story and photos by Jennifer & Tim
Known as both the City of Light and the City of Love, Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Paris at Christmas, decked out in its holiday finery, makes it even more beautiful than usual.
Here are a few places to visit while you’re in Paris before or during the holidays:
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is known in France as La plus belle avenue du monde (the most beautiful avenue in the world). Champs-Élysées runs for 2 kilometers from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. The chestnut box trees are strung with blue lights and the Grande Roue de Paris (wandering ferris wheel) lights up the Place de la Concorde and the Obelisk of Luxor. Paris’ largest Christmas market stretches along the Champs-Élysées with the many wooden stalls selling vin chaud (hot mulled wine), roast chestnuts and other traditional Parisian holiday treats.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe. It stands majestically on the Ile d la Cité with Pope Alexander III laying the first stone in 1163. The legendary gargoyles actually serve as drain pipes and have carried rain from the roof of the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame for more than six hundred years. Through the years they allowed rainwater to fall free of the cathedral, thus preventing damage to the masonry. Some believing in superstition claim that the grotesque figures frighten away evil spirits along with serving its practical duty.
During Christmas, Notre Dame hosts Paris’ Christmas tree on its forecourt, which is more than twenty feet high and is covered with lights and embellished with beautiful decorations.
Trocadero Christmas Village
The Trocadero Christmas Village opposite the Eiffel Tower offers Parisians and tourists alike the opportunity to soak up a little Christmas spirit. Visit the 120 chalets for a wide selection of gifts, treats and decorations for the holiday season.
Not to be missed is the outdoor ice skating rink. Nothing is more romantic than skating hand-in-hand at dusk as the Eiffel Tower twinkles near by! Warm up afterward with some vin chaud while admiring the Eiffel Tower hourly light show.
The Galeries Lafayette is a 10-story department store. The store’s unique Belle Epoque architecture, which features a dramatic colored glass dome and an ornate Art Nouveau staircase offering dizzying perspectives, contributed to the department store being named a Paris city heritage site.
Don’t miss the Galeries Lafayette for holiday lights and windows that arguably rival those of New York department stores. Each year, the windows of Galeries Lafayette are decorated in a different theme for Christmas and are sure to enthrall children of all ages. Inside, the famous 20 meter tree under the glass dome is gorgeous as ever this year with gold, turquoise, violet and pink balls.
Galette des Rois
The galette des Rois (King cake) is found in Paris at Christmas time. Its most notable feature is the hidden fève (prize), usually a porcelain figurine, in the cake. Whoever finds the fève in their slice of cake gets to wear a paper crown and be King (or Queen) for the day. I can imagine that in the U.S. a hard, pointy figurine baked into a cake would be considered a safety risk, but that’s not at all the case here in France, with lines of galette-hungry customers snaking out of every bakery that you pass.
Tim found one of these porcelain collectibles in his cake and was king for the day! Of course, we only learned of the tradition after he thought a piece of the mixer had fallen into his cake. Definitely a memorable experience!
About the authors:
We’re Jennifer and Tim and we love traveling! We are just one ordinary couple who have found that travel brought us closer together, taught us patience, the art of compromise, and how to truly appreciate the diversity of this extraordinary world. Our bucket list continues to grow with far flung places on this beautiful planet. Join us as we share our travels and adventures with you! We aim to inspire you to travel and we’re always happy to offer our advice. Follow our adventures at jdombstravels.com