Spending Christmas in Paris – Christmas always seems to be a big problem when you have a partner. Normally two months before Christmas the inevitable question is asked, “Where are we going for Christmas, yours or mine?” It’s always a hard call, my now wife and I often find ourselves in a tricky situation as I’m English and she’s Irish so we can’t please everyone. We have now decided to spend one year in Ireland, then England and for the third year we please ourselves. On this occasion, we booked a trip to Paris. This is my experience of spending Christmas in Paris:
Arrival a few days before Christmas
We chose a hotel located in Rue Mouffetard – a lively area with a wide range of bars, restaurants, and my partner’s favorite, shops! On our first day, we had a good walk around, we didn’t have any set plan we just pleased ourselves. We visited a mix of churches, museums, parks, and more shops. As we’d both been to Paris before we didn’t feel the need to visit the main tourist sights although we did decide to spend half a day in the Louvre. This was a good choice, especially because my wife studied the history of art and is now an expert.
Christmas experience at the Mosque?
We went exploring the local area and stumbled across the Paris Mosque. The Mosque was beautiful and very welcoming, we both sat in the peaceful courtyard for an hour and enjoyed Arabian teas, sweets, and a hookah. Lots of visiting pretty yellow and greenfinches befriended us and it wasn’t long before my animal-loving wife was off buying food with the sole purpose of feeding the birds. It was an unusual but enjoyable experience to find ourselves sitting in the courtyard of a mosque at Christmas.
Food & evening entertainment
In the evenings we would head to Rue Mouffetard for dinner before going to one of the North African bars for tea and to smoke Hookahs (by now I was getting a real taste for them). The bars were very different from what I was used to, they are dark and the air filled with fruit-flavored smoke. The customer base was mostly made up of Moroccans, Tunisians, a few French people, and us. Looking in through the window we were a little apprehensive, we weren’t sure if we would be welcome but once inside everyone was very friendly and chatty, so much so that we returned most evenings.
We spent the day walking around Paris, thankfully most restaurants were open and we chose to eat in the Restaurant Le Jardin D’Ivy an excellent restaurant where I enjoyed 12 snails bathed in garlic and a perfect ‘blue’ peppered steak. On our way back to the hotel at midnight the local church’s bells started ringing and we made a decision to join the congregation at midnight mass. We glad we did, it was very atmospheric and there was a real mixture of people.
Sushi on Christmas Day..?
On Christmas Day as we feared there wasn’t much open, although we did eventually manage to find a bakery open where we bought croissants for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent walking around parks, stopping off at cafes, and doing a bit of window shopping.
It was easy enough to get lunch but as the day went on, more and more restaurants closed. We had popped to the supermarket the previous day for supplies just in case we had to have a picnic in our hotel room! Just as we were thinking about cracking open the emergency supplies we spotted a Japanese restaurant called Edogawa. It had already been a very different Christmas so why not have Japanese as our Christmas dinner? We filled up on miso soup and huge amounts of sushi – it was Christmas so we ordered everything! The meal was perfect and only cost €24 for the two of us.
Spending our Christmas in Paris was a unique and pretty random experience but also very enjoyable!
Paris: the lowdown and visitor tips
Paris is a beautiful and romantic city and definitely worth visiting. Tourists flock here to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre among many other sites. To help you once there I would recommend a fantastic guide book – Cartoville, the one issue is that it isn’t published in English as it really does take you off the main tourist track.
Paris has an excellent metro system which makes everything very accessible and I recommend going without an itinerary and just enjoy discovering the city for yourself. Food and drink are fairly reasonably priced in Paris, as long as you avoid eating anywhere near the Champs-Élysées.
We booked our outgoing flight from Dublin to Paris with Aer Lingus. We landed in Charles de Gaulle and jumped straight on a bus into the center of Paris. Another good airline to try is Easyjet.
Where to stay
There are lots of very great places to stay including some very cool hotels in Paris. We nearly always stay near the Champs-Élysées, but this time we booked into Les Grand Hotel Des Gobelins which was a small and friendly hotel in the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter is a very authentic Parisian area with a mix of families and students and not many tourists.