris Department Stores
The classic Paris department stores district near the Opera Garnier is awash with lights and elaborate window decor and imaginative scenes every holiday season, starting in early to mid November and throughout the January sales season in Paris.
- Location: Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and surrounding stores on Boulevard Haussmann, 9th arrondissement
- When: Galeries Lafayette will unveil a giant tree constructed entirely of delicate, luminescent paper at 6:00 pm on November 8th under its art-deco cupola inside. This year, the theme is decidedly arctic, with polar-inspired motifs and snowy hues. Every day, visitors can enjoy a light and sound show around the tree display (12:00 noon, 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm).
- That same day, the Galeries will unveil its annual holiday windows displays, which this year center around an amusing and adorable family of model polar bears. The whimsical windows should prove a real treat for kids especially.
- Just down the block, Printemps department store will flip the switch on its lights and holiday window displays, around mid-November.
- Metro: Havre-Caumartin
- RER: Auber
Bercy Village Lights and Decorations
The outdoor shopping "village" near Paris's National Library District in the south of the city will be festively lit and decorated for the holidays from November 17th, 2016, and displays will remain until January 2nd, 2017. Find out more in our complete guide to the Gare de Lyon and Bercy neighborhood.
Christmas Decor at Notre Dame Cathedral
As if Notre Dame Cathedral weren't stunning enough on its own, each Christmas season the Gothic cathedral hosts an enormous, lavishly decorated tree on its main plaza. The decor generally appears in mid-November to early December.
"Paris Illumine Paris": Hundreds of other streets light up
From early December, the Paris City Hall will light some 125 streets around Paris for the holidays, with lights switched on from 5:00 pm each night until 2:00 am.
Some streets illuminated last year included la rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais, Place des Abbesses in Montmartre, Avenue de Saint Ouen, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Rue de Rennes, Place de la Convention, Rue de Belleville, Place du Jourdain, Rue de Richelieu, Rue des Saints-Pères, or Rue de Grenelle. Check back here soon for a complete list, and in the meantime, visit this page (in French, but you can find out the street names by each Paris district (arrondissement) very easily, then locate them on your own map or smartphone.