Bon Hiver: 10 Things to Do in Paris in Winter
“When the temperature dips, there’s no place quite like the City of Lights. Take a festive walk down the Champs Élysées and warm up with a vin chaud (mulled wine) at a market before bringing in the New Year in typically Parisian style (with a grand parade and a cocktail or two). Here are the top 10 things to do in Paris in winter.
1. Skate on the Largest Rink in France
Skate on to the ice under the Grand Palais des Glaces’s impressive domed ceiling. France’s largest rink opens its doors once a year for festive family skating fun during the day. Come nightfall, between 8pm and 2am, a DJ and lightshow bring the party for a great night out. Skate between 13 December 2019 and 8 January 2020.
2. Drink Vin Chaud at a Christmas market
Eat, drink and be merry at the largest Christmas market in Paris. In the Jardin des Tuileries, this winter wonderland is all things festive thanks to Nordic-style wooden chalets, fair rides and gourmet treats. Warm up with a vin chaud and, at the stalls, pick up wooden and glass-blown gifts or souvenirs. The market is open 15 November 2019-5 January 2020.
3. Feel Festive among the Decorations
Each year, the Galeries Lafayette gets a Christmas makeover. Head to the high-end department store to see the extravagant decorations (and do a spot of window shopping). Be sure to stop by the grand hall to see the lights suspended from the ceiling and the huge tree.
4. Watch Acrobatics at Festival de Merveilleux
Making the Christmas period that bit more magical, this December Musée des Arts Forains will once again open its doors to the public. The privately owned collection of circus and funfair curiosities is usually reserved for private tours, but between 26 December 2019 and 5 January 2020, you’re invited to see dancers, musicians, magicians and storytellers. Ride a merry-go-round from the 1900s and watch the automata opera in the Salons Vénitiens before catching a glimpse of yourself in the ballroom’s magic mirrors.
5. See the Christmas Lights on the Champs Élysées
When in Paris, walking the tree-lined Champs Élysées is a must for the bucket list. At Christmas, the pedestrianised avenue of typically Parisian buildings is even more impressive with its Christmas light installation. See the trees covered in waves of fairy lights as you walk up to the Arc de Triomphe. This year, on 24 November at 6pm, French actress Ludivine Sagnier will perform the big switch-on, but if you miss that, you can still see the lights until 9 January 2020.
6. Catch a Catwalk Show in Fashion Week
Twice a year, Paris joins the rest of the Big Four – Milan, London and New York – in hosting its fashion week. The most sought-after designers in the world showcase their new-season designs, and fashion icons flock for inspiration. While tickets to the top shows are usually reserved for industry insiders, there are plenty of department store trunk shows and public events for the rest of us. In 2020, Men’s Fashion Week is 14–19 January, Haute Couture week runs 20–23 January and Women’s Fashion is 24 February–3 March.
7. Listen to a Festive Concert
Get into the festive spirit with an evening of classical music at the Saint-Germain de Prés Church. The Grand Concert de Noël is a musical treat of Bach and Mozart performed by a full orchestra, and the Romanesque church is the perfect setting. Look up at the colourful frescoes while the musicians welcome in the Christmas season with carols.
8. See the Paris Festival of Lights
Each year, the City of Lights gets just a little brighter with the Festival of Lights. The Jardin des Plantes and Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes host the spectacle, with more than 50 light sculptures. This year, the theme is Océan en Voie d’Illumination, and each installation aims to raise awareness of endangered species and animals. Walk through four under-water worlds and spot huge illuminated polar bears, penguins and great white sharks. You can catch the festival 18 November 2019–19 January 2020.
9. Try a New Flavour at Paris Cocktail Week
Once a year, bars across the city mix up two new cocktails, one with and sans (without) alcohol. It’s a great way to discover locally loved spots and get a drink for a special price. Download a passport from the official site (for free) and tick off the drinks as you try them on 24 January-1 February.
10. Join in the Carnival
Since the Middle Ages, Parisians have paraded colour and music through the city’s streets once a year at Carnival. This year the theme is A Fantastic Air World, and you’re free to dress up and join in the festivities or simply watch the revellers pass by. It leaves Place Gambetta at 2pm 23 February 2020.”
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