Unmissable ways to spend time in Paris in November
Winter in Paris is a beautiful time, but there's so many things to see and do - luckily we've got the skinny on what you can't afford to miss
Starting mid-November, visitors from all over the world as well as native Parisians flock to the Champs Élysées, the big department stores such as Le Bon Marché, and various districts of the city to take in the spectacular displays of decorative lights.
Stay on the Champs Elysées at The Sophisticate
Sipping mulled wine and nibbling on traditional delicacies such as roasted chestnuts and sausages, soft pretzels and crepes is all part of the fun. There are plenty of other activities and events on offer as well—November is also recognized as Photography Month—but in the runup to Christmas and Chanukah, it’s all about the festive spectacle.
Stay on the Champs Elysées at Rue Marbeuf
Christmas Lights/ Lumières de Noël
Starting mid-November, the city is transformed into a sparkling Christmas garden ablaze with color. Thanks to programs such as Paris illumine Paris, which is responsible for decking out more than one hundred Parisian streets and squares with festive illuminations, you won’t walk far without coming upon a twinkle light or two.
A beautiful place to stay is The Piano Factory in Montmartre
Must-stop spots include Avenue des Champs Élysées (strung with Christmas lights and lined with 400 Christmas trees), Avenue Montaigne (the haute couture hub of Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada and more), all of Montmartre, and Bercy Village. In some areas, traditional takes on holiday décor are giving way to edgier urban interpretations. Bercy’s 2018 holiday decorations, which open November 16th, are the work of street artist Jordane Saget, known for his chalk drawings on Paris streets.
Christmas Window Displays/Vitrines de Noël
While it’s the rare Paris shopfront that doesn’t pay homage to the holiday with at least a wreath or string of colored lights, when it comes to Christmas decor, the city’s Big Four of department stores can be counted on to pull at all the stops.
Boulevard Ornano is beautiful mix of modern & traditional apartment choices
Their Christmas windows displays, often centered around a theme, veer between works-of-art and mini, encapsulated theatrical installations.
Created and installed by talented artists and designers, these winter fairyland scenes are designed to delight “children” of all ages. While you’re there, why not nip inside and tick off your gift shopping list a month early?
- Le Bon Marché – The inspiration for Emile Zola’s novel, Au Bonheur des Dames, the modern luxury retail temple dates to the 1850’s.
- Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville, today best known as Le BHV/Marais, the store’s exterior window display is a must-stop during the Christmas season.
- Printemps Haussmann – This luxury department store in the Art Nouveau style attracts 7.5 million visitors a year, more than the Eiffel Tower. During the Christmas season, its decorated front windows attract close to eight million spectators.
- Galeries Lafayette – Opened in 1894, the store once hosted chanteuse Edith Piaf, who sang on its front steps in 1951. The store offers free 45-minute guided tours for groups of 10 to 20.
Christmas Markets/ Marchés de Noël
As the bridge month between fall and winter, November’s generally gentler temperatures make it an ideal month for exploring the city’s outdoor Christmas markets.
Stay close to the markets at Rue du Cherche Midi VII
Traditionally, these charming Bavarian-inspired mini shopping villages span the Advent season beginning four Sundays before Christmas. Below is a sampling of those that open earlier, in late November.
- Village de Noël des Champs Élysées – Every year from mid-November though early January, more than 15 million people stroll this celebrated avenue-cum-Christmas market. Along with the 400 Christmas trees lining both sides of the street, every shop, lamppost, café and historic landmark is lit with lights. (In accordance with Paris’s Plan Climat, only LED Christmas lights are allowed). Attractions include merry-go-rounds, free children’s shows, an ice rink, and an assortment of pop-up restaurants and bars.
- **Place des Abbesses *Christmas Market*** - Starting November 28th, twenty wooden chalets are set up around the carousel on the Place des Abbesses. This smallish Christmas market has a distinctly artsy vibe, with many artisans selling handknit items and vintage and other one-of-a-kind clothing. For kids, there are carousel rides and weekend visits with Père Noël. Sponsored by the Lepic-Abbesses Merchant’s Association.
- Christmas Village on La Defense Esplanade - Paris La Défense, the city’s main business district, hosts a popup village with more than 300 chalets selling traditional arts and crafts as well as holiday goodies.
- Noëlle Dans Les Étoiles (A Starry Christmas) – Starting November 27th, this Christmas Village in the former market district of Les Halles features more than seventy wooden chalets selling crafts, decorative items, and food and drink, various entertainments and the opportunity for kids to whisper their wishes to Père Noël. Located at the Place Joachim-du-Bellay (1st arrondissement), around the Fontaine des Innocents.
- Italie 2 Christmas Market - The Italie 2 shopping centre, at Place d'Italie, is encircled by twenty chalets for Christmas.
Happenings for Humbuggers
For those who prefer to skip the handmade woolens, gingerbread men, and Christmas gnomes, Paris in November offers plenty of alternative events and activities to please any culture lover’s palate.
Smart Art is the perfect choice for people looking for a little more space and a little less tradition
- Portes Ouvertes d’Artiste d’Anvers Aux Abbesses/Artists’ Studios Open House Days Anvers to Abbesses – Every third weekend in November, artists and artisans from the Abbesses/Anvers corner of Monmartre welcome the public into their studios. Stop in at 8 rue de Milton (9th arrondissement) for a map of the locations of the participating ateliers or visit the website.
- Le Festival d’Automne à Paris/The Paris Autumn Festival - Founded in 1972, this comprehensive art festival covers the contemporary arts in all its forms including visual arts, performance, theatre, dance, music and cinema. Every year, from September to December, the Festival holds more than fifty events, attracting a total audience of more than 100,000.
- Paris Photo Show – The largest international photography art fair, every November Paris Photo brings together up to 200 exhibitors from around the globe. Galleries display works from established masters and emerging talents. Book launches, curated exhibits, awards and talks with artists, curators, collectors and critics are featured in this four-day program, held in the Grand Palais. (Nov 8-11, 2018)
- Salon de la Photo/Paris Photography Fair - This five-day photography fair draws professional photographers and amateur enthusiasts. Programming focuses on technological innovations to the craft and includes various screenings, talks and workshops, all held at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Europe’s largest exhibition arena.
- Salon du Cheval de Paris/Paris Horse Show - Horse enthusiasts won’t want to miss this month long equestrian celebration featuring 2,500 horses and 450 exhibitors. Sporting highlights include the Paris Indoor Horse Competition (show jumping, dressage, harness, vaulting), the Longines Masters de Paris international horse jumping, and the World Arabian Horse Championship, and the Nuit du Cheval (Night of the Horse), an equestrian circus accompanied by experimental percussion instruments. The Salon du Cheval Parade sets horses and horse-drawn carriages through the city streets. A village with free, kid-friendly entertainments includes pony rides for the little ones.
- Salon des vins des vignerons indépendants (Independent Wine Producers Fair), takes place over five days starting November 30th at the Paris Expo at the Porte de Versailles. A modest admission fee garners you a festival wineglass for strolling the stalls and unlimited tastings of the many vintages on offer.
- Also, on the third Thursday in November, the arrival of the first release of Beaujolais Nouveau wine is celebrated in Paris bistros and cafes. It’s the perfect excuse to raise a glass. Santé!
- Salon du Chocolat/Paris Chocolate Show – The world’s largest gathering for all things chocolate, the Salon du Chocolat is part trade fair, part public exhibition. Each year, around 130,000 international chocolatiers, chefs, artisan producers, foodies, and chocolate devotees pack the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles for five days of nonstop chocolate in all its forms: gourmet, gastronomic, artistic, and cultural. Along with tastings and demonstrations, workshops and lectures, there is a fashion show featuring chocolate frocks and other sinfully sweet wearables. Free admission.