It’s not nicknamed the ‘City of Light’ for nothing: Paris’ Christmas lights are a major attraction for locals and tourists alike. In fact, visitors come from all over the world to admire the avenues and boulevards decked out in magical colours for the festive season – with everything from luminous arches with multicoloured bulbs to flickering flames and sparkling light projections.
Displays and illuminations generally start in November and run until the beginning of January. One of the French capital’s most famous avenues appropriately packs a punch as far as lights are concerned – this year will be no exception as Blachère Illuminations takes over the majestic Champs-Élysées with their ‘Scintillance’ display. Combining traditional lights with modern sparkle using LED technology, it should be top of your list for visits between 22nd November and 8th January.
Nearby on Rue Faubourg-St-Honoré, renowned brand Baccarat will be dazzling passers-by with chandeliers and seasonal decorations, while a forest of sparkling fir trees will illuminate the streets and facades around historic Place Vendôme – including Rue de la Paix, Rue de Castiglione, Rue Saint-Honoré and Rue des Capucines. In Bercy Village from 16th November, Christmas displays will take the form of an enchanted garden decorated with string lights and small hanging firs, with an eye-catching starry sky specially designed for the Cour St-Emilion, plus a vast 11-metre-high tree. This is a magical place to visit on a chilly winter’s day, and good for children too with its reindeer, caribou, elves and Santa Claus sleigh.
And if that’s not enough… in keeping with Parisian tradition, the facades of the grand department stores – Le Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, BHV and Le Bon Marché – will be adorned with stunning festive decorations for Christmas. Windows filled with colourful trees, darting fireflies and gift-wrapped parcels will be a draw in themselves, regardless of your shopping intentions afterwards. Wrap up warm and be prepared to linger for a while outside, as some stores put on amazing theatre sets featuring animated figures and magical decor in an interactive world… great fun to watch.
Nothing beats soaking up the French capital on foot – but for weary legs there’s always the ‘Paris Christmas Lights’ coach tour, whose itinerary weaves strings together the Palais Garnier, Place Vendôme, Place de la Concorde, Champs-Élysées, Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Louvre, Notre-Dame and main department stores on one giant, glittering thread.