meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: 5 Terrific (mostly FREE) things to do in Paris between Now and New Years

Monday, December 20, 2010

5 Terrific (mostly FREE) things to do in Paris between Now and New Years

Christmas in Paris. Has a certain ring, doesn't it? Visions of twinkling lights, romantic walks, gently falling snow and delicious meals fill your mind... and then what?

Here is a short list of things I like to do during the holiday season. Nothing on this list takes all day or will break the bank. You will however, feel like an insider and look like a local.  

The first thing is to dress warmly.  This means gloves, a hat and a scarf (even the most macho of men in Paris have come over to the scarf side - and for good reason - they're warm) sturdy shoes with rubber soles and wool socks are not a bad idea either if you're going to be hoofing it.

The following list is in no particular order:

1 - Eat a crepe while window shopping:
There are many places in Paris to eat crepes, but there are very few places where the batter is made from scratch, cooked to order in front of your eyes, stuffed with the best quality ingredients and handed over, piping hot, with a smile.  We eat our crepes at l'Avant Comptoir, a friendly, tiny wine/tapas bar that also happens to make the best crepes I've ever eaten. 

Since it's located in the lively Odeon  neighborhood in the 6th, the window shopping part will take care of itself.  I happen to enjoy Rue St. Suplice.. and it's lovely Champagne store - among other great shops.


2 - Walk Paris at night, experience the holiday lights: 

From Dec 1 - Jan 15th the City of Lights becomes more so with 125+ locations throughout the city lit up brighter than a  Christmas tree. One walk I particularly enjoy is down the Champs Elysee from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. In addition to the oodles of lights there is a holiday market to wander through and once arrived at Concorde, that HUGE ferris wheel (which I highly recommend).  To check out exactly where the 200,000 meters of lights are hung this year, check out this 'parcours' (map and street list) from the City of Paris.

3 - Hot Chocolate to-go from Angelina's:
Aside from being the place where Coco Channel loved to spend her lunch hour, Angelina's is THE hot chocolate destination.  Now, some folks like to wait in that long line for a table to order a pot of the sinfully delicious stuff but I can't drink it all without feeling slightly ill.  Plus it's really warm in the dining room (which could be a good thing I suppose) instead, I like to go into the small shop (to the right of the long line) and order my hot chocolate to go.  It's about 6 ozs for 3 Euros... just enough chocolate to satisfy but not ruin your appetite for the rest of the day. Take that puppy outside, cross the street and check out the Tuilleries, or better yet, maybe now's the perfect time to ride the ferris wheel or...

4 - Visit the Louvre at night:

Wednesday and Friday nights the Louvre stays open until 10pm, this is one of the true treats of the season.  Since it gets dark quite early this time of year, you can wander in around 5pm and linger as the rooms empty of visitors.  Wander the halls, dawdle on the stairs - no matter, the Louvre is yours at night, enjoy it!  My favorite place to investigate is the hall of Jewels... the rooms are dark, the cases are sparkling and the lights outside the 400 year old windows are twinkling. Gorgeous! If you happened to have visited Angelina's first, you'll be about ready for a nice dinner when you leave. (Le Fumoir is a short walk up the street, featuring a cozy atmosphere and good food)


5 - Donate and/or Volunteer:   
There are countless lonely, aged, homeless people with no family in Paris. Espace Benevol is a charitable organization working throughout France to provide companionship, hot meals and general aide for those in need.  Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are terrific opportunities to help. Email Marion Mousset to see how, or what, you can do to lend a helping hand this holiday season. Fortunately, a smile is understood in every language!  We'll be helping out on New Years Eve.. hope to see you too!

A bientot,

PS: There are about 20 vintage merry go rounds set up around town this time of year...
These beautiful, hand made carousels are well worth the effort of tracking down. 
PLUS, during this holiday season, they are FREE.

Click here for a complete list

Happy Holidays to you and yours!


Joëlle Laffitte said...

thank you for the tips! I would love to ride a vintage carousel and very much appreciate the restaurant recommendation.

jens at cincinnati wine said...

A wonderful post. Great photos and well-written. I might have to try some of your suggestions.

Gail said...

Champagne and crepes sounds like a great idea! It makes me want to get on a flight to Paris now, cold weather and all!

Sab said...

Hi Marie - enjoyed your tips (for the season now past!). A lovely mixture of luxury, simple and caring :-D See you soon in Paris...