Paris during Christmas and NYE is so much more than beautiful scenerys and good food, it’s amazing scenerys and wonderful food. I want to share my 2 week trip in Paris during this magical time. To help you plan on your trip there.
Transportation: it’s a good idea to get the weekly unlimited path for Paris, it’s €22, it covers all the trains inside and around Paris.
SIM Card: it’s easy to get a prepaid card at the airport, it’s not expensive at all I got mine for €8 with unlimited data.
Language barrier: Parisiens don’t speak much English, but all the services around tourist attractions speaks pretty well. From my experience they’re nice about it, if you try to say few words you know in French, to show some respect, you will be fine. Just image if some French people come to the US starting to speak French to all the services, you would be annoyed too.
Safety: I’ve never seen so many security guards around in my life, You have to go through security check everywhere so I would’t worry about it.
Toilet: Not the best public toilet system, wait can be long and it’s hard to find.
Day1: Christmas Market at La Défense & Movie at UGC Cine Cite les Halles
La Défense is a business district in Paris. It’s bit far from the centre but there were a HUGE Christmas Market there, and lots of nice malls.
It was my first French Christmas Market experience. It was a lot different than the ones in NYC and much bigger with lots more cheese and mulled wine.
I loved trying samples here, It went from “no thank you” to “Perhaps” to “omg yes yes yes” very quickly.
Also it’s a great place to buy French handcrafts. I got a book for my best friend and the seller was telling me stories about the book, his wife was the artiest and they print all the books themselves. It’s nice to connect to the locals this way.
Day2: Eiffel Tower & Louvre Museum
The must do super cliche Paris Tourist attractions right here, even though I try really hard to not wear beret or white and black strips, I had to get my Eiffel Tower shot with pigeons flying across. Jardins du Trocadéro is where I got my pictures, it is the best place to view Eiffel Tower in my opinion. And Eiffel Tower is not over rated at all, it really was THAT amazing.
I didn’t have a full day to visit inside the Louvre, I would definitely do it in the future, get up early to plan a whole day here. I just visited the louvre pyramid at night, it was stunning. Tuileries Garden which is right next to it is huge and there’s Christmas Market there, one of the best in town.
I decided to come back later when I’m more hungry.
Day3: Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées & Musée d’Orsay
One of the Symbol of the city, I loved this area. Climbing on top of Arc de Triomphe and see the view of the city is one of the best moments I had here. I also enjoyed talking to other tourists briefly while taking their pictures.
Day4: Walt Disney Studios Park
One of the reasons I want to come to Paris is because of the Ratatouille movie. This is the only park with ratatouille section among Disney parks. This park is themed after movies, so if you’re a Disney and Pixar movie fan, you would love it!!
I love the themed restaurants and 4D themed rides. like the Ratatouille one you actually feeling like you’re int he movie running around the kitchen like the character.
During Christmas season there’s also a mini Christmas Market inside, You can get mulled wine and real french holiday food here.
Make sure you stay for the fireworks and light show. There will be live performance at the same time, It’s a like experiencing all your favourite movies together again.
Day5: Moulin Rouge & Montmartre
Fist time I saw Montmartre was from the movie Moulin Rouge. So Paris and Montmartre was this postcard like place that only existed in the movies in my head.
Till the day I visited, I believed it’s a real place and pretty much looks like what I saw in the movies. I loved climbing up the stairs to Sacré-Cœur and see the view of the city. The sky of Paris often looks like a painting, with just the right amount of sun and color. Even the clouds look like there’s brush strokes around.
In the afternoon after visiting Sacré-Cœur, I only saw the interior of the church on my Art History textbook. So many great art inside and it’s free entry.
I got a crepe in the Village, a small crepe stand near the Montmartre artists square, it was everything! You should definitely visit some shops here and sitting on saw the sunset over paris. Even after the sun’s completely down, it’s still amazing to walk around and see the hills, Parisan buildings and Sacré-Cœur lighten up.
Day6: Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree & Palais Garnier
During Christmas Time Galereies Lafayette always have the BEST Christmas tree and window displays. Each year there’s a theme, and I saw pictures on instagram every year till I finally got to see it in person. I didn’t know there’s illusion lights and music, when you get to the top floor you can get your picture taking with the view of the whole store for free. This year the tree feather children’s drawing, all the art was originally done by children who entered the competition.
The Terrace of Galeries Lafayette is a great spot to view the city!
Day7: Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Musée d’Orsay, Pont Alexandre III & Christmas Market at Tuileries Garden
Pont de Bir-Hakeim is within walking distance from Eiffel Tower, it’s made of steel and really beautiful design. I remember seeing it the first time from the movie Inception. Just picture myself in flowy long dress walking away with wind blowing in this photo.
In the afternoon, after 1 hour waiting outside I got in Musée d’Orsay. This museum is crazy beautiful and very golden. It holds many special exhibitions from time to time. My favorite spot is the big clock and the great view over the river of paris
The best Christmas Market I’ve ever visited! I finally understand what’s winter wonderland. Here is me the happy kid running around collections food samples and waiting for Santa.
Day8: Orleans Christmas Market and light show at Orléans Cathedral
I visited friends in Orleans, which is about 2 hours from Paris. It was such a cute little city, I really recommend visiting cities around Paris, the pace is slower and it’s just as beautiful. Christmas market here was huge, it’s cheaper compares to Paris.
The light show on Orléans Cathedral was great, it’s close to the Christmas Market you can just walk to it. I am happy to see this city has Trolley still, I love it.
Day9: Notre-Dame de Paris
This is one of the oldest neighbourhood in the city. It was a cold day, the line to church was crazy long, but I had a wonderful time just walking around here and eat at one of the restaurants here.
Each corner reminds me of how beautiful Paris is.
Day10: Disneyland Paris
A day in Paris Disneyland certainly make this Christmas more sparkling. The Sleeping beautify castle literally sparkling all the time, the Christmas decorations are just perfect and firework made me cry.
Even though the wait for rides was really long during the holiday seasons, classic rides like the Hyper Space mountain and the Pirate of the Caribbean is still worth waiting for.
Day11: Palace of Versailles
The Castle and the Garden has so much history of France. The ticket I got with access to the garden any time and to the Castle at certain time allows me to escape the long wait. You can get it in the information office for ticket first.
It has the biggest Garden in France, the Castle is massive so plan a day here. When you get off the train you will walk through the market area, I suggest you check it out, so much good cheese, hem and seafood here. The cheese section is bigger than my apartment.
My favorite part of the Castle is the Hall of Mirrors, many fashion magazines do their shoots here. This room has 17 mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens.
Love seeing the reflection of the Castle in the river of the Garden and all the status, each is different from others.
Day12: NYE Fireworks at Champs-Elysées
For NYE, the best firework spot and light show is at Champs-Elysées. I was so impressed by the light show they put together, starting around 11:35, till the New Year countdown, so get there early.
Because the train station close by was shut down for security reason, I got off around Eiffel Tower, visited Eiffel Tower first and see it sparkles for one last time this year. Many people here are celebrating it’s very good vibe. Then you can walk from here to Champs-Elysées in 20 mins.
Whole Champs-Elysées was lighten up in red during NYE. Even though it’s packed, I was surprised the security check wasn’t bad, everything was organized. I didn’t understand why the place doesn’t allow to bring water in but people were drinking champagne.
The show combined tradition and modern illusion. I feel connected to different cultures this moment and it was emotional and beautiful. The firework starts midnight and the whole sky lighten up!
Never thought I’d enjoy the crowd but I have to say I’d do it again every year! It’s amazing.
On this day all the trains are free to public, till noon of next day.
Day13: L’heure de tous, Passage du Havre & Palais Garnier
After NYE Paris seems quiet. Most shops and restaurants are closed, but still enjoyed walking around the Passage du Havre take photos with those twinkling lights.
Even though I didn’t have time to visit Palais Garnier, the interior suppose to be stunning. It’s still very powerful view at night.
Day14: Musée du Luxembourg
The last day, I planned to visit the Digital museum, Atelier des Lumières, but the show was sold out.
Even though I was disappointed, I was very lucky to find this Mucha Exhibit in the Museum of Luxembourg. I was surprised to see the line was so long, seems all the art exhibit in Paris has really big audience.
This artist did most famous posters in Paris in the 1900s. Seeing his work also gave me better idea of the art, culture, film and advertising business at the time in Paris. I really loved it.
If you arrive early, visit the Garden of Luxembourg too. it’s just around the corner of the museum.
Holiday Food in Paris
I also want to share my Christmas homestyle meal in Paris. For French the dinner on Christmas Eve is the most important one. They don’t wear Christmas ugly sweater, usually just dress up in nice clothe and have nice meal with family.
From my experience, Christmas Eve as about snacks, drinks and Christmas movies, so I stuffed my face on the snacks, when I heard “are you ready for the main course” I almost passed out. But I made it, through all those courses, and all those desserts….
I hope you can experience Christmas and NYE in Paris too. Looking forward to hearing your stories.