Noël à Paris…Illuminating!
While I was eating turkey in the Big Easy last week, the lights on the Champs-Elysées turned on their twinkling. According to part-time American in Paris Tom Regan, who visited the scene before his own departure for the U.S. described it to be a bit “strange” as many of the leaves are still on the trees, but golden as they are during the fall, and giving a golden glow to everything. In a few weeks, the leaves will all be gone, but the white and blue lights will remain, becoming more prominent. Some of his beautiful photos were taken from our mutual friends’ fifth floor balcony overlooking the Champs-Elysées.
It may seem like an awful lot of lights and excessive use of electricity, but the creators are quite conscious of the waste. They have reduced it from 480,000kWh of consumption up until 2006 by 97% so that today, it’s only .9% of what an average family consumes in one year. The sparkling will continue through January 7th, 2015 every day from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and all night long on Christmas eve the 24th and New Year’s Eve the 31st.
While you’re strolling along the Champs-Elysées admiring the lights, be sure to take in the annual “Marches de Noel” between Rond Point and Place de la Concorde. This is the largest Christmas market within the city limits and is open now through January 4th, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., with Fridays and Saturdays open until midnight. It’s another great place to stroll, have a “vin chaud” or other treat while you’re shopping for stocking stuffers.
At the end of your market journey, you’ll come upon the “Grande Roue,” spinning now through February 15th, 2015. Be one of the 300,000 passengers to take off on one of the 42 heated gondolas to see Paris from from a bird’s eye view.
The Champs-Elysées isn’t the only street in town showing off its lights. You’ll find them everywhere, and in particular along Avenue Montaigne, Place Vendôme, through the Montmartre district, Bercy Village and many other sites. If you want to have to discover the most beautiful illuminated monuments of the capital at nightfall, take the Paris Cityvision panoramic bus tour of “Paris Illuminations” with commentary in 11 languages.
If being on your feet is more your style than riding the bus or turning in a gondola, put on your skates and take to the rinks. In the center of the city on the Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville, you can skate your heart content for just 5€ beginning December 19th.
And if you want something really special, beginning December 14th until January 4th, under the glass dome of the Grand Palais will be the largest ice skating rink ever created in France — 2,700 square meters of ice for the most magical glide ever. While your kids are gliding away, you’ll be able to hang out on the sidelines with a hot chocolate from Ferrero Rochers just to keep you in good spirits. The Grand Palais rink costs a bit more — Children 10€, Adults 15€ and Nighttime glides 25€.
You’ll find more to do over the holiday season in Paris than you will have time for…so waste no time in getting here and taking advantage of all the city offers! Visit Christmas in Paris for more information.
A la prochaine,
P.S. Special thanks to Tom Regan for his beautiful photos of the Champs-Elysées!
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P.P.P.S. Join us at Parler Paris Après-Midi on Tuesday, December 9, when our guest speakers will be two former commanding officers of French Foreign Legion regiments who will tell you more about the world’s most famous fighting corps. We meet from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. upstairs at Café de la Mairie (formerly La Pierre du Marais), on the corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, 3rd arrondissement. Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers. Costs nothing except whatever you drink!