The ‘City of Light’ more than lives up to its name at Christmas time, when the streets and shops are festooned with colourful Christmas decorations and sparkling lights. For a truly wonderful spectacle, head for the Champs Elysées where all 200 trees are covered by lights, from 15th November right through until 5th January 2014.
1. Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
As well as the Christmas illuminations lining the avenue, the Champs Elysées also hosts the largest Christmas market in Paris, stretching from the roundabout (Métro Champs Elysées-Clémenceau) to the Place de la Concorde (Metro Concorde). The market is open daily from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm; Fridays and Saturdays until midnight, until 5th January.
2. Illuminations - Paris Big Wheel
We can’t mention Paris Illuminations, without mentioning the Big Wheel in the same sentence. This offers one of the most exciting rides at Christmas, with unique views of the Paris Christmas lights and the illuminated monuments, from the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysées, to the Louvre, and over to the Eiffel Tower. Located at the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens, on Place de La Eiffel Tower. Located at the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens, on Place de La Concorde, it is lit up from November until February, from 10.30 am until midnight.
3. Christmas Tree at Place de la Concorde
Traditionally, the largest Christmas tree in Paris was always put up in front of Notre Dame, but from last Christmas, it has moved to Place de la Concorde. One of Europe’s highest trees, it stands 35m high and is in place from 6th December until 3rd January.
4. Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Trocadéro
This takes place at the Trocadéro Gardens, opposite the Eiffel Tower, and features around 100 wooden chalets, selling Christmas related food and gifts. In addition there is an ice skating rink and ‘snow villages’, ideal for children. Open daily from December 12th, 2013 to January 5th, 2014. Métro: Trocadéro.
5. Christmas market at St Sulpice
This charming and authentic Christmas market, has the huge fountain outside the magnificent St Sulpice church as its centrepiece, and is also conveniently close to many of our rental apartments. It offers a large variety of art, handicrafts and some delicious food products everyday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., from 11th – 24th December. Métro: Saint Sulpice.
6. Ice skating at l’Hôtel de Ville
Paris City Council has set up this impressive 1635 m2 ice rink in the large square in front of the Hôtel de Ville, which has become one of the symbols of Christmas in Paris. Entry is free, and it is just €5 for skate rental – everything to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible, including a smaller area for children and beginners. Opening hours are noon until 10 pm, Monday to Friday, and 9 am until 10 pm Saturday and Sunday, from 21stDecember until 2nd March 2014. Métro: Hôtel de Ville.
This winter circus offers ideal entertainment for children of all ages. It is located in a small 150-year-old amphitheatre, dating from the time of Napoleon III, in Oberkampf. Performances run until 2nd March 2014, and include magic acts, acrobats, trapeze artists, tigers and clowns. 110 rue Amelot, 75011. Métro: Oberkampf.
8. A musical for the children – La Belle et La Bête
Another idea for the children is to get tickets for the musical, Beauty and the Beast, ex Broadway, and now being enjoyed French audiences. With its wonderful stage sets, costumes and Disney magic, there is also much to inspire younger English audiences as well. Showing at the Théâtre Mogador, 25 rue Mogador, 75009. Métros: Trinité, Havre-Caumartin or Chausée d’Antin Lafayette.
Those with gourmet tendencies may well be interested in a walk with Paris by Mouth, an enterprising organisation run by a group of food writers. They organize 3 hour walks (with plenty of tastings too!) around particular neighbourhoods, visiting speciality shops and markets, most days of the year. The tours can be taken either in small groups (€95 per person) or in private groups. The website also serves as a wonderful compendium of recommended food shops, including bakeries and chocolate shops, restaurants, wine bars and wine shops. Definitely worth investigating further!
For a memorable Christmas dinner, there is always the option of a dinner cruise with Les Yachts de Paris. This floating luxury restaurant, offering cuisine by Guy Krenzer and a wine list selected by Olivier Poussier, costs €120 per person, including drinks. It departs at 8.30 pm from Port Henri IV, and lasts 2 ½ hours. Métro: Sully Morland.
And a few charming and cosy St Germain apartmentsstill with Christmas availability: