The season of Christmas on the Champs-Élysées

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Christmas on the Champs-Élysées takes place for nearly two months, from mid-November to early January. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris is then decked with lights and enchantment to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Until 2017 the Arc de Triomphe shared the spotlight with a temporary counterpart on Place de la Concorde: the great Ferris Wheel of Paris.


The lights of Christmas on the Champs-Élysées

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées © French Moments

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées © French Moments

The fairytale lights in the trees lining the Champs-Elysées are probably the most famous images of Paris at Christmas. More than 26 million strollers come to the Champs-Élysées each year to admire the Christmas lights.

This has now become a tradition and every year. From late November to early January, the Champs-Elysées is flooded with lights hung in its trees. The cold air creates a mist that hangs in the trees. It gives a magical feeling as you walk down this street with your big winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves keeping everything but your red nose warm!

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

In 2010, the 200 out of the 450 trees bordering the Champs-Elysées were illuminated on Friday 19th November. A clever lighting was made up of 6km of blue fairy lights (which are lower in electricity consumption).

In 2013, every half-hour and hour were punctuated by changes in colour and rhythm giving the lights an enchanting effect. The 200 trees bordering the Champs-Élysées changed colour from white to purple, red and orange. Sparkling stalactites and beads added the finishing touches to the rings of light in a magical display.

For the 2014 edition, a new lighting is introduced, called “Scintillance“. Designed by French company Blachère, it is a fantastic creation of lit cascades set on the 400 trees of the avenue. It includes 64km of fairy lights and one million LEDs.

The turning on of the lights is celebrated ceremoniously by a national celebrity. Over the past years, it has been Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Johnny Hallyday, Marion Cotillard (2008), Charlotte Gainsbourg (2009), Mélanie Laurent (2010). Then Audrey Tautou (2011), Diane Kruger (2012), Laetitia Casta (2013), Omar Sy (2014). On the 18th November 2015, actor Jean Dujardin was invited to switch on the lights during an official ceremony. The event was cancelled following the Paris Terror Attacks of Friday 13 November the Paris Terror Attacks of Friday 13 November. On the 21st November 2016, French judoka Teddy Riner was invited to switch the lights on and the guest of honour was Lily-Rose Depp in 2017!

On 22nd Novembre 2018 Karl Lagerfeld is invited to switch the lights on!

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

Then, on the evening of the 31st December, the Champs-Elysées is closed to traffic. This creates a wide space for pedestrians to celebrate the coming New Year.

The 2018 illuminations of the Champs-Elysées take place from 22 November 2018 to 9 January 2019 from sunset.


Christmas on the Champs-Élysées and the Xmas former market

Christmas market in Champs Elysees Paris 2015 © French Moments

Christmas market in the Champs Elysées, Paris © French Moments

The Champs-Elysées Christmas market was first organised for Christmas 2008 with 90 chalets (little wooden stalls). Painted in white, the chalets were an immediate success amongst Parisians and tourists alike. The Christmas market has become the first Parisian event. In 2012 it attracted 16 million visitors in 6 weeks, far ahead of Paris-Plage with 2 million visitors.

From 2013 to 2016, the Christmas market took place with 160 stalls typical of the Vosges. It offered to their visitors hand crafted items perfect for original gifts, mulled wine, waffles, crêpes and other Alsatian delicacies, and many rides and activities for children.

A market on the Historical Axis

Faithful to the Alsatian tradition, the Christmas market was worth visiting for its festive animations in the spectacular vista of the Historical Axis.

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

The Champs-Elysées Christmas market bordered both sides of the avenue between the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées and the Place de la Concorde. Visitors enjoyed the vista of the market from the Rond-Point, reaching the iconic Obelisk of the Place de la Concorde and the enchanting Ferris Wheel – la Grande Roue de la Place de la Concorde.

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées, Paris © French Moments

The originality of the market was that it featured a number of rides for children: a merry-go-round, the little Christmas train, and a sledge course.

A magical ice-skating track was set up close to Place de la Concorde where skaters evolved among a little winter wonderland landscape.

Every night, Santa was seen riding above the Christmas market on his sledge…

In 2017 the Christmas market on the Champs-Élysées was cancelled. Another market will take place in the Tuileries Garden in 2018.


The Grande Roue de Paris (Ferris Wheel)

Until 2017 one of the most beautiful views of Paris at Christmas could be enjoyed on board of the monumental Ferris Wheel temporarily took centre stage on Place de la Concorde. The great wheel was ideally located along the Historical Axis. It offered a great view of the Eiffel Tower and River Seine.

Grande Roue et Fontaine Place de la Concorde © French Moments

Ferris Wheel of Place de la Concorde © French Moments

The top of the wheel reached 65 metres and offered a stunning view over the Historical Axis. From the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe and the towers of La Défense. From the Tuileries Garden to the Louvre. Most of Paris’ great monuments could be seen too. The Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse Tower, Notre-Dame, Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur and much closer, the Madeleine Church and Palais Bourbon.

Paris Ferris Wheel Place de la Concorde

Christmas on the Champs-Élysées © French Moments

The Ferris wheel stood on place de la Concorde for the very last time from November 2017 to May 2018.

Find out more about the Ferris Wheel on Place de la Concorde.


The Christmas Tree on place de la Concorde (2012)

2012 Christmas tree on place de la Concorde, Paris © French Moments

The 2012 Christmas tree on place de la Concorde, Paris © French Moments

In Christmas 2012, the Christmas tree was moved to Place de la Concorde where it echoed the famous Luxor obelisk with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The tree was one of Europe’s highest at 35 metres and came from the Vosges mountains in Lorraine.


The Grand-Palais des Glaces

The Grand-Palais welcomes two festive events alternating every other year: the Grand-Palais des Glaces and the Jours de Fêtes au Grand-Palais.

In 2014, for two weeks, the Grand-Palais host the “Grand Palais des Glaces” event which included Europe’s largest indoor ice-skating rink. More than 300,000 visitors were expected over the Christmas time this year to skate on a iced surface of 2,500 m2. It will again take place for the 2016 Christmas season.

In 2015, the stunning nave welcomes the “Jours de Fêtes au Grand-Palais” event under the great glass dome which comprises of a fun fair with a ferris wheel and 50 exciting rides.

Grand-Palais by night © French Moments

Grand-Palais by night © French Moments

Metro station: Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau (lines 1 and 13) or Franklin-Roosevelt (lines 1 and 9)


More info about Christmas on the Champs-Élysées

Place de la Concorde, Paris by night © French Moments

Place de la Concorde, Paris by night © French Moments

The celebrated Avenue des Champs-Élysées is synonymous with glitz and glamour. The Avenue and its district are part of the Voie Triomphale (Triumphal Way): the Historical Axis. This magnificent vista runs through some of Paris’ most celebrated monuments and squares. From the Louvre and the gardens of the Tuileries to La Défense, passing through the Champs-Elysées, which are dominated by the famous Arc de Triomphe. The Grand-Palais and the Petit-Palais are grand additions to the area from La Belle Epoque period.


Find out more about the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Christmas in Paris.

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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