With its lively markets, magical lights and festive displays, Paris is at its most beautiful at Christmas. Whether you’re coming with friends or family or you live here already, read on to find out how you can celebrate Christmas 2016 in traditional Parisian style.
Decorate your apartment
The French don’t take half measures when it comes to decorating their homes at Christmas, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same! Festive wreaths with pine cones and fruit are typically placed on the table with four candles. Mistletoe, which is usually hung above the door to bring you good fortune, is another essential decorative item.
The Christmas tree (“Sapin de Noël”) dates back hundreds of years in France and is traditionally adorned with apples, ribbons and candles. Trees –both real and artificial- are readily available across the city from late November onward.
Why not pay a visit to the Galeries Lafayette or Le Bon Marché to buy your Christmas decorations this year? For real connoisseurs, Christmas à Paris (7, rue de Condé, 75006) is a charming little boutique that specializes exclusively in Christmas decorations year-round!
One of the advantages to renting an apartment through an agency like Lodgis is that you can give it your own personal touch. Whether it’s for a long or short stay, one of our furnished rental apartments is the perfect place for you to enjoy the festive season with friends and family. Click here to see our fabulous range of offers.
See the iconic Christmas lights and explore the magical markets
Starting in late November, Paris – ”the City of Light” – truly lives up to its name. Spectacular displays illuminate the streets and shop windows across the French capital. The most famous of these is on the Champs-Élysées, running all the way from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. But you’ll find that other displays, such as those found around Place Vendôme and along Rue Mouffetard, are every bit as impressive. Don’t forget to check out the famous window displays at the Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché and Le Printemps department stores.
You’ll also find a number of lively Christmas markets dotted around the capital. From the wooden chalets that run down the Champs-Élysées to the festive stalls on the Champ de Mars, the markets are virtually unavoidable in the month of December. Toys, trinkets, treats and food are all waiting for you! To find out more, read our article on The Best Christmas markets in Paris.
Go ice skating
If you’re planning to visit the markets and see the Christmas lights, the good news is that several of Paris’ most famous winter ice rinks will be within short walking distance. Trocadéro-on-Ice, for example, is situated right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and consists of a 300m2 rink that’s perfect for you, your friends and family to go out and ”get your skates on”.
Once you’ve made your way through the Village de Noël on the Champs-Élysées, why not go for a spin on Paris largest ice rink? Alternatively, for a truly blockbuster experience, head to the Patinoire Sonja in the AccorHotels Arena (formerly Bercy), where you can skate along to the music, enjoy late-night DJ sets and watch stunning live performances.
To find out more about Paris’ ice rinks, including directions, dates and opening times, visit http://goparis.about.com/Ice-Skating-Rinks-In-Paris.
Go to a traditional French mass
On December 24th and 25th, churches across Paris will be holding special Christmas services. If you’d like to attend one of these services, we recommend the masses given at the Saint-Sulpice Church, at the Sacré-Coeur and, of course, Notre Dame. Services are free and open to all members of the public.
To find out more about specific services and times, visit http://en.parisinfo.com/christmas-masses-in-paris.
If you’d prefer to attend an English-speaking mass, the American Church in Paris welcomes you to participate in traditional worship at one of its three services on Christmas Eve and two on Christmas Day. For more info, visit http://www.acparis.org/
Enjoy a traditional French Christmas feast
The French typically indulge in their own special meal at Christmas, which is called “Réveillon”. One of the main differences is that this feast is typically eaten on Christmas Eve, often after returning from a Midnight Mass service.
A traditional starter is blinis with caviar or smoked salmon, accompanied by a glass of champagne. You might then move onto an appetizer of fresh oysters or foie gras with sliced bread.
Of course, the French don’t stick to a universal main course. Goose or turkey with a rich chestnut stuffing are extremely popular among Parisians, but you’ll find all kinds of birds on offer in the weeks running up to Christmas. Once again, there’s no set list of vegetables, but classic accompaniments might include potatoes, buttery carrots and green beans…
If you’ve made it this far, now you can move on to a cheese course, complemented by sweet pudding wine. Next comes the classic selection of 13 desserts. From dried fruits and nuts to sweet cakes and soufflés, these dishes represent Jesus and the 12 apostles.
Just as you think that it’s all over, in comes a Yule Log – “bûche de Noël”, a rich chocolate sponge cake that’s filled with raspberry jam!
Most of the ingredients for these recipes should be available at your nearest supermarket, such as Monoprix, Franprix, U or Carrefour. For fresh oysters, you will need to visit a local fishmonger. Buying your meat from a butcher generally promises higher quality and more choice.
We hope that this post has given you a few ideas on how to enjoy the festive season like a true Parisian.
In the meantime, we’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!