The Holidays in Paris
Paris is always a good idea, even if it does get a bad rap for not being child friendly. The City of Light and romance turns over a family- friendly leaf with plenty of fabulous attractions – a real winter wonderland for the entire family. Rowena Carr-Allinson gives us 12 reasons to visit Paris over the festive break
Wrap up and hit the ice. Skating rinks pop up in Paris in the run up to Christmas.
The most beautiful? The one at the Grand Palais, one of the city’s finest buildings. Set under the giant glass dome, right on the Champs Elysees, it’s hard to find a more Parisian hotspot. Glide around France’s biggest rink from December 16th to January 9th.
Indulge in chocolate
It’s not Paris without a hot ‘crepe au Nutella’. A right of passage, especially at Christmas time, grab one from one of the many street corner vendors. For the finest hot chocolate in town, make a beeline for Angelina’s tea-rooms on Rue de Rivoli. It’s decadent, sweet and the luxurious setting will get you into the festive spirit in seconds.
Head out for a vintage car spin
For the ultimate in stylish transport, try La Traction Parisienne where you are driven around the city in an old vintage Citroen Traction car, drawing much admiration! The whole family will love seeing the sights from the backseat, and being the centre of attention, as the locals’ wave and peek at the lucky people inside this very glamorous old school car. latractionparisienne.fr
If the weather is awful, it’s always good to have a back up plan. In the event your family do want to be indoors, visit the Paris Aquarium near the Trocadero, the perfect place to spend a wet afternoon. The mesmerizing jellyfish, lobsters, Nemo-like clownfish and of course, the star attraction: the hammerhead sharks, will make the family ooh and ahh upon spotting each. The Aquarium also puts on skits and shows daily to entertain the kids. cineaqua.com
Chomp on chestnuts on the Champs
When in Paris, a stroll down the Champs Elysees is compulsory. Make it fun for the kids with a bag of roasted chestnuts in hand. Amble down the capital’s most famous avenue admiring the twinkling Christmas lights and enjoy those warm roasted goodies. Want to spoil them? There’s always the Disney store for the youngest, and a wide selection of clothing and music stores for the teens.
Stroll the parks
Parisian parks are special. On a crisp sunny day, the Parc Monceau is the ideal spot for a traffic-free run around. Little ones will love the Victorian-style carousel, while the older kids will enjoy the street magicians and sweet pink candy-floss.
Jump on a Tuk Tuk
Although Paris is a walking city, getting wheels can help check off some of the sights without over exhaustion and the never ending ‘are we there yet?’. TukTuk Paris have a great solution: a hop on hop off service that takes you from landmark to landmark. paris-by-tuktuk.com
Until January 6th Disneyland Paris is packed with festive celebrations. Catch the fairy-tale illuminations throughout the parks, the Disney Dreams show, giant sparkling Christmas tree, and of course the traditional holiday parade with Mickey and friends. Elsa and Father Christmas will be in town for the festivities too. disneylandparis.com
Sleep in style
Hotels put on special festive activities for their younger guests. Check into the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand (ihg. com) if you want a Christmas tree in your suite, or head to the very chic Peninsula where kids will love the cool igloos on the Terrace Kleber. You can cosy up with a hot chocolate there or admire the over- sized advent calendar. Already booked your room? Pop in for a posh afternoon tea, festive cooking lessons, or just to take a look at their gorgeous Christmas tree (thepeninsula.grandluxuryhotels.com).
Head to the Champs de Mars, just below the Eiffel Tower, for the Christmas Village. You can pick up everything from souvenirs to arts and crafts, not to mention a hot chocolate or some gingerbread. There’s also a skating rink on hand and a playground around the corner. Other centrally located markets take place near Notre Dame, the Hotel de Ville and in Les Halles.
Go window shopping on Boulevard Haussmann
A real tradition in Paris is spending a little time admiring the window displays at ‘Les Grands Magasins’ – the Printemps and Galleries Lafayette stores. Whimsical, intricate and amazing, each window tells a story. Toys are brought to life in front of little eyes – guaranteed entertainment and wonder. What’s more in December? The stores have indoor animations showcasing toys like play mobiles, slime factories, unicorns and more, so kids can get hands on fun too.