When In Paris…



Last weekend in London temperatures dropped, grey skies invaded and darkness was upon us the minute we hit 4 o’clock… Luckily I was on the Eurostar, direction Paris Gare du Nord ready to be received by clear blue skies and warmer days! Not quite the case as I soon found out when we emerged from the Channel Tunnel to the welcoming embrace of heavy grey fog and never ending rain…

Still, I was determined to make the most of the weekend and for anyone else heading to Paris, check out this quick guide to make the most of a short December trip in the city.

Once you arrive at the Gare du Nord (a very ugly district in Paris and certainly not representative of the city!) drop off your luggage and head straight to Printemps on the Boulevard Haussmann. As you head inside, treat yourself to a decorative box of six macarons from Ladurée, the flavours are simply out of this world and make a great Parisian snack before shopping (my favourite tradition and even the website itself is worth checking out!)

Printemps is well worth a browse and although nothing like the incredible Christmas selections of Harrods and Selfridges, there is something endearing about the simple French version… especially the shelves of santons (traditional hand-painted figurines making up the nativity scene) which feature in every household in France. If you’re on a budget, however, try not to be lured in by stunning jewellery brand Les Nereides just opposite! (Unlike me who spent a small fortune on a beautiful pair of ballerines earrings!) Christmas time in Paris is just so magical, the vitrines are all beautifully made up and the lights on the Galleries Lafayettes are really stunning.

In the evening, I love strolling around the Quartier Latin. Reputed for its student life and buzzing atmosphere, it’s full of quaint little side streets and you’ll be spoilt for choice with bistros, crêperies and cafés but I do recommend the Café Latin for a real taste of Paris – simple but delicious and as long as I have fresh baguette I’m satisfied!

Le Marché de la Defense is a must-see if you’re visiting in December! It’s full of artisanal products and hand-made jewellery, accessories from Morocco and yummy treats from around France! You can easily spend two hours wandering around the different stalls and the shopping mall next door is full of great shops if you’re on a real spending spree although many of the brands are the same as in London and with the current exchange rate you’ll probably pay more than you need to so I prefer to spend at the marchés!

Every time I’m back in Paris, I have to make a quick trip to the Pont d’Iéna which leads to the Tour Eiffel. There is always so much going on from street artists like Mario who draws beautiful and quirky posters of the Tour Eiffel in fun shapes… my favourite is l’Eléphant Je Vais à Paris, if you’re in the area look out for him on the side of the pont![/caption]

As it starts to get dark, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is the place to go for a nice meal although very much a tourist destination so prices are usually slightly steeper than in the side roads perpendicular to this beautiful avenue. It’s great to wander up and down!

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