Christmas in Paris

Sep 15th, 2010, 07:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 15
Christmas in Paris

My husband and I are going to be in Paris for Christmas, a total of 5 site seeing days (not counting travel days). This is my husband's first visit to Paris, so we decided to book a hotel near the Louvre: we are walkers and despite the chance of bad weather, we want the opportunity to wander out of the hotel and be in the center of things. We love strolling along streets just looking at architecture and lights. And, we can always cab or metro to alternate neighborhoods. I need some suggestions on a couple of items:
1) I want to arrange a private guided tour of the Musee du Louvre and am looking for suggestions for tour guides.
2) Does anyone have experience with booking a Christmas dinner in Paris? I am reading online that I should not be worried, but I am afraid that most places will be closed due to the holiday. Plus, hubby can be a bit picky - he doesn't even know what foie gras is, much less willing to try a bite.
3) I am planning a river cruise the first evening - but not a dinner cruise (see above hubby comment and yes, I had him look at the menu) Do you suggest I book online in advance or just take my chances that on a chilly December evening I'll be able to find a cruise with a couple of spots open (which will have the advantage of us being more flexible with our timing).
4) Concerts during the Holidays - I have looked at a couple of online services for tickets, but what I am really interested is the smaller churches hosting music during the holidays. Does anyone have some knowledge in that area?
katbird_sat is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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We will also be in Paris for Xmas, staying in an apartment near the Louvre. I plan to have our dinner reservations done in the next week as have read they can be hard to come by due to a lot of restaurants being closed. We plan to go out Xmas Eve.

Here's a link to a great Paris restaurant a list of restaurants open on Xmas

Here's a list of churches with concerts and links to schedules
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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don't miss the department store Christmas windows at au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette - the ornate displays of moving fairy tale figures, etc draws huge crowds

and the Christmas market at La Defense is also beguiling
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:20 AM
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well, yes, you are going to have to plan for Christmas dinner if you are picky, as a lot of places are closed. I don't know where you have been reading not to worry or what that means. YOu will have to make reservations and your choice will be limited, and it will probably cost more than usual due to the holiday. Now that is assuming you don't want to just eat wherever you find a place open, say a cafe or crepe stand, which I assume you do not.

YOu absolutely do not need to reserve a seat in advance for a Seine river cruise that does not include dinner. I have never done that even in the peak of summer. IN fact, I didn't even know you could, but I admit I never looked into it. Some places you buy online just give you the ticket, but it doesn't reserve you any seat or any particular time (like vedettes de Pont Neuf). The only boat trips where I thought you could reserve were for the dinner or lunch trips.

I go to smaller churches all the time in Paris for concerts or recitals, and don't go to the tourist concerts (ie, Sainte Chapelle). I have only bought tickets in advance a couple times when it was something of special interest or demand (like a Russian choir with a limited engagement). I just buy an entertainment guide when I get to Paris, and pick out which ones I want to go to, that's all. There are some that are free and many others with very cheap tickets of say 10-20 euro. You can buy either Pariscope or l'Officiel des Spectacles, they are real cheap. They are in French, but you should be able to make out days and times and venues and the sections for concerts and music, I would think. They usually have something going on around CHristmas involving choral music in various churches that may be free or very cheap.

YOu may not be aware you can buy a weekly entertainment guide at any news kiosk for about 35-50 centimes, they come out on Wednesdays.

That above URL just lists a very limited number of churches that have concerts, and then steers you to a ticket agent. The kind of small concerts and recitals I go to are often free or not even sold by ticket agents.
Christina is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Nice time to go.

1) A lot of people here recommend Michael Osman. A search here will give you some info. He is contacted via e-mail
2) can't help, only been early december. Tell husband "When in Paris...". Start him with terrines.
3) Vedettes du Pont Neuf is my standard recommendation. They have a website with discount coupon. Go after dark (will be easy!)
4) look at A lot of churches have regular eveing concerts. A nice one to look for is at St Chapelle.

Les Grands Magasins is a great area to go this time of year. The window displays are outstanding, for kids of all ages. Champs Elysee is not bad either, for the views (place de la Concorde might be good place).
Michel_Paris is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:27 AM
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Pariscope and L'Officiel des Spectacles are the two weekly event magazines that I look for. A lot of information in there. Not sure if they have an english section (I speak french).
Michel_Paris is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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As for Christmas dinner, if you just want a fairly standard meal at a good price, I would recommend one of the Chez Clement restaurants. They have a good variety of things on the menu, have very pleasant atmospheres, and are reasonbly priced (around 35 euro for prix fixe). They are open a lot when others are closed, and are open Christmas, I believe.

I usually go to the one in Montparnasse, but the one around Bastille is very popular also. I imagine any would be fine, they have standards.
You can look at their carte, but they may have a special Christmas dinner menu, a lot of restaurants do. WHich is why I'm thinking it could be around 35 euro, normally it is cheaper. They have a good online reservation section, and you can reserve for Dec 25th.

Aside from that, this website lists several good choices, depending what kind you want (family, gastronomic, branche which means trendy, etc.) hope you can make it out

The family ones are good choices, I think.

Other than that, I would think one of the big brasseries would be a good bet to be open, such as Bofinger near Bastille. I really like that restaurant and their food is very good, I think. I also like Le Grand Cafe near the Opera Garnier, and they are open all the time when other places are not. Website lets you reserve for Christmas, also.
Christina is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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We were in Paris a couple of years ago at Christmas. We arrived Christmas eve morning, and explored during the day, had a late lunch, and picked up a light dinner to eat in the apartment that evening. We were going to go to a 10:00 concert at a nearby church (they had a sign outside announcing it), but we were just beat after a long day and turned in early.

Christmas day was perfect. We walked to the Jacquemart-Andre Museum (passing many open cafes), toured the museum, and had lunch in their dining room. We then walked down to look at the Christmas windows in the big department stores, walked through the gardens at the Palais Royal, and walked back to the apartment along the Seine. We had Christmas dinner reservations at Bofinger. I made the reservations on-line a few weeks before we left. I'm pretty sure it was the regular menu. The food was good and I'm sure your husband can find plenty of options. The restaurant was filled with French families--though they may have been visitors (not Parisians) as well.

On-line comments about Bofinger always recommend sitting under the stained glass ceiling downstairs but we ate upstairs and I found I liked the atmosphere there better. More cozy and quiet.

Weather accounts are anecdotal and though we had cloudy days, it only really rained once and the temperatures were in the 40s, low 50s. Temperate for us, who live in Boston.
cw is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19
I suggest Paris Muse for a private tour of the Louvre(and many other museums)

The guides are all graduate students in art history, architecture, etc. and there willonly be a maximum of 4 people in your group. Need to reserve in advance.
swatto is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 12:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 15
Thank you for all the suggestions! Thank you for the advice on the guides, the restaurants, the boats and the guides for finding the smaller venues and concerts. We are traveling from San Antonio Texas, and will need to follow all your tips on layering! Yes, we were planning on spending time at Les Grands Magasins and seeing all the lights.
katbird_sat is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 12:27 PM
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Paris Walks are good also, but group sizes vary from 5-20.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Hi Katbird_sat, From one Texan to another - You will love Christmas in Paris, we are going to be there before and after, a couple of years ago we did Le Train Bleu for Christmas Eve dinner, the food was not spectacular (I would say good), but presentation and atmosphere were fun.
returntoyourseat is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 12:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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We stayed here for 2 weeks this summer. See: Nadine Studio 30 sqm Paris 9e near Montmartre/Opera E-mail : [email protected] Website :
jkbritt is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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katbird, this thread has some excellent recommendations, some of which I have taken advantage myself. You say your husband is picky, but at Bastille location of Bofinger, I have had venison which was absolutely delicious and was eagerly tried by my two sons, one of whom was only 8 at the time and generally rather afraid to try new things. That said, I did all the ordering for them without giving them much choice, and I hardly remember anything they disliked terribly, including foie gras! Perhaps you could take that toke with your husband if he doesn't speak French - you do the ordering and let him do the tasting.
crepes_a_go_go is offline  

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