Europe as a whole makes Christmas a magical time of year, but Paris, with its own special charm, takes the festivities to another level. Take your family to Paris for celebrations that will create a lifetime of happy holiday memories. No other city will get you into quite the same festive spirit.
Horse-drawn carriage ride at the Peninsula
A little touch of Dr. Zhivago romance and magic never goes amiss, especially when done in the utmost style. One of the chicest hotels in Paris, The Peninsula is renowned for its Christmas programme and this year is offering families a horse carriage ride on Wednesdays and weekends, for restaurant and hotel guests. Hop aboard, snuggle under the blanket and let the city’s Christmassy décor and atmosphere wash over you. Even better, there’s a choir on the Kleber Terrace, and an amazing life size gingerbread house where you can pick up your Christmas yule, a SnowPage toy or tree ornaments. Then settle into the Lobby restaurant for Christmas Afternoon Tea with the famous bûche de Noel, gingerbread cookies and fantastic chocolate pastries!
The Grands Magasins windows
Audrey AK, Flickr
Head to Boulevard Haussman to imbibe the festive atmosphere through the incredible shop window displays at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Kids will be bewitched by the fairytale displays, bringing toys alive and creating windows into magical worlds. Alive with festive cheer and a touch of Santa’s magic, the displays are intricate, ingenious and most of all incredibly creative, the Christmas wonderlands are one of Paris’ top attractions so they are inevitably busy. Aim to arrive early, and sample some roasting chesnuts as you admire the living Christmas wonderlands on show.
Ice skating at the Plaza Athénée
Copyright Romeo Ballancour
Even if you’re not staying at the very chic Plaza Athénée, book the family in for an Afternoon Tea to remember. Aside from pâtisserie chef and chocolatier extraordinaire Christophe Michalak’s goodies which both kids and parents will be impressed by, the real reason for coming to this palace on Avenue Montaigne is its winter ice skating rink hidden in the interior courtyard. With staff on hand to take on the smallest kids, ‘penguin pusher’ skates and fake snow aplenty, this luxury hotel pulls out all the stops to give the kids a great winter wonderland experience.
The really big wheel at the Tuileries
Audrey AK, Flickr
Another big favourite in town, the big wheel at the Place de la Concorde by the gates of the Tuileries gardens, is bound to delight the kids. Vertigo sufferers might want to give it a miss, but it’s a great way to get a few thrills and the best of Parisian views from 65 metres up. Set up every year on 14 November the 'Grande Roue' adds a certain twinkle to the Parisian skyline. Dismounted on 15 February, it’s a winter must and a Christmas treat for the entire family.
The big bus christmas tour
IK's World Trip, Flickr
Being out after dark is a treat for any kid... especially to see the City of Lights in all its illuminated Christmas glamour. See the sights by night (without walking for miles on end) by hopping on a ‘Big Red Bus’ tour, starting off from the Champs-Élysées, aglow with its Christmas decorations and festive market. Huddle up on the top deck (on the front row if possible where you’ll be shielded from the cold and the kids can ‘drive’) with some warm chestnuts (or a Nutella crêpe) and take in the sights, decked out in all their festive glory. Thousands of fairy lights bring the city alive making it a truly magical way to see the French capital. The tour cruises past the most iconic sights including the Eiffel Tower (catch it on the hour when it sparkles all over), the Louvre and Notre Dame.