The Jardins du Palais Royal
After visiting the Galerie Vivienne, cross over the Rue des Petits Champs and take a stroll in the gardens of the Palais Royal, especially if night has already fallen. In the early evening darkness, the shops and cafes under the arcades become even more inviting.
The Bon Marché and the Grande Epicerie
I never normally go to the Bon Marché, and indeed start to get panic attacks when I leave the right-bank, but this grand magasin just seems to be the one that does Christmas best. It's most definitely haughty and snobbish, but that also means that it is more restrained and an altogether calmer experience than the other large department stores. Christmas to the French means food and drink above all else, so where better to get a French flavour of Christmas than in the food hall of the Bon Marché, the Grande Epicerie?
Like most people who celebrate Christmas, I am not a religious person, and yet I am still a sucker for the atmosphere of a church, the candles and incense and the atmospheric music. This year, the best place to find that ambience will be at the Madeleine church. As it has been the year of Russia in France, the church will be presenting a Russian themed 'creche' this Christmas, and to continue the exotic theme, the Christmas concert on Saturday 11th December will be given by a young choir from Bratislavia in Slovakia.
Do you have any other suggestions? I'd love to hear them.