Welcome to a new post in my weekly blog series, Passionate About Paris. Maybe you’re a first-time visitor, or like me a can’t-get-enough-of-Paris devotee. Perhaps you’re mildly curious about the City of Light. Whatever your feelings about Paris, I hope you’ll find in these posts some ideas to inspire, hints to help and a sense of sharing what’s great about this awesome city.
Christmas is at its sparkly best in Paris: the ice rinks are open, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is festooned with Christmas decorations and the trees hung with lights, the shop windows are dressed in their superb festive best. The roast chestnut sellers are outside the métro stations and in the markets – and there’s a winter chill in the air, so this week’s round up has a distinctly festive feel….
If calorific caution is being thrown to the winter winds as the temperature drops and if chocolat chaud is high on your agenda, there’s good news from Angelina’s (mentioned in a previous post) – there are two more locations in which to savour their divine hot chocolate and pastries. The first opened on December 6th in Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann, while another is scheduled to open in January in the Musée du Luxembourg. This will have an outside terrace, so gorgeous gardens and hot chocolate do die for – what a combination!
Another patisserie well worth the jaunt out to the 17th arrondissement is l’ecureuil at 96 rue de Lévis, (métro: Villiers or Malesherbes), open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-8pm
Close to the market street of rue de Lévis, this little patisserie is in a residential quarter and their patisserie features seasonal fruits and berries obtained from the market; their delectable macaroons stay with the seasonal theme. The little shop also offers a nice selection of pure fruit jams, floral essences, herbal teas from Normandy and chocolates. You can also pick up a savoury tart for supper and at the weekends the range is extended to include Alsatian breads and cake. Their Christmas range has just gone on sale and includes chocolate logs with some surprising and less traditional ingredients, such as liquorice and mango.
If your tastes veer more towards bubbly, the newly-opened Bubble Bar at the Paris Hilton Arc de Triomphe, 51-57 rue de Courcelles could be for you. It has been variously described as a snow globe or a champagne bubble and the 16-foot-tall Bubble Bar is a collaboration between Hilton Hotels, Taittinger Champagne and the fashion set designer Jean-Hugues de Chatillon. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 6 pm to midnight until January 15th, the Bubble Bar offers champagne at €25 per glass, but only accommodates 35 people at one time.
If you need a little more persuasion to feel Christmassy, try these two events.
A live Christmas Nativity attracts visitors each year at the Fondation d’Auteuil, 40 rue La Fontaine in the 16th arrondissement (metro: Jasmin,Mirabeau, Eglise d’Auteuil). The nativity display (part of its Festiv’ Solidaires season) is made up of five scenes, with the crêche bringing the Christmas story to life.
Alongside the nativity play, there’s a Christmas market, activities for the kids, a Parisian-style brasserie and a series of concerts aimed at raising awareness of the charity’s work. Proceeds help the Paris-based Fondation to support French children in need. The Nativity runs from 14th to 18th December from 11am to 7pm.
Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral celebrates Noël with an atmospheric Christmas concert, performed by its resident choirs. Pause inside this spectacular cathedral, decorated for Christmas, with incense burning and it’s impossible not to feel festive. The concert is free but you need a ticket, so make sure you get yours in advance (before 6pm) from the welcome desk at the Cathedral. The concert starts at 8.30 pm. on December 20th. (métro: Cité).
And finally….don’t forget the free light show which takes place each evening outside the cathedral – Passionate About Paris on November 30th has the details.