Paris Holiday Travel Tips for 2017

2017 promises to be one of the most festive holiday seasons in Paris in recent years with a bevy of lights, decorations, shop windows, Christmas markets, performances and activities. Here are some highlights in case you find yourself lucky enough to be here.

At Printemps department store, mega movie star Nicole Kidman officially kicked off the inauguration of the holiday windows and decorations in early November. Traveling the globe by plane, train, sleds and boat with Jules and Violette, two adorable imaginary children, to find the best gifts is the theme this year. Spiros Halaris, a Greek illustrator, has created 11 windows with 70 puppets and inside the store are 160 beautifully decorated trees.

Printemps, 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009

Across the street from Printemps, Galeries Lafayette has an inspiring love story between Pierre the pigeon and his dove Coco against the backdrop of a fairground. Hot air balloons, Ferris Wheels, carousels, roller coasters, cotton candy, and lollipops adorn the windows along with glamorous fashions. Inside the store, the dazzling eight-story Christmas tree rising up the atrium is festooned with mylar candies and balloons.

Galeries Lafayette 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009

What better way to embody the Christmas spirit than a visit to Notre Dame? A special holiday concert on December 22 at 8:30 p.m. features an assembly of the children’s choir, along with Yves Castagnatt at the choir organ and Vincent Dubois at the Grand organ.

A true holiday classic crowd pleaser, The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky is performed by the Ballet and Orchestra of the Russian National Opera at the Palais de Congres.

An authentic Christmas village Noël dans les étoiles (A Starry Christmas) is recreated in Les Halles market featuring 70 chalets selling crafts, decorations and gifts. To enchant the children there’s the Enchanted Forest, a Hanging Forest and Santa’s House, plus a stall to write letters to Santa. A stone's throw way from the giant Christmas tree in Notre Dame plaza, travelers can shop the artisanal gift market with "made in France" ceramics, jewelry, decorative ironwork, leather items, and tableware items, while drinking hot mulled wine.

Try out some figure eights and double twists French style at local ice skating rinks. A fun treat is to skate at the 3,000 square foot outdoor at Champs de Mars, while viewing the Eiffel Tower. The Grande Arche at the upper deck of La Defense plaza hosts a skating rink this year and, if you get too cold skating, you can visit the Quatre Seasons indoor mall with well-known French brands.

At the royal palace of Versailles, holiday festivities abound with a series of concerts and dance performances. A revival of German Christmas mass by Lutheran composer Michael Pretorius has been brought back to life a commission from Paul McCreesh, who recreated the music in 1994. The Maladin Ballet Biarritz stages Beauty and the Beast, based on the 1946 Jean Cocteau film.

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