Chris and I searched for Christmas magic, romance, and cheer in Paris, the City of Lights, from December 22nd through the 26th, 2022. To help you plan your holiday-season trip to Paris, we’ve put together a list of where we would go, what we would do, and a few things we wouldn’t if we were spending Christmas in Paris this year.
Our Top 11 Picks for a Romantic Christmas in Paris:
Located in the Tuilleries Garden, La Magie De Noël is romantic and full of cheer. Do try the roasted chestnuts, raclette and ham sandwiches, and vin chaud (warm, mulled wine). You might see La Pére Noël fly his sleigh over the market if your timing is right. Make time to ride the Roue de Paris, a wheel that stands 60 meters tall. The views are spectacular.
When it comes to the raclette and ham sandwiches I mentioned, look for the spot that looks like a classic cabin with a large sheltered area full of red and white checkered tablecloth-topped tables. Their sandwiches were so full of gooey, amazing, melted cheese wonderfulness.
Many consider Angelina’s hot chocolate to be the best in Paris. Their hot chocolate is the richest, most profoundly delicious we have ever had. Breakfast at Angelina’s is romantic. Its Belle Époque interior charms with its well-mannered, unfussy prettiness.
Book your table well in advance, as in months ahead, or arrive at least fifteen minutes before their opening time to get seated without a tremendous wait. Each day, they hold a few tables for walk-ins. On the day we went, they opened at nine. We were in line behind a few other couples before 8:45. When we left, the line outside was down the block.
3. Hôtel de Ville’s Christmas Village
Located across from the enchanting exterior of the BHV department store and with the stunning Hôtel de Ville as a backdrop, this village cannot help but enchant its visitors. There are a few shops and food vendors in small cabins and some children’s activities, but what really charmed me was the music, decor, and beautiful carousel. While there, I warmed up with some wonderful ginger tea.
Some say that Berthillion Glacier serves the best ice cream in all of the world. Don’t believe me? Check with David Lebovitz. He lives in Paris and has written what Ina Garten calls “the definitive book on frozen desserts,” The Perfect Scoop.
I can tell you that Berthillon’s ice cream is among the best we remember having. I had their rich and luscious salted butter caramel ice cream sandwiched between a light and lovely almond macaron. The contrasts were exquisite. Chris thought the pistachio ice cream was delightful, and although he wasn’t sure if the other flavor was what he ordered (peach), he enjoyed it immensely.
Chris is truffle-obsessed. Booking dinner at this restaurant was my Christmas present for him, and it did not disappoint. Maison de la Truffe Madeleine’s atmosphere feels both upscale and welcoming, relaxing and romantic, and our dinners were delectable. Chris dined on Authentic Rossini beef tenderloin topped with black truffles while I enjoyed a plate of gnocchi with truffle parmesan cream and Bellota Iberian Ham. This is a restaurant we will likely return to when we make our way back to Paris.
Travel Tip: Maison de la Truffe’s Gourmet Lafayette location is a 10-minute walk from its Madeleine one. The Madeleine location is an elegant restaurant, while Gourmet Lafayette is more casual – and, more important for us when we were in Paris, not the place we had reservations. Our map app kept defaulting to the Lafayette location because it was the one we were closest to when we searched for it.
Ritz Paris Le Comptoir is dedicated to Ritz’s Head Chef, Francois Perret’s gastronomic masterpieces. Getting lunch and a sweet here is probably the most affordable way to taste his delectable creations. When we went on Christmas Eve, all of the tables were full, so we ordered two sandwiches, two Bûche de Noëls, and a demi bottle of champagne for takeaway.
The sandwiches from Ritz Paris Le Comptoir are not made with mere bread. Their site calls it Perret’s homemade puff-pastry bread, but it reminds me of a perfect, buttery croissant that goes on and on thanks to its baton shape. I had the Ham and Butter sandwich with mustard butter, pickles, Comté cheese, and a generous portion of sliced ham. It tasted like so many Sundays at my grandparents’ house. Chris had the Chicken Caesar, and it was good, but it didn’t connect him to Christmases past or time spent with family. After all, who has Chicken Caesar anything at a family celebration? No one I know.
Our Bûche de Noël tasting was Christmas magic and cheer in every way. We picked up one shaped like a Gingerbread Man and another like a Christmas Tree – a Black Forest Christmas Tree with chocolate and cherry ganache deliciousness at its center. The Gingerbread Man had a speculoos shortbread base (my favorite part), whipped vanilla cream, and macadamia praline.
7. Midnight Mass at Église de la Madeleine
As you might expect, mass in Paris is entirely in French. What might surprise you is the remarkable quality of the music. Prior to the service, the organist played Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C major. Douce Nuit (Silent Night), Le message des anges (Angels We Have Heard on High), and Gloria in Excelsis Deo were among the songs sung during service by a remarkable small ensemble.
If you’re Catholic or were raised Catholic but don’t speak French, chances are good that you’ll know the order of what’s going on. I enjoy learning French, so in addition to enjoying the gorgeousness of the music and the beauty of the church, I had fun piecing together what I could understand of the service.
Chris is not Catholic and was not raised Catholic. He is not particularly interested in learning the French language. Yet, he managed to enjoy the service for what it was and, once again, proved what a kind husband he is.
Le Train Bleu is a feast for the senses. Its Belle Époque decor delights the eyes and adds instant romance to the meal. Try the Champagne Cocktail (Champagne, Cognac, Angostura Bitters, and cane sugar syrup)and order Crêpes Suzette for dessert. Both are pure magic. What’s a holiday dessert without a little fire? Their menu changes with the season. Expect plenty of seafood, a variety of meat dishes, and at least one vegetarian offering.
Paris is the place to become a flâneur or flâneuse – a person who wanders without purpose and observes for the sake of observing. It is a perfect Parisian pastime to partake in. We set out on Christmas Day afternoon, with strolling along the Seine as our only intent. We wound up next to the Eiffel Tower. It was romantic and relaxing, filling us with the quiet joy one hopes for on Christmas Day.
We stopped into Étoile 1903 by chance on Christmas Day. It looked so cheerful, cozy, and tempting on the corner. Chris tried his first Parisian IPA and was delighted. I went with our server’s recommendation and tried a White Martini Tonic – Martini Bianco liqueur, tonic water, and lemon garnish. It was delicious.
Near the Arc de Triomphe, yet enough blocks off the tourist path to feel like a local joint, Trionfo has great pizza and a chill vibe. It definitely wins the delicious-meal-to-price ratio award for all of the meals we’ve had in Paris. For two pizzas, one bottle of good Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, a bottle of sparkling water, and two end-of-meal amarettos on the house, we spent less than 55 euros. When in Paris, we will most definitely return.
3 Changes We'd Make to Our Christmas in Paris Itinerary:
1. Going on the Christmas Lights Bus Tour.
We went on a Christmas Lights Bus Tour that we would skip next time. This tour is great for festive families but not for couples setting out to enjoy a romantic evening. We found the queueing a bit perplexing and the teens aboard vexing. There was no way not to hear two siblings argue over who was posting which picture to what social media account first and on and on for almost the entire duration of the experience. I’m not sure what her name was, but his was definitely Louie.
Next time, I want to book a Private Christmas tour by night – Paris in Citroën 2CV.
2. Booking Activities in November.
We decided in November to spend Christmas in Paris. When it came to booking a lunch or dinner cruise with good ratings on the Seine, I could not find one that worked for us. And, Angelina’s Cafe didn’t have a table available to reserve. Next time, I’ll start my Paris planning in early October at the latest.
3. Making so many plans (and going to Department Stores)!
We tried to fit in as many activities as possible when we spent Christmas in Paris. I haven’t included all of them in this post, but they can be seen in our We Tried to Have the Perfect Christmas in Paris!, and Experience a Magical Christmas Day in Paris, the City of Lights! videos.
We went to Galeries Lafayette, Le BHV Marais, and Le Bon Marché. Sure, they had some beautiful Christmas displays, but like most other Christmas-celebrating cities, the stores were full of people frantically trying to complete their holiday shopping. The energy was too frenzied to enjoy our time, and visiting each added unnecessary hecticness to our schedule.
When I reserved dinner at restaurants, I chose them based on research rather than location. Next time, I’ll keep things closer together. Speaking of hotels…
Where to Stay in Paris
We’ve been to Paris twice. Both times, we stayed at Maison Astor Paris. It’s part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, our favorite line of the Hilton brand. You might not read about it in splashy best-of lists, but as I write this, the hotel has a more than respectable 4.5 out of 5 rating on TripAdvisor. One thing we love about Maison Astor is its location. It’s tucked away on a quiet street in Paris’ 8th Arrondissement. These places were near enough to enjoy without an arduous walk:
- La Magie de Noël
- Angelina’s Cafe
- Maison de la Truffe Madeleine
- Ritz Paris Le Comptoir
- Église de la Madeleine
- Strolling along the Seine
- Étoile 1903
Have you spent Christmas in Paris? Are there any musts on your Paris travel list? We’d love to know!
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