Christmas Villages, Ice Skating & Ferris Wheel
Through January 5
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).
November 29-December 1
Get in the winter spirit in St-Germain-des-Près, where Rue Princesse and Rue Guisarde have been transformed into “Saint-Germain-des Neiges ski station”, with snow, chalets and activities promoting skiing holidays in France. Free entry.
November 15 – January 6
A small “Village du Père Noël” 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, concerts, vintage carrousel and nativity scenes, from 11am-7pm.
December 12 – January 5
The “Trocadéro on Ice” Christmas Village in the Trocadéro Gardens has an Alpine theme with ice skating, snow shoe walks, and other wintery events (and a snow-maker). Stands selling food, drink and gifts, all with a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower. On the opening day there will be a special “Père Noël” performance at 6pm. Open daily 11am-8pm.
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.
Through December 14th
The “Marché de Noël Alsacien” takes place at the Gare de l’Est celebrating specialties from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.
Through December 24
A small “Marché de Noël” of a dozen stands set up outside the Italie 2 Shopping Mall at Place d’Italie (13th).
December 4 – January 2
The “Marché de Noêl de Montparnasse” includes 40 wooden chalets of food and gifts at the foot of the Montparnasse Tower, open daily.
December 21-January 5
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 10am-7pm.
Through February 16
At the Place de la Concorde is the Grande Roue Ferris Wheel (and the largest Christmas Tree in France). 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 2
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 5
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. 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 Pinocchio show for the whole family. Open the weekends of November 30-December 1, December 7-8, December 14-15, and every day from December 21-January 5th (closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from 10:30am-6pm. Entry €14; entry plus Pinocchio show from €22.
Special Shopping Events
November 26- December 2
The 11th annual Frimousse des Créateurs is a special auction of dolls decorated by famous designers and artists to benefit UNICEF. They will be on display (free entry) at Le Petit Palais until December 1st, and the auction takes place on December 2nd at the Four Seasons George V at 8pm.
November 29-December 1
The Maison Vintage Market takes place this weekend at 17 rue des Commines, 3rd, from 4pm-8pm on Friday, 10am-8pm on Saturday and 10am-7pm Sunday, featuring the largest collection of stands selling vintage home decor and furnishings from the 1920s-1980s. There are usually a few stands selling food/drink. Entry €3.
November 29 – December 1
The Designers de Mode at the trendy Docks en Seine at Quai d’Austerlitz (that big green thing in the 13th) is hosting a stylish Christmas Market with 100 créaturs selling accessories, home decor and gifts from around the world. Open Friday 3-10pm, Sat-Sun from 11am-8pm. Entry €5.
November 30-December 1
Shop for local produce, meats, foie gras, dairy products, honey, oils, and other products directly from 50 local farmers at the Pari Fermier food fair, in the 15th on Rue St-Charles between rue de la Convention and le Rond-point St Charles. Open 10am-7pm, free entry.
La Bellevilloise is hosting a Christmas Punk Market today from 10am-8pm, with punk books, clothing, music, entertainment, and other fun surprises for anyone who wants to embrace the punk spirit this Christmas. Free entry. Le Forum du Bellevilloise, 21 rue Boyer, M° Gambetta.
The annual Sol en Si Braderie is a special sale of VIP Mode (designer clothing) at rock-bottom prices to benefit the children’s AIDS charity Sol En Si. Entry €2. At La Bellevilloise. Opens 10am-6pm.
Artisan handcrafts and fun designs from young créateurs for sale in East Paris at Art Machine’s Menil’fest & Allée des Créateurs, along the Boulevard de Belleville outside M° Ménilmontant, free entry, 11am-8pm.
Salon Toymania is the International Vintage and Antique Toy Fair at the Palais de Congrès (M° Porte Maillot). This year’s focus is on toy advertising posters with a special exhibition. 10am-5pm, entrance €10, free for kids.
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.
The RATP is hosting a special pop-up boutique at station Franklin D. Roosevelt (line 1) selling Paris Metro merchandise for the holidays, including toys, model trains, coffee mugs, tote bags, playing cards, home decor, and other gifts with the iconic Paris Metro map and station signs. Open 11am-8pm on the platform in the direction of La Défense.
La Bellevilloise is hosting the 11th annual Grand Salon d’Art Abordable, the affordable art fair, with 40 artists and over 200 art works on display (and for sale) in a fun and festive atmosphere; entry €5. Open from 2pm on the 13th, and from 11am on the 14th and 15th.
The Noël en Bio organic market takes place at 58 ave Philippe Auguste, 11th (M° Nation or Alexandre Dumas), features organic and fair-trade products, toys, gifts and holiday decorations. Free entry, from 10:30am-7:30pm (until 6:30 on the 15th).
“Le Noël des Créateurs”, highlights up-and-coming designers and artisans selling ther crafts “Made in France”. Come for original and unique holiday gifts! Hosted in several loations throughout Paris: Niece Piece, 76 rue Charlot, 3rd; 8 blvd St-Martin, 10th, noon-6pm; A Bout de Fil, 28 rue Traversière, 12th, 11am-8pm. Free entry.
La Bellevilloise and Fifties Sound are hosting the Vintage Marché de Noël this weekend 10am-8pm, entry €2. Expect rétro-vintage stands, crafts stands, jewelry, retro hair salon stand, clothing, furniture, home design, glasses, posters, vinyl records, burlesque accessories, etc. Live 40s and 50s music starts at 4pm. Loft 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.
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.
The Paris Lions Club is holding their annual Marché de Noël at the Espace Blancs-Manteaux (Marais, 48 rue Vieille du Temple) with toys, jewelry, decorations, artisan objects and gifts. Free entry, Friday from 2-7pm, Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 11am-7pm.
November 26-December 7
The second annual Secrets du Chocolat, a Chocolate Museum in a Train with an exhibition, tastings and workshops, is taking place on a TGV parked in the Gare de Lyon from Nov 26-27, at Gare d’Austerlitz from Nov 28-29, Gare St-Lazare Nov 30-Dec 1, Gare de L’Est Dec 4 and 6, Gare de Montparnasse Dec 5, and Gare du Nord Dec 7. Free entry.
Come to the Galerie de la Cité Internationale des Arts (18 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 4th) to see 100 “covers” of The Parisianer, an imaginary magazine (based on the New Yorker), by 100 different renowned artists and illustrators. Open 10am-6pm, free entry.
Through January 26
One of my favorite exhibits of the season, Yousuf Karsh: Icons of the Twentieth Century, with stunning black and white photos of movie stars, artists, writers, and world leaders over the past 60 years. At the Mona Bismarck American Center (a gorgeous Parisian mansion near Palais de Tokyo worth the visit alone). Entry €7. Open Wed-Sun 11am-6pm.
Through January 2 (special late nights Dec 26-29)
Oh la la! The Musée d’Orsay is hosting a much-anticipated exposition Masculin/Masculin: The Male Nude in Art from 1800 to the Present. It’s sure to draw large crowds, so be sure to get your tickets online in advance to skip the line, or better yet, book your own private Naughty Paris tour of the exhibition with Jean-Manuel Traimond, author of the Guide Erotique du Louvre et Musée d’Orsay. The two-hour skip-the-line tour is €300 for up to four adults (contact us to book your tour). NOTE: Special late night opening December 26th-29th, last entry at 9pm.
Through January 5
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, the most frequently performed opera composer. Learn all about this composer in a very unique setting, the beautiful Eléphant Paname. “Dedicated to culture and dance, this magnificent nineteenth-century jewel of a place, just steps from the Palais Garnier opera house, nourishes the romantic spirit in all its visitors. Laurent Fiat and Fanny Fiat, the two young co-founders and co-directors of this unique multi-arts centre, driven by their noble and far-reaching commitments as ardent lovers of culture, are thus giving Verdi a compelling homage, in a truly Parisian venue.” Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am -7pm, Thursday until 9pm. Entry €9. Reserve lunch or dinner at Goust, the restaurant upstairs, to complete your visit!
Through March 30
For the inaugural exposition of the newly-opened Institut des Cultures d’Islam, Ici Là et Au-Dela features four artists who explore Islam and the spiritual identity of the Goutte d’Or district of Paris: Abbas, Yazid Oulab, Patrizia Guerresi Maïmouna and Bruno Lemesle. Free entry, open Tues-Thurs 10am-9pm, Friday 4-9pm, Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday noon – 7pm.
Through March 8
Brassaï, Pour l’Amour de Paris is a free exhibition about Paris as seen through the black and white photos of Brassaï, one if its most famous photographers, at the Hôtel de Ville (entrance at 3 rue Lobau, 4th), Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm.
Shows & Concerts
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Ravel, Debussy and Brahms exquisitely performed by SPCO artists Rika Masato and Askar Ishangaliyev for an engaging and sensational experience. Hosted in the intimacy of a beautiful private residence in Paris, this occasion is designed as an exclusive event for music lovers and generous patrons to promote the artistic growth of Sinfonietta 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 will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it’s in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited to 40 participants.
Extended through December 22
Bartabas’ amazing equestrian show Zingaro is back for another season with Calacas, a macabre Day of the Dead theme with the Grim Reaper and his horseback brigade of skeletal demons. At 176 avenue Jean-Jaurès (metro Fort d’Auberviliers), tickets €42 (€30 for kids). Book soon, these shows always sell out! (Note: Dinner is served in the main tent after the Sunday show if you book at the bar BEFORE the show begins).
Through January 5
Looking for a fun show? Porte-Jarretelles & Piano à Bretelles is a comedy burlesque at the Alhambra Theatre. It helps to know French, but it’s still a fun show even if you just enjoy the moves. Tickets €27-42.
December 26 – January 4
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passing of Frenchchanteuse Edith Piaf with 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 every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm at the intimate Essaïon Theatre (6 rue Pierre au Lard, in the Marais, 4th). Tickets are €20-€25. On December 31st the theatre will be transformed into a cabaret with everyone seated around little tables and served unlimited Champagne during the performance.
Through January 26
One of my favorite exhibits of the season, Yousuf Karsh: Icons of the Twentieth Century, with stunning black and white photos of movie stars, artists, writers, and worls leaders over the past 60 years. At the Mona Bismarck American Center (a gorgeous Parisian mansion near Palais de Tokyo worth the visit alone). Entry €7. Open Wed-Sun 11am-6pm.
Volunteer & Humanitarian Events
Volunteers from the Croix Rouge (French Red Cross) are partnering with French museums this Sunday to collect donations (your loose change) for the Philippines Disaster Relief. Have your loose change ready and look for them if you’re visiting the Musée du Louvre, Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet, Musée du Quai Branly, Palais de Tokyo, Musée Rodin, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, Château de Versailles, or the Centre Pompidou. Don’t forget entrance is free the first Sunday, so it’s an added incentive to visit and donate!
Living in France and speak French? Become a volunteer! Sign up ASAP (through Dec 4) to attend the Bénévole Speed Dating event at the Hôtel de Ville from 4:30-6:30pm, where volunteers can meet and get to know a dozen different non-profit prganizations who need long-term volunteers.
More Fun Events
Le Figaro magazine is organizing a festive Champagne tasting, Soirée Dégustation Champagnes Millésimés, featuring some of the most prestigious Champagne houses in France, at ArtCurial. Limited space, sign up online, €49/person includes Champagne and cheese buffet. From 8pm.
Longtime Secrets of Paris readers know the King of Paris Nightlife is none other than Nicolas Ullmann. Don’t miss his special Christmas Kararocké Soirée (karaoke with a live rock band) at Bus Palladium from 9pm. There will be guest band Lafayette, special Grinch cocktails, dancing by a former Crazy Horse goddess, a Name that Tune contest, and other fun events. Free entry, dress up in your best Reindeer, Christmas Tree, Naughty Santa outfit! You can also dine upstairs in the restaurant, book their special Christmas menu.
Learn all about the world of eBook publishing in a conference/workshop E-Writing, E-Publishing: Risks and Rewards with a panel of experts including Ellen Hampton, Paris resident director for CUNY, lecturer at Sciences Po in history and culture, and author of the new eBook nove about life in Paris, Playground for Misunderstanding. The event is limited to 30 people, fee is €10. At the Mona Bismarck American Center from 2-5pm.
Heather’s college French professor Scott Carpenter will be leading a panel discussion with two fellow Carleton alumni Alecia McKenzie and Lantzey Miller about being First-time Novelists. At the American Library (10 rue Général Camou, 7th) from 7:30pm, free entry. Books will be for sale at the event through Shakespeare & Co.
Cookbook author and former restaurant critic for L’Express and the International Herald Tribune, Patricia Wells, will be at WH Smith Paris tonight to present her latest book, The French Kitchen Cookbook from 6-8pm. She won the James Beard Award for The Provence Cookbook, Patricia Wells at Home in Provence, and Simply French. The French government has honored her as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, recognizing her contribution to French culture. RSVP on the Facebook page.