Christmas Sparkles in the City of Lights
By contributor Jenny Bailey
Given its reputation as the City of Lights, it’s no surprise that Paris really comes alive during the festive season, when Christmas lights illuminate the streets and major sights. For much of the year it’s the Eiffel Tower that offers the greatest helping of sparkle; come winter time, the rest of Paris gets to join in. These are some of the best places to soak up the Parisian Christmas lights this year:
Offering one of the grandest stretches of festive lighting in Paris, the Champs-Élysées is lit up in pretty colours from November through to early January. The 450 trees which line this famous French avenue are hung with tiny fairy lights, all the way from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe; a spectacle often referred to as les illuminations. Taking a stroll here when the lights are up can make you feel like you’ve stepped right into a Christmas card.
Every year a huge Christmas tree is erected beneath the intricate gothic façade of the Notre Dame Cathedral, often standing more than 20 metres high. Resplendent in decorations and bright with festive lights, this is a special seasonal scene which should not be missed. You can choose to attend a service, or experience the annual nativity sound and light show projected regularly within the nave. Either way, a visit to Notre Dame will undoubtedly provide a hearty addition to that overall Christmas feeling.
Disneyland ParisNotre Dame
The festive season is already underway at Paris Disneyland. The entire park has been transformed into a winter wonderland – complete with ice-skating rink, fake snow, and a giant Christmas tree. There are colourful lights adorning every building, including Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which is especially sparkly at this time of year. In true Eurodisney Paris style, every day of December feels like Christmas, and there are special events happening daily. However, it’s after the sun goes down and the lights come on that the park really becomes enchanting.
Department stores around the world tend to be at their most magical during the Christmas season, and this is certainly the case in Paris. While most shops will get into the spirit of things, it’s the department stores of Boulevard Haussmann which offer some of the most decorative Christmas window displays. For almost half a century the capital’s grandest stores, including Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette, have been renowned for their incredible window displays and decorations. In fact, every year the exterior façade of Galeries Lafayette is decked out in over 150,000 lights, making it a popular annual spectacle.
So, whether you’re ice-skating with the kids at Paris Disneyland, or Christmas shopping in the heart of the city, you’ll find Paris certainly lives up to its name as the City of Lights.