Six very different things to do in Paris this Christmas

Looking for Christmas activities in the City of Light? Here are some tips from people who know a thing or two about life in Paris.

Six very different things to do in Paris this Christmas
Pine trees are displayed in a giant snow globe under the Eiffel Tower in central Paris. Photo: AFP
If you're stuck for something to do in Paris this Christmas then check out these six original ideas for activities on offer (followed by four classics). 
Pastry hopping
If you're looking for some one-off seasonal treats, then hit the city's patisseries, says Lost in Cheeseland blogger Lindsey Tramuta. 
“The city's leading pastry chefs and chocolate makers pull out all the stops at the holidays, creating limited edition cakes, macarons, ganaches, pralines – you name it – and there's no activity I prefer more than taste-testing my way around town,” she says. 

“But if time doesn't allow it, a small but excellent selection of treats will be carried at Fou de Pâtisserie, the multi-pastry boutique that sells pastries, chocolates, jams, madeleines and other indulgences, from a handful of top chefs.”
Photo: Fou de Pâtisserie/Facebook
Dig into some oysters
Christmas time is synonymous in Paris with oyster-time,” says Doni, who runs the Girls Guide to Paris blog
“Sip champagne and slurp oysters in style at Le Dome cafe where Picasso used to dine. Or hit up Le Baron Rouge on a Sunday afternoon before 4pm when the oyster man from Arcachon shucks plates of them for around €6. Wash them down with one of their house whites. You’ll be cheek-by-jowl with the locals but that should get you into the festive spirit.”

See a Christmas concert in a church
Richard Nahem, who runs the Eye Prefer Paris blog, says this is “one of the most festive and satisfying things to do in Paris at holiday time”. 
“My favorite venue is Saint Chapelle church (in the first arrondissement), which this holiday season will feature Masterworks of Sacred Music including interpretations of Ave Maria by Schubert and Gounod plus music by Verdi and Mozart,” he says. 
“Not only do you get to listen to the gorgeous music, you also get to savor the astounding beauty of the church and its brilliant stained glass windows.”
Photo: Chris Chabon/Flickr
Doni from the Girls Guide to Paris blog recommends the sounds of Christmas gospel at the beautiful Les Billettes Church in the Marais on Christmas Eve, or the Christmas Concert which includes the Ave Maria on the 25th at the gothic wonder, St. Severin

Stylish lights on the Avenue Montaigne
The guides over at Savoir Faire Paris suggest a stroll down the chic Avenue Montaigne near the Champs-Elysées. 
“These are the most stylish Christmas decorations in the city, and offer the true essence of Paris at Christmas time,” they say.
Of course, if you absolutely insist on joining the hordes, you won't be far from the Champs-Elysées if you want to take a look at its offerings as well.

Quirky installations at the Bon Marché
Kate Goodbody, who runs the More Native than the Natives blog, says shopping is the best part of the festive season. 
“Le Bon Marché (pictured below) is renowned for its long history and more recently its quirky installations. Therefore it is hands down one of the best places to get into the festive spirit with some retail therapy as well as the perfect place to Instagram,” she tells The Local.  
“When you've finished with purchasing presents you can nip over to the Grande Epicerie to marvel at the wide range of food they have on offer. I like to pop in on the odd occasion to treat myself to something frivolous. Head downstairs to their incredible wine cellar to pick up a bottle of something special for the big day too.”
Photo: AFP
Christmas shopping at the Paris Saint-Ouen flea market
“Les Puces de Saint-Ouen” is known as one of the largest antiques markets in the world. 
The Seine-Saint-Denis tourism board calls it “a perfect place to pick up a present for the hard to please and fashionista hipsters with the help of antique trade dealers”.
Find unique gifts ideas from antique jewellery, vintage clothes and accessories, tableware, old books and records… you name it, it's probably there. 
It's open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays 10am to 5.30pm, and is close to the Porte de Clignancourt Métro station. 
Photo: AFP

The old favourites
Markets at the Champs-Elysées
On the most famous avenue in Paris, this Christmas market attracts thousand of visitors each year with its charming wooden chalets selling regional food specialities, decorations and toys. 
It's already opened, and kicks off at 10:30am until midnight each day (and until 1am on Friday and Saturday evenings). It closes on December 24th. 

Department store windows 
The Galeries Lafayette (pictured below) is a top tip from Richard Nahem at Eye Prefer Paris.
“This year it has a white out effect where all the window displays plus the mammoth Christmas tree in the store are made of white paper cutouts,” he says. 
“For more alternative holiday displays without the crowds, see the opulent windows at Hermes and quirky off beat vitrines at Le Bon Marche.”
Photo: AFP

Ice skating at the Grand Palais
What better was to spend a chilly Paris afternoon than on ice skates?
Tramuta from Lost in Cheeseland says there are none better than that at the Grand Palais (pictured below), while Yanique Francis from the My Parisian Life blog recommends the one at the City Hall (Métro Hotel de Ville).
Trocadero markets
And lastly, Corey Frye from the Localers walking tour group highly recommends the Christmas market at Trocadero. 
“It offers the most interesting international food stalls with ethnic cuisine you'll struggle to find in any other market. Expect Slovakian tea, Russian soup, and Turkish and Croatian delicacies,” he added. 
“France is well represented too, with a stall dedicated to oysters and champagne, and another serving up handmade artisanal macarons (a must!).”
It'll open on the 15th of December and run until the 3rd of January, following a two-year hiatus for renovation works.



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Will anywhere in France get a white Christmas this year?

A white Christmas might be at the top of many people's festive wish list but will it actually come true for anyone in France this year?

Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France.
Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France. Non-mountainous parts of the country will not see snow this year. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

If you’re in France and have been dreaming of a white Christmas, you are probably out of luck. 

It has been freezing in recent days with temperatures falling to a low of -33.4C in Jura on Wednesday morning, but the cold spell isn’t going to last. 

Temperatures across the country will hover around the 10C level in most of France by the afternoon on December 25th according to Météo France, with parts of the country including Brittany and some parts of eastern France experiencing rainfall. 

By the afternoon on Christmas Day, the chances of snow look extremely limited. Source:

On Saturday, there will be some snowfall, but only if you are high in the mountains at an altitude of 1,800-2,000m. On Sunday, places above 1,500m could also see snow – but this rules out the vast majority of the country. 

Roughly half the country will see sunshine over the weekend. The French weather channel said that this Christmas could be among the top five or six warmest since 1947. 

Last year, Météo France cautioned: “While we often associate snow with Christmas in the popular imagination, the probability of having snow in the plains [ie not in the mountains] during this period is weak in reality.”

One of the last great Christmas snowfalls, outside of France’s mountainous areas, came in 2010 when 3-10 cm of snow fell in Lille, Rouen and Paris. In Strasbourg, 26cm fell. 

On Christmas Day in 1996, 12 cm of snow fell in Angers – ironically, this was also the day that the film, Y’aura t’il de la neige à Noël? (Will there never be snow at Christmas?) was released. It had been ten years since France had seen such snowfall outside of the Alps and Pyrenees. 

Météo France directly attributes declining rates of Christmas snowfall to climate change. Compared to 50 years ago, even the Alps receives the equivalent one less month of snowfall per year.