Christmas lights in Paris
I'm just back from a gorgeous birthday weekend in Paris. I went there to experience the real Christmasvibes, the Pariasian way. In this post, I'll share with you my fave places to explore the city and it's lovely Christmas vibes.
I'll also share the hike we did there to explore the highlights of the city. It's not a long hike and with some indoor pitstops, it's the perfect daytrip! I'll link the locations below and I'll add a Google maps of the day as well! Ofcourse, there are many other highlights in Paris, but I had to make decisions here. My other highlights are linked in previous posts!
So we started our day at the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. This is a beautiful old warehouse. Each year, inside the store, there's a big Christmas tree. Ofcourse I had to start my day there. We first went all the way up, to the viewpoint on the roof. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful (and free) viewpoints in Paris. We also did some Christmas shopping there (hope my sis won't read this blog haha ssht!).
We then went spotting the iconic tree as a center piece in the building. Each hour, the tree is even more lit up and plays some Christmas music. When leaving the stores, make sure to also spot the christmas decorations on the sides of the building in the streets. Each year, it has different moving Christmas decorations! So much fun to watch, kids will love it too!
After that, we walked to the famous Saint Honoré square with the Chanel and Dior Boutiques. This is only a kilometer away from Lafayette so not too far. On the square, you also have a hot air balloon that's been photographed many times before. Both of the boutiques are my faves since they were so beautifully decorated, but there are many other stores around the corner there, that you can check out as well.
Just a couple of hundred meters further, there's the Place Vendome. This is a huge square in Paris, famous for being one of the most expensive areas in Paris. It's very chique there.
You'll find the Vuitton Maison Vendome there, with it's own gorgeous decorations, as well as another Chanel store. Make sure to walk around the square and check out the Ritz hotel. It has it's famous bear decoration there! And if you have enough money, maybe even book a room there? Prices are about 2000 euros a night... which is almost what I earn in an entire month haha!
Then around noon we visited the Hotel de la marine, a beautiful palace that I haven't visited before! It is a palace on the Place de la Concorde. It's designed and built in the mid 1700s. It used to be the home of the royal Garde-Meuble, the office managing the furnishing of all royal properties. After the French Revolution it became the Ministry of the French Navy, until 2015 !
It now shows the restored apartments from the King's intendant of the Garde-Meuble. It's another hidden gem of French history and it was awesome to discover another place I haven't visited before.
It's lovely decorated and the mirror room is stunning. From inside the palace, you can enjoy a lovely view over Place de la Concorde and the area of the city center of Paris.
After this gorgeous palace, which took us about an hour and a half to visit, we had a small lunch next to the Tuileries garden. At the garden (Jardin des Tuileries) there's a famous big Christmas market.
Before going to the Christmas market, wevisited the Musée de l' orangerie. This is a museum with some famous art such as Cézanne and Picasso. It's on the right side of the Tuileries garden actually. The real reason why I wanted to visit this museum, is because here you can find the famous "Nymphéas" of Monet. I visited his house and garden in Giverny in august and it's been a dream of mine to visit his art in real life afterwards. These paintings are so gorgeous and big! I was really impressed!
So about the Jardin des Tuileries Christmas market. It's very big and beautiful, but super famous so very crowded unfortunately. You can enjoy many different things to do. There are some food trucks with drinks and foods. There are shops with crafts, decorated trees for photos, there's a carrousel, an ice skating rink and there are also attractions to do. There's also a big ferris wheel. I think it's about 10 euros each ride. You'd have a lovely Paris view there I think, but because of the crowds, we didn't take the ride...
This Tuileries Christmas market is actually like a themepark meets a christmas market. The attractions are for small kids and adults as well!
When we were there, I think around 3 pm on saturday, it was super crowded. We couldn't decently walk anymore through the crowd. It was lovely to visit though!
After that, we went to our dinner location next to the Notre Dame de Paris. Though, we took a pitstop at La Samaritaine. I wanted to show my mom this stunning building. She hasn't visited it before. It's a lovely multi level store from the 1900s. It's fully decorated in art nouveau style. It reopened it's doors in full glory in 2021, after 16 years of renovations. In the warehouse, you'll find a lot of high end brands. At one floor, I discovered this beautiful tutu, designed by Chanel. How French can it be? A Chanel... tutu!
After some wandering around, we walked next to the Seine, to the Notre Dame and had dinner at Café Panis. This is one of our favourite small bistrots in Paris, since it has gorgeous Notre Dame views and it's not pricy. Food in Paris can get pretty expensive when it's a more fancy bistrot or restaurant. Most regular bistrots don't really have the luxury to cook healthy fresh meals so the food is not always good. But this one is, and it has some veggie options as well!
Then after an early dinner, we went to the Christmas market in front of the Hotel de Ville, which is the city hall of Paris. The location itself is already gorgeous since it's a building with a facade from the 1600s.
The city hall is entirely illuminated and decorated with Christmas decorations. Right in front of the building, you find the Christmas market. There are food stalls and small craft shops. There's also a free carrousel, but ofcourse once again, there was a big crowd. The rest of the square was actually pretty calm and tranquil. There were beautiful christmas lights and christmas trees decorated with snow and there was some background classical calm music as well. It was a lovely and relaxing place, nothing like the Tuileries garden.. but hey, if you like the charm of rushing, then it might be great for you.
The next day, we drove back home and visited two castles (yay!). We started with the Chateau de Compiègne and then went to Pierrefonds. Both totally different but beautiful... AND free! Since as told before, in France, a lot of cultural places are for free on the first sunday of the month. I also thought that these castles would be super crowded because of this, but both were almost empty even.
A perfecttt birthday weekend!
So how about you, are you already dreaming of a Parisian Christmas?