In the late spring or summer, when the city is overrun with tourists, tourists swarm to Paris. The most knowledgeable tourists understand that the winter has a unique charm, nevertheless. Even “when it drizzles,” as Ella Fitzgerald sang, the city is beautiful.
Paris is not only pleasantly empty of tourists in the winter, but the atmosphere also shifts and has a particular allure. Under cloudy sky, the city’s gray stone structures stand out more. The formal gardens and parks have a sophisticated austerity with their sparse tree cover. Cold weather encourages guests to take energizing strolls, and rainy days encourage them to visit attractive cafés, warm bistros, and classy tearooms.
The Christmas lights in Paris are a huge draw for visitors and locals alike at this time of year. People travel from all over the world to Paris to see the streets decked out in enchanted hues for the holiday season.
The roads of the French capital are magnificently decorated with luminous arches, colored bulbs, incandescent flames, and brilliant light projections.
Paris now more than ever embodies what it means to be the “City of Light”! Paris is more enchanted than ever thanks to the Christmas illuminations on the avenue des Champs-Elysées, avenue Montaigne, in Place Vendôme, the Montmartre neighborhood, Bercy Village, and many other locations throughout the city from November to the beginning of January.
The quickest way to feel festive when in the City of Light during the shortest days of the year is to visit a Paris Christmas Market.
These festive street markets filled with Swiss-style wooden chalets bring a tradition started in the Middle Ages in Alsace and Germany to the French capital. They feature sparkling lights, Christmas trees full of bright decorations, and occasionally even visits from Saint Nicholas, or Père Nol, as Parisian children call him.
Copy the Parisians and shop till well into the night for handicrafts, festive Christmas decorations, regional food specialties, sweets, and other gifts while sipping hot mulled wine, nibbling on roasted chestnuts, and sampling exquisite sausages, cheese, and chocolates.
What could be more festive than donning some skates and practicing figure-8s outside? Of course, falling onto the ice in Paris with flailing arms to the sound of 80s music. You can sip a soothing vin chaud after skating your heart out at one of the many seasonal ice rinks that are ideally located close to Christmas markets. A happy flight!
This winter’s snowfall at Versailles adds a touch of enchantment to the Palace designed by Louis XIV. The bravest guests who came to withstand the winter cold and appreciate the poetry of the site see Versailles in a new light and learn some of its secrets. Here is a collection of the tourists’ photos that document the season’s gentle magic light as the days pass.