School is officially out in France for the next two weeks throwing a monkey wrench into the plans of parents who’ve not yet organised themselves for all things Christmas (like me)! As far as holidays go, the December break is one of the best to remain in Paris for – the city is bright with Christmas spirit and numerous activities, some of which are only possible during the vacances de Noël.
In between running last minute errands and trying to shop without youngsters on my tail, we’ll be zipping back and forth across Paris making the most of the magic that the City of Light turns on to close out the year. Here are a few favourite things to add to your list:
Carrousel rides –
There’s something magical about caroussels that makes you feel wonderful whether you’re five, fifty or beyond and for the next two weeks everyone can be a kid at heart, basking in the magic of old world style carrousels. From December 20th though until January 4th many of the carrousels around Paris are free to ride between the hours of 10am and 7pm. Our favourites are at the Hotel De Ville, Place de la Concorde and Saint Sulpice. Evous has a complete listing of where you can fill your heart with Paris carrousel magic.
Vaux le Vicomte - The not talked about enough Vaux le Vicomte is one of the most beautiful chateaux within reach of Paris – as you might have guessed from my recent images and video :). Enchanting for children and adults alike it is a treasure trove of Christmas delights. With six rooms decked out in festive spirit, the chateau doors will open for the two weeks showcasing their 15000 holiday ornaments in fairy tale settings. After wandering through the rooms warmed with open fires, take your place to watch this year’s holiday show, Blanche Neige. Father Christmas will even be present with treats for young children.
Hotel Plaza Athenee - Indulge the little people in a fabulous afternoon of goûter and ice skating that they”ll always remember. Head to Ave Montaigne’s Palace de Haute Couture for a goûter by Michalak and then hit the ice. Normally reserved for hotel guests, children ten and under who enjoy an afternoon tea in La Galerie may take to the ice afterwards. Located in the garden courtyard, the skating rink is a winter feature not to be missed.
Climb the Eiffel Tower - Whilst it looks daunting when you stand underneath, the reality is that a walk to the top is much easier than it looks and beats standing in a long line waiting for the lift. Count the steps as you go and in no time you’ll have reached the first floor. Continue the climb to the second floor and keep your eye out for the historical points along the way – spots where you’ll find figures working as they would have in the early days of the Tower. If you want to add some extra fun to your visit, book a private tour with Visites-Spectacles and be accompanied along the way by an actor playing an entertaining character from a bygone time. From past experience, if you go the morning of January 1st, the lines are quiet – perhaps something to do with a lot of recovery from end of year celebrations the night before.
THATLou : how do you make your way around one of the world’s largest art collections, not lose your children (or your patience) and keep them interested along the way? As a parent it will seem like the world is against you on this one however one clever art aficionado has devised a way to not only save the day but to fill it with a dose of fun and inject art along the way. Daisy Le Plume’s treasure hunt challenge through the Louvre will have you racing against each other to not only beat the clock but to also accrue points and declare yourselves victors. Choose from various hunts depending on what your level of art desire or gaul is. When you’re done with the Louvre, there’s always the option of a THATRue or THAT d’Or – check with Daisy for details.
Ride the wheel: Whilst expensive for three spins, you’ll get a fabulous view of all sides of the city on the Roue de Paris. Go earlier in the day and avoid the long lines. Be warned, on the busy nights when the lines are long, anticipate a shorter spin.
Atelier des Sens (cooking class): The city is abundant with cooking classes for adults, however finding one for children requires a little more searching. Whilst the Ritz Escoffier remains closed for renovations, a mere hop skip and jump away children can dip their finger tips in madeleine mix at Atelier des Sens. Tucked discretley at the back of the boutique L’Effet Maison on Rue Vignon, cooking classes are run by Atelier’s bilingual team. Parents can leave children and head to the nearby Printemps for a spot a shopping while the little ones practice their Bonjour and Merci.
Musee des Arts Forains: Paris is fortunate that over the years Monsieur Jean Paul Favand has collected exquisite pieces from carrousels, fair grounds and other funfair objects – preserving them as part of his private collection. Normally by appointment only, the museum opens to the public to enjoy at this time of the year. Stepping inside, make your way through the different theatres transporting you to a vaudeville funfair that takes place when the doors swing back for the Festival du Merveilleux 2014. Open from Dec 26 – January 4th this is one place not to be missed.
And of course, we’ll be hoping for snow so that we can take to the *slopes* out here in the Yvelines….that goes without saying. What about you, what fun things have you done, will you be doing over the holidays, whether in Paris or elsewhere around the world?