The holidays in Paris are simply enchanting! With the Christmas markets, the festive atmosphere and outstanding shopping, it's a fun and exciting time of year to visit the City of Light.
Spend Christmas in Paris
Although you might not think of it at first, winter is also your chance to experience a more intimate side of Paris. Sure the temperatures are cooler, but that means it’s just perfect for showing off those stylish winter boots, wrapping up in a warm scarf and enjoying a brisk walk along the Seine. Warm up afterwards with a vin chaud or rich hot chocolate at a café and savor Paris without the crowds. Go the Louvre and spend time lingering over that famous smile of the Mona Lisa without being jostled around or stepped on.
Love shopping? Well then Christmas in Paris is a dream. You'll want to stay on after the holidays so you don't miss the Paris Winter Sales in January. There's so much to see and do during the holiday season in Paris. Read on to find out more of our favorite things about Christmas in Paris.
Festive Christmas Markets in Paris
The holiday cheer arrives in Paris with the opening of the Christmas Markets around the middle of November. The Champs-Elysées Christmas Market is one of the earliest to start, and it sets a grand scene stretching along the famous boulevard starting with a gleaming Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde. If you're planning a winter trip to Paris in November or December, don't miss the chance to experience this fun and festive holiday tradition in France. You'll find charming wooden chalets selling crafts, gifts and delicious food throughout Paris. There might even be one just around the corner from you Paris Perfect vacation rental! The majority of the Christmas markets open throughout December and run until the holidays, but there are some that open earlier in November to kick off the holiday spirit!
Read about our favorite Christmas Markets in Paris here.
Holiday Shopping in the World's Most Fashionable City
Looking for something special for your family and friends for holiday gifts this year? Why not find unique presents from Paris this year? You'll be very popular, that's for sure! Paris is not only a fashion capital but also one of the best shopping cities in the world. Make your list, check it twice … and hit the streets of Paris for holiday shopping like you've never experienced it before!
Marvelous Christmas Windows
The Grand Magasins, or department stores, are one spot you won't want to miss for shopping. The holiday windows at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps deserve a mention all their own since they're fun for the whole family – even if you're just window shopping. Join the crowds gathered on the sidewalks ooohing and aaahing over the lavish and creative designs. The soaring tree below the glass dome central court is always absolutely enchanting. Next door the holiday windows at Printemps should also be seen.
Galeries Lafayette always promises to be a burst of holiday fun. The Christmas decor at Galeries Lafayette are usually on display from mid-November through early January.
Christmas & New Year's at the Moulin Rouge
Enjoy a spectacular show and a special Christmas dinner or ring in the New Year in an unforgettable way at the Moulin Rouge. There is usually a special Christmas menu, with the exception of an over the top fabulous New Year's Eve menu on December 31st.
Ice Skating in the City of Light
Need to burn off a few calories from one too many macarons … if there is such a thing? From mid December to the end of March a large ice rink is set up in front of the beautiful Hôtel de Ville. You'll also find ice rinks at many of the Christmas Markets in December, especially the Trocadéro Christmas Market where you can ice skate with the Eiffel Tower as your backdrop.
Step into the grandeur of one of the many churches in Paris. Unfortunately, the wonderful Notre-Dame mass will not be held for the foreseeable future. On Christmas Eve, the series of masses around the city start in the late afternoon and there are usually several leading up to the midnight mass. Even if you don't make it for Christmas Mass, look around the city during the holiday season to see the beautiful nativity scenes.
Warm Up with Spiced Wine
After the holiday shopping and ice skating you'll need something to warm you right up. Stop in a sidewalk café, which are well heated during the winter months, and ask for a vin chaud – or mulled wine. It will often be served in a glass with slices of orange, a cinnamon stick and honey or sugar if you'd like it a little sweeter. It's so good it always makes us wonder why mulled wine isn't a winter tradition everywhere in the world!
Hot Chocolate Tour of Paris
What better time of year than when the weather is cool to try out the best spots in Paris for chocolat chaud? Our Paris Perfect Hot Chocolate Challenge took us to Angelina, Café de Flore, Café de la Paix and Pâtisserie Viennoise. Those are some of our favorites, but you'll have to do your own taste testing challenge to find yours. It's hard work, but someone has to do it …
Stay for the Winter Sales!
Who doesn't love a good sale? In Paris they really know how to make shoppers happy with the huge seasonal sales. Just after Christmas you can stay on to shop for fabulous bargains at the Paris Winter Sales that will run from January 7th to February 10th, 2015. From deep discounts on designer labels at the Grand Magasins to bargains along our favorite hidden shopping street rue du Commerce, it's a wonderful time to hit the streets shopping in Paris.
(Image Credits: spacejulien, Champes-Elysées image courtesy Paris Tourist Office – Photographer: Jacques Lebar, Pedro J. Concha, Trevor Huxman, Soldes courtesy Paris Tourist Office – Photographer: Amélie Dupont)