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What to do in Paris this winter

What to do, where to shop, where to eat and where to relax in Paris this winter...

It is famed for its beauty in the springtime, but as Audrey Hepburn famously said "Paris is always a good idea" at any time of year. 

In the winter this City of Light shines brightly, despite the chilly weather. A stroll down the glowing, Christmas tree and light-adorned Champs-Elysées Boulevard is a memorable, if slightly chilly experience. But don't fear, Paris boasts a wealth of places to keep warm and indulge; from beautiful épiceries and hidden boutiques to atmospheric cafés or music venues, and let's not forget the sumptous restaurants, elegant hotels and secret spas...

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

There is so much happening in the city over the Christmas season that it's hard to decide how to celebrate when visiting over the holidays, so here are our two top choices for celebrating in style.

Read more: Top events for Christmas in Paris

Paris' most historic neighbourhood is now a designer district, full of chic boutiques and world-class restaurants, as well as the famous July Column that you can't miss.

Read more: Bastille Neighbourhood Guide

Paris may not have as elaborate a jazz scene as New York or London but fans will find a handful of top festivals and enclaves worth dropping by for some smooth jazz that helps warm the soul on a cold winter’s night.

Read more: Best live jazz in Paris 

jazz

One of the city's major cultural institutions, the Picasso Museum, has recently opened its doors to visitors again after a long five year wait. The much awaited reopening is twinned with the inauguration of the LVMH Fondation Louis Vuitton, a veritable temple of contemporary art, where architect Frank Gehry's creation is a showstopper.

Read more: Two exhibitions opening this week in Paris

WHERE TO EAT

Parisian restaurants are up there with the best in the world, if you add to this a panoramic view of the historic buildings, squares and Eiffel Tower and you'll have a meal to remember for years to come.

Read more: Restaurants with a view in Paris 

3-Caf-Marly-Terrasse-Nuit-

This year, the sumptuous maison Baccarat is celebrating 250 years since Louis XV gave his go-ahead for the creation of the crystal glassworks factory in 1764. A demonstration of French savoir-faire, Baccarat is one of the rare heritage brands that have succeeded in remaining relevant across the centuries. While an exhibition at the Petit Palais celebrates this quarter-millennium anniversary until 4th January, we visit the Baccarat mansion's gastronomic restaurant.

Read more: Baccarat Review: Le Cristal Room

WHERE TO SHOP

Facing the Louvre and hiding behind the colonnaded façade of the Comédie Française, the oldest national theatre in the world dating back to 1680, is the very exclusive and arty Jardins du Palais Royal (royal palace gardens). Lined with arcades where fashion designers like Stella McCartney and Jérôme Dreyfuss have opened stores, it's a wonder the square is never crowded.

Read more: The secret boutiques that lie within the city's most famous landmarks

Acne-Studios-Palais-Royal-3

This year luxury épiceries, or speciality food shops, are very much in-vogue with discerning Parisian food lovers. These luxury speciality stores dot the city and include the Left Bank department store Le Bon Marché's La Grande Epicerie de Paris and L'Epicerie Générale as well as luxury shops Fauchon and Hédiard.

Read more: The top ten luxury food stores you have to visit in Paris

Clockwise from left, Poilâne sourdough loaves just out of the wood-fired oven, photo courtesy of Matthieu Alexandre; Manufacture de chocolat in Bastille by Chef Alain Ducasse, chocolate slabs, photo courtesy of Pierre Monetta; Les Caves de Taillevent cellar comprises some of the most prestigious French wines.

WHERE TO RELAX

On the exclusive shopping street of avenue Montaigne, in the basement of the legendary Plaza Athénée palace-hotel, is a secluded haven like no other. Here you will find the new flagship spa of sumptuous Dior Institut.

Read more: The Dior Institute spa review

Dior Institute spa