Living in a city like Paris has its advantages, especially in November and December when it transforms into a winter wonderland. Winter has officially arrived in our beautiful city and personally I can’t wait to enjoy it! The frosty weather has descended on us and in my current festive spirit, I have decided to write this blog to help all the people who are new to Paris find their way around the sparkly city this winter. So here are 5 things you shouldn’t miss this year:
In no specific order
1. ICE SKATE in front of Hotel de Ville.
For those of you who don’t know, Hotel de Ville means Town Hall and this specific ‘Hotel’ is home to the Mayor of Paris. It’s a stone throw away from the seine and the Pompidou Centre and is located on the right bank of the river. It’s a beautiful building and the ice skating rink is available from the end of December until the end of February (when Paris is at its coldest)! Make the most of the ice rink while it’s there and skate in spectacular surroundings.
When: December to February
Where: Hotel de Ville, 4e, line 1
How much: 5€ for skate rental
2. DRINK hot chocolate at Le Jacobine.
If you haven’t lived here for very long or you’re just a tourist visiting the city you have most certainly been to Angelina’s and think it’s the best hot chocolate you have ever had. Oh my god it’s so good right?? Wrong! Angelina’s is a tourist trap and the hot chocolate is far too thick, it’s impossible to drink without a gallon of water nearby. However if you know the city you know better. Le Jacobine is a tiny cafe tucked away in the Passage des Arts. Their Aztec hot chocolate is by far the best I have ever tasted; it’s unbelievably smooth and not too rich. My advice: don’t eat before and even though their cakes are delicious and very tempting (especially in the glass cupboard they are displayed in) don’t order one. The chocolate is enough to last a lifetime.
Where: Le Jacobine, 59 Rue Saint-André des Arts, Odeon 6e How much: 5.80€ or 6.30€ with whipped cream
3. EAT at Chez Papa.
Chez Papa is a chain of restaurants that serve whole-hearted and very filling French food. They are located all around Paris and are perfect for a meal on a cold night. Everything is delicious; everything comes on oversized plates or in oversized bowls accompanied with a pile of potatoes; it’s carb addicts heaven. The staff are warm, welcoming and always smiling so if you haven’t been there before I highly recommend trying it this winter. I recommend: L’escalope de veau à la campagnarde (Veal escalope in a big pot covered in ham, cheese and mushrooms) and a glass of sangria or a good bottle of red wine.
Where: 29 rue de l’Arcade 75008 (Saint Lazare) and 27 rue de la Colonie 75013 (Tolbiac) How much: between 15-20€ for main meals
4. VISIT the Christmas Markets.
Okay, so this is slightly touristy but even the Parisians do it. From mid-November to January 4th this is the largest market within the city limits. It stretches all the way from Avenue de Champs Elysees to Place de la Concorde and has easily over 150 stalls. The markets are based on traditional German markets so Gluhwein is available (a kind of mulled wine) as well as lots of traditional Christmas goodies from Alsace. Food and drink wise there are a large variety of choices: Gingerbread houses and christmas trees, cheese, charcuterie, churros, tartiflette and crepes are all available at the market. Shopping wise you can buy anything from scarves and hats to Russian dolls. The stalls sell jewellery, keepsakes, toys, and Christmas decorations so there is a huge amount of choice! The Champs Elysees is also lit up from top to bottom with Christmas lights which is one of the prettiest things you will see all year. Snowmen and santa statues accompany the market stalls and there’s even a full size moose statue for all the homesick Canadians. This is a market not to be missed.
Where: Champs Elysees When: November 14th to January 4th, open 10am to 11pm daily and until midnight in weekends. Prices: €€ – a little expensive.
5. WALK along the shop windows of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
While walking past Galeires Lafayette and Printemps the first thing you will see is the lights. The huge display of lights on the front of the stores are so eye-catching and so dazzling that you just have to stop and look. This, plus the window displays at both large department stores in the city, hasto be seen. Every year is a different theme and often the displays are animated. For children and adults alike it’s a great experience. Last but not least, the Christmas tree inside Galeries Lafayette is also a must see. Again every year it’s different and every year it’s incredible. It is totally free to see and one of the best things to see this Christmas in the city of lights.
Where: Boulevard Haussman 75009 When: End of November to January How much: FREE!