How to Make the Most of Your Christmas 2016 in Paris With Kids - Family Twist – Bespoke Luxury Family HolidaysFamily Twist – Bespoke Luxury Family Holidays

How to Make the Most of Your Christmas 2016 in Paris With Kids

13 December 2016 Holiday Treats 0 Comments


Paris takes on a special sparkle throughout the Christmas season. The weather is frosty, the Christmas lights are twinkling, and shoppers line up in the streets to buy the perfect gifts for their loved ones.

There is truly something special during Christmas in Paris, and it is therefore a great place to visit when traveling during Christmas with kids. From the lively Christmas markets to the magical street and shop window decorations, there are plenty of things to do for Christmas in Paris.

Of course, to make your holiday in Paris extra-special and unforgettable, you can always book one of Family Twist’s special Christmas activities, but for those of you who just want to discover Paris on their own and take in what Paris has to offer during the Holiday Season, then read the following recommendations.

To immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit, it is our pleasure to give you tips on how to make the most of your Christmas in Paris with kids. With all these places you can discover and enjoy on your free time, there is no doubt that it will rank amidst the best Christmas holidays you have (and will) ever experience!


1. What are the best Christmas markets in Paris?



A whole host of fairs and markets open in Paris for Christmas. These markets have plenty of great things to buy, be it decorations, gifts, craft or just traditional food. Head out to one of these traditional Christmas Markets as it’s a great place to start celebrating Christmas, especially with a hot chocolate and an authentic mulled wine (red wine with spices served hot, called “vin chaud” in French). Here is a list of the best Christmas markets (“Marchés de Noël”) in Paris:

a. La Défense: Although located in the suburbs of Paris, in the business district of La Défense, it is the biggest Chritmas Market of them all. The small wooden traditional chalets contrast with the modern glass skyscrapers of La Défense, and this contrast, along with the size of the market itself, are the reasons why you should experienced this special Christmas market.

  • Address: Esplanade de la Défense
  • Metro: Line 1 – La Défense (terminal station)
  • Dates: mid November to December 24th (dates will be updated soon)

b. Les Champs-Elysées: The Avenue des Champs-Elysées is sometimes referred to as the most beautiful avenue in the world. It stretches from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde and with all the Christmas decorations, it is indeed splendid during the Holiday Season. The Christmas market is located near the Place de la Concorde, and you will find anything from gifts, decorations, food and even an ice rink.

  • Address: Avenue des Champs-Elysées
  • Metro: lines 1/8/12 – Concorde, lines 1/13 – Champs-Elysées Clémenceau or lines 1/9 – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Dates: mid November to December 24th (dates will be updated soon)

c. Saint Germain des Prés: Just outside one of the oldest churches of Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, you will find a small but cozy Christmas market. The traditional Saint-Germain neighborhood is still very local in the sense that there aren’t that many tourists (and the ones that are there are usually people that have already been to Paris). Although quite small, you will be able to find cute Christmas gifts and decorations!

  • Address: 3 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris
  • Metro: line 4 – Saint Germain des Prés
  • Dates: mid November to December 24th (dates will be updated soon)

d. Trocadéro: The Trocadéro is one of the best places to see the Eiffel Tower. Located on the opposite side of the Seine River, facing the tower, it welcomes a quaint little Christmas Market. This is where you’ll be able to take a picture of you among traditional wooden chalets, and still have the Iron Lady in the back! A perfect combination of Christmas celebration and sightseeing.

  • Address: Parvis du Trocadéro, 75016 Paris
  • Metro: line 6/9 – Trocadéro
  • Dates: mid November to December 24th (dates will be updated soon)

e/ Notre Dame: Not only will you find the lively Christmas spirit just a stone’s thrown away from the world famous Notre Dame Cathedral, but it is now also a place where you can find great Christmas gifts, souvenirs and traditional food! Another tourist favorite

  • Address: Square Henri Viviani, 75005 Paris
  • Metro: line 4 – Saint Michel
  • Dates: mid November to December 24th (dates will be updated soon)


2. Where are the most beautiful Christmas street decorations in Paris?


If you are spending Christmas in Paris with your children, brave the cold weather for a couple of hours and walk through the streets to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations. Although a lot of streets in Paris are adorned with Santa Claus decorations or icicle shaped lights, there are a few neighborhoods that are really nice to visit during the Holiday Season

a. Champs-Elysées: Again, the magic of Christmas is best felt in the most beautiful avenue in the world. And with all the Christmas lights and special decorations, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées becomes even more beautiful during this time of year.

b. Montmartre: More than an area of Paris, Montmartre is a village inside the city. With small cobblestone streets that lead to the Sacré Coeur Basilica on the top of the hill, it is a very special area. Add charming Christmas decorations, and a bit of snow if you are luck, and you’ll have the feeling to be in wonderland!

c. Faubourg Saint Honoré: If you like luxury shopping, this is one street in Paris you won’t want to miss. Located next to Madeleine and the famous Place Vendôme, the Faubourg Saint Honoré features some of the best Christmas street decorations. Coupled with mind-blowing shop window decorations, it is truly a delight for anyone spending Christmas in Paris with children.

d. Avenue Montaigne: Just off the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is another very luxurious avenue where all the most famous high end fashion brands all have their flagship stored… Here too, the decorations in the streets and in the shop windows both transform this avenue into a sight to see!

3. Where can I do the best Christmas shopping in Paris?


Christmas in Paris with Kids - Christmas shopping

Christmas is the time when you should treat your children, your partner and yourself to gifts and other surprises. And what better surprise than one coming from Paris, France! If you are in Paris for Christmas, and if you are in the mood for a bit of shopping, then don’t miss these great stores. You and your children will not be disappointed!

a. Les Galeries Lafayette: The Galeries Lafayette is probably the most famous department store in Paris. With outlets of all the most famous fashion and cosmetics brands in the world gathered here, this department store welcomes shoppers from all over the world. And during Christmas, half of the fun is just looking at the animated shop windows… A perfect way to distract the children!

b. Le Printemps: Right next to the Galeries Lafayette is another extremely popular department store. The fact that it is a little less crowded than its neighbor makes it a highly recommended place to shop for Christmas presents. And here again, the Printemps windows are filled with animated decorations that will take you and your kids to a fairy tale land far, far away…

c. Le Bon Marché: Le Bon Marché is the oldest department store in Paris, and unlike the two previously mentioned, it is the only luxury department store located on the left bank. With luxurious brands and cosmetics, as well as furniture, decoration items and more, Le Bon Marché should not be missed if you are on a shopping spree in the Saint Germain neighborhood.

d. La Vallée Village: Located on the outskirts of Paris, near Disneyland Paris, La Vallée Village is a gathering of factory outlets of high end fashion designers. Be it Hugo Boss, Giorgio Armani or Ralph Lauren, you will find the trendiest garments for the cheapest prices! It’s well worth spending a couple of hours, especially if you have plans to visit Disneyland Paris

e. Village JouéClub: Christmas is around the corner and you haven’t been able to find gifts for your children? No worries, head out to Village Joué Club, Paris biggest toy store! You’ll find all the Barbie dolls, Transformers and Lego your children have ever dreamed of! (3-5 Boulevard des Italiens, 75002 Paris)

4. Where are the best Santa spotting areas in Paris?


santa claus opening a box
Santa is real! There is no way he could be imaginary, as you can spot him in many different places in Paris! Bring your children along to the following places and let them have a face to face encounter with the man in the red clothes and white beard!

a. Les Galeries Lafayette / Le Printemps: In both of these prestigious and famous Parisian departments stores, Santa will be greeting children from all over the world. The beautiful brands, the unique window shops and the Santa encounter all make a trip to one of these two department stores worth while, even if you are not a shopaholic!

b. Bercy Village: In the far east of Paris lies a little area called Bercy Village. Although it is only a short pedestrian street, there are many shops, restaurants and even a huge movie theater. Needless to say that this area is full of life, especially during Christmas. And spotting Santa here is possible too! Just make sure you come at the right time!

c. The Champs-Elysées Christmas Market: Santa is lurking somewhere behind the traditional wooden chalets of the Champs-Elysées Christmas maket… You’ll just have to find him! Will he be next to the food court, the handicraft section or the ice rink? Who knows, but with a bit of patience, you will be sure to spot him somewhere!

d. Jardin d’Acclimatation: In the popular Bois de Boulogne, a big park located on the western side of Paris, is an area that is dedicated to children: the Jardin d’Acclimatation. With a combination of a fun fair and a zoo, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is quite unique and your children will love it! Needless to say that Santa Claus will be there during the Holiday Season to make it even more special for the young ones!

e. Aquarium de Paris: If you are wondering where you can spot Santa Claus, here is a hint. He likes fish! Real ones, that is… Not only will your children love to see Santa, but the Paris Aquarium is a great place to visit when traveling to Paris with kids.


5. What are the best family-friendly Christmas activities in Paris?


Christmas in Paris with Kids - Christmas activities


Christmas in Paris with kids is fantastic. There are just so many things to do. Just walking around, eating traditional French food, wandering through Christmas markets, going ice skating or enjoying a merry-go-round are just some ideas you can do with your family. But to make it a trip everyone in your family will cherish for years to come, here are 3 ideas that you’ll want to put in your “to do” list!

a. Disneyland Paris: A theme park that needs no introduction. Disneyland Paris is the only Disney theme park in Europe and attracts thousands of visitors every day. During the Christmas period, Disneyland becomes a magical and enchanted place where the Christmas spirit fills the air! Everything is done so your children will never forget their Christmas celebration here!

b. The Paris Ferris Wheel: Every year, during the winter months, a popular Ferris Wheel is placed on Place de la Concorde, in the alignment of the Historical Axis (Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, Olébisque, Tuileries Gardens, Louvre). From the top, you will have a beautiful panoramic view of Paris. A fun alternative to see Paris from above, especially for your children.

c. Family Twist activities: Family Twist has designed great, fun and educational Christmas activities for families traveling to Paris with kids during Christmas. From special family-friendly sightseeing tours (including game booklets and trained, fully licensed guides to keep your children engaged and entertained) to wonderful hands-on workshops, your family is guaranteed to have a blast this Christmas in Paris!


6. What is the traditional Christmas food in France?


Christmas in Paris with Kids - Christmas dinner


France is known for its subtle and delicious cuisine. Think about it: french cheese, wine, duck confit, onion soup, foie gras… Those famous French dishes will get your taste buds all excited just by mentioning them! During Christmas though, there are some typical dishes that represent the traditional French Christmas dinner. Here are some of these dishes that you will want to taste, just to get a glimpse of what a traditional French Christmas meal tastes like!

a. Foie Gras: This is something you can’t get in the US, so take this opportunity to taste one of the most delicious French delicacies. This luxury food product, made out of goose or duck liver is served as a starter during the Christmas Eve dinner.

b. Oyster + Smoked salmon: If you are not keen on foie gras (but it’s still worth tasting because it is delicious!), you can always go for half a dozen osters or smoked salmon on bread toasts. This might not be very “exotic”, but it is part of the traditional Christmas dinner and, let’s be honest, it is exquisite!

c. Turkey or lobster: Both options are very traditional. Some prefer the turkey, others tend to go for lobster. Of course, the preparation differs for each family, some taking the time to prepare something original, others sticking to the traditional “turkey in the oven” or boiled lobster. Add a few side dishes (like chestnuts for the turkey) and sauces and you have the perfect French Christmas main dish!

d. Bûche de Noel (Yule log): for dessert, nothing compares to the bûche de Noël. This log-like cake (hence the name “bûche”, or log in French) is made of chocolate and chestnuts. Add a bit of powdered sugar (snow) and a few mistletoe leaves and you end up having the perfect Christmas dessert.

e. Thirteen Desserts: You might not find a lot of people asking for the Thirteen Desserts, because this is not the traditional dessert in Paris (they prefer the bûche de Noël), but if you are traveling to Provence and the French Riviera, they are inevitable. The 13 desserts represent Jesus and the 12 apostles and although the number is always 13, the exact nature of the desserts varies: dried fruits and nuts, fresh fruit, sweet treats such as ginger bread, biscuits or nougat.


7. Where are the best ice skating rinks for Christmas with kids in Paris?



Come winter, it’s always really nice to go ice skating with your children. And there are a few of places to do that during Christmas in Paris. The weather might not be cold enough to see ice skating rinks pop up all over town, but these 4 places are exceptional, mostly because of the view they offer on iconic Parisian monuments.

a. Hôtel de Ville: The ice skating rink next to the city hall (hôtel de ville) is the biggest outdoor ice rink in Paris. It faces the beautiful Renaissance style city hall and you will also see the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral in the back. It is generally open from December 1st to end of February, from 10AM to 10PM. Entrance is free, and skate rental is €6,00 per person (bring ID for deposit)

b. Champs Elysées: This popular ice skating rink is located in the Champs-Elysées Christmas market, at the very bottom of the avenue (next to Place de la Concorde). The view on the Christmas decorations and the Ferris Wheel is amazing. It is open from late November to early January, from 10:30AM to midnight. You’ll have to spend €10,00 for adults and €8,00 for children, including the rental fees.

c. Eiffel Tower: Located on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, this ice skating rink is definitely the most original. Although quite small, you will be able to have a great time gliding on the ice while admiring the view on the Champ de Mars. It is open from early December to mid February, from 10:30 AM to 10:30 PM. Access is free, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to go up the Eiffel Tower!

d. Trocadéro: Opposite the Eiffel Tower, on the other side of the Seine River, the Trocadéro ice skating rink is probably where you will have the best view on the Iron Lady.  The ice skating rink is in the center of the Christmas market. It is open from mid December to early January, from 11AM to 8PM everyday. The entrance is free, and skate rental is €6.00 per person.

Every 2 years (2016, 2018, 2020 etc…), the Grand Palais hosts the biggest indoor ice skating rink in France: le Grand Palais des Glaces. Under the magnificent glass roof, the ice skating rink turns into a real gliding nightclub at night. It is open from mid December to early January, until 2AM everyday.


8. What are the best merry-go-rounds for Christmas with kids in Paris?


Christmas in Paris with Kids - Christmas merry-go-rounds


If you are traveling to Paris with toddlers, you might want to take a break and treat them to a merry-go-round ride. Although there are quite a few of them in Paris, here are some of the best merry-go-rounds, namely because of the location or simply because of the decoration and the “ambiance”.

a. Trocadéro: Take your kids on an imaginary hot air balloon ride, as this is the theme of this wonderful merry-go-round. And while they enjoy their ride, you will be able to have one of the best views on the Eiffel Tower! (Rue Gustave V de Suède, 75016)

b. Tour Eiffel: at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, next to the bridge, is yet another merry-go-round with an incredible view on the Iron Lady. But this time, your children will be riding a train.(Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris)

c. Luxembourg: in the heart of the famous Luxembourg Gardens lies a traditional merry-go-round (as well as a huge playground and a puppet theater). Here, your children will be riding wooden horses!

d. Sacré Coeur: Those of you who have seen the movie “Amélie from Montmartre” know about the merry-go-round located at the foot of the Sacré Coeur Basilica. This is a fairy tale carousel, where your children will become heroic knights and princesses (Place Saint Pierre)

e. Hôtel de Ville: Facing the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) is another beautiful merry-go-round. Your children might not yet be attracted to the beauty of the Renaissance architecture of the City Hall, but you will!


9. What are the best family-friendly shows and events during Christmas in Paris?


Christmas in Paris with Kids - Christmas events

In Paris, we strongly recommend you go to one of the famous Parisian circuses. You can either go to the “Cirque d’hiver” show at the oldest circus in the world, where you’ll find acrobats, trapeze artists, tigers, horses, clowns and a special orchestra, all presented by the legendary ringmaster. Or if your children are horse fans, you could try out the fabulous “Pegasus and Icarus”, the equestrian and aerial show of the year at the Alexi Gruss Big Top. Children and parents alike are sure to be enchanted by these amazing, magical spectacles.

Another event that you and your children do not want to miss is the Festival du Merveilleux. This annual event takes place in the fairy tale like museum of fairground arts and it is your chance to discover and ride old early 20th century merry-go-rounds. But there is more to just riding merry go rounds during the Festival du Merveilleux. It is a moment when you will be transported elsewhere and relive the innocence of childhood.

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