Of all the places to visit
during the Christmas season, there are a few icons: New York for shopping and
Rockefeller Center; Finland for Santa's village; the Caribbean for the
anti-White Christmas. But what about somewhere a bit more elegant, a bit more
cosmopolitan, a bit more romantic?
There's Paris. The City of
Lights is at its brightest during Christmas time, when the whole city gets
swept up in the holiday spirit. Here are the best ways to enjoy the Christmas
season in Paris:
Christmas Markets pop up
around the city in late November and stay throughout the holidays. Of all the
markets, the one at La Defense is known for being one of the best; there are
also markets in Montmartre and at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees by the
Place de la Concorde. At these markets you can find handcrafted gifts for
everyone on your list, plus all the crepes, raclette and hot wine you can
Is there anything more
romantic than ice-skating at Christmas in the world's most romantic city? The
Hotel de Ville has always been a place to ice skate throughout the winter, and
during the Christmas season, the atmosphere has never been cheerier.
Alternately, hit up the Champs-Elysees Christmas Market for an outlandish ice-skating
rink featuring blaring music and animatronic animal puppets!
It might seem unnecessary to
pick out one Paris neighborhood as being more Christmassy than the others – but
if there had to be one, it would be Montmartre. In the Place du Tertre, the
famous square filled with artists and their subjects, strings of bright blue lights
hang on the trees, while the surrounding cafes are each illuminated in a
different bright color.
Finally, if you've visited
Paris in the warmer months, you've no doubt sat outdoors at a café, enjoying a
coffee or glass of red wine and watching the world go by. But who says you
can’t do the same in the winter? Most Parisian cafes have nondescript heating lamps
beneath the roofs, allowing you to make sitting outside a year-round activity.
Paris is already home to some
of the world's most elegant department stores, designer fashions and often
ostentatious displays. As you might expect, these go into overdrive during
Christmastime. Be sure not to miss the shopping center Galeries Lafayette, with
its dome and Belle Epoque architecture, as well as the chic Au Printemps and Le
Bon Marche stores on the left bank. Afterward, head to the Champs-Elysees, Paris'
most famous street and gawk at the holiday displays and giant Christmas bows
that line the streets.
Christmas is a magical time
of year in many cities – but in Paris, you might have your most memorable
Christmas of all.