The Holiday season is when, more than ever, Paris lives up to its name the ‘City of Lights’!
If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, you will be rewarded with the most magical events of the year.
The Christmas lights are a major attraction for tourists and Parisians. One of my favorite is the prestigious Place Vendôme with its forest of giant illuminated trees. And the Avenue Montaigne with the chic illuminations of the fashion houses like Dior. Not to forget the Champs-Elysées.
Every Paris neighborhood (Montmartre, the Marais, Saint-Germain…) is staging its’ streets and monuments for a beautiful and sparkling seasonal atmosphere. Paris is best seen at night, when its’ architectural landmarks are lit up in all their glory.
The Galeries Lafayette department store is a must-see with its giant tree under its magnificent Art Nouveau dome. The Printemps, Le Bon Marché and the BHV Marais store windows also put on a show with amazing theater sets featuring animated figures and magical decor created by gifted artists and designers. They are a source of wonder for both children and grown-ups.
With the holidays, there Is something for everyone. If you like concerts, this is your time! From musicals to classical music and candlelit piano concerts in beautiful old churches. Not to forget the ballet season at the Opera Garnier. This year, the Michael Jackson On the Wall exhibition is at the Grand Palais from Nov 23 to Feb 14!
From December onward, Christmas markets pop-up all over the city from chic Saint Germain to Montmartre, and the Trocadéro. At the authentic Gare de l’Est market, you can sample genuine pretzels, gingerbread and Christmas biscuits, Alsace wine and Christmas decorations. Made up of wooden chalets they all create a warm and magical Christmassy atmosphere.
The perfect treat on a chilly day is a steaming cup of « Vin Chaud » (mulled wine scented with orange, cinnamon, star anise and ginger) to keep you warm. These markets are the perfect place to pick up Christmas decorations, arts and crafts, and French regional food.
Did you ever think you would ice skate in Paris? Well, you can! In the last few years, Paris has added ice skating rinks in the most wonderful places I will tell you about.
If you are travelling with your children, the Château de Vaux le Vicomte (outside of Paris) gets decked out in fairy tale decor for the holidays. The façade is illuminated as well as the lavish interiors. A truly wonderful family experience.
No Christmas dinner here! Traditionally, the Parisians will have a (very) late meal on Christmas Eve -called the “Reveillon”– featuring a vast array of fancy treats including oysters and other sea food delicacies, foie gras, roast turkey with a chestnut stuffing, cheese and of course the “Bûche de Noël” (Yule log cake). The French don’t hold back on the spending when it comes to culinary customs for that occasion, it is all about delicious food and wine. People shop in the traditional street markets as well as in the deluxe shops. You might want to bring some home to share with your family and friends? I will advise you.
You can have a great “Reveillon” too! Perhaps you will choose a dinner cruise along the Seine? Travelers love them all year long but in December it becomes even more magical with great food and spectacular views. At night the lights of Paris drift past while you are sipping your Champagne. Or maybe a Parisian cabaret like the Moulin Rouge? For Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve all the cabarets in Paris have some special evenings in store for their guests. Dine and celebrate with Champagne. No Christmas or New Year’s ‘Eve celebration in France is the same without it!
France might officially be a secular country but the tradition of Messe de Minuit (Midnight mass) lives on. It’s no surprise, given the array of stunning cathedrals and churches like Notre-Dame and the Sacré-Cœur across Paris, which are packed for that occasion. Beautifully lit with candles, every one of them has a Nativity from the first Sunday of December.
For New Years’ Eve, the City of Light offers plenty of ways to say Bonne Année! (Happy New Year!). Whether your preferred style is clubbing the night away, a good meal with a view, or a glass of champagne shared with thousands of other people on the Champs-Elysées (the center of the party on December 31). And of course, the Eiffel Tower displays a sparkling dance of light at the stroke of midnight. I will help you choose the best spot!
Will 2019 bring you to Paris?