Celebrating Christmas 2011 in Paris

Written by admin on January 28, 2012 – 11:46 am -

Paris in December 2011

Paris glows during the holiday season

Why is it that each year Paris appears more festive and electric between the end of November to after New Year’s Day? Even the rain doesn’t dampen its holiday spirit and Paris glows during the holiday season.

Is it because the city is doing a better job decorating to the nines, while other places seem to have cut back on the glitter and the glamour? Whatever the reason, Paris radiates a magical glow; plus, there’s so much to see and to do and you don’t have to spend a fortune unless you want to, and then, the sky is the limit.

The city is decked out like few others. It’s not because the French view Christmas as a religious holiday. Rather, it’s good for marketing, attracting tourists plus Parisians have a certain savoir-faire when it comes to design and presentation. It’s not for nothing that Paris is known as one of the world’s leading fashion capitals.

Champs-Elysées lit up for holidays in December 2011

Champs-Élysées December 2011

Holiday lights on the Champs-Élysées

Start by walking up or down the Champs-Élysées. This year’s theme is glowing neon tubes that adorn trees lining the street from the Arc de Triomphe at the top to the nearly 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel (La Grande Roue) at the base of the street on the northern edge of the Tuileries Garden and the rue de Rivoli.

Although it was constructed specifically for Millennium festivities held on the Place de la Concorde and was slated to be torn down after a year, it was returned years ago and is now a landmark in the same way as the Eiffel Tower.

La Grande Roue December 2011

La Grande Roue 2011

The Tuileries Ferris wheel for a panoramic view

Ride the Ferris wheel for a perfect overview of the city and a view of Gustave Eiffel’s Tinker Toy construction. If you time your ride so you’re up high during the first five minutes of each after-dark hour, you’ll see the tower at its sparkling grandeur. If not, you’ll have to be content with seeing the tower outlined in light.

Le Bon Marché lit for December holidays 2011

Le Bon Marché on the Left Bank

Window shopping at Paris department stores

Paris department stores go out of their way to be festive. Don’t miss the windows with animated displays at the grand department stores. If you think store windows are designed exclusively for children, think again. They’re definitely major attractions for adults who are out strolling at night. In Paris the Christmas season starts in November and French stores spend a great deal of money for these extended displays.

For a preview before you go, see our stories and videos for Galeries Lafayette “Rock ‘N Mode” and the Printemps tribute to Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. On the Left Bank, Le Bon Marché.

2011 Paris Champs-Elysées Christmas Village

Champs-Élysées Christmas Village 2011

Paris Christmas markets

Paris has Christmas markets [video and list from the Paris Mayor's office] throughout the city. Some are definitely better than others and to be honest, you should head to Strasbourg to experience a market where the majority of the items aren’t manufactured in China. Still, they’re fun and worth exploring. Don’t miss Santa’s Village of Saint-Germain-des-Prés by the St-Germain-des-Prés Church – not because it’s wonderful but it’s an ideal place to start touring the Left Bank neighborhood between the church and the Seine. The merchants create a Wonderland with decorated lampposts and store windows.

Skating rink before Hôtel de Ville December 2011

Skating rink at Hôtel de Ville December 2011

Ice skating

If you like to skate and are either graceful or don’t mind falling on the ice, Paris fabricates its own “holiday on ice” arenas. Head to the Hôtel de Ville or the Eiffel Tower ice rink. The Paris Mayor’s office has more ideas for ice and snow activities. Do dress appropriately; being cold isn’t fun.

Jeff Leatham Christmas 2011 display at George V Paris Four Seasons. Photo: ©Jeff Leatham

Jeff Leatham Christmas 2011 display at George V Paris Four Seasons. Photo: ©Jeff Leatham

Hotels and bar hopping

Some of the most striking holiday decorations are found in Paris’s palace hotels. They import teams of decorators to deck the halls and wrap fireplace mantles with garlands and ribbons. Drinks aren’t cheap in the bars, but all you need to do is order a glass of wine or even a café. There’s something so glamorous about sitting in the Le George V Paris Four Seasons, Le Meurice, the Shangri-La Hotel Paris, the new Mandarin Oriental, or Le Bristol Paris, to name a just a few of Paris’s most deluxe hotels. Get dressed up and make an appearance. Even if you’re not dripping in money, sometimes it’s nice to see how the 10% live.

Le Meurice decorated for Christmas. Publicity photo.

See Paris holiday lights in a Mercedes limo

If you’re feeling like spoiling yourself, your family, a lover or giving a gift that people will remember, contact Lisa Buros-Hutchins at Your Paris Experience and she’ll book a Mercedes limo complete with chauffeur. Tour Paris for four hours, stop where you want and even take a bottle of Champagne to help you make merry. If you want to stop at the Madeleine, Fauchon or Hédiard, it’s up to you. The price ranges from €204—€336 for a Mercedes depending on the car’s size and its class.

As much as walking Paris is the way to go, I’d love to see the City of Light in luxury. Not many people wouldn’t.

© Paris New Media, LLC

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