November 17 2013
Coming from London, Christmas in Paris can actually be a little disappointing. Whereas London goes crazy in the run-up to Christmas, Paris is rather more subdued (the French prefer to celebrate New Year's Eve, after all.)
Nevertheless, place de la Concorde is where it's happening this year - with a bumper Christmas market this year on the Champs Elysées, the big wheel on the edge of the Tuilerie Gardens, and the beautiful rue Royale leading up to la Madeleine, on to Opéra and behind to the big department stores.
Here are my top tips for the festive season:
Scattered all over the city, you can't miss the rows of wooden chalets which make up the Paris Christmas Markets. The best of the best this year will be on the Champs Elysées, at La Défense and the Place de la République. There are smaller ones on the boulevard Saint-Germain, at Trocadero and at the foot of the Sacre Coeur. Check the link below for exact address, dates and opening times.
15th November 2013 - 5th January 2014
While you're on the Champs Elysées, check out Yves Camdeborde's pop-up restaurant: Le Comptoir du Marché. A 400 sq m chalet with his signature small dishes available to eat in or take away. Often live music. Open from 11am - midnight every day.
21st November 2013
Laetitia Casta is to switch on the Christmas lights on the Champs Elysées. Often involves a lot of hanging round in the cold, but the moment that the lights come on is memorable enough to justify the wait.
25th November - 8th December 2013
This year the Grey Goose Bar is setting up shop at the Bar Marta in the Hotel Fouquet's Barrière. I wasn't much impressed last year (apart from by the view) but this year's promise of vodka and caviar will be enough to tempt me back.
All through December 2013
The "Carte Sur Table" project is a great initiative to slash the prices of some of Bordeaux's best and make them more affordable for your festive slap-up Christmas meal. 19 restaurants in the Ile-de-France are participating. Click on the link below to find out which.
18th December 2013 (and 15th December)
Open to anyone who has been to a Burnt Cream event this year, don your most festive attire, your singing voices and come countdown to Christmas with us.
There will be mulled wine, mince pies and a special Christmas cocktail that I've been working on involving plenty of bubbly, Vestal's Amber Elderberry Liqueur and Dr Adam's Christmas Bitters.
N.B. Other dates to remember: 15th December, A Burnt Christmas. Full details below.
20th December 2013 - 2nd March 2014
For those who don't mind braving the cold, renting a pair of skates and taking them for a spin on an ice-rink is a fun and memorable moment to create. Choose between the rink in front of Hotel de Ville or Trocadero for a beautiful view over the Eiffel Tower.
21st December 2013 - 5th January 2014
To the delight of big kids as well as the little ones, the picture-perfect Parisian merry-go-rounds will once again be free of charge. Check out the link below for the full list.
Anything I've forgotten...? Please leave a comment or ping me an email.
Here are some suggestions from other expats: