Christmas 2021: lights, window displays and markets in Paris Region
During the Christmas season, the department store windows come alive, the streets and parks are illuminated), the châteaux are bathed in light and the Christmas markets flourish. When night falls, it’s the perfect time for exploring the City of Light and its surrounding area, all looking more incredibly beautiful than ever with gigantic Christmas trees, strings of lights and magical decorations.
The magic of department store Christmas windows
Christmas in Paris is not really Christmas without a trip to admire the windows of the Paris department stores. At the sight of the animated displays, parents return to their childhood, while little children dream of enchanted worlds before enjoying the many activities on offer to them inside the stores.
1, 2, 3 Christmas! at Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann
All along the famous store on boulevard Haussmann, a joyful and wacky story is being told. After a round of their favourite game, “1,2,3 Christmas!”, some iconic toys go hurtling into the midst of Santa’s village, in an ambiance that’s cosmic…. And a little too studious for their taste. They are determined to give this universe a surreal and more responsible touch! Their playground extends to the spectacular Big Christmas Tree which once again has pride of place under the store’s dome, under the benevolent eye of an astonishing astronaut Santa Claus. And every 30 minutes, they dance and come alive, to play another round of “1,2,3 Christmas!”
The incredible Printemps Haussmann elf factory
There’s panic in Santa’s workshop as a snowstorm hits the toy production line. The elves are urgently despatched to the four corners of the Earth to find a new site and resume final preparations as quickly as possible. Attracted by its golden domes, they are charmed by the Printemps Haussmann, which they mischievously invade to set up their workshops for making stars, fashion or sweet treats, before embarking on a grand Christmas parade. And inside the store, there are no fewer than 180 Christmas trees, 3.5 kilometres of Christmas lights and 121 moving characters that radiate the magic of Christmas.
Paris sparkles, La Samaritaine style
Why should magical store windows be just for children? For its first Christmas after reopening, La Samaritaine features the Parisian man and woman in the surroundings of the city’s emblematic snow-covered French-style gardens, in a sophisticated festive style with a quirky touch. Inside, the grand staircase is draped in lights and the atrium is filled with a forest of topiary fir trees, the tallest of which is 10 metres high. And every day, at 12:24 p.m., one compartment of a giant advent calendar reveals its stash of surprises and gifts, the store resounds with its quirky choir’s unique versions of Christmas carols – and at weekends Santa Claus and his funny Christmas-tree ladies even put on a show!
Beautiful Christmas tree at Bon Marché
This Christmas 2020, the famous department store on Paris’s Left Bank pays tribute to the “king of the forest” – the Christmas tree. Surrounded by snowy forests and glittering gold trees, it is the guest of honour for the animated shop windows on Rue de Sèvres, and is sure to delight children.
Christmas on the mountain top. Switzerland at BHV Marais
This year, you don’t have to travel for miles to be spellbound by the mountains. At the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, Switzerland is in the spotlight for a Christmas that combines tradition and magic, all in an eco-friendly spirit. In the animated windows, the abundance of Swiss know-how is being celebrated against a backdrop of snow and chalets. Christmas is reaching new heights!
The magic of Christmas lights
In the streets of Paris
To celebrate the festive season in style, Paris is decorating its most beautiful attractions, adding enchantment to your evening strolls. Don’t miss the essential avenue des Champs-Élysées, whose 400 trees are illuminated from 21 November 2021 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and all night long on 24 and 31 December. The magic continues along the very chic avenue Montaigne and place Vendôme, the historic district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and, further east, at Bercy Village whose walkways are adorned with a sky of 1,200 sparkling umbrellas.
There are a thousand and one ways to explore the City of Light transformed by its Christmas lights. These include a Christmas lights tour by double-decker bus, an evening dinner cruise, or a trip in a 2CV or sidecar by night. You can find some of our suggestions below:
Disneyland®Paris and the surrounding area
At this time of year when everyone rediscovers the child within them, Disneyland®Paris draws young and old alike into an enchanted Christmas in the land of Disney heroes – who have donned their Christmas costumes! Bedecked in sparkling decorations and dominated by its towering Christmas tree, the park transports you, more than ever before, to another world. To end the year on a high note, don’t miss the New Year’s Eve event, which offers attractions open in the evening, surprises and a firework display!
The installations-course in lights
For several years now, during the holiday season, the Paris Region has been covered with Christmas light routes that offer extraordinary immersive strolls. Map of these enchanting strolls.
This year, in the north of the capital, Groupe F is imbuing the Parc de La Villette with magic from 2 December 2021 to 2 January 2022 with its magnificent light installations which are dotted along a marvellous, free, poetic stroll.
And from 27 November, the funfair will be back in front of the Grande Halle with its rides and attractions for the whole family!
West of the capital, the Lumières en Seine are bringing the Saint-Cloud national park alive along an enchanting two-kilometre trail, with luminous decorations, musical entertainment and illuminated water features.
In the heart of Paris, from 29 November to 30 January at nightfall, the Jardin des Plantes is full of giant luminous creatures which give a dreamlike feel to its Illuminated Evolution trail, a journey through time that starts with the origins of life and features dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.
Another kingdom of magical animals, in the west of Paris a few miles from Versailles, Wild Lights at the Thoiry Safari Park is a festival of giant luminous lanterns recreating terrestrial and marine animals in an atmosphere where imagination meets poetry. Magic guaranteed!
Christmas at the château: magical family celebrations
With magical lights and decorations, stories and legends, celebrations and shows, the Christmas and New Year season is a majestic experience at the châteaux of Paris and the surrounding region.
Versailles, quite simply royal!
Go on, let the Palace of Versailles dazzle you with its programme of events.
In the evening, when the Palace has been emptied of visitors, The King’s Tour takes you from the Hall of Mirrors to the Grand Apartments in the company of costumed actors and baroque musicians. A show-visit for discovering the castle in a different way!
Contemporary music and dance take the stage this year under the gold decorations of the Royal Opera. The dancers of the Ballet Prejlocaj are presenting a lively, modern version of Swan Lake, one of the greatest ballets of the classical repertoire. This revamped version has all the charm of the original, for a New Year’s Eve unlike any other!
From 20 November to 2 January, Vaux-le-Vicomte is turning the spotlight on the world of fabulist Jean de la Fontaine and celebrating Christmas by transforming itself into an enchanting Palace. On your arrival, a majestic avenue of illuminated fir trees leads you to the Palace entrance. Inside, flames crackle in the fireplaces of the sumptuous drawing rooms, which exude delicious chocolatey smells, while the magnificent French gardens are lit up with thousands of strings of lights.
Do not miss the gigantic projection on the façades of the Palace, which prolongs the magic while telling you the history of the Palace and its illustrious owners.
Once upon a time... at Breteuil
From 18 December to 2 January, at the Château de Breteuil, the world of Charles Perrault is combined with the magic of Christmas. Story readings and guided tours take you to the château’s sumptuous rooms and French-style gardens, and to the land of Cinderella, Donkeyskin and Bluebeard. Great stories to experience as a family!
Downtown Abbey in Champs-sur-Marne
Travel back in time to the Château de Champs-sur-Marne. It is the late 19th century, and the owners are preparing to celebrate Christmas in the company of their guests and servants. But an unforeseen event is about to disrupt the smoothly-run household.
From 19 November to 12 December, from Friday to Sunday, more than 800 volunteers, actors, extras, dancers and singers are inviting you to experience a Great New Year’s Eve, an immersive end-of-year show with a retro feel.
Christmas in majesty at Fontainebleau
From 18 December to 2 January, the Château de Fontainebleau is donning its finery for the seasonal celebrations. With “Christmas in Europe” concerts with the Balthasar Neumann ensembles and the conductor Thomas Hengelbrock, a show, “Once upon a time there were the tales of Charles Perrault”, and guided tours in the footsteps of Marie Leczinska and Helene of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the princesses from colder climes. The magic of Christmas is experienced in style at Fontainebleau!
Illuminated bestiary at Thoiry
Until 6 March, the estate of the Château de Thoiry lights up at nightfall in the fourth edition of Wild Lights, these unique fabric-covered lanterns that are entirely handmade. Stroll through the park and gardens where more than 1,500 animals, characters and other dreamlike scenes await you. A magical outing for the whole family!
Christmas Markets in the Paris Region
To prepare for Christmas, head for the many themed markets that flourish in Paris and the surrounding area. Once there, follow their alleyways between chalets and stalls to track down original gifts and decorations for embellishing your tree. It is also the ideal place to feast on sweet and savoury treats accompanied by a lovely cup of mulled wine. From the La Défense district to the third places of Paris and from Fontainebleau to Vincennes, there is bound to be a market not far from you!
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- Copyright image: CRT IDF/Ooshot/Capelle-Tourn