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New Year in Paris
To me, Paris really symbolises Christmas. It’s vibrant, colourful and exciting with captivating illuminations and monuments lit up around the city. There is also always something new to discover or explore from traditional Christmas markets, ice skating and nativity scenes to museums, shopping and wonderful sights.
So, with these thoughts in mind, I decided to visit Paris for New Year. My decision was helped by the fact that it’s easily accessible from the UK with regular budget flights taking just an hour and a half from the North West, and I was able to choose from a variety of hotels to suit any budget.
48 hours in Paris
We only had 48 hours in the city, so needed to make the most of our time.
During the days we hiked around all the highlights. The Eiffel Tower may be the most famous and hard to miss attraction but it’s still a must see for first timers to the city. We took the lift up and up and then climbed to the top of the iconic tower. At 276 metres with a 360 degree panorama of the city, the views were remarkable – what a special place.
We also spent half a day in The Louvre museum mesmerised by the famous attractions such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. We marvelled at the spectacular, Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral and walked around the Arc de Triomphe – the grand 164 foot arch.
A personal highlight was ambling up and down the beautiful Champs Elysees gazing in the windows of the designer shops – the street really has everything you could possibly need, from hotels and restaurants to designer shops open till late.
Whether you visit Paris in the run up to Christmas or just afterwards for New Year, the traditional Christmas markets in the city are hard to miss. They exude a fantastic, lively atmosphere and offer excellent shopping. The little wooden chalets are in clusters all around the city, each stall selling something unique from wood carvings and clothing to delicious chocolate.
My favourite was the market near the Eiffel Tower. It has around 100 little chalets all lit up with fairy lights, an ice skating rink and a small snow park for children. It was a perfect way to end an evening strolling around, with an occasional break for a glass of mulled wine and a warm crepe gazing at the Eiffel Tower.
Our main dilemma while we were away, however, was where to choose to celebrate New Year and shout ‘Bonne année’…
The big New Year decision
Should we flock with the crowds to the Champs Elysees which is lined with sparking lights illuminating the street, or maybe we could celebrate with a view of the iconic Eiffel Tower in the background counting down with thousands of other revellers and feeling a real sense of togetherness? Or should we opt for a romantic meal and a party in one of many of the Parisian restaurants?
We decided to try and embrace it all for a full-on New Year of partying and merriment!
We started out in the Le Bistro Rouge restaurant situated close to our hotel in the northern suburbs. It was typically French with delicious food and sensational cocktails. We then headed back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes, getting wrapped up warm for an evening out and about.
We walked to the Champs Elysees weaving in and out of the masses of people with their picnics and glasses of Champagne – you could feel the excitement in the air – before finally stopping to pick up our own bottle of something special and making our way towards the Eiffel Tower.
The streets were crammed and roads were closed with thousands of people all moving in the same direction – it was fascinating. We found a comfortable spot with a clear, undisturbed view of the Tower and waited for the countdown.
Everyone was so friendly and cheerful around us – or should I say merry. All of a sudden we heard the roar of the countdown unexpectedly starting. 10, 9, 8… It got louder. 7, 6, 5… As every face expectantly looked to the Tower. 4, 3, 2, 1 – boom! The tower exploded in magical, sparkling lights and the crowds came alive with cheering and dancing. Everyone around us was shouting ‘Bonne année!’ It was such a party atmosphere.
So, if you want an extra special city break during the festive period, I’d highly recommend Paris!