Imagine spending Christmas in the most magical city in the world, Paris.. Sounds like magic on magic on magic on magic! There’s the sparkling street lights, the beautifully decorated window displays, the abundance of heavenly holiday treats, but it’s also more than that. The people themselves, the parisiens are happier, there’s a certain joie de vivre all over in the street that’s not there all year long, it’s a happy time.
The city becomes eye candy:
Around Christmas time, even a month or sometimes two before, the city also known as the city of lights starts putting up the Christmas light. Let’s be honest, they put on a great show. Trees are draped with twinkling lights, decorations are strung across the streets, and shop windows are decorated with gifts and lights. One of the most impressive decorations is the Champs Elysees where all trees leading up to the Arc de Triomphe are covered with lights. My personal favorite, is right next to the Champs Elysees, it’s the avenue Montaigne Christmas lights, do check it out!
Department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Le Bon Marche go all out for Christmas with the world’s best (in my opinion) world window decorations for the whole family! it’s kind of like Harrods decoration in London, magical.
Wooden chalets line the streets with festive holiday markets. These markets originated in Germany but are now being held in many other countries. The ones in Paris open around mid of November, so even if you are visiting before Christmas, you will also get the chance to experience Christmas in Paris.
There are many of these markets in Paris during that time, there’s the one at the Champs Elysees, Saint Germain des Pres, Hotel de Ville, Trocadero, la Defense.. and many others!
You’ll find artwork, jewelry, crafts, toys, delicious sweets and food. It’s going to be cold, but you can always warm up with some Vin Chaud (hot red wine).
While visiting the Champs Elysees, go all the way down and climb aboard the huge Ferris Wheel at the Place la Concorde for a dazzling view of the city lights (in the evening of course).
If you are feeling adventurous and you’re ready for a day trip, or even to spend a night in Strasbourg, you should definitely go and check out the Christmas market in Strasbourg, it’s one of the most beautiful markets in France. It’s held around the Cathedral since 1570. On top of that, Strasbourg is absolutely beautiful!
Christmas Mass at Notre Dame de Paris:
On Christmas Eve, the series of masses start in the late afternoon and there are usually several leading up to the midnight mass (which is always very crowded). For more information on the timings, check out Notre Dame de Paris’s website. Christmas day begins with the chiming of the bells, which you’ll hear throughout the day marking the celebrations of mass.
Even if you don’t make it to the mass, do visit to see the nativity scenes and get a photo of the big Christmas tree out front!
Ice Skating in Paris:
You can do that in several locations. The biggest one is set up in front of l’Hotel de Ville. There is also one at the Trocadero Christmas market, where you can ice skate while looking at the beautiful view with the Tour Eiffel in the back drop. Also on the Champs Elysees, and at the Grand Palais (near the Champs Elysees).
Many restaurants will be closed on Christmas Day as Christmas in France is all about the family, so make reservations for Dec. 24 if you want to enjoy a nice holiday dinner out. Don’t worry you will find somewhere to go, but there won’t be too many people in the street though, specially during dinner!
If you are travelling with children, do go to Disneyland Paris, they host Disney Enchanted Christmas, with Santa, special holiday shows, festive decorations, and brilliant lights the kids are sure to love.
If you are planning on staying longer, well.. right after Christmas and New Years, beginning of January there’s the annual winter sale! The sale in Paris is not to be missed, it’s the greatest time to shop!