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15 things to do in Paris on Christmas Day

The big wheel of Paris lit up at night

You might be surprised to know that there’s loads to do in Paris during the festive season! On the big day, some of the major museums are open, not all restaurants are open but there are quite a few, bars, attractions and even some shops are open. We asked Paris local Barbara Pasquet-James for her favourite  and most fun things to do in Paris on Christmas day

Here are our top 15 things to do in Paris on Christmas Day

1. The Pompidou Centre for an infusion of modern art – it’s rarely busy on Christmas Day and you can visit the vibrant exhibitions in tranquillity!

2. The Eiffel Tower – go see it on a quiet day for a fabulous experience!

3. The Grande Roue de Paris (above), the giant Ferris wheel on the Rivoli side of the Tuileries Gardens, will take your breath away – and it’s just a hop to Angelina’s Team room…

4. … which is open Christmas Day and not remotely busy as it normally is, the chance to enjoy Angelina’s famous hot chocolate in peace!

5. The old Marais Jewish District around rue des Rosiers is just so pretty…

6. Most shops and showrooms on the Champs-Elysées are open through they close earlier than usual.

Wine and Dine in Paris on Christmas Day

The Deux Magots cafe in Paris at Christmas

7. Brash brasseries on the boulevards do a brisk business, try the iconic names such as La Coupole, Les Deux Magots, Le Café de Flore – sure to be filled with other holiday homeless

8. If a nice hot Chinese soup for lunch is your idea of Christmas coziness, try a Chinatown restaurant: there’s one in Belleville and another south of Place d’Italie in the 13th around rue Tolbiac…

9. Palace hotels – Plaza Athénée, Bristol, Saint James, Mandarin Oriental, Meurice, Lancaster have terrific bars and sometimes live music. Call first to make sure.

10. Head to Bar Hemingway at the Ritz, its open on Christmas Day and you don’t need to make a reservation. You’ll enjoy one of the finest cocktails its possible to drink. Discover more great bars to enjoy a cocktail in Paris here.

11. The Seine might be your scene: some boat companies will be operating (check first). Les Vedettes de Paris will operate Christmas Day from their base at the foot of the Eiffel Tower (and if it’s your birthday, they’ll offer you a free ride and a glass of Champagne or hot drink!).

Activities in Paris on Christmas Day

ice skating in Paris at the foot of the Eiffel Tower

12. There’s ice-skating (patinoire) at l’Hôtel de Ville on the edge of the Marais district and close to Notre Dame Cathedral

13. For many Parisians taking in a movie is a holiday ritual. There are multi-salles galore on the Champs-Elysees; also in Saint-Germain and the Latin Quarter. Pick up a copy of Pariscope at any kiosk and head for films in “V.O.” – version originale with French subtitles.

14. Go for a wander in one of Paris’ parks – you’ve got a huge choice, there are more than 400 in total, but the Luxembourg gardens, the Tuileries and Parc Monceau are particularly lovely.

15. And finally… Be honest: How many times will you find yourself in Paris on Christmas Day? Splurge for an elegant brunch at the famous Hotel Meurice in the restaurant Le Dalí or at the Ritz in the summer Salon – unforgettable.

Paris in pictures at Christmas

Barbara Pasquet James is a U.S. lifestyle editor, speaker, and urban explorer who writes about food fashion and culture, from Paris. She is known for helping launch, write and edit USA Today’s City Guide To Paris and can be contacted via her photo blog FocusOnParis.com

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