Eiffel Tower City of Lights Paris
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A Winter Paris Adventure – Things to See and Do in the City of Lights before Christmas

They may call Paris the 'City of Lights', but this is a status that it takes on quite literally during the festive period, when Christmas illuminations and decorations are put up seemingly everywhere, including across the streets, on the trees and even in department store windows.

But the twinkling visual spectacle is far from the only reason to pay a visit to the French capital in the run-up to Christmas. After all, this is the city’s low season, so you’ll be able to discover many of its finest attractions while relatively unbothered by tourist hordes, including top-class restaurants, cafes, shops, the cinema and even some museums.

So, let’s take a look at just some of the Parisian sights, sounds and experiences that you shouldn’t miss this Yuletide.

The Decorations

Yes, I mentioned the decorations above, but they really are that much of a draw when they start appearing in mid-November. While there barely seems to be a fir tree in the city that goes unadorned at this time of year, it’s the legendary Champs Elysées where you will be able to see the most extravagantly colourful displays.

As detailed on the official website of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, other areas of the city that are set to be thoroughly decked out in 2018 range from Place Vendôme and Avenue Montaigne to Bercy Village and Boulevard Haussmann. In the last of those locations, you’ll even be able to customise the lights with a smartphone app.

Ice Skating

It’s customary for ice skating rinks to be set up across Paris as Christmas looms. Not only that, but they’re also free to enter, although adults can expect to pay five Euros to rent skates – this service being free for kids. 

The city’s main rink is set up on the plaza outside Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall), where you’ll also see a free sledding area for children.

The Christmas Eve Service at Notre-Dame Cathedral

The medieval Catholic cathedral of Notre-Dame on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement is one of Paris’s greatest cultural and heritage attractions, and whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs may be, there’s no doubt that a visit for the Christmas Eve service can be an invaluable source of inspiration and peace. 

The service is open to everyone, and includes a stirring midnight choir.

The Christmas Markets

Christmas markets may be a German invention, but they have long since become a staple of European life every festive season. What’s more, Paris offers many of the best ‘Marchés de Noël’ of all, as they are known on French shores.

Making a welcome return in 2018 will be the Champs Elysées Christmas market that was cancelled last year due to a dispute between the main organiser and Paris City Hall. But as reported by The Local, it has now found a new home in the Tuileries gardens in front of the Louvre.

With other Christmas markets taking place around the Eiffel Tower as well as in Vincennes, La Défense and at the Grand Palais des Glaces, there will be plenty of opportunities to grab a curio or bargain – or seven – in front of some of the French capital’s most iconic backdrops.

Remember, too, that there are many options for chateau rental in France that give you impressive surroundings in which to spend the night or hold a major celebration, benefitting from rural tranquillity before heading into the city. They include the simply resplendent Château Bouffémont, which could scarcely be better situated, being a mere 30 kilometres from the centre of Paris.

Tempted to book a little jaunt and experience all of the above myself 😍

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