Paris at Christmas time is simply wonderful, there is no better time to visit the city. During the biting cold of December the French capital is warmed under the glow of a million twinkly Christmas lights. The city of love is a great place to stock up on Christmas presents, romance your special one or simply fill your belly with buckets of mulled wine and hot chocolate.
During the festive period, Paris has a break from being the European capital of chic and instead covers itself in sparkles and lights. It’s a bit like that cool girl in the office who doesn’t speak to anyone all year then gets drunk and comes to the Christmas party wrapped in tinsel and wearing a santa hat. She belts out Mariah Carey on karaoke and everyone surprises themselves by actually loving her. In December, Paris is that girl and guess what? We love her!
In Paris at Christmas fancy boutiques and designer stores adorn their facades with lights and baubles. Christmas trees take over pavements and Vin Chaud (hot wine) replaces coffee as the drink of choice. After spending last Christmas in the heat of Queensland, we found wandering the Christmassy streets of Paris an utter delight. Even the iconic Eiffel Tower had a huge Christmas bauble hanging from its middle. Albeit a giant Shepard Fairey Obey bauble, but a Christmas bauble none the less.
The festive marchés de Noel (Christmas markets) are spread along the length of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. These are the largest Christmas Markets we have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Hundreds of wooden cabins line the iconic street selling everything from woollen socks to Russian dolls, French cheese and Bavarian sausages.
We wandered up and down, taking our time and enjoying the sights and smells of Christmas. We set up camp in the food and drink area and enjoyed a few too many glasses of Vin Chaud. On our first evening in Paris we walked the entire length of the marchés de Noel and somehow we kept getting drawn back to it each night of our trip. It was cheesy and chintzy and everything France usually is not, but we loved its Christmassy charm and feel good factor.
A visit to the upmarket Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette is a must on any Christmas itinerary in the city. The store is home to designer brands like Burberry and Dior as well as high street fashion, makeup and fragrance counters and family favourites like the Disney store. During December a huge sparkling Christmas tree sits under the glass dome at the top of the store. Not content with looking at it from underneath, we had to view it from the balcony of every level to fully appreciate its sparkles. The window displays at Galeries Lafayette are like mini art installations and it took us at least half an hour to walk alongside the store. The stunning Christmas displays had us gawping at the windows and smiling like, well, kids at Christmas.
In fact, smiling like kids at Christmas pretty much sums up our whole trip to Paris, we spent the entire time grinning from ear to ear. So if you could do with an injection of festive cheer visit Paris at Christmas, if you’re anything like us, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face.