It's that time of year again, summer is over, the days are getting shorter and Christmas is approaching fast. If you're all out of ideas and dreading starting your Christmas shopping this year, why not make a weekend break of it? You can take the pain out of present buying, bring back something a bit different from the usual high street gifts for your friends and family, and discover a new city at the same time.
To help inspire you, we've pulled together some ideas for gifts that you can bring back and that won't break the bank. Beautifully packaged toiletries, food and drink make lovely presents, especially when they come from abroad so are that bit more special. And, with Eurostar's generous 2-bag luggage allowance you don't have to worry about bringing it all back. So, take an empty case with you to fill up with delicious goodies for gifts, stocking fillers and your Christmas table.
City of lights, city of love, fashion capital of the world, home of the finest restaurants: Paris is the perfect spot for a head-to-toe revamp. Got your mind set on a healthy but tasty diet? Fancy adding a dash of je ne sais quoi to your wardrobe? Trying to reinvent yourself as a sophisticated art lover? The French capital has you covered. From chic fashion (with an oh-so-2019 sustainable twist) to rediscovering the Paris of flâneurs, here are our resolutions for Parisians at heart.
For many Parisians, the Saint Sylvestre (that’s New Year’s Eve to the uninitiated) is best spent en famille. Friends and loved ones gather at home for lavish feasts with generous spreads of seafood, foie gras and Champagne. That’s not to say that Parisians don’t give in to the festive spirit, too. Fireworks aren’t always guaranteed, but crowds still head to the Champs de Mars and the Champs-Élysées for impressive light shows and cheery street parties.
Most restaurants lay on extravagant festive menus for the night. Head to a new-gen brasserie for trad food on a budget. Bouillon Chartier has a listed dining room and dishes up festive treats alongside its regular affordable menu. If you’re feeling flush, plan ahead and bag a table at one of the Eiffel Tower’s restaurants for unforgettable views. Though many of the city’s sights and museums are closed on 1 January, a few remain open. Stroll from Notre-Dame to the Musée du quai Branly: a gentle walk down the Seine is the best way to start the year.
Blissfully easy to navigate on foot, Paris puts on free transport from 5pm on New Year’s Eve to noon the following day. Metro lines 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 14 and all RER lines run through the night until 5.30am, when normal service resumes. Stations along the Champs-Élysées will be closed, so it’s worth planning in advance – particularly as taxis will be few and far between.
If you can’t rustle up an invite to a house party at short notice, most Paris clubs and music venues open their doors on the night, though it’s worth booking ahead. Badaboum near trendy Bastille has an excellent sound system, striking light installations and a cocktail bar. If you’ve got little ones in tow, the Cirque d’Hiver’s antics and acrobatics will easily keep them awake until midnight.
For a night out with some gentler beats, cosy up in one of the city’s legendary jazz clubs. Le Caveau de la Huchette in the Quartier Latin has hosted the likes of Sidney Bechet and Lionel Hampton. Bobo La Bellevilloise opens its loft and terraces for the occasion. Or book ahead for the Opéra Garnier’s gala concert: the venerable institution is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year.
Get some glow back in your cheeks with an energising walk up the Butte Montmartre. Forgo the funicular and embrace the resolution-friendly stairs instead – they’re steep, but particularly photogenic in the winter. Brunch purveyor Marcel, on serene Villa Léandre, has the cure for any lingering regrets: eggs scrambled and poached, virtuous smoothie bowls and towering stacks of French toast.
If you’re in the mood for a New Year boogie, join the party at Yoyo, Palais de Tokyo’s intimate nightclub. The last revellers leave at 6am – complimentary pastries and fruit juice in hand – and linger by the river to watch the sun rise over the Eiffel Tower.
Step on to the futuristic Flow barge for a memorable soirée on the Seine. Expect an explosion of party poppers and confetti come midnight, plus striking views of the Alexandre III bridge from the rooftop terrace.
Crowds gather on the city’s broadest avenue for a light show projected on the Arc de Triomphe. Don’t expect spectacular pyrotechnics, but rather an animated countdown from 11.30pm and bold visuals with a distinctive French touch.
Hot cocoa and Christmas window displays...there's plenty of reasons to visit Paris in the winter.
An easy guide by district to help you decide on the best place to stay on your city break.
A 2-day itinerary to help you make the most out of your stay in Paris.