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Special events for Mom & teenage daughters around Christmas

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Sep 15th, 2013, 01:40 AM
  #1
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Special events for Mom & teenage daughters around Christmas

I'll be in Paris with my daughters (16 and 17) this December during Christmas week. Planning details now and so many questions:

(1) I'd love to find a couple great events, such as a gala art opening or a private gourmet event or a special performance or some other happening intended for natives to do in the evening instead of or in addition to going out to dinner. Any ideas where I can find out about this stuff?

(2) Planning an excursion to Versailles and I'm toying with the idea of going out there on our own, instead of with a tour, but not sure how: for example, which train line, where to pick up the train, what metro to take to the train, how to get from the Versailles train station to the chateau, etc. Any suggestions on where to find out about these details?

(3) Has anyone ever gone to Notre Dame on Christmas Eve? Was it a madhouse crowd? Did you have to go hours and hours in advance and wait on line? Was it amazingly beautiful? Great music?

(4) Any suggestions for restaurants open on Christmas Eve or Christmas night for dinner -- local-y vs. touristy, with really great food?

(5) Which department stores would you recommend for awesome eye candy around Christmas/great displays, etc., and what stores or shopping areas do you recommend for actual shopping (inexpensively) for teenage girls?

(6) Anybody done one of those cooking classes where a small group cooks together and then eats dinner together once it's cooked? Which would you recommend?

THANKS!
dearlisa1974 is offline  
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Sep 15th, 2013, 05:48 AM
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I will try to answer a couple of your questions but suggest that you search this forum for trip reports by travelers who have been in Paris at Christmas time.

When you get to Paris check out events for the week such as concerts in churches, etc. Our favorite

Take the RER C to Versailles (Rive Gauche).

I'm mainly responding to move your post to the top as I have never been in Paris at Christmas. Lots of things will be closed Christmas eve and Christmas day.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 07:06 AM
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You could look at Sainte Chappelle for their concerts in the evening. Notre Dame will be quite busy and crowded, consider Christmas day instead or one of the many other beautiful churches in Paris for CE.

Galleries Lafayette and Printemps have inventive window displays, be prepared for crowds. Try rue Commerce in the 15th for less expensive shopping with teens.

Also,, chocolate shops usually have lovely window displays but they are all over Paris.

Also consider Opera Garnier or Opera Bastille for other events to attend. Also, look into Lisa Burros. She offers concierge services and may be able to help with special events, cooking classes or dining options.
We went to a ballet at Opera Garnier a few years ago....the building is exquisitely beautiful.

We dined at Le Train Bleu on CE a few years back. It is a beautiful restaurant, a bit touristy but we enjoyed it. Paris starts shutting down in the afternoon on CE, so your options will be limited. The larger hotels will have dining options. We went to Le Cinq on Christmas day...decadent and pricey! Also, consider the areas of Paris where the residents tend to not be Christian, therre will be more open in those areas on CE and Christmas day. If you are staying in a hotel, they can help with dinig options. Most small local places will be closed. I believe that Chez Clement chain in Paris is open on CE and you can reserve online.

See above for the right RER train to Versailles....go early to be there when it opens. It will be crowded.

I haven't done a cooking class but many recommend Cooking with Class.

The link to my TR from our Christmas trip to Paris from a few years ago, is above.

You will also enjoy the local Christmas markets....the big ones are on the Champs Elysee and at La Defense. I like the smaller ones around the neighborhood churches. Not sure where you are staying but the hotel can direct you to one close by.

We are also going to be there over Christmas....it's a great time to be in Paris.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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About 20 years ago my college student daughter and I tried to go to Notre-Dame on CE, and it was a madhouse. We left and went to the service at eglise de St.-Germain-des-Pres, which was much lower key and near our hotel.

Le Train Bleu would be my pick for dinner; it's just as Denisea says. www.le-train-bleu.com

Happy planning and travels!
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Sep 15th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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Yes Printemps and Galleries Lafayette draw huge mobs during Christmas - including the week after to their fanciful picgture window displays facing the sidewalks. Do not miss them! Great for kids of ALL ages.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 10:32 AM
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Printemps and Galeries Lafayette always have the best window displays. Bon Marché isn't bad, but it is not in the same category. BHV is generally pretty lame, but now that it has been fully taken over by Galeries Lafayette, perhaps it will be better this year. Here is a report that I made about Christmas in Paris last year: http://tinyurl.com/nnbadmz

For a truly exceptional event, I recommend visiting the Musée des Arts Forains if you are Lucky enough to be there when it is open to the public. It is a private museum and is now apparently rented out to private events up to and including Christmas day, but it opens to the public right after Christmas and through New Year's... or at least that's how it has been the last few years.

Here is the report I made about it the year that I went (when it was open on December 24th): http://tinyurl.com/2vl8mw3
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Sep 15th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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I think any of the major dept stores would be a good place to go to look at displays, they are all near each other anyway. As for cheap shopping, there are some cheaper chain stores in any of the major malls (like Les Halles or Montparnasse), as well some on the Champs-Elysees (the chains Zara and H&M are there, of course they are elsewhere, I just named one place you'd know).

I don't think they would have any gala art opening during Christmas week, although I'm not sure what you are thinking of. Do you mean a private art gallery where you would need cocktail attire? Usually those are for people on their list who they know, and benefits are the same way and require large donations. YOur children are a difficult age as certain adult events wouldn't really be appropriate for them.

They may have some special events listed on the Paris Tourism website, although those won't be very secret. I often look at www.fnac.fr to plan for special performances when I travel (under Spectacles).

I think lots of basic guidebooks will give you the basics on how to get to Versailles, and the Versailles website itself does, of course. There is no one answer as to which metro to take to connect to the RER to get there, if you understand how metro systems work, they are interconnecting lines that run all over the city. YOu will have to learn how to read system line maps if you use them. YOu get to Versailles on the RER C that runs through Invalides stop for one place where you might connect. YOu have to be careful to get on the right train, there are illuminated lights telling you the stops of a particular train (and the one to Versailles is mainly called VICK, I believe, the name on the front, although there are probably others). YOu have to get on the line that goes to Versailles Rive Gauche (line C5).


Paris Tourist Info also has suggestions of where you can go for Christmas Eve dinner http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-...-christmas-eve
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Sep 15th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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There is usually a Christmas market on the Champs Elysees. It can be fun strolling through it.

We've enjoyed attending the ballet at Palais Garnier, seeing the department store displays and just wandering around looking at the decorations.

Last year we went to Madeleine to see their creche. It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen. All of the figures were stark white with computer monitors for faces. I did not understand the message but I'm sure it was profound. I think they do some kind of quite creative display every year.

It is a great time to be in Paris! Have a fantastic trip.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Ha! I didn't see that. Sounds quite weird.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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Beyond weird....it was creepy!
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Sep 15th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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One more thing that you all might enjoy, is to make a reservation at a place like Angelina or Un Dimanche A Paris for hot chocolate and sweets one afternoon. The salon de thé at Un Diamanche a Paris is lovely and the shop is a beautifully displayed sugar high...their macarons are wonderful. It is located near the Odeon metro stop in the 6th. Angelina is located near the Louvre.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 05:31 PM
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Catherine Reed, proprietor of Reed Restaurant in the 7th, offers cooking classes during the day. Don't know if they would be offered during Christmas week.

Reed
11 Bis Rue Amelie | 7th Arrondissement, Paris, France
01.45.55.88.40
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Sep 16th, 2013, 01:50 PM
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Check out what I gather is the most elaborate and popular Christmas Market in Paris - at La Defense, where you can also climb the Grande Arche de la Defense to get nifty views over all of central Paris straight in line with the Champs Elysees and the Louvre - as well as the Arc de Triomphe - all in a straight line from this newer Arc de Triomphe, part of former President Mitterand's so-called Grandes Projects that left such an impact on Paris with contemporary architecture like this arch, the Biblioteque National (TGB a take off on TGV) - the Monde Arab and several new parks.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/riki_tomo/8461875609/

Another neat thing for anyone of any age to do is to rent icew skates and skate around Paris' most popular outdoor skating rink set up annually in front of the Hotel de Ville - On a Christmas Day itself it was humming as was, surprisingly to me, all of central Paris with zillions of folks milling about, cafes and small stores open and even some museums - Christmas Day in gay Paree ain't the wake it is in much of the Christian world as the French traditionally celebrate Christmas Eve with a traditional family meal after midnight and then often go out for strolls, etc on Christmas Day.
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Sep 16th, 2013, 05:21 PM
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Great idea PalenQ....maybe we will strap on some skates and do that.
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