Christmas Villages, Ice Skating & Ferris Wheel
Through January 4
The annual Christmas Village on the Champs-Elysées includes over 200 chalets selling holiday gifts, local specialties, mulled wine, warm hats and gloves, toys, jewelry and every kind of sweet imaginable. There is also a fun Olympic-sized ice skating rink, amusement park rides for kids and Santa visits. There's a hand-made 11-meter tall Eiffel Tower and a "Village des Artisans" dedicated to handcrafted items made in France. A great place to wander with an appetite and a Christmas shopping list! I made a Christmas Village video three years ago, but this year's is much better in terms of quality and variety. Open daily 11am-11pm (until midnight Friday and Saturday).
December 2 - January 3
A small "Village du Père Noël" with 30 chalets is set up outside Eglise St-Germain des Prés, open daily 11am-9pm.
Through December 28
The largest Christmas Village in the region is the Marché de Noël de La Défense, on the Parvis de la Défense (line 1 metro), with over 300 wooden chalets, a Bavarian restaurant, and giant igloos housing créateurs...and don't miss the fabulous evening views over Paris! Open Sun-Turs 11am-8:30pm, Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 10am-9pm (until 6pm on Dec 24th). (closed Dec 25th)
The annual Féeries d’Auteuil takes place at the non-profit children's organization Apprentis d'Auteuil (40 rue Jean de la Fontaine, 16th, M° Jasmin or Eglise d'Auteuil) with a Christmas market, food stands, flea market, concerts, vintage carrousel and nativity scenes, from 11am-7pm. Live singing performances on St-Sun at 5:30pm.
The Marché de Noël "Paris Notre Dame" features French artisan crafts and gourmet regional foods at this market across the river from Notre Dame Cathedral in the Square Viviani (Quai Montebello, 5th). Open daily 10am-8pm.
The "Marché de Noël Alsacien" takes place at the Gare de l'Est celebrating gourmet food specialties from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. Open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm, Sunday 10am-7pm.
December 1 - January 3
A small "Marché de Noël" of a dozen stands set up outside the Italie 2 Shopping Mall at Place d'Italie (13th).
December 4 - 31
The "Marché de Noêl de Montparnasse" includes 40 wooden chalets of food and gifts at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower, open daily.
December 8 - February 15
Skate on the Eiffel Tower! There is an ice skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower, free for those who already have a ticket for the Tower, open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. Skip the line by taking the stairs, it will help you warm up, too! Skates size 25-47 (EU), gloves are required.
December 14 - January 4
The Grand Palais is hosting the largest indoor skating rink in France Le Grand Palais des Glaces beneath their glass and steel dome. Open daily from 10am until 8pm (earlier on the first two days and Christmas and New Year's Eve, check the schedule) and then in the evening from 9pm-2am with DJ and sound/light show. There is also hot drink and snack stands (sponsored by Ferro Rocher, whose name is all over the place). Kids 3-12 are €10, adults €15, and night entrance is €25 (price is with or without skates). Bag/coat check is €2/item. Tickets can be purchased online in advance.
December 20-January 4
All of the Manèges, aka Carrousels de Paris, in the 3rd through 20th arrondissements of Paris are free for children for the holidays (my favorite is in the Jardins du Trocadéro, but the lines are longest). See the full list here. Open daily 11am-9pm.
Through February 15
At the Place de la Concorde is the Grande Roue Ferris Wheel. Each enclosed "car" holds six people. €10 for adult, €5 for kids under 10, open daily 11am-midnight (Fri-Sat until 1am).
December 20 - March 1
The Patinoire de Paris is a large ice skating rink in front of Hôtel de Ville. Free entry, €5 skate rental, gloves or mittens obligatory.
December 26 - January 4
If you saw Midnight in Paris you'll recognize the Musée des Arts Forains, a private museum of antique carnival and fair rides and decor in a stunning setting, open to the public for the holidays, La Festival du Merveilleux. Expect crowds, get there early and dress warmly! Open 10am-6pm, €12 entrance, €5 for kids under 12.
Daytrips from Paris
November 30-January 5
The family-owned Château Vaux-le-Vicomte (the 17th-century palace that inspired Versailles) becomes a Christmas wonderland in December, decorated from top to bottom, each room in a different holiday theme, fireplaces ablaze, and holiday music playing. And at night the château facade and the gardens are lit with festive lights. It's a magical experience, not to be missed! And this year there's a special Snow White show for the whole family. Open the weekends of November 29-30, December 6-7, December 13-14, and every day from December 20-January 4th (closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day) from 10:30am-6pm. Entry €17.50; entry plus Snow White show from €22.
Special Shopping Events
The Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands takes place at the Espace Champerret with a "Marché de Noël" theme, 350 stands, and a pavillion dedicated to Italian foods. Tickets are €10, print them off at home.
A special créateurs clothing and accessories market selling direct to the consumers, the next Les Filles en Aiguille takes place at the Espace Beaurepaire (28 rue Beaurepaire, 10th), noon-8pm (Friday-Sat until 9pm). Free entry.
"Le Noël des Créateurs", highlights up-and-coming designers and artisans selling ther crafts "Made in France". Come for original and unique holiday gifts! You'll find 15 chalets along the Petit Ceinture (former railway) at Located at 83 boulevard Ornano, 18th (direct access to the Petite Ceinture through la Recyclerie, right outside metro Porte de Clignancourt).
The Noël en Bio organic market takes place at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Porte de la Villette, Paris 19ème (M° Porte de la Villette), features organic and fair-trade products, toys, gifts and holiday decorations. Free entry, from 10:30am-7:30pm (until 6:30 on the 14th).
Home decor and clothing by young desingers and famous brands sold at a discount to benefit the homeless children's charity Promethée Humanitaire. At the Espace Commines, 17 rue des Commines, 3rd) from 10am-6:30pm. Entry €2.
La Bellevilloise is hosting a Christmas Vintage Market from 10am-8pm, with vintage clothing, records, home decor, retro hair stylist, entertainment, and other fun surprises for anyone who wants to embrace the vintage spirit this Christmas. €2 entry. Le Forum du Bellevilloise, 21 rue Boyer, M° Gambetta.
The Village St-Paul (entrances along Rue St Paul, 4th) is having its winter brocante (flea market) this weekend, with outdoor stands in addition to the antique and vintage shops and other fun shops in the cobblestone courtyards.
Through December 4
Don't miss the free photography exhibition The Manhattan Darkroom: Photos of Henri Dauman at the Palais d'Iéna, a gorgeous neo-classic monument near the Place Trocadéro that is rarely open to the public. Open daily (see website for hours).
Through January 11
The Kama-Sutra: Spirituality and Eroticism in Indian Art explores one of the major texts of medieval Hinduism. Not recommended for anyone under 18 years, this exhibit at the excellent Pinacothèque de Paris (at the Place de la Madeleine) explores the erotic aesthetics specific to Indian cultural life and Hinduism through over 350 artworks including sculptures, paintings, miniatures, objects of daily life, and “pillow books”, illustrated "erotic education" works that were offered to the newlyweds until the 19th century.
Through February 14
The Art of Love in the Time of Geishas In tandem with the exhibition Kama-Sutra, the Pinacothèque de Paris is also hosting an exhibition exploring the singular approach to erotic life and culture in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867). You can get a special discount by visiting both Pinacothèque exhibitions within the same day, available only directly at their ticket window.
Shows & Concerts
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you two wintery evenings of warm and luminous chamber music by Robert Schumann exquisitely performed by SPCO artists Rika Masato and Askar Ishangaliyev for an engaging and sensational experience. The Friday evening concert will be hosted by the Finnish Institute in the Latin Quarter, and the Saturday evening concert will be hosted in the intimacy of a beautiful private residence in Paris. Sit closely to the performing artists; afterwards, enjoy an excellent presentation of wine and mingle with musicians and fellow culture lovers. From 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address for the Saturday performance will be mailed once confirmed. Register on the website; places limited to 40 participants.
The 6th annual Paris Burlesque Festival takes place this year at the Centre Barbara FGO and La Java Nightclub under the theme: "Burlesque & Politics: Pin-Ups Take Power!" In their usual fashion, this festival highlights local and international burlesque acts that mix humor, satire, and a very raunchy blend of sexiness in all genres. he opening night is the election of "Miss PBF 2014" followed by three nights of La Grande Revue performances (twice nightly) and an all-night dance party with live bands and performers at La Java (Naughty Paris will be there!). Get your tickets online in advance (seated "assis" spots go fast!). Whet your appetite by reading our article from the 2012 edition.
Through December 21
The newest musical comedy at the historic Folies Bergère is a high-energy burlesque show around the theme of love with dancers, acrobats, and singers performing French, American and British songs (many which you'll recognize in the preview below). Love Circus is the perfect alternative to the Moulin Rouge (including its busloads of tourists and high prices). Tickets €29-€84 (by seating area), no dinner included, discounts for booking online.
Through January 31st
Thierry Mugler, who dressed all of the supermodels in the 1990s, has created a sexy, contemporary stage show Mugler Follies à la Cirque du Soleil with a talented troupe of dancers, acrobats, singers and performers paying homage to the human body in all its beauty. Expect pop music and over-the-top glamour as only this legendary French couturier can do. There are evening and daytime shows, with a full meal (catered by Fouquet's), Champagne, or just a seat. Tickets €39-€156.
Through January 11
Nostalgic for the soulful songs of the legendary Parisian chanteuse Edith Piaf? Book a tabe now at sexy cabaret singer Caroline Nin's "Hymne à Piaf", a show using English storytelling and songs en français to remember one of the greatest French singers of all time. Shows are Thursday Dec 11, 18 and Jan 8 at 7:30pm; Sundays Dec 21, 28, and Jan 4, 11 at 6pm and 8pm; and a special New Year's Eve show with Champagne on Dec 31st at 8:45pm. Shows take place at the intimate Essaïon Theatre (6 rue Pierre au Lard, in the Marais, 4th). Tickets are €20-€80.
Other Fun Events
Attention busy ladies and working moms: think you have time to take care of yourself? Fit to Inspire aims to change your mind with a worldwide "Holiday Waddle" event to walk off holiday stress and help benefit Operation Smile. The Paris walk takes place today from 3-5pm starting at the Henri IV statue (western tip of the Ile de la Cité, on the Pont Neuf). Entry is free, donations to Operation Smile optional. I'll be there!
Enjoy a swanky afternoon of cocktails, tea and tasty treats while supporting the campaign to end violence against women at Tea & Tipples Holiday Edition for Charity, the latest event of the private cocktail club The Chamber taking place in a secret location, open to members for €34 or non-members (spaces limited) for €54.
The Popcorn Project is hosting their film club Brunch de Noël today at the Club de l'Etoile. The program includes TWO screenings of the 1993 Jon Candy film Cool Runnings (Rasta Rockett in French), one for early risers at 11am and one for late risers after brunch at 2:30pm. In between (at 1pm) there will be brunch buffet and Champagne provided by Eat My Truck (gourmet hotdogs), GÜ Desserts, and Tropicana, with entertainment by DJ Aldrich. It's a fun social event for just €35.