We’re just over a week into the new year, and I’m feeling excited for the next 12 months and ready to get back on it with blogging.
I got back to Paris on 29th December after two wonderful weeks at home, and celebrated the new year here in my apartment with N, my brother and some friends. Although it’s a little late now, I’d love for this blog to be a real record of my time here, and so I wanted to share the best bits about Paris over the festive period.
The city really comes alive at Christmas, and here are just a few things I saw and would highly recommend to anyone thinking of making a special trip later on this year.
Galeries Lafayette and Printemps
Both iconic Parisian department stores on Boulevard Haussmann relentlessly try to outdo each other, never more so than at Christmas. The shop windows of both stores were magical this year, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Lifesize dancing puppets, and a snowy scene with moving polar bears were just some of the many window displays they had on show. Inside the Christmas trees were incredible – definitely worth seeing.
Le Marché de Noël on the Champs Elysées
An absolutely huge Christmas market in a beautiful setting. All the vin chaud, raclette and crépes you could ever want, just a short walk from the CE. Along the side of the market are 8 different miniature markets, each with a different theme. There was one for children (with some pretty hilarious old school animatronics), one for food and drink and an artisan market. Lots to see and do, and a lovely way to spend a December evening.
Worth a visit anytime of the year, but it’s especially pretty around Christmas, and their huge nativity scene, filled with handmade models was something special.
Carols with the Traveller’s Club at the Hotel de la Païva on the CE
I was lucky enough to go to a traditional night of vin chaud, mince pies and carol singing at the Hotel de la Païva a couple of weeks before Christmas. I’m a member of the Oxford Alumni Society in Paris and they put on this event every year – always in this beautiful location, hidden on the Champs Elysées. Look up and you’d miss it, the Hotel de la Païva is hidden behind a restaurant, and accessed by a beautiful, imposing door. It’s a mansion built in the 19th century by the courtesan La Païva, now home to the private member’s club, The Traveller’s. Beautiful inside, a little like Versailles. A wonderfully festive evening.
Le Réveillon de Nouvel An
I spent most of New Year’s Eve with friends in my apartment (pizza, sparkling wine and good music), but when it came close to midnight we headed over to the Arc du Triomphe. After getting through the barriers, we managed to see the fireworks and lightshow. A brilliant way to ring in the new year. Though be aware that you can’t take alcohol with you through the barriers! We tried and ended up speed drinking 5 bottles of fizz between us in 5 minutes…
New Year’s Day Parade on the Champs Elysées
Depending on how you’re feeling after the night before, it’s worth walking over to the CE around 1pm on New Year’s Day to see the parade. Brass bands come from all over the world to play, and although it was absolutely freezing, it was worth it and made for a great way to spend the day.
Paris is always beautiful but never more so than at Christmas. Definitely something to be experienced at least once!