There’s a nip in the air, but with Christmas right around the corner, Paris always seems to shine a bit brighter during the holiday season.
But all those extra bobbles and balls do not mean you can’t still find some affordable cheer around town.
It’s not too late to book one of the best cheap hotels in Paris and head to the City of Light for a holiday getaway as 2019 turns into 2020.
More Paris budget tips
• Paris on the Cheap: The top 25 free things to do
• A guide to finding the best time of year to visit Paris
• 10 ways to prepare for your Paris vacation
Have you ever dreamed of visiting Paris in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Here are six easy ways to celebrate in Paris à la Cheapo.
1. Bask in the glow
Through early January, the city’s iconic streets are aglow with holiday lights, Christmas window displays and the sounds of the holidays. Of special note are the trees and lights at Place Vendome (through January 2020) the festive decorations hanging across rue Montorgueil, and of course, the ever-campy but always appreciated displays on the historic Champs-Elysées (November 24 to January 8, 2020).
2. Stroll with mulled wine
To appreciate the lights, be sure to grab a cup of hot wine (vin chaud) to go while strolling the streets. The Christmas markets, while selling plenty of trinkets, do manage to provide enough of the sweetened, spiced wine to make them worth a trip. Once the holidays are finished, the wine is still available in most cafés, and is often a bit tastier — and it doesn’t get cold as quickly.
Check out the official Paris tourism website for the 2019 list of markets and holiday activities.
3. Feast for less
Holiday eating in Paris can be tricky because many places close on December 24, 25, and January 1, but diners won’t starve, even on a budget. A simple yet exceedingly affordable meal can be had at old favorite Chartier while those looking to drop a bit more can have a four-course Christmas meal (including Champagne!) at the famed Coupole for €75. Though it may seem steep, it’s a lot cheaper than many holiday menus around town!
4. Hit the rink
Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time in Paris huddled away. Strap on your skates or rent a pair and hit the largest rink in the world at Le Grand Palais from December 13 to January 8, 2020. You can also skate at the Christmas Market at Champs de Mars right under the Eiffel Tower (through January 2020). If it’s a bit too frigid outside, the Patinoire Pailleron by the Parc de Buttes Chaumont is a bit more tolerable with its indoor rink and costs just a few euros to take hit the ice.
5. Toast the New Year
Although there haven’t been fireworks for several years in Paris on New Year’s, the Eiffel Tower does offer a lively light show, and the Champs-Elysees is the place to be if you want to join the throngs. Otherwise, don’t expect much more than a Champagne toast at midnight and some rabble-rousers in the streets.
6. …and cut the cake
There is more to look forward to in early 2020. On January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, you’ll see bakeries decked out with the galette des rois, the frangipane-based cake that ushers in the New Year. A small figurine of the baby Jesus is hiding inside each cake, and French tradition holds that he or she who finds the token in their slice buys next year’s cake.
Did you find the baby? Congratulations! You can start off the New Year in debt — vive la France!
Have you been to Paris during the holiday season? Tell us what you like to do during your visit!