Above: Christmas window at Galleries Lafayette, Paris (JournaldesVitrines); Below: Christmas windows Galeries Lafayette (JournaldesVitrines); Eiffel Tower (Colodio)
Whoever said “all that glitters is not gold” can’t have visited Paris in December. I mean, why would anyone recoil at the prospect of ordinary, everyday sights being transformed into such delicious, enchanting illusions? From a damp black pavement glowing red, then amber, then green to the Eiffel Tower fizzing in a blaze of sparks, Paris in winter is pure magic.
But this light show is nothing new. The French capital has been flickering on and off for centuries. Its history stretches all the way back to the 1600s when a public decree ordered for lights to burn in the windows of all houses that faced onto the streets of Paris. Ta-da, and so the City of Light was born…
La Grande Roue at the Place de la Concorde, Paris (Feuillu)
These days, over 100 streets are lit up from late November to late January to accompany Paris’ permanently illuminated monuments. Fancy basking in the city’s reflected glory? Follow my lead and wrap up warm for a bracing evening stroll along the Champs-Elysées. The mile-long route from place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe glistens under a canopy of bright white fairy lights. Everywhere you look, there’s a sprinkling of fairy dust and Christmas cheer. Only the proverbial Scrooge would turn down a helping of roasted chestnuts or a spin on the twinkly Tuileries Ferris Wheel.
Back on solid ground, the festive season is seeing the city’s department stores and boutiques going all out to seduce shoppers. This year’s musical-themed Christmas windows of Galeries Lafayette are already attracting huge crowds. Meanwhile, still on Haussman, Printemps is putting on an equally strong performance courtesy of Lanvin’s tuxedo-clad puppets and ethereal lights.
Façade of Galleries Lafayette in 2009 (JournaldesVitrines)
I wouldn’t dare write about winter magic in Paris without mentioning the iconic Christmas tree at Notre Dame Cathedral. Soaring into the night sky for over 20 metres in height, this gloriously festooned wonder takes up residence at the cathedral between November 27, 2010 – February 2, 2011.
Finally, for those starry-eyed magpies amongst us, there’s a treat in store in the form of the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand’s display of avant-garde Christmas trees. Dreamt up by students from the Fashion department at the Ecole Mod’ Art International, this year’s theme is ‘Wild Christmas’.
Seine River all lit up: TaboadaTesta
For your pleasure, here are some fun facts on these events:
Tuileries Ferris Wheel: Open November 19, 2010 – February 27, 2011. Entry: €10 Adults, €5 Children under 10. Metro Concorde.
Notre Dame Cathedral: Admission to the church is free. Metro: St-Michel Notre Dame – RER B Train Line (blue), St-Michel Notre Dame – RER C Train Line (yellow).
Fashion Christmas Trees: Open November 24, 2010 – January 3, 2011, Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, 2, rue Scribe 75009 . Metro Opéra, RER Auber, SNCF Gare Saint-Lazare.
- Le Best of Paris on their favorite places to be in December in Paris
- Amy Thomas (God I Love Paris) has some great wintry shots of Paris and last-minute gift recommendations
- Paris in Pink also has lovely shots of festive window displays and couture tree ornaments…
Written by Fiona Hilliard for the HiP Paris Blog. Fiona Hilliard is a Travel writer and blogger from Dublin, Ireland. She writes for the Glove Box Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.