As the holiday approaches do you catch yourself dreaming of Christmas in Paris? Can you feel the cool breeze kick up and hit you in the face with the spiced scent of mulled wine? The City of Light can indeed be a magical place to spend the holidays, perhaps even more so if you are traveling as a couple. We spent our first Christmas together in Paris and it was a holiday to remember. Here are 4 fun things to do in Paris on Christmas.
I. Visit The Eiffel Tower
We visited The Eiffel Tower 3 times in two days – no joke. Perhaps we could have done with a little bit of planning to avoid multiple trips (we’re more the figure it out as you go kind of people), but it is certainly a must… especially for a first time visitor. We started Christmas Eve day at the Arc de Triomphe as it was down the street from our hotel. We enjoyed seeing the sun for the first time in days (it rained nonstop in Germany), so we may have been overexcited when we spotted the Eiffel Tower and decided to head there next.
View from the Arc de Triomphe
Beware, just because you can see the tower does not necessarily mean it is within an easy walking distance (looks can be deceiving). The Eiffel Tower is approximately a 30-35 minute walk from the Arc — unless you stop to ooh and ahh at everything like I did. Then it takes much longer. I say if the weather is
nice bearable and you have good walking shoes, go for it! Keep in mind a lot of people are attracted to the iconic Eiffel Tower, so wait times to go up the tower can be long. On Christmas Eve the wait times to walk up the tower were just under an hour (longer to take the elevator). Jimmy hates waiting in lines and I had read that it would be less crowded on Christmas morning, so we planned to return then. Surely everyone would be enjoying time with family indoors on Christmas morning. Right?
Our first close-up of the Eiffel Tower from Rue de l’Université
Spoiler alert: WRONG! So wrong. Christmas morning was even more crowded! The line was well over an hour long, much to our dismay. Not wanting to waste a beautiful Christmas day standing in line we opted to return a 3rd and final time that evening. We instead wondered across the street to view the grounds of the Jardins Du Trocadéro which were beautiful… even in the winter. There is also a Christmas market near the gardens with the offerings of hot cider and fois gras if that’s your thing.
Jardins du Trocadéro
A lovers quarrel? Jardins du Trocadéro
In the end I must say, walking up the Eiffel Tower on Christmas night was a great way to end our trip. I am a sucker for lights and could not help but smile when the Tower shimmered on the hour. We walked up to the second level and took in the breathtaking view that is Paris at night. You have to take an elevator from the second level to get to the very top. And could you guess it? The line was really long. However, we were happy with our views from the second deck (and I think Jimmy felt he was high enough as is).
Lesson learned: You may want to plan a general day or time to visit and stick with the plan. Anticipate that lines will be long and find something to entertain yourselves. Or come back three times – it’s up to you!
Christmas morning visitors heading to the Eiffel Tower
II. Enjoy lunch at a market or sidewalk café
Granted you can do this anytime you visit Paris, but there is something wonderful about the holiday spirit in the air that makes open-air dining appealing. Even when it is 45 degrees outside. While walking through the city on Christmas Eve we stumbled upon an open-air market with amazing foods on display. The street market had everything from clothes to fresh fish. While tourists flocked to the cafes along the Champs-Élysées, we were more than happy with warm sandwiches in hand, as we lunched on the steps near the Seine and absorbed the atmosphere around us.
Lunch on the steps
The next day (after our 2nd visit to the Eiffel Tower), we headed to the Louvre. But first, we were in search of food – a common reoccurring theme here at Haggis and Hamburgers. Luckily, we stumbled upon Rue Cler, a bustling yet quaint part of town with many sidewalk cafés open on Christmas day. We dined on the patio of Café Du Marché beneath a red awning, sipping wine while grazing on a delightful plate of
cheese fromage. Seriously – how much more “Christmas in Paris” does it get?
Enjoying fromage at Café du Marché
Rue Cler on Christmas Day
III. Explore the outdoors
Paris offers many wonderful museums and countless shops, but with only 48 hours in town we were most happy walking the city without much of an agenda. From the Eiffel Tower we essentially followed the river Seine down near the Musée d’Orsay.
Statues outside the Musée d’Orsay
From there we crossed the river to walk the grounds of The Louvre and the Jardin de Tuileries. The weather can be variable that time of year, but on Christmas Day the temperature was in the 50’s and sunny, warm enough for just a sweater (without the bulky coat). It was a perfect day to walk through the gardens, appreciating the statues and the green amidst the city. While it would have been nice to visit the museums, the crowds were simply too much for us. We were happy enough being outside and will look forward to visiting the museums another time.
View of The Louvre
Can you imagine how beautiful this must be with the trees in bloom?
Le Bon Samaritain statue
After a long day of walking we headed back down the Champs-Élysées which was teeming with tourists. If Christmas markets are your thing, then you would likely enjoy seeing the unique booths that populate the promenade. And while we had our share of Christmas markets in Germany, we heard the Christmas village at La Defénse is not to be missed.
IV. Go for a pint in a cozy pub
Perhaps my favorite experience of the trip was on Christmas Eve when we tucked into L’Auberge Café, a cozy restaurant and pub while on our way to see midnight mass at Notre Dame cathedral. To be perfectly honest, we had been walking a while (over an hour) and needed a break. The restaurant could not have been more perfect. With exposed stone, wood beams, a fireplace, and a bit of serendipity it was the most authentic place we visited! We enjoyed a pint before heading on.
L’Auberge Café, Paris. It is even more charming on the inside! Photo Credit: John Talbott’s Paris
Enjoy a pint or a meal at L’Auberge Café
Later on, after enjoying the choir and procession from outside the cathedral, we headed down to the Latin Quarter. There are plenty of bars that remind you of home or anywhere really. But we were glad to happen upon live music at Le Relais de la Huchette – a fun and cushy piano bar. We closed the bar down, then took a cab to the hotel to avoid another hour+ walk back. Did I remind you to wear comfortable shoes?
Photo credit: Privateaser
Photo credit: Yelp
So what’s the best way to have fun on Christmas? It’s quite simple really. Be present during your holiday in Paris.
Appreciate the festive lights along the Champs-Élysées.
Feel the roots of the trees intertwined with the wrought iron fencing surrounding the cities historical treasures.
And if you’re with someone special, adore the company and companionship they provide knowing it makes the holiday and trip all the more fun and special.