Paris is always a good idea.
But Paris particularly at Christmastime is an absolutely magical winter wonderland. I can’t think of a better place to get in the holiday spirit, which made Paris the perfect stopover on our way home for the holidays. Whilst the City of Love may be ideal leading up to Christmas, don’t let the cold deter you from visiting post-holidays and throughout the rest of the winter season. I’ve compiled my favourite cold-weather activities (including non-Christmas ones) and how to warm up afterwards.
Paris must have some of the most beautiful window displays in the world. They are especially over-the-top around the holidays, and I could wander the shopping streets aimlessly for hours.
Some of my favourites include:
- Any Laduree for pastry perfection.
- Diptyque on the iconic 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain (the address that is printed on all candle labels).
- Galeries Lafayette & Printemps Haussmann department stores
After: Warm up at a Cafe
My favourite spots:
- Lily of the Valley, for THE most stunning interiors that make you feel like you are having high tea in an enchanted forest.
- Ralph Lauren Cafe, to rub elbows with the city’s somebodies.
- Jacques Genin, for the incredible hot chocolate.
2. Visit The Christmas Markets
Beginning December, the Christmas Markets in Paris are plenty. I especially loved strolling down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées for souvenirs, picking up high-quality chocolate at the much smaller one in front of the Eiffel Tower, and shopping from artisans at the market in the 15th arrondissement .
After: Warm Up at a Food Stall
The food stalls were definitely my favourite part of the (sometimes too touristy) Christmas markets. I loved tasting all the cheeses (especially melted and in the form of sandwhiches), hot crepes, and washing it all down at the Champagne posts!
3. Skate at The Grand Palais
All winterlong, this is an absolute must-try experience. The Grand Palais is spectacular on its own, with its revolutionary glass and steel vaulted ceilings, resembling a massive greenhouse. But as the sun sets, a disco ball is lowered and a light show begins as people tie rental skates and glide beneath dazzling sparkles and starry night beyond on ice.
After: Warm up with a Meal
Once you’ve worked up quite an appetite, head to one of these standout restos for a truly delicious and memorable meal:
- Les Cocottes , near the Eiffel Tower, for sizzling dishes served in cast-iron pots.
- Semilla, for market-inspired meals that will not disappoint.
- Afaria, way out of the typical tourist way for the best duck confit in the city.
4. Hotel de Ville
Cross to the north side of the Seine just to bask in the spectacle that is the infamous Hotel de Ville. During the winter there’s a skating rink set out front, which only adds to the ambience.
After: Warm Up with Parisian Pastries
I honestly think I spent most of my time during the planning of the trip and while in Paris searching for the best Parisian pastries. I found them at:
- Odette, for choux à la crème (cream puffs), only.
- Hugo et Victor, for the tastiest macarons (or Laduree for the beautiful experience, and packaging).
- L’ Eclair de Génie, for genius eclair combos.
- Le Loir dans la Théière, for the lemon meringue tarte (its legendary).
5. Indoor Passages
If braving the sub-zero temperatures and sometimes less than desirable weather conditions (winter in Paris can be quite rainy), then these covered shopping passageways are the perfect escape. All of the following are equally as enchanting and all within close proximity of one another:
- La Galerie Véro-Dodat: this 19th-century arcade is full of beautiful architectural details, including pretty arched windows and an elegant peaked roof, and is home to two Louboutin shops.
- Galerie Vivienne: perhaps one of the best-known passages in the city. The stunning mosaic floor, the gorgeous light streaming in through the glass roof, and the fact that Jean-Paul Gaultier has one of his stores here make this a popular destination.
- Passage des Panoramas: one of the most charming and lively passages in the city, as well as one of the oldest in all of Europe!
You can find all my favourites in the post, plus Parisian landmarks, pinned onto an interactive map here: