The lights were switched on along the Champs-Elysées last week, Christmas trees for sale are starting to line the streets throughout Paris and the city's Michelin-starred chefs and luxury hotels have begun their usual celebratory events. 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.
L'Hôtel du Collectionneur's enchanting fairy Christmas garden
The five-star neo-Art Deco hotel is, for the second year running, adding a little magic to the season with its beautiful and very exclusive Bulle (bubble). A transparent dome set up in the hotel's central courtyard under a canopy of stars, this isn't an underwhelming Christmas event like at most hotels. Here, vintage rosé or blanc Moët et Chandon champagne runs on tap at the champagne bar, as well as hors d'oeuvres created especially for the event by several Michelin starred chefs.
Set up with comfortable couches, candlelight and a view of the Christmas trees adorned with sparkling fairy lights surrounding the bulle out in the garden, it's our favourite haunt, and a well-kept secret in the city, to start things off. Inaugurated last week, the bulle is here to stay until mid-March and is open for lunch with classics from the hotel chef, for afternoon tea from 4.30pm-7.00pm when canapés from gourmet boutique Fauchon are served, as well as in the evenings for an aperitif.
The French 'Bûche' de Noël by Guy Martin
One of Paris' favourite Michelin starred chefs, Guy Martin, whose spectacular Le Cristal Room restaurant we featured earlier on this month, is keeping busy over the season with the creation of not one but three Christmas 'bûches'. The bûche, or log in English, is a dessert of cream and ice cream usually log-shaped that is traditionally served at Christmas throughout France and is one to try for visitors. Stirring things up a little this year, the two-Michelin-star Savoyard chef has created a bûche for each of his three restaurants – and while they might not be as extravagant as Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel lipstick-shaped bûche for a Tokyo restaurant, they're not all log-shaped either.
For Martin's restaurant 'Le 68', located in the basement under the prestigious historic Guerlain boutique on the Champs-Elysées, Martin worked with Thierry Wasser, the revered 'nose' of Guerlain, to create a bûche inspired by the maison's famous Shalimar perfume with notes of bergamot, lemon and mandarin. For the Martin atelier in the 8th arrondissement, the chef has gone for the more traditional chocolate, chestnut and griotte cherry combination. And last but not least, for the wonderfully atmospheric Grand Véfour in the Palais Royal gardens, the bûche was taken to new heights and is champagne-bottle-shaped with kaki, quince, mandarin and rosé Ruinart champagne flavours. A must to really get into the season, the bûches can be sampled at each restaurant and bought to serve at home.