In Paris, stores often add extra opening hours to their schedule so everyone can have more hours to spend their cash on their friends and loved ones for the holiday gift giving frenzy. But it never seems to be enough for this conflicted hallmark-holiday-poo-pooing population. I can’t even tell you how many French people have said to me over the past decade that Christmas has been over commercialized by the USA, yet there they are squeezed in the boutiques like sardines trying to find the best deal on presents or the perfect indulgence for giving.
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Post by Jenny Bailey
From the glistening of Christmas lights to the city’s silver white winters, there’s no denying that December is one of the best times of year to visit Paris.
So whether you’re keen to step out into the crisp wintry air, or you’d rather stay snug indoors, here’s what’s going on in and around the capital to help you make the most of your voyage en ville.
I went to see the lights get switched on at the Champs Elysées this year. First time I have done this.
The city has updated their holiday light display and has put in place super ecological lights that are saving much more energy than they used to.
Diane Kruger was the invited celebrity to come flip the switch to light up 200 trees with around 1.5 million lights on about 10 kilometers of LED light strings spread out over 2.5 kilometers of prime Paris real estate.
The lights will be lit every night from 5pm to 2am until January 10th.
I then went wandering around the central part of Paris, and gathered some holiday cheer for you all in the form of photos….
Post by Jenny Bailey
During the Christmas season, Paris is brimming with festive merriment – especially when it comes
to beverages. In the period leading up to Christmas, locals traditionally meet up with their friends
and loved ones for a seasonal drink. Bars are full of people laughing, joking and toasting each other’s
good health « á ta santé! » With some of the best cocktails in the world invented in the City of Lights,
there are plenty of places suitable for a Christmas knees-up. Here are some of my festive favorites :
Mulled Wine on the Champs Élysées
Paris’ largest Christmas market takes place on the Champs Élysées and is a great place to pick up
a cup of mulled wine, known in France as vin chaud. This winter beverage is typically made from
red wine, sugar, cinnamon and lemon and isn’t typically as sweet as some other countries’ recipes.
With a cup of warm wine in hand, visitors can browse the many stalls for French seasonal souvenirs,
which include gingerbread and Bûche de Noël.
White Lady at Harry’s New York Bar
Swap your snowball for a cocktail that looks far more festive, (and tastes much better too). The
White Lady, made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and egg whites, is amongst several famous
cocktails that were invented in Harry’s New York Bar on Rue Danou. These concoctions include
the Sidecar, the French 75 and, it is often disputed – the Bloody Mary. The glamorous bar was
formerly frequented by the likes of Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and even James Bond is a fan,
proclaiming it the best place in Paris to get a solid drink.
Glass Slippers at Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris holidays are magical around Christmas time – the parades, the lighting of the tree ceremony and even
the novelty Santa hats resplendent with Mickey Mouse ears. The resort is also a surprisingly
good place to get a cocktail, and there are plenty of themed bars around Eurodisney Paris to choose from. At the
Disneyland Hotel, befriend the staff at Café Fantasia and see if they’ll mix you up a Glass Slipper
which consists of prosecco, crème de violette and white rum. This is one cocktail which will make
you feel like a princess this holiday season.
Cranberry Mojitos at Ave Maria
Lest we forget the true meaning of Christmas, there’s always Ave Maria. What could be more fitting
around Christmas time than raising a glass or two in a bar named after the mother of Jesus? The
cocktails here are as quirky as the décor, which is themed around Hindu Gods. One of the most
famous creations is Agua Borabora served with mango, kiwi, vodka and champagne, but as it’s
Christmas go for something slightly more festive like a Cranberry Mojito.
Bloody Mary at the Ritz
With the Christmas drinking follows the inevitable Christmas hangover and we’ve yet to find a better cure than the Bloody Mary. There’s a bit of a disagreement in Paris over which bar first invented the Bloody Mary, the Ritz or Harry’s New York, but one thing we do know is that both bars make an excellent version. This Christmas tipple is an essential part of the holiday season and the elegant surroundings of the Ritz will certainly make that hangover a bit more bearable.
These are just a few of the many seasonal cocktails that you can sample in Paris. With a whole host
of traditional wine bars and many Christmas markets located around Paris, this is one city that has
seasonal drinking covered – Santé!
Post by Jenny Baily
One of the defining features of Christmas in Paris is its many Christmas markets, also known
as “marchés de Noël”. There are many different markets happening throughout December, from
the family fun of EurodisneyParis, to the chic market of the Champs-Elyseés. As well as providing an opportunity to pick up
some charming Christmas gifts, these markets add a hearty dose of Christmas cheer to the French
Avenue des Champs-Elysées
The most popular Christmas market in central Paris is the one which stretches all the way from the
Place de la Concorde to the Champs-Elysées roundabout. With as many as 160 traditional chalets
lining this famous street, there is plenty to see. There’s even a huge Ferris wheel at the Place de la
Concorde. Sip mulled wine as you stroll along the Champs-Elysées, taking in the festive atmosphere
and incredible Christmas light displays.
With 350 stands, this is one of the largest and most well-established Christmas markets in Paris.
Located among the high-rise buildings of the business district, this is an impressive market and
worth taking the time to visit. The numerous stalls sell everything you would expect from a
traditional Christmas market, from refreshments to gifts, and there is even an ice skating rink to
keep visitors feeling festive.
Even if you’re planning Disneyland Paris holidays with the family, you needn’t miss out on the
traditional Christmas market experience. Every year the Disney Village is transformed into a
Christmas wonderland, complete with wooden chalets and festive stalls selling everything from
toys to seasonal refreshments. The entire park celebrates Christmas throughout November
and December, and there are even daily snow showers to help create an authentic Christmas
Place des Abbesses
In the heart of the very pretty Montmartre district, the Places des Abbesses features a small but
perfectly formed Christmas market in December, selling a range of local wares from handmade
jewellery to French sweets. Montmartre is a wonderful part of the city to explore on foot, and if you
can’t find what you want from the market there are plenty of charming local boutiques in the area.
The Montparnasse Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Europe, and while it’s not the most beautiful
building in Paris, tourists can make the most of its height and enjoy incredible views from the 56th
floor. During winter there’s another good reason to visit – the Christmas market across the street
which specialises in regional French delicacies. This is a great place to pick up some French cheeses
and festive pastries.
Joyeux noël everyone!
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.
My pals at the Sugarplum Cake Shop are already ridiculously talented and amazing, but you should see them when the holidays come around, they transform into Sugarplum fairy-godmothers-tinkerbells-and Titanias before your very eyes!
(see the Christmas menu video at the bottom of the page)
The Sugarplum Cake Shop : 68 rue Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris France. Cake shop, tea room and land of the sweets!
Here’s just the tip of the iceberg of what these ladies fairies are capable of :
The Galaries Lafayette dresses up real snazzy for the holidays.
The famous « vitrines de noël » this year are themed : « Show Chaud Noël » (meaning Hot Show Christmas) and features scenes from musical shows with show tunes playingover loud speakers and small bears and dolls as the characters.
It’s fun for the whole family!
(Maybe somone complained over last years windows…they were a little provocative).
Well here’s a peak!
Bring the kids to see the « vitrines » it’s fun and free, and there is even a special place made just for the little ones to get a good view right in front of the windows. Boulevard Haussmann, Métro station Chaussée d’Antin-Lafayette.