What to do during Christmas in Paris?

Jul 21st, 2013, 01:34 PM
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What to do during Christmas in Paris?

Hi All --

I'm leaving to Paris on December 21 and will be spending the holidays there. Any recommendations you may have? We are spending 10 days in Paris and are looking to do as much as possible. Day trips recommendations are welcomed as well.

Thanks in advance!
eli_pg is offline  
Jul 24th, 2013, 04:37 AM
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Your request is very vague, but in holiday season you can't miss the window display at the Grands Magasins !
there is also a iceskating rink near the Hotel de Ville.

as for day trips you should check out cities where there are christmas markets.
The most famous is in Strasbourg but it's too far for a day trip.
You can try Reims
Steph4 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2013, 06:25 AM
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well, they have Christmas markets in Paris, so I wouldn't do a day trip for that reason. Besides, you have to be into that kind of stuff to want to go to one of those.

NO place is going to be that great to visit in December due to the cold and very likely gray and gloom, at least in terms of outdoors. So you have to pick a place you want to visit for indoor reasons. If you get lucky, there might be some sunny days. I do like Reims for lots of reasons, it has a few interesting musuems and the cathedral, of course, and isn't that far away. I suppose Versailles would be a good choice, also.

However, if one is interested in Christmas markets, Strasbourg is not impossible as a day trip, it is 2.5 hours by TGV. I've done day trips that long before (it is about my limit one way) for a place I really wanted to see. Of course, I usually go in summer when it stays light very late. Actually, I just did one to Bayeux a week ago or so and that is about that amount of time by train one way, it wasn't a problem. I was there by 11 am and got back into Paris around 8:30 pm, taking a 6 pm train back. Seven hours in a city is plenty of time for a day trip. Strasbourg is very different than Paris and has a lot to see other than Christmas markets, also.
Christina is online now  
Jul 24th, 2013, 07:03 AM
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We did a day trip last December from Paris to Strasbourg. It wasn't too long for us as we'd been in Paris about 10 days by then, so a train ride was kind of relaxing. We saw all of the Christmas markets and some of the city, enjoyed the lights after dark and were back in Paris around 9 PM for dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed it!
Judy is online now  
Jul 24th, 2013, 07:15 AM
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"NO place is going to be that great to visit in December due to the cold and very likely gray and gloom, at least in terms of outdoors."

Many people regularly live where it is cold, gray and gloomy in December. Given the choice of being home or in PARIS when it is cold, gray and gloomy - count me as one who would rather be in PARIS!! Dressed properly, walking about in Paris is always great. Seeing the sites, even riding bateaux mouches with inside seats is doable.

Last winter we had an opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Provence. Hmm, cold and winter at home or in Provence???? Not a hard choice; we had a grand time!
DebitNM is offline  
Jul 25th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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Thank you so much for all of your input. This is all very helpful!!
eli_pg is offline  
Jul 25th, 2013, 02:35 PM
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I'd also find an apartment. Christmas eve from about noon onwards until later Christmas day will be quiet...but in the Marais, the Hebrew section will be open and then of course people who don't celebrate will be doing a booming business.
I think I'd add a trip to Epernay or Reims for tastings. I think that would be festive! Or Brittany for Champagne and oysters!
You'll have a great time! Many outdoor cafe's will have what I call California heaters going...maybe it won't be toooooooo cold or dreary! One cannot tell.
sueciv is offline  
Jul 25th, 2013, 05:42 PM
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Yeah...pay no mind to the comment starting NO place, blah, blah...

We will be in Paris at the same time and have been to Paris before at Chrstmas and love it. Who cares if it is gray?

Agrre to check out the windows at Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, but so many of the shops have great windows...the chocolatiers especially. You might also pop in to some of the luxury hotels for their decorations. We were treated at George V to a Svarovski display a few years ago...very coold.

We are taking a day trip to Strasbourg this time. First time there but am excited to see it at Christmas?

There are markets everywhere...I like the smaller, more neighborhood markets. The one on the zchamps Elysee is very crowded. We do plan to visit the one at La Defense this trip.

I am also planning to drink as much chocolat chaud as possible.

Le Cinq has an extravagant tasting menu at Christmas...expensive and decadent! I am sure there are lots of choices at the luxury hiotels. I wish the Crillon wasn't closed for renovation. We loved our brunch at Les Ambassadeurs.

We hope it snows this year. We would love to relive a fav memory and have our Berthillon ice cream in the park behind Notre Dame in the snow. Pure magic.

A trip to Reims would be great. the catherdral is beautiful and a champagne tasting couldn't hurt.
denisea is offline  
Jul 25th, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Christmas Day and New Year's Day will be quiet, with most restaurants closed on those days as well as during the week in between, so you will need to plan accordingly. That being said, we've always enjoyed the time after Christmas day. You just make do with what's available.

Just remember that the French, like the Spanish, celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, which ends on the 6th of January, Epiphany.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2013, 08:45 AM
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If you are going some place to see a cathedral due to its stained glass, you might care if it is gray. It is gray where I live, so I personally would not spend my hard-earned money and vacation time going on an expensive trip during such a time of year to a place that will also be cold and gray. It's just not as enjoyable in my ways for me. But if someone doesn't care about that and has plenty of money and time so those aren't considerations, it could work.

But the point is that certain kinds of trips that focus on the outdoors are not optimal in cold and gray and gloomy weather, and I don't know how one can argue they are.
Christina is online now  
Nov 27th, 2014, 05:43 AM
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Paris is magical in December. The only downside I see is that the days are very short; with sunrise at 8 am and sunset about 4 pm. But Paris isn't called the city of lights for nothing! As mentioned, the Champs Elysee is the grand dame for illuminations, but one of my favorite things is to visit the little neighborhoods and see how each "village" decorates. Every neighborhood has it's own special kinds of lights.

And the food is amazing. Paris is known for serving up what's in season and winter fare is hearty and delicious.

Enjoy the magic!
Belinda is online now  
Nov 27th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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Grey and rainy in Paris is a perfect reason for stopping at George V for champers. I liked the Ritz for hot chocolate, but unfortunately it's closed for renovations.

Versailles is a wonderful day trip, and seeing Sacre Coeur during a light snow fall was like something from a movie.

Whatever we do when the weather is more moderate, we enjoyed in December, including strolling the parks, the museums, the shopping, and sitting outdoors at the cafes soaking it all in.

A wonderful bonus is that you'll experience the wonderful frisson of excitement in the air. It really is special!

We all had doubts about going at Christmas, due to the weather, but it was really fantastic! I wish I could do it again!
sugarmaple is online now  
Nov 27th, 2014, 11:05 AM
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Since it is only open to the public during the Christmas season then you should definitely visit the Musée des Arts Forains:


In regards to day trips, keep in mind that for anyplace that requires TGV or Intercités train travel you need to buy those tickets up to 3 months in advance for the cheapest prices. Last minute ticket purchase will be the most expensive. You can use www.capitainetrain.com to check schedules and prices and to buy tickets.

For ideas on day trips close to Paris where the trains have fixed ticket prices and will cost anywhere from 10€ to about 30€ for your round trip tickets you can have a look at this current thread from Fodors:

FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 06:26 AM
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Here is an idea for a day trip, Chateau de Vaux Vicomte. The holiday decorations are beautiful.

If you haven't seen this blog on Facebook you should, it's got great photos and ideas:

Belinda is online now  
Nov 28th, 2014, 07:18 AM
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Christmas concerts and classical music in churches, opera, ballet...

Jean is online now  
Nov 28th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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I'm in agreement with many, gray & cold in Paris or in ??? Give me Paris anytime of the year, any weather, it's Paris! We'll be there next week, can't wait to see the beautiful lights and window displays, just magical! This will be my 3rd visit this year alone and can't wait to return.

Also think Strasbourg is a wonderful day trip, it will make for a long day but it is filled with the most wonderful Christmas markets in various parts of the city. Just my opinion, as others have given choices for other equally nice trips, some closer.

Have a great visit to Paris.
wunderbar2 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 10:00 AM
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We are is Paris now. It has been gray and cloudy with a little rain and we love it. Paris is still Paris and the holiday decorations are wonderful.
waterdog is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 10:20 AM
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Christmas eve from about noon onwards until later Christmas day will be quie>

No Christmas Day in Paris is IME anything but quiet - the streets are full of strollers - cafes are open and packed and even some museums are open on Christmas Day.

the French celebrate Christmas Christmas Eve with a traditional midnight meal (traditionally after folks came back from Mass) so Christmas Day is just like another Sunday for most purposes - I landed in Paris one Christmas Day a few years back expecting the town to be churchmouse quiet but was floored with everyone out and about and many cafes, small convenience stores, etc being open and yes even some museums like the Natural History Museum near Austerlitz station.

Plenty to do on Christmas - do you like to ice skate - check out the outdoor skating ring in front of the Hotel de Ville - skate rentals there!
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 11:57 AM
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Spent Christmas in Paris about 10 years ago and loved it. Went to Versailles on 12/23 and there were 5 of us on the tour. They even waited for me to start so I could use the ladies room Very festive and lovely. And yes, things (shops, cafes etc) were open on Christmas Day. Go!!!
SharonG is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 08:30 PM
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I've been to Paris often, but never at Christmas. This thread is beautiful and sensual. I love the photos, the ideas of where to go... simple and lovely. Suggestions of music venues, the flea market...I read it each year at Christmas.
CopperandJade is offline  

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