At just 2 hrs 16 mins from London St Pancras, Paris is the perfect destination for a pre-Christmas break. A visit to the numerous Christmas Markets in Paris is the fastest way to get into the holiday spirit when visiting the City of Light. Whether you want to do a bit of gift shopping for your family and friends, stock up on delicious foods for your Christmas table, or treat yourself to something chic to wear over the party season, you won't have to worry about getting it all back home as you can take two suitcases free of charge on Eurostar. You can find fares as low as £39 to Paris mid-week in December, freeing up more cash for your shopping.
If you're looking for something a bit less strenuous, just soak up the atmosphere, enjoy some fine dining and relax. This year, Christmas Markets in Paris run from 19th November 2022 to 1st January 2023.
The city offers about 15-20 Paris Christmas Markets you should visit during your trip, whether you’re looking for the perfect gift to place under your Christmas tree or if you want to be immersed in the French culture by sipping hot mulled wine and sampling tasty sausages, cheese and chocolates. Some of the main ones include one opposite Notre Dame in the 5th arrondissement at Square Viviani, another outside the church at St Germain des Pres and one in the Tuileries gardens this year. On your way to or from the Eurostar, drop into the Marché de Noel Alsacien at the Gare de l’Est, just a 10-minute-walk from the Gare du Nord, where you can pick up some specialities from Alsace for your Christmas feast.
Even if you don’t visit one of the markets, the atmosphere around Christmas in the City of Lights is more than enough to enchant you. The smell of chestnuts roasting on street stands wafts through the bustling streets and trees strung with lights turn the city into a winter fairyland.
Hop on the number 80 bus from Montmartre to Ecole Militaire after dark, and you’ll be treated to some of the city’s prettiest Christmas lights. Make sure you get a window seat for the best views as you cross over Faubourg St Honoré and the Champs Elysees, then travel down magical Avenue Montaigne and end up in front of the Eiffel tower in all its glittering glory.
Take advantage of Eurostar's 2-bag luggage allowance and bring an empty case on any shopping trip to Paris. Even if you manage to resist the city’s ever-so-chic boutiques, you can stock up on plenty of delicious treats to bring home.
For regional specialties and wintry specials head to the glorious halls of Lafayette Gourmet for a foodie shopping spree. Drop by upmarket La Grande Épicerie a chic department store, le Bon Marché, for artisanal preserves, and creamy Bordier butter. It's pretty much the Paris equivalent of Harrods Food Court. Head into any Parisian pharmacy to discover French women's best-kept beauty secret - a tube of Homéoplasmine ointment, a multi-purpose cream in every French family's bathroom cupboard. For hard-core fashionistas, more modish bounty awaits at concept stores: Centre Commercial, L’Éclaireur and Nous.
Need more inspiration? Here are some off-piste picks.
For Christmas feasting, in-the-know shoppers head to this Haut Marais deli for sides of salmon, cold-smoked over alder wood and cut into succulent slices. Shelves are stocked with produce from south-west France, from tins of caviar d’Aquitaine to Armagnac-laced terrines. While you’re here, pick up a jar or two of the creamy taramasalata, generously laced with crab meat or spiked with Espelette pepper.
Gilles Vérot is known in Paris (and beyond) for his stellar charcuterie, from rich, truffle-laced saucisson to silky, slow-cooked rillettes. Come Christmas, though, it’s all about his show-stealing pâté en croûte, filled with pistachio-studded pork, perhaps, or fig-layered duck breast. Covered in intricate pastry-work, it’s a failsafe festive standby in case of unexpected guests.
In business since 1761, Paris’s oldest sweet shop still does a roaring trade. Behind a historic green-and-gold façade, it’s gloriously old-fashioned, with its polished wooden counter, aproned staff and jars of brightly coloured bonbons. As Christmas approaches, exquisite marron glacés are added to its repertoire: wonderfully sticky candied chestnuts, wrapped in a twist of gold foil.
This bright, airy interiors store is beautifully pared-back – and, as its devotees know, stocked with must-haves for savvy dinner hosts. If your Christmas tableware’s not quite up to scratch, it’s the ideal place to upgrade. Plump for a set of Portuguese stoneware plates or brace of flirtatious champagne coupes. Shopping complete, head to its Scandi-style café for a restorative cinnamon bun.
There’s hardly room to swing a baguette in Laurent Dubois’ cheese kingdom, where visitors can nibble their way through samples in search of fromage nirvana. Comté aged onsite might float your boat, or perhaps you’ll leave with quince-layered Roquefort (vacuum-packed for travel, bien sûr). Laurent won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France – the Oscar of the craft world.
Add some exoticism to your sudsing sessions with this irresistible yuzu soap from L’Officine Universelle Buly. Artist-designer Ramdane Touhami has given the beauty brand a modern makeover: cue Instagram-ready packaging a-go-go. Drop by the boutique on rue de Saintonge, where in-house Grand Café Tortoni serves delicate madeleines and dreamy hot chocolate.
Add Amélie charm to any outfit with Macon & Lesquoy’s kooky jewellery. We love the twinkly, sequinned brooches, which cleverly conceal tears and rips in clothing. The Paris-themed box of four sweet hand-embroidered pins could be shared with friends (or solo-hogged). There’s a multitude of accessories to pick from, including mice, mouth and magic-bunny motifs.
Crêpe to your heart’s content at beloved Breizh Café, then pop in next door to pick up their famous pancakes’ key components. The tiny grocery’s well stocked with buckwheat, Bordier butter and salted-caramel spread. Further Brittany-sourced temptation comes in the form of zingy perry (a pear spin on cider), artisanal jam and flavour-packed pasta.
Got a favourite Parisian ’hood? Flaunt it with Kerzon’s covetable neighbourhood-inspired candles, scents and accessories. Take an olfactory stroll through Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Île Saint-Louis and Place des Vosges, all inspired by iconic moments in the city. Other cues to part from your euros include fancy matches, illustrated maps and perfumed skin mists.
A great market for a family break or weekend shopping trip at 2 hrs 1 min from London.
Ideal for a day trip, you can be browsing the Christmas market in just 1 hr 30 mins from London.
The perfect place for a romantic Christmas break, and just 3 hrs 30 mins from London.
The oldest Christmas market in Europe and one of the prettiest.