Christmas on the Champs-Elysees

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Christmas in Paris – what could be more romantic? Well, we are technically not spending Christmas in Paris but we have just spent three amazing days exploring this beautiful city during the Christmas season.

Our experiences at the Louvre, Eiffel Tower et al. are all to come but for our first story we want to share with you our experience on the Champs-Elysees. The Avenue de Champs Elysees is probably the most infamous street in Paris, possibly in the whole of Europe. Approaching the Champs Elysees from the Louvre, there are a myriad of different attractions to see.

The Christmas Markets

Either side of the Champs-Elysees are wooden huts decked in Christmas decorations and selling a range of novelties or local French/European cuisine. We wandered up and down this part of the avenue several times and each time experienced something a little different.

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Sampling a Norwegian smoked salmon sandwich for only 6 Euros along with a German Nuremberg Bratwurst for 5 Euros were particularly appealing especially given the price of dining throughout Paris. Another great cuisine option if you are looking for a cheap dessert is the ‘Tête de Choco’  also known as a ‘Chocolate Head filled with mousse’ which is a delightful little delicacy ranging in a variety of flavors that I would highly recommend sampling!

Children and families can be seen experiencing the temporary ice rink that is in place but probably the most festive aspect of this part of the Avenue des Champs Elysees takes place above ground and is the ‘flying Santa Claus’ that runs every half hour in the evening. Our first night we stood at 6:30PM and experienced fake snow blown over everyone to set the mood and then Christmas carols playing as Santa Claus paraded in his sleigh across the night sky led by his trusty reindeer.

To make this even more realistic, a ‘real’ Santa is in the sleigh and speaks to the children below encouraging them to be good and wait until December 25th for ‘Père Noël’ to return bearing gifts!

The Ritzy Champs-Elysees

After moving through the Christmasy, traditional feel of the Champs-Elysees, you venture into the glitzy part of Paris where all the leading world-renowned stores are located. Tiffany&Co, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes-Benz and Cartier are just a few examples of establishments that reside here.

Let’s be honest, unless you are a high roller with plenty of cash to go around this part of Paris may not be for you but I can say that just walking along here and taking a look in some of these stores even without buying anything can be a worthwhile experience.

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I really enjoyed visiting the car stores along here which is very different to anything that I have seen before. Mercedes-Benz, Citroen, Peugeot among others are located on the Champs-Elysees and have several of their leading models stacked on different floors inside their showroom. It’s not like a normal showroom that you associate with car dealers though because here they are advertising their Formula 1, World Rally Championship and Le Mans 24 hour vehicles. A really cool experience even if you are not that interested in what’s under the bonnet of a car!

What was interesting to me on this part of the Champs-Elysees is that it really wasn’t decked out in Christmas decorations. In fact, throughout our three days experiencing Paris I would say that we are both very surprised at the lack of Christmas feel throughout the city, of course the exceptions being the markets we mentioned earlier and other markets sporadically located around Paris that we saw.

Maybe the ‘ritzy’ stores don’t consider it to be necessary to adjust to the Christmas traditions or maybe it’s just because we are in Paris and they just do things a little different. Either way, this is not really a negative aspect rather an interesting observation that I wasn’t expecting.

Place de la Concorde to the L’Arc de Triomphe

Well the title of this section pretty much says it all. The Avenue des Champs-Elysees runs for just over 1 mile from the Place de la Concorde which currently houses a big wheel in front of the Obelisk of Luxor all the way down the avenue to the impressive L’Arc de Triomphe. After sampling the Christmas markets and high end stores, standing at either end of the Champs Elysees gives you a perfect view down the whole avenue.

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When thinking about experiencing Christmas in Paris, you will probably think about either going to the top of the Eiffel Tower or wandering the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. We would highly recommend sampling both of course but the feel of Christmas is more prevalent when you set foot through those little wooden huts that make up the markets. Not only do you get the stereotypical French experience with vendors selling crepes and vin chaud (hot wine), you can also sample some other European delicacies and experiences along the way.

The Avenue des Champs-Elysees is a must for anyone visiting Paris. You could almost say it is the heart of Paris with the area steeped in history and also the traditional feel that surrounds this avenue.

How are you celebrating Christmas this year?

What are your experiences on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees?

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Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]

19 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder why there is the lack of Christmas feel throughout the city. However, the wooden huts look awesome, and that Tête de Choco is enough reason for me to visit Paris during the Christmas time.

    • Not going to lie, those Tête de Chocos are AMAZING and a must for anyone visiting the Champs-Elysees! It really could be that we only stuck to the 4th through 8th Arrondissements and did not have enough time to explore any further than this. As I indicated in an earlier comment, I don’t want it to sound negative about the lack of Christmas decorations because some cities can go overboard but I just don’t think it was what I was expecting.

      Either way, it was a great experience and we can’t wait to go back to explore further!

  2. Oh my, how things have changed… Last time I was in Paris during Christmas was perhaps 10 years ago (give or take), and I remember the Champs Elysées being lighted to the brim. To get on a plane (or a car, for those close by) and see the lights of Paris around Christmas was an actual thing! Still, glad you had fun! Good luck!

    • Cheers guys, it was a really cool experience to just be able to say ‘we were in Paris’! It’s one of those must-see cities around the world that you just have to visit at least once. We were there for 3 days and that barely gave us enough time to see some of the main attractions but that gives us a great excuse to head back again right!!

  3. Ahhhh Paris at Christmas! It sounds wonderful…I haven’t been to Europe in the winter yet, but I’ve heard great things. Hope you guys enjoy your remaining time there and Merry Christmas! We had tornadoes over here in the south yesterday so be glad you were there 🙂

    • Merry Christmas to you too! Hope you have a great one if we don’t get to speak with you before Wednesday. Hope you guys are safe with the bad weather coming through the States.

      You really would have a blast in Europe if you are able to get over during the winter time, I can certainly give you some tips on where to go and what to see when you are over here!

  4. Ah, nothing better than spending the days leading up to Christmas in Paris. So romantic. I was there a couple years ago during the same time frame and I agree, it wasn’t overly Christmasy but there was enough to get into the holiday mood!

    • It really was the perfect setting before heading over to England for the Christmas period. I am not sure what I was expecting prior to visiting Paris and I didn’t want to sound negative when I indicated that it wasn’t all that Christmasy for the most part but I think the stereotypes with global cities are that they will be all dressed up in Christmas decorations.

      I think it was a good mix and worked very well!

  5. Maybe Parisians feel that their city is already so cool and does not need Xmas decos? If so I’d have to agree with them, what a damn romantic place to be for Christmas. We were there back n 2010… ahhhh the memories.. Have a wonderful Christmas.

    • The Parisians are a different bunch of folks altogether so I can certainly agree with you that they probably feel their city does enough without decorations to make it have the Christmas feel. Maybe I just like the old traditions of seeing lights, decorations and trees in a city but Paris does have enough in terms of architecture and beauty to just about do enough to not need the extra glitz.

      Hope you guys have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

  6. When we were in Paris last December we found a lack of decorations too – the city just didn’t have the same “Christmasy” feel as other spots in Europe. Nonetheless, it’s still Paris and it looks like you were able to sample some great food! Merry Christmas!

  7. Looks like you are having a wonderful time. We are going to Paris next September so am looking forward to it. Am figuring out Sunday Traveller/Traveler (sorry one L), do I add a link to you guys in my post? Have a wonderful Christmas and talk to you soon on twitter or whatever. Be good :))

    • We had an absolute blast in Paris, it was a really cool experience! You will have a great time in Paris. Do you know where you are staying yet? We would certainly recommend locating yourself centrally to the main tourist attractions, we were not far away from Notre Dame and this was great to just get out and wander around.

      One recommendation would be get out there and try and get lost! Sounds strange I know, but you will come across some of the weirdest but really cool things along the way. Down those Parisien back alleys with little restaurants etc is great for pictures!

      You are more than welcome to add a link to us in your post but you can also just add the Sunday Traveler (yes, I know it should be two for us also but we agreed to go with the US version LOL) badge on each of your posts. Instructions on adding this can be found here: http://www.chasingthedonkey.com/sunday-traveler/

      Merry Christmas!

  8. Love all the Paris content guys, really making us excited for our upcoming trip although we are super jealous we’ll be missing all the Christmas cheer. Great pictures – happy travels!

    • It was really cool experience in Paris! Of course anywhere with the Christmas spirit is just an added bonus but I would recommend visiting Paris at least once during the holiday period. Is this your first time to Paris?

      Thanks guys for the kind remarks, looking forward to continuing to follow you on your global travels!! Merry Christmas!!

  9. Paris is an wonderful place to be during the holidays. They however don’t celebrate Christmas like we do in the states. I’ve never heard anyone talk about the window decorations in Paris, like the ones in New York City. I love the Louis Vuitton store on Champs-Elysees When I was there this summer they had a line for 50 people waiting outside to get in. Enjoy your time in Europe. Happy New Years!!!

    • We had an amazing time in Paris! Just being able to get out and explore on foot or take a short subway ride somewhere was awesome. We loved ‘getting lost’ around Paris because in the arrondissements where we wandered (4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th) there was so much history and culture around every street corner and back alley!!

      Hope you have a great holiday season also Samantha and have a Happy New Year!!

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