Paris lights up for Christmas

Paris lights up for Christmas is written by Paris-based travel blogger Audrey Hickey of Audrey Meets World. She is currently living in Paris and was their during the November 13th attacks. She recently toured Paris getting great photos of the City of Light lit up for Christmas.

Paris gained its nickname as the City of Lights because it was one of the first European cities to illuminate its boulevards with gas lights in the mid-19th century. Today it maintains this reputation thanks to nightly light shows at the Eiffel Tower, as well as regular illuminations of the city’s most prominent landmarks. And the city gets even brighter during the holiday season.

Lights of every color, shape, and size brighten the city’s grandest boulevards, Christmas markets fill squares, department stores devote their windows to intricate displays, and Christmas trees abound. Christmas in Paris is truly a site to be seen.

Window display at Au Printemps Department Store, photo Audrey Hickey

Window display at Au Printemps Department Store, photo Audrey Hickey

However, the terrorist attacks of November 13 called into question how the French capital would celebrate this typically festive season. Immediately following the attacks, all non-vital public services were suspended. This included many Christmas festivities, notably the official lighting of the Champs-Elysées. Originally scheduled for November 15, the ceremony was postponed as Paris mourned.

But out of that mourning came strength. Just days after the attacks, Parisians made it clear that fear would not win, and that terrorists would not affect their cherished way of life. Citizens pushed back, unified, and did what Parisians do best — enjoy life. People worked just as hard as ever, went out for drinks with friends, and started preparations for the Christmas holiday. Even in the midst of great tragedy, life and the Christmas season, had to continue.

Paris lights up for Christmas -- Entrance to Christmas Market on Champs-Élysées, photo Audrey Hickey

Entrance to Christmas Enatance to Christmas Market on Champs-Élysées, photo Audrey Hickey

The lighting of the Champs-Elysees and other prominent locations in Paris took place on November 19th, not even a week after the attacks. This slight postponement in the wake of such an event demonstrates just how resilient Paris is. This year, more than ever, these sites take on an increased importance and significance.

Here are the best light displays in Paris:

Paris lights up for Christmas

Champs-Elysées Lights and Christmas Market

Paris lights up for Christmas with the Christmas Market on Champs-Elysees with a view of the Grande Roue (Ferris wheel), photo Audrey Hickey

Christmas Market on Champs-Elysees with a view of the Grande Roue (Ferris wheel), photo Audrey Hickey

This already- beautiful avenue stretching from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe becomes even more stunning as thousands of twinkly lights decorate the trees along the two-kilometer length of the Champs-Elysées. As if this installation were not enough, the city of Paris also installs a 70-meter Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde.

In addition to the magnificent lights, the Champs-Elysées also hosts an enormous Christmas market. Vendors housed in adorable wooden stalls sell everything from hot mulled wine to leather goods to perfume. It’s a festive spot to get some Christmas shopping done!

Châtelet-Les Halles

Paris lights up for Christmas at Châtelet-Les Halles, photo Audrey Hickey

Lights at Châtelet-Les Halles, photo Audrey Hickey

Paris’ most central shopping center fills its halls with a red, yellow and white Christmas tree surrounded by large, illuminated ornaments. It gives a cheery touch during the busy Christmas shopping season.

Bercy Village

Paris lights up for Christmas- Christmas tree at Bercy Village, photo Audrey Hickey

Christmas tree at Bercy Village, photo Audrey Hickey

Located in the lesser-frequented 12th arrondissement of Paris, this village-inspired commercial center goes all out with its Christmas decorations. Ice-blue lights decorate the pavilion-style coverings and an enormous tree stands majestically at the entrance to the complex’s movie theater.

Department Stores Displays

Paris’ two oldest and most well-known department stores, Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, pull out all the stops at Christmas. These two goliaths of the Paris shopping scene are located next to each other on the extremely chic Boulevard Haussmann, making each year a competition for the best display. This year’s verdict: Printemps wins in the exterior category, while Galeries Lafayette’s interior dominates.

Au Printemps

Paris lights up for Christmas - Exterior display at Printemps Department Store, photo Audrey Hickey-

Exterior display at Printemps Department Store, photo Audrey Hickey

This year, Au Printemps celebrates its 150th year in business. To mark the occasion, the store dedicates its exterior decorations and eleven window displays to telling the story of a fairy that flew to Paris and adorned the building with stars, flowers, and glimmering lights.

Galeries Lafayette

Paris lights up for Christmas -- Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette, photo Audrey Hickey

Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette, photo Audrey Hickey

Galeries Lafayette chose “Christmas on Another Planet” as its theme. Its window displays showcase the voyage of gift-toting robots that discover a planet filled with strange plants and animals. Inside the store, an enormous Christmas tree is suspended from the cupola. Inspired by meteors and the Milky Way, this year’s tree is certainly out of this world beautiful.

Paris lights up for Christmas -- the Main promenade illuminated at Bercy Village, photo Audrey Hickey

Main promenade illuminated at Bercy Village, photo Audrey Hickey

All of these Christmas decorations (and many more) are on display in Paris until January 3rd. Events are free and open to the public. Exterior lights are turned on at 6pm each night. Taking a self-guided tour around the city is a unique and fun way to celebrate this special time of year with family and friends. Even in the wake of last month’s attacks, Paris shines its beautiful lights for anyone curious enough to look.

Have you been there when Paris lights up for Christmas?

Audrey Hickey is a 24-year-old aspiring travel blogger. Her passport may be American, but her heart belongs to Europe. She currently lives in Paris where she works as an au pair and travels on the weekends. In her free time she studies
French, drinks too much coffee and does yoga. Read about her journey on her blog, Audrey Meets World, follow her on Instagram (@audreymeetsworld ) and like her Facebook page. Read the post she wrote for Santa Fe Travelers on Paris’ Mara

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6 Responses to “Paris lights up for Christmas”

  1. Suzanne Stavert
    December 21, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Bravo for posting about Paris. It is without a doubt one of the or the most beautiful city in the world. I would love to see it at the holidays. Galeries Lafayette is always a favorite. They really go all out at the holidays.

    • Billie Frank
      December 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      Thanks! Was so glad to see Paris lit up again- even if it was from afar. I love the Parisian response to hard times. They are fierce. Vive la France!

  2. Janice Chung
    December 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    I LOVE Paris in the winter. Still haven’t been to Bercy Village, but one day…maybe in January. The lights in the winter are truly beautiful and I love reading anything about Paris.
    Janice Chung recently posted..Searching For A Great French Meal In LyonMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      December 27, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

      Lights are up until January 3rd- hope you’re in time to catch them at Bercy Village.

  3. Rebecca
    December 24, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    How lovely to see. I never knew the origin of the nickname for Paris-and it’s lovely to see the capital lit at Christmas. I haven’t visited since a school trip! I think it’s time for another visit.
    Thanks for tempting me.
    Rebecca recently posted..Top 10 Posts of 2015My Profile

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