Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
Once again, Paris has pulled out all the stops to celebrate Christmas in 2013. The wide boulevards are decked out with sparkling light displays, the department stores have decorated their windows to delight all ages, Christmas markets abound, and the Hotel de Ville/City Hall has installed the annual skating rink.
At Printemps, Prada is the star of the windows with their sumptuous handbags and shoes. Next door at Galeries Lafayette it’s about time with the windows devoted to festive watches and timepieces. Hermes, the king of luxury, goes more understated in their holiday window display with cacti and succulent plants with rich accessories in muted shades of pink, gray, yellow, and beige. On Place de la Madeleine at Fauchon, the upscale food purveyor, are towers of their delectable goodies of jars of foie gras and tins with cookies and biscuits along with sky-high macaron and mini-éclair trees.
64 Blvd. Haussmann, 75009
40 Blvd. Haussmann, 75009
24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008
24 -26 Placed e la Madeleine, 75008
Two of the best Christmas markets in Paris are the Christmas Village on the Champs Elysees with over 200 chalets selling holiday gifts and crafts, mulled hot wine, toys, jewelry, food and Christmas ornaments, and in front of the St. Germain church is a smaller market Village du Père Noël.
If you can’t make it to the white slopes of Gstaad this season, try Saint Germain des Neiges, a ski station with snow, chalets, and info about ski holidays in France.
A very special treat is the limited holiday opening of Musee des Arts Forains, a museum dedicated to antique carnival rides and circus artifacts with wonderful old carousels, rides, and extravagant circus and showgirl costumes.
December 26 to January 5
53, avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012
Metro: Cour Saint Emilion
A short journey one hour outside of Paris in the countryside is Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, a 17th century palace themed on Versailles. Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte celebrates the holidays with a magical Christmas décor, chimney fires in every room, and Christmas tunes playing. The façade and gardens of the chateau are lit with festive colored lights and there is also an enchanting Pinocchio show for the children.
Everyday from December 21 to January 5 (closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day) from 10:30am-6pm.