paris at Christmas


paris metro


Over the past 12 years I have spent 4 Christmases in Paris. I cannot think of a place I would rather be at Christmas than in Paris, sipping coffee and walking the streets.



(In case you are wondering … four other  Christmases were in St John’s parked on a stool at a corner of The Beach Bar and three Christmases were in Kiev strolling down the main boulevard – Khreschatyk Street and the other 2 at home doing things with girlfriends)


As you can see, Christmas is typically the one time of the year I like to vacation and get out of Dodge. While I love all three away from home destinations, Paris is my favorite (I have accepted I am a Francophile).




Let’s chat a little about Paris at Christmas because … well … a trip like this is enlightening (and very fun).



So here is where I stay (unless I visit a friend in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois – a small city in the southern suburbs of Paris): The Best Western Premier Au Manoir Saint Germain De Pres. (just so everyone knows…a Best Western in Europe is different than Best Westerns in the USA). The hotel is in the heart of the Saint Germain des Prés district, Hemingway’s Paris, with galleries, antique shops, restaurants, cafes and fashion boutiques. The entrance is on Saint Germain Boulevard, right next to the mythical Lipp Brasserie and in front of the famous Café Deux Magots. With this location near the amazing Hemingwayesque cafes and the Saint Germain church it couldn’t be better located to take full advantage of a visit to Paris.



If you are looking for a high end hotel skip this place. It is a neat little bed and breakfast type place tucked into the intersection there at St Germaine blvd. across from the metro station. Rooms are small but roomy and quaint. But who cares. You are just sleeping there. You are walking or taking the metro most of the time. All of which is awesome even in Christmas time weather.



Paris. Just outside this little hotel is the ever snobby but outstanding Brassiere Lipp. It has one of those little enclosed patios that stick out over the sidewalk that seemingly is indigenous to Paris and only Paris restaurants.




If you want some more snobbery, just saunter across the boulevard (trying to avoid the madmen scooters and bikers) to the Café Deux Magots.


Even on a chilly December afternoon it is worth sitting on the outdoor patio people watching.


You have the Saint Germain Abbey, the oldest Parisian church courtyard and the Saint Germain Metro Station to keep a steady flow of fresh faces to watch. Want to stay in? The supermarket is steps away around the corner, living with all its hustle and bustle below a clothing store. The escalator takes you down to a full supermarket.


If you want to take a quick run you can take a short one from the hotel to the Palais Luxembourg and run the palace gardens to your heart’s content. I may not want to run in circles around a palace every day of the year but for a vacation it is kinda cool to do for several days.




I am not going to highlight all the things you can do because any guide book can do that and frankly you can’t go wrong. You could just randomly wander the streets and do nothing else and have a great time. (But. One thing. If you have an opportunity to see the orchestra play in the courtyard at Ste Chapelle. A once in a lifetime experience.)



And Christmas time.


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…what a time of the year.


While May in Paris is pretty spectacular (I have gone to the French open three times so that is what pulls me there then), I still don’t believe you can match the city Christmas spirit in Paris anywhere else (or at least anywhere I have traveled to).


New York is close but it is certainly a different type (being a non-European feeling).

Kiev at Christmas is pretty spectacular also … but as an eastern European city a lot of the city still has some of the Soviet dark overtones (but Khreschatyk Boulevard alone on Christmas Eve probably tops any individual location in a city in all places I have visited – picture to right).



Please note I have never been to Vienna and people say it is perfect at Christmas.


cafe france



Paris at Christmas. In Paris there is a holiday spirit that just can’t be beat.


Maybe because it is the city of little stores and bakeries and every one of them gets in the spirit that it just has such an amazing feel to it.


Maybe it’s because the people dress so well in the spirit without any of the kooky silly holiday aspects it isn’t overtly Christmassy but certainly top notch holiday feel.



I don’t know.


All I know is that it is a great place to be during Christmas time (and the French people are pretty fabulously festive at this time of the year).

Written by Bruce