Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where to find the real Christmas spirit in Paris - part 1

December is upon us again, and that means only one thing. Cheap wooden huts displaying goods that nobody wants or needs, dressed up as a Marché de Noël. Don't despair though if you are looking for a little Christmas magic in Paris - away from the crowds and from people selling flashing Santa hats - here are a few suggestions for a few places to soak up an authentic festive atmosphere in the city.

The Rue de Belleville

The area around the Jourdain Metro stop has the real feel of a village, and at no time is that more true than at Christmas. The decorations are abundant, with seemingly all of the buildings and shops getting involved - including the Metro entrances! The decorations continue down the hill to the Pyrenees Metro station, and en route you'll find a selection of cosy bars to stop in. For shopping, try the Rue de la Villette on the right-hand side where several artists and designers have opened units. If you have kids in toe, you'll also appreciate the 400 Coups cafe/restaurant which has been designed for young families!

The Galerie Vivienne

Photo: Jerome S

Surely the most attractive of the covered arcades in Paris, at Christmas the Galerie Vivienne is simply magical. Although the shops - which include a Jean-Paul Gaultier boutique - can be a little chic and upmarket, it is just a pleasure to window shop through the curtains of light. A great place for gifts is Legrand Filles et Fils, one of the oldest épiceries in France. You'll find not only a wide selection of wines, but also handmade sweets and regional specialities. A Priori Thé is also a great place for lunch - or just tea!

More selections tomorrow.

If you have any favourite Christmas spots in Paris, please recommend them in the comments section below!

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