Great Paris attractions to celebrate the festive season
By Rowena Carr-Allinson
Family Vacation Destinations
Eiffel Tower and the city of Paris (Flickr: James Whitesmith)
In the Holiday season, the French capital has its fair share of delightful attractions. Making the most of the winter wonderland feel and the built up to Christmas, Paris is transformed with its festive treats, enough to keep any family enthralled.
Celebrate a Parisian Christmas (and even New Year’s Eve) by doing some, or all depending on your time there, of these festive activities with the kids.
Ice Skating at the Grand Palais
Without a doubt one of the city’s most beautiful buildings (and that is quite a compliment!) with its impressive glass roof and central location, the Grand Palais becomes home to the world’s biggest indoor ice rink every winter. Kids can glide under the famous dome from December 14 on the temporary ice skating rink, made even more special thanks to the ‘son et lumieres’ or music and lights shows.
Chocolate and yet more chocolate
Chocolate in Paris (Flickr: Ted Drake)
Of course, you can do this at any time of year, but there’s nothing quite like a walk in the biting cold Parisian air, while nibbling on a steaming hot ‘crepe au Nutella.’ Available from stalls all over the city, the classic treat is a must for visiting kids during the colder months. Prefer to sample your chocolate indoors? Head to Angelina’s tea rooms on Rue de Rivoli for the richest hot chocolate in town, taken in sumptuous surroundings. If budget is no object, serious chocolate fans should visit the Royal Monceau hotel where the ‘pop up’ le Bar Chocolat by Pierre Hermé is THE place to sample some serious chocolate treats for the season.
Window shopping at Les Grands Magasins
Galleries Lafayette at Christmas (Photo: Explore France)
A veritable institution, the window displays at the Galleries Lafayette and Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann have to be seen to be believed. As though created by Santa himself, the intricate window displays bring to life toys aplenty and magical Christmas wonderlands that will keep the kids in awe for a while.
The Paris Aquarium is a brilliant place to while away a few hours in the colder days. Kids will love the numerous displays featuring all manner of underwater critters, from mesmerizing jellyfish to large lobsters, Nemo-like clownfish, and fearless hammerhead sharks. Even better still, the all-singing all-dancing Pirates show will have the kids riveted thanks to the swordfights and slapstick comedy, never mind the free candy at the end!
Christmassy Chestnuts on the Champs
Champs Elysees at Christmas (Flickr: Daxis)
Nothing says Paris quite like strolling down the Champs Elysees, and from November 20, the famous avenue gets even more magical thanks to its Christmas market. Wander down the city’s most popular thoroughfare, taking in the window displays and the beautiful twinkling Christmas lights, while hugging a packet of deliciously fragrant warm roasted chestnuts and chewing the sweet, warm treats. That’s what memories are made of! It’s also where you’ll find the Disney store and France’s only Abercrombie so it might be Christmas come early.
The Really Big Wheel at the Tuileries
Tuileries gardens (Flickr: Melodie Mesiano)
Once you’ve ambled down the Champs Elysees, you’ll find yourself at the Concorde and the beginning of the Tuileries gardens where from mid-November the “Grande Roue” takes its place as part of the city’s sparkling skyline. Reaching 65 meters up in the sky, the huge white wheel is the perfect place to view the city’s stunning panorama, its Christmas lights and enjoy a few thrills. The Wheels stays put until Feb 15 giving you one last chance to ride and enjoy the views on Valentine’s Day!
(MORE: Find kid-friendly hotels to stay in during your Paris vacation.)
Winter is also circus season in Paris. Whether you prefer clowns, performing animals or acrobatics, opting for the classic Cirque d’Hiver, the Cirque Plume which is celebrating its 35 years, or even the legendary Cirque Gruss, there are plenty of opportunities for entertainment under a tent.
Take a Tuk Tuk Tour
When it’s cold out, it can be tricky convincing the kids to walk. TukTuk Paris have come up with the ideal, very kid friendly way to see the city without walking. Smaller and more private than a bus, flexible and more fun, the Tuk Tuk tours with clued up and friendly locals are a brilliant way to see a lot while zooming around. Parents enjoy the views and tour guide’s chatter, while kids love the ride.
Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime.