Get the most out of Christmas with the guide of Paris biggest and best events that will definitely warm this holiday season.
What’s more Christmassy than strapping on a pair of ice skates and doing figure-8s under the stars? Tumbling onto the ice with flailing arms while 80s rock blares from the loudspeakers, of course. Besides the two skating rinks that are accessible year round, a number of venues are specially open around the city for winter (wonderland) games. Put on your earmuffs and glide, baby, glide.
Open season at the Musée des Arts Forains
Housed in a collection of Eiffel-era wine warehouses is a fantastical collection of 19th- and early 20th-century fairground attractions. In the Salon de Venise you are twirled round on a gondola carousel; in the Salon des Arts Forains you can play a ball-throwing game that sets off a race of moustachioed waiters. Usually open only by reservation, all are welcome from 26 December-6 January. Adults €12, children under 12 €5, concessions €10.
Le Bal Créole
World music promoter Géomuse’s fortnightly Bal Créole is ready for Christmas – with not just bells on, but flutes, guitars, accordions and steel drums as well. Bringing the French West Indian village tradition of Chanté Nwèl to Ménilmontant, this festive edition of the creole music and dance extravaganza will see young and old singing, dancing and chowing down on the Christmas ham. Singer Gilbert Anastase plays with his seven-piece band, while Martinican conteur Igo Drané – a storyteller, yes, but also a social commentator, humorist and poet – will help ring in the season. Break out the rum-and-sugarcane Schrubb, and dance like you’re the last one left on the island. €12, €6 children.
There’s more to Paris cabaret than the get-your-glitz-out-for-the-boys genre with frilly drawers, fishnet stockings and lingerie that twangs to the rhythm of the music. There’s the art, the synchronization, the wild costumes and, bien-sur, the inter-act performers who do interesting things with animals and ventriloquist dummies – way to make a festive night of it.
Christmas dinner cruise on Bateaux Parisiens
The tourist boats that ply the Seine all year round really come into their own at Christmas, when the city’s monuments are specially lit up for the festivities. On Bâteaux Parisiens’ Christmas Eve dinner cruise, raise a glass of bubbly as you pass Les Invalides and the Musée d’Orsay. Later, tuck into classic French recipes, including confit of foie gras and morel-and-chestnut-stuffed chicken, in front of the Hôtel de Ville and Nôtre Dame. The five-course menu includes wines and an aperitif, and a live band keeps things holly jolly. Still, the meal’s not necessarily the thing: seen from the water, the gentle glow of Paris in lights has an inimitable magic made even more charged in the crisp river air. €135-€205.
From traditional to avant garde, and from hot new talent to big visiting names – Paris is one of the best cities in the world for listening to live jazz. Here’s our guide to the best venues and upcoming gigs.
Follow all the gigs coming up over Christmas here. French rap from Disiz, glorious electro from The XX, gospel, The Dandy Warhols, stimulating classical concerts and no-holds-barred clubbing.