Paris with teenagers is an entirely different experience and I have to say quite enjoyable. This was our second Christmas in Paris with Grandma Linda, but this time with teens. We experienced Paris Christmas markets, dazzling lights, museums, food, shops, sights, scooters, Christmas jammies, independence, games & more!
Remember our first Christmas in Paris with kids, who were 8 & 10 at the time? It was magical and mystical Christmas for us all. It was only a few months after moving to Spain and they’d never experienced anything quite like it. Now skip ahead six years and now we’ve also enjoyed Christmas in Paris with teenagers!
Paris Christmas Map
We’ve created a custom map to show everything we did or mention in this post. You may make it full screen and see additional filter options by clicking the square in the upper right corner.
Things to do in Paris in December
It’s a guarantee when you visit Paris in December, you will find many extra things to do. From hot chocolate to Christmas markets, it is a magical time to visit. We were in Paris for Christmas in 2012 as well, you can read more about our family Christmas holiday here. Below we will also share more about what we found in Christmas 2018!
Paris Christmas Decorations
There is no shortage of Christmas decorations in Paris! From lights twinkling in trees, to hanging banners over the streets. You will know doubt have the Christmas spirit during your visit.
Paris Christmas Ornaments
A Paris Christmas ornament is the perfect souvenir or gift to purchase. They are small, lightweight and usually not too expensive. There are kiosks set up all over the city where you may buy souvenirs. You may also find a Christmas ornament in the shops or at one of the many Paris Christmas markets! You can also see huge Christmas ornaments at the markets.
Paris Christmas Markets
For the most part many of the Paris Christmas markets remain in the same locations, but sometimes there are changes. There used to be a grand Christmas Market along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, but it has since moved to the Tuileries Garden area, near the Louvre.
We enjoyed the Christmas market at Les Halles.
We didn’t see a market directly at Notre-Dame, but there were markets on either side of the river. We’ve had friends in the past enjoy a light show on the Cathedral, but we only experienced the beautiful decorations and trees outside during our visit.
Champs de Mars was a beautiful market, with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop. We visited this one a couple of times!
Other links to Paris Christmas Markets
These are the links we referenced for planning our Christmas in Paris 2018. You may also use them as a reference, but do search to see if you can find the up to date information for the year you plan to visit.
- Best holiday markets in Paris
- The Discovery guide to the best Christmas markets in Paris, click here.
- Paris locals guide
- Also the impressive Christmas Village at La Défense.
Bring your Christmas traditions with you!
Each year we meet up with Grandma Linda somewhere in the world to celebrate Christmas. She usually opens up that suitcase and it is like a Mary Poppins purse, full of endless supplies, decorations, activities and gifts. We of course had decorations for the room, but this year she added a little extra twist to her bag of treats.
Each morning before we ventured out for the day, we gathered in Grandma’s Christmas room for a little Christmas cheer. She had a little stocking for each of us with a gift inside. For Anya the fruit roll-ups were a hit and for Lars it was the pop tarts! There were so many little treats from the US and it was a fun way to start the day. One day we all received Christmas pajamas too! Of course on Christmas day we all exchanged gifts, decorated gingerbread houses, played games and listened to Christmas music.
Things to do with Teens in Paris
Traveling with teens in Paris add a little extra bit of fun. They took part in planning the agenda each day and we even let them venture off on their own!
Sipping Hot Chocolate with Grandma
What’s better than sitting at a Paris cafe sipping hot chocolate with Grandma? It was really a magical moment and so much fun people watching too.
Explore the city on a scooter!
You will notice scooters just parked on the sidewalks all over the city. These are Lime scooters and with the quick action on your smartphone and payment, they are activated! You are free to explore the city in a fun way. When you are done, you can just turn it off and leave it along the sidewalk, or wherever you are! Of course there are city limits and the scooter will inform you if you are getting near the border limits. Even in the chill of December, it is a fun way to see the sights!
Vintage Clothing Shopping in Paris
For the past couple of years, this has been a priority for our teens when we travel. They love to see what deals and cool finds are out there. It was no different in Paris. In fact, they had too many vintage shops to choose from. There were several concentrated in the Paris Beaubourg district and Rue Saint-Denis (3rd arrondissement) and surrounding areas. We’ve got many of the shops on our custom map too.
- Mad Vintage
- Paris Flea market
- There are more on the map and if you roam around the city, as we didn’t hop into them all.
Hit the Museums!
It is highly recommended to purchase the “skip the line” passes for the museums. Even in the winter lines were well more than an hour-long. You really don’t want to waste your time in Paris standing in a line waiting do you?
We tried to go to the Louvre as well as the Musee d’orsay without advance tickets and just couldn’t see wasting the full day waiting in line.
Eating at Hard Rock Cafe
If you want to keep the teens happy, they will love Hard Rock cafe. We even had a vegan with us and it worked! We highly recommend the skip the line diamond menu.
Seek out all of the cool Paris Instagram spots
Of course most of these are at your main tourist sites, but it was fun looking for some of the others too.
Additional things to do in Paris
- Take a bike tour, a great way to see the city without all of the walking.
- A fun group activity try this crazy bike with drinks on the ride at Byke & Co.
- Flyview in Paris – this is a virtual reality experience flying over Paris
- Tuk Tuk rides in Paris – these were all over the city and looked like a great time, just a little too cold for us in December.
- Hop on Hop off bus tours – as you know we love these, but this time we opted for the boat tour, city buses, taxis and trains. This is also a great way to see all of the beautiful Christmas lights around the city.
- Paris for free! These are free things to do in Paris.
- Additional tours and sites in Paris can be viewed here.
Things to do in Paris with kids
If you don’t know what to do in Paris with kids, here are some options for you. Keep in mind we were in Paris with teens, so some of these activities may not suit the toddler.
Zip around on ice skates
Several of the bigger markets offer ice skating in smaller rinks. The kids usually love going ice skating, but this year roaming the city was their priority. Here they were 6 years ago and so little. Christmas in Paris ice skating in Clichy.
Climb the towers of Notre Dame
A kid-friendly guide will bring you to visit the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. By climbing the towers, where you will see the impressive gargoyles. Once you get to the top, you’ll have a great view of Paris and all the famous sights.
Check here for great tours and deals for families.
Go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe
Get the inside story of one of Paris’s most iconic monuments with a guided tour and climb of the Arc de Triomphe. Climb 40 steps to reach the top, where you can look down the grand Champs-Élysées boulevard of the and feel at the very center of Paris.
Check here for great tours and deals for families.
Behind the scenes Parisian boulangerie bakery tour
We really wanted to take this tour, but it wasn’t offered the exact dates we were there. This looks like a tasty and educational experience for everyone, so check it out. Click here to see dates, prices and details.
Take a River Cruise
Hop on Hop off river cruise was the ideal way for us to get around. There were 9 stops along the Seine. We’ve added them to our custom map and all were at locations perfect for us to get out and to explore, then return to the boat for the next adventure. The tickets are good for 1 or 2 days, so you aren’t limited to a specific time and stuck on the boat for an hour or more. Plus the boat is spacious and glass enclosed for great views all around. If that is what you want, you can certainly just stay on the boat for the full loop and not get off. It is your choice. Since this was about the same price as the 1 hour tour, it made sense for us to do. View prices and details here.
How About Bikes?
After walking all day, why not explore a bit more on a bike tour? Baja Bikes offers bike tours of around 3 hours that show you the highlights of the city with an English speaking guide. The routes are comfortable, safe and suitable for children from around 8 years (depending on the city).
Run Around the Trocadero Gardens
This is a great area for the kids to run free up and down the hills and even on some grass. It’s also a great spot for photos of the Eiffel Tower.
Eat crepes and have more Hot Chocolate!
I think Anya won the award for eating the most nutella crepes during our week in Paris. I believe her tally was at about 8 or 9 in total. The rest of us were at 1-3 for the week.
Surprisingly, we had good weather in France in December, both times we visited Paris (2012 and 2018). I am not sure if it was a fluke, but we didn’t want to complain about the upper 40’s or low 50’s temperatures. It wasn’t until our final day out that it was really uncomfortably cold. We were very lucky with the weather in Paris.
Explore the city on public transport
Sometimes for the little ones all of the public transportation options are like a fun adventure all on their own. We used just about every form of transportation and one day we purchased city transport cards. We had a 1 day pass to use any transport and we took full advantage of that. From subways to buses, it was a fun experience. With Google Maps helping you choose the right route, you almost can’t get lost. It didn’t matter if we were walking or riding, we knew where we were going. This is a great way for the kids to learn to read maps and follow navigation. Setup the Google Map directions and let the kids guide you! These are great skills to learn.
Our Christmas in Paris Itinerary 5 days
December 21 – Arrive in Paris
Get settled and explore the neighborhood around our hotel. We stayed at the brand new Courtyard Gare de Lyon and it was an ideal location for us. All of our rooms had beautiful city views and the kids lucked out with a view of the Eiffel Tower too! First morning of Christmas in Grandma’s room.
Check here for details and availability.
December 22 – Day 1 in Paris
Second morning of Christmas in Grandma’s room, Notre Dame, hot chocolate, vintage shopping. We also enjoyed Hard Rock Cafe for lunch (skip the line diamond menu), Christmas Markets and kids had a few hours on their own to explore the city. A little grocery shopping for snacks and drinks in the room. Decorate Grandma’s Christmas room.
December 23 – Day 2 in Paris
Third morning of Christmas in Grandma’s room, subway ride, Arc de Triomphe. With breakfast out at a cafe, we then went to the Museum of Modern Art, Trocadero Gardens, Eiffel Tower Christmas market. Then it was an Italian dinner out and a city bus ride back to the hotel.
December 24 – Day 3 in Paris
Fourth morning of Christmas in Grandma’s room, Lime scooter exploration, small city walks around our neighborhood, games in Grandma’s room, Christmas eve dinner out at the Market. Yum!
December 25 – Day 4 Christmas Day in Paris
Christmas morning in Grandma’s room! Presents, games, decorating gingerbread houses and just hanging out. A little more scooter riding for Anya and Alan, while Lars and Grandma went out for a walk.
Christmas Dinner in Paris
We did it, we ate a second time at the Hard Rock Cafe. Don’t judge, it’s a special treat for us to have “American Food”. They had a special Christmas menu and the place was packed! It’s a good bargain to buy the skip the line diamond menu, but on this day we used their regular menu. I have to say it was perfect.
December 26 – Day 5 in Paris
Hop on Hop off Boat, Louvre and Musee d’Orsay grounds, Christmas Markets, Eiffel Tower, dinner in at the hotel.
December 27 – Depart Paris
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