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Christmas lights in Paris

Christmas is a magical time of year, but don’t you often find yourself doing the same thing every December? You head to your local town centre to brave the bustling shops, battle people in the supermarket so you can grab that last-minute turkey, and end up spending December 25 with your mum, fussy siblings and the grandparents.

Now, that may sound like great fun to you, but we bet you agree that sometimes it’s nice to do something a little bit different. When it comes to Christmas, few cities put on a better show than Paris. Here are five reasons why you should visit the romantic city this festive season.

It’s just a short trip away

Though we’re sure that Christmas in America is fantastic, it’s rather a long way to go. France, on the other hand, is practically our next door neighbour – it only takes just over an hour to fly to the capital, ideal for anyone who hates long trips.

Accessing Paris’ three airports is also easy, as you can fly to them from any of London’s airports. Both Air France and British Airways go to Charles de Gaulle from Heathrow, or you can catch an easyJet flight from either Gatwick or Luton to Charles de Gaulle. Remember that you can get to any one of these London airports via an easyBus transfer, and when you arrive at Charles de Gaulle, you can hop on another easyBus to reach the centre of Paris. It couldn’t be simpler!

The huge Christmas markets

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas markets in Paris, but the best and biggest is the one on the Avenue des Champs-Elyées. The whole area is lit up with fantastic illuminations, which put London’s to shame. There are plenty of stalls to look at too – 160+ in fact – selling everything from food and drink to beautiful Christmas decorations.

After eating your fair share of fois gras and sipping some Champagne, we recommend going for a ride on the big wheel. Up the top, you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic view of all the lights. A night here is sure to make you feel Christmassy.

Shorter queues

Eiffel Tower in winter

Paris is much quieter in the winter thanks to the lack of tourists, so if you want to climb the Eiffel Tower or delve into the Catacombs, it’s worth braving the colder weather. Even the most famous art galleries and museums are a lot less busy at this time of year. Although things do start to get more hectic around the Christmas period, there won’t be as nearly as many tourists around as there is in the summer.

Be wary that some attractions may be closed in the event of bad weather, so make sure you leave plenty of time to see everything you want to. This may mean altering what you do and see on each day to fit your activities around the weather, but that way you won’t miss out.

Wonderful shows and celebrations

Paris’ Christmas shows and concerts start at the beginning of December. You could enjoy a classic concert in a beautiful church, or watch an amazing ballet performance; there’s all sorts to see (and listen to) at this time of year in Paris.

If you’re sticking around until the 25th and beyond, then you must experience Le Raveillon – France’s Christmas Eve dinner. It’s a huge event across the country and the meal often consists of turkey, fois gras, oysters and un bouche de Noel cake (a yule log to me and you). It is traditionally eaten after Mass. Following the huge meal, diners then leave out their shoes so that Pere Noel may fill them with wonderful gifts – a bit different, but pretty similar, to the stocking arrangement we have over here.

Amazing food and drink

Whether it’s Christmas or not, one of the main reasons to head to Paris is the food and drink. However, there are certain tasty treats that you can only enjoy during the festive season. Plus, Christmas gives everyone the excuse to consume more than they would normally.

We all know the French are fantastic when it comes to creating chocolates, and the hot variety is no exception. When it’s snowing, there’s nothing better than warming your hands with a mug of something sweet. If you’d rather drink something a little more adult, there’s always Vin Chaud (or hot mulled wine) instead.

Continuing with sweet things, the patisseries in Paris must be explored during your trip. The delicate cakes and biscuits taste even better than they look! Another popular Christmas treat which you’ll find at all the markets is roasted chestnuts. They may not be sugary, but they will warm you up.

If you need a little help getting into the Christmas spirit this year, a trip to Paris will definitely do the trick. The combination of Christmas markets, warm food and drink, and beautiful illuminations is enough to bring out the inner child of even the most Scrooge-like characters. Joyeux Noël!