Nov 27th, 2019, 04:00 PM

Your Parisian Guide for the Holiday Season

By Sofia Quintero
Champs Elysèes Image Credit: Creative Commons/Stephanie LeBlanc
Where to go for the best Christmas cheer

As the temperature drops and the Christmas air swoops its way into the city, Paris’ charm is seen through a different lens. As December rapidly approaches, the city embraces the holidays and transforms into a city of even brighter lights. From Christmas markets to the anticipated seasonal foods, experiencing the holidays in Paris is definitely something you can’t miss. 

Visit the Christmas Markets

Although Christmas Markets originated in Germany back in the fourteenth century, the tradition has spread all over Europe and it has now become a vital element in Paris during the festive season. The biggest one, located in La Defense recently opened on November 21 and will be open until December 28. This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the iconic market, 350 wooden cabins were placed, covering about 13,000 square meters. Guests can enjoy the festive decorations, pop-up restaurants, and artisanal goods. It is completely free and recommended for all ages.

The second biggest and most popular market is located at the Jardin des Tuileries. From November 15, 2019, to January 5, 2020, you can’t miss the merry-go-round, tasty food and drink stands, and charming Christmas decorations, all located in one of the biggest parks inside the city. This year, French artisans and food producers from around the country will join the market to sell their best goods. This is the most visited market in the city, welcoming around 13 to 15 million guests every year. This market is also free. 

Tuileries Christmas Market, Image Credit: Jackson Vann

Go Ice Skating at the Grand Palais

This year, the Grand Palais is back for its fourth edition of Les Grand Palais des Glaces. The historic site transforms into the biggest ice rink in the world! Opening on December 16 until January 9, Open from 10 am to 2 am, tickets vary depending on time and age. Under the glass roof and glimmering lights, it is a magical experience. It is important to note that the atmosphere changes depending on the time. From 10 am to 7 pm, the rink is set up for smaller children and is more family-friendly. When night falls, from 8 pm to 2 am, the rink becomes a dance floor on ice; the mirror ball begins to spin and the lights set the scene for a fun night on skates!

Le Grand Palais Image Credit: LeGrandPalaisdesGlaces

Window Shopping and Displays

Just by walking around the city, you will notice the lights that are slowly being placed on top of streets, trees, and buildings. Nevertheless, taking an afternoon to truly immerse yourself with the LED lights is incomparable. Luxury department stores including Galeries Lafayette - Boulevard Haussmann and BVH Le Marais - Le Bon Marché, transform the inside of the store with immense Christmas trees and exceptional decoration. This year will special because Galeries Lafayette this year’s theme is the Christmas Beehive! All of the decorations will be inspired by bees preparing for the festivities, from banquets to help with gift wrapping, bees will take over the scene. As for Le Bon Marché, their theme for the year is the Christmas Forest. From neon trees to snowy forest decorations, both kids and adults will be able to enjoy the scene during their Christmas shopping.

Galeries Lafayette Image Credit: Unsplash/Sabrina Nedjah

Seasonal Food Tasting

Some delicacies are, unfortunately, only available during the holiday season but the fact that they are makes them even more special. France is known worldwide for its nougat and its special yule log, which are both desserts that embody the holiday spirit. French nougat is made with sugar and honey, and roasted nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts. Sometimes, some nougat comes with candied fruit to give it a sweeter flavor. Yule log on the other hand, or Bûche de Noel,  is the ultimate French Christmas dessert. Often decorated with ribbons and greenery, the traditional yule log is made with chocolate filled with raspberry jam. Lastly, vin chaud or hot wine, which although is widely spread out Europe, can be found sold on the streets around Paris. Most of these treats can be purchased at Christmas Markets or in patisseries.

This is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the Christmas spirit, hot wine, and the beautiful city of Christmas lights. That is of course, if you can untangle your's.