There are many people who have Paris at Christmas on their wish list and I’m really not surprised…
Christmas in Paris is famous for a reason – from the displays especially decorated for children at the major department stores, to whole streets strung with lights overhead and shop windows luxuriously adorned for the festive season.
The Champs-Elysées is very special at Christmas – every tree that lines the most world’s most famous avenue is lit up. One of the city’s major Christmas activities is the Champs-Elysées Christmas market which starts at the round-about at the Clemenceau Metro stop and stretches down to Concorde with over 150 stalls set up on both sides of the road.
You will get all sorts of ideas for Christmas gifts as you stroll along listening to American Christmas songs being played overhead! There are winter hats, coats, scarves, scented candles and soaps, Christmas tree ornaments and toys. Some of the things you see might surprise you – like a Santa dressed as a Statue of Liberty. You won’t find a bargain but the prices are fairly reasonable. Children will discover all sorts of rides (and many of the carousels offer free rides at Christmas), a chance to visit Santa in an enormous “glass” snow ball and a darling train. There’s even an ice skating area, consisting of tracks circling back and forth instead of a rink with cute forms to hold on to for the small fry.
Mostly and not surprisingly in the country where gastronomy is part of the national heritage, you will find stall after stall of food. Enormous pans of sausages and onions being fried, tartiflette (potatoes, bacon and cheese) from Alsace, a variety of soups to ease the chill and all sorts of sweets and pastries to finish it off.
If you want something more upscale – stop at the pop-up restaurant built like an Alpine Chalet, Le Comptoir du Marché. Created by Yves Camdeborde, a famous Parisian chef, it’s a reflection of his hugely popular Le Comptoir and L’Avant Comptoir wine bar – complete with sophisticated furnishings, lighting and a band stage for live music. You’ll discover a 400 m² chalet where the famous chef’s signature sublime dishes are available to eat in or take away (emporter). The prices are good, starting at €4 for a starter and main meals from €7. Open 7 days a week from November, 2013 to Jan 4, 2014, Metro: Concorde.
Wrap up warm and come after dark to make the most of your visit at Christmas. All of the chalet-like stalls are outlined in lights, the trees marching down the Champs-Elysées are dressed in funky Christmas lighting, Christmas music is playing and you will find it is just the thing to get in the Christmas mood.
Linda Mathieu, a native Texan, lives in France with her French husband. She was a Paris Tour Guide and is the author of Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide, available at www.amazon.com.
Download our Free Christmas in France 2013 book – it’s packed full of really useful information, fabulous photos and fun French festive facts!