Paris is but a hop, skip and a jump – or, if you’re me, one incredibly boozy Eurostar ride – away from London, which means there’s no excuse for me not to pop over and visit my parents. Particularly if it means I get to feel festive perusing the markets with a little vin chaud in my hands.
I managed to fit in a pre-Christmas visit last weekend in order to both visit my family and see the city in one of its prettiest months. After spending the majority of the weekend eating and drinking my body weight in duck and red wine, I am feeling just about as festive as you can, which is why I have decided to impart my own festive suggestions, just like a really helpful, if incredibly red wine-dependent, Christmas elf.
Dress the part
First and foremost, style dispatches from the weekend. Of course, what would any trip be without a selection of carefully planned outfits? All the gear and no idea is, after all, one of my mantras. My Topshop camel coat came in handy to ward off the cold, and a classic Alexander McQueen scarf could be thrown over every outfit.
For a day of exploring I layered a tartan Zara dress over a simple grey Topshop number. Determined to wear every piece I packed, I went big on the layering this weekend. This is one of my favourite outfits, because it includes so many of my failsafe styles: tartan, frilled sleeves and a simple grey element.
I couldn’t resist rocking a striped tee in typical French fashion, but here I teamed it with a PVC skirt from Zara to add a little extra edge. Accessorise with a glass of vin rouge and you’ve got yourself an idyllic Parisian scene.
For an evening exploring the city’s finest bars, I went for a clashing floral print dress from ASOS. A recent purchase, this dress caught my eye because of the beautiful shape, complete with frill layering, and the delicate cut-out sleeves.
A highlight was visiting the various department stores to see their Christmas window displays. A Christmas tradition for me in London, I always love going to see Liberty of London to witness their awe-inspiring displays firsthand, and Paris certainly did not disappoint.
At Galeries Lafayette, displays made of what almost looked like paper cut-outs of penguins and polar bears crowded each window, with one product visible in each window. A giant Christmas Tree made using the same white materials dominated the central hall of the store, with a ferris wheel spinning round. The effect was magical.
Printemps housed busier windows inhabited by puppets playing. each window drew your attention to a different department in the store, from oversized legs clad in Jimmy Choo heels in one, and dolls in miniature versions of designer clobber dancing in another.
Taste Christmas in a cup
From here I stopped for a chocolat chaud from Angelina, home to some of the most mouth-wateringly beautiful desserts in the city. It was essentially melted chocolate, and although I couldn’t finish, it set me up for the rest of the day.
My other preferred festive drink is, of course, mulled wine. Or rather, vin chaud since we’re in Paris. There are so many small Christmas markets in Paris, and I tasted my first vin chaud of the weekend at the Saturday food market near Iéna metro.
Get lost in the gardens
My favourite weather is the freezing cold temperatures topped off with sunshine. Luckily, this was what I got for the entire weekend, and it made for an idyllic stroll around the Jardin du Luxembourg on Sunday afternoon. The gardens here are expansive, go with a full cup of your hot beverage of choice and sit for a while on one of the many garden chairs.
Don’t forget the obvious
No matter how many times I visit Paris (this will be my third this year), I can never skip a chance to look at the Eiffel Tower. By night it sparkles for five minutes every hour, making for an incredibly festive moment, but it is just as beautiful and imposing during the day and cannot be missed.
Float down the Seine
If you’re feeling a little lazy, the Batobus will show you all the sights with minimal effort. Hop on the boat and float down the river to see every major tourist destination – without the walking or the crowds. You can jump on and off as you please. We grabbed the Batobus from the Eiffel Tower down to the Musée d’Orsay for a more relaxing start to Sunday.