Here are my top 10 activities to enjoy over Christmas in Paris with kids, should you decide to venture beyond the warmth and cosiness of your home.
Paris sparkles with an extra touch of brilliance during the holiday season, and the city comes alive with the twinkle of Christmas lights and shop displays. This year marks our third (where has the time gone???) Christmas living in Paris, and we have loved to explore all the city has to offer during the holidays.
1. Visit the Christmas markets
Parisian Christmas markets transform into winter wonderlands with Swiss-style wooden chalets. Here, you will find mulled wine, crepes, raclette sandwiches dripping with cheese, and various artisan products made in France.
My top pick for a family-friendly Christmas market in Paris is the one nestled within the beautiful Jardins des Tuileries. Running from 18 November 2023 to 7 January 2024, this lively market features iconic chalets and offers abundant entertainment for kids of all ages. The attractions include a Ferris wheel, an outdoor ice rink, bumper cars and a giant slide. While admission is free, you need to pay for the rides separately. The market is open every day from 11 am to 11.45 pm.
My second favourite Paris market is at Hôtel de Ville, running from 28 November to 31 December 2023. In contrast to Jardin des Tuileries, this market is on a smaller scale, but it wins me over with its festive vibe and Parisian charm. This year, the village is decked out in the colours of the upcoming summer Paris Olympic Games. The market offers children a vintage carousel, a toboggan run, a climbing wall and a chance to meet Santa Claus. Special lighting illuminates Hôtel de Ville’s façade in the Olympic colours in the evening. Both admission and rides are free of charge. It’s open from 11 am to 9.00 pm.
2. Jungle en voie d’illumination at Jardin des Plantes
Jardin des Plantes is a great place to visit with kids at any time of the year. Over the Christmas holidays, the grounds of the Jardin des Plantes transform into a nocturnal walk among light installations. Each year brings a different theme, and this year – it’s the Jungle.
As you wander past magnificent illuminated structures, you will learn about the ecosystem of the Jungle and more about the species that live there. Advanced booking is required, and the event runs from 22 November 2023 to 21 January 2024. Tickets are €18 for adults and €15 for kids (free for under 3), and you can buy them online here.
3. Festival of Dragons and Lanterns at Jardin d’Acclimatation
Taking the kids to Jardin d’Acclimatation is the highlight of our summers in Paris. It’s the best amusement park in the city, and you can easily spend a whole day here. This year, the park will host its first-ever Dragons and Lanterns Festival from 15 December 2023 to 25 February 2024, bringing together Christmas and Chinese New Year for a festive celebration. You can explore the amusement park during the day and stay for the evening festival which runs from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm.
On your night time stroll, expect lanterns and dancing creatures, Chinese craft workshops, Asian food and even martial arts demonstrations. Tickets are €18 for adults and €12 for kids (free for under 4) and can be purchased online here.
4. Lumières en Seine
Lumières en Seine is returning this year to the Domain National de Saint-Cloud with another journey of sound and light through a night time walk. Technically, it is not in Paris; Domain National de Saint-Cloud is just west on the river Seine’s banks. However, it’s within easy reach by metro. Lumières en Seine is a more than 2km night walk with magical light installations and glowing sculptures, which will take between 1hr and 1hr 30mins to view. It’s open from 17 November 2023 until 7 January 2024, each day from 5 pm to 11 pm. Tickets are €22 for adults and €18 for kids (free for under 3) and can be purchased online here. It’s great for kids of any age and I highly recommend going on this magical walk.
5. Christmas themed cooking class at Chez Bogato
Chez Bogato is a creative and festive pastry shop located in Marais. They are well known for creating amazing tailor-made cakes, but they also have pastry workshops throughout the year where you can learn to bake like a real pastry chef, with family or not. In fact, all pastry workshops can be purchased as gifts, so save this as an idea for a Christmas present this year.
Read my review of the Christmas baking class I took with my daughter this December here.
There are three different categories of Christmas workshops for kids:
- Teen masterclasses (for ages 10+), lasting between 1h30 and 2hrs at €45
- Kids workshops (for ages 4+), lasting for 1h30 at €39
- Parent/Child duo workshops (for ages 4+) lasting 1h30mins at €39
Chez Bogato presents various festive workshops this holiday season, including Christmas and Snowman Cupcakes, Christmas Macarons, Christmas Cookies, Decorated Christmas and Gingerbread Shortbread, Christmas Log, and Fir Tree Cake.
The store is in a lovely spot, just a short walk from the beautiful Hôtel de Ville with its Christmas market and the BHV Marais department store. Stroll around the Marais neighbourhood and browse through wonderful shops nearby.
6. My First Nutcracker (“Mon Premier Casse Noisette”) at Theatre Mogador
When “The Nutcracker” starts playing, you know Christmas has arrived.
At the Théâtre Mogador in Paris, a special treat awaits younger audiences as they present the renowned ballet “The Nutcracker” in a simplified version for kids. This performance is curated and performed by Karl Paquette, the star dancer of the Paris Opera, accompanied by a troupe of skilled professional dancers. The ballet promises to captivate young imaginations with its breath taking sets, mesmerizing costumes, and top-tier choreography meticulously crafted by Fabrice Bourgeois, the ballet master at the Paris Opera.
The performance runs from 2 December 2023 until 25 February 2024, and ticket prices start at €29. The show duration is 1h20mins (with a break in the middle) and you can buy your tickets here. The show is recommended for children aged 5 and up.
7. Les Folies Gruss
The Gruss family-owned circus Les Folies Gruss is an excellent outing for the whole family. Renowned for its equestrian showcase featuring acrobatic feats and entertaining comedy skits, it’s a surefire hit if your children are fond of horses. Hosted in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, within the 16th arrondissement of Paris, the Folies Gruss show is a fantastic experience.
Marking a momentous milestone, the Alexis Gruss Company commemorates 50 years of performances in Paris — an extraordinary accomplishment spanning six generations of dedicated artists and the passing down of equestrian expertise. The show runs from 21 October, 2023, to 25 February, 2024, and lasts 1hr30mins. The performances are twice daily at 3 pm and 9 pm. Ticket prices range from €20 to €79, depending on your preferred seating arrangement. Click here to book your tickets.
8. Go ice skating
You can experience the joy of ice skating in Paris at any time of the year at the permanent indoor ice rinks such as:
- Palais Omnisports de Bercy (Accor Arena) in the 12th arrondisement
- Pailleron staking rink in the Espace Sportif Pailleron in the 19th arrrondisement
- Olympic ice rink at Boulogne-Billancourt just outside Paris but still easily accessible by metro
Over the Christmas holidays, smaller open-air ice rinks around town pop up for the holiday season. Head to the Christmas Market at Jardin des Tuileries for the best festive skate. It’s the liveliest market in Paris and perfect to visit with kids because of the many rides and attractions. Open until 7 January 2024, it has a 1,200m2 outdoor ice rink and even includes an area reserved for little ones to twirl and revel in the winter magic.
9. Festival du Merveilleux at Musée des Arts Forains
The Festival du Merveilleux is an opportunity to discover the Pavillons de Bercy – Museum of Fairground Arts in a different way. The museum houses a collection of heritage objects, including rides and attractions dating back to the 19th century. At the end of each year, the museum opens its doors for the Christmas Festival du Merveilleux. During this special event, all museum rooms are accessible, and there are live performances from aerial dancers, tap dancers, burlesque clowns, and others.
This year, the Festival runs from 27 December 2023 to 7 January 2024, putting spectator sport in the spotlight. The Festival is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Tickets are €22 for adults and €14 for kids (free for under 3), and you can buy them online here.
10. Christmas window displays
And finally, make sure to include a visit to the Parisian department stores to admire the stunning festive decorations. Each year, the stores transform their windows into animated Christmas displays, perfect for enjoying with kids. Here are five Parisian stores that promise a magical experience in any given year.
- Les Galeries Lafayette: don’t miss the enormous indoor fir tree, a centrepiece placed annually in the heart of the department store. Admire it up close from a glass walkway.
- La Samaritaine: Indulge in a world of gourmet treats and the universe of Willy Wonka, celebrating the film “Wonka.”
- Le Printemps Haussmann: discover a paper-themed window display full of letters and messages telling a beautiful story of wishes coming true.
- Le Bon Marche: This year, the store features Giant Teddy bears in various window scenes, from the bakery to the kitchen garden.
- Le BHV Marais : Explore beautiful decorations set in a magical forest brimming with exquisite flora and fauna.