During December, I snuck in a trip to Paris and London. In Paris, I spoke at prestigious Le Web Paris conference on the social business track and used my free time to enjoy the city in all of its Christmas glory. I left the United States with visions of meeting leaders in tech and social media, Parisian Christmas markets, festive lights, vin chaud (hot mulled wine) and holiday shopping. Here are a few snapshots and stories from the touristy portion of my Paris trip.
Strolling & Scamming
After a delayed arrival, I was determined to make the most of my first full day in Paris. After strolling around the St. Germain area near my hotel, the Hotel le Bellechasse, I walked over to the Place de la Concorde to meet my friend Carolyn. Carolyn now lives in Paris and was kind enough to spend the afternoon playing tourist with me.
Tip: Carolyn told me that there is a pretty common scam in Paris, especially along the Place de la Concorde, where a member of the opposite sex “finds” a wedding ring or band on the ground and tries to give it to you because they cannot wear it. Then, they get in your face and try to hustle you for a reward. I laughed, because I couldn’t believe people would actually “go there,” but someone tried it on us later in the day! Let’s just say we sassed them for even thinking they could get away with that….
The Champs-Elysées Christmas Market
After meeting at the Place de la Concorde, we wandered over to the Champs-Elysées Christmas Market. During the holiday season, white stalls called chalets pop up on this famous Parisian street from vendors of all types. From food and vin chaud, to crafts, scarves, housewares, jewelry, holiday decorations and much more, it’s a fun place to visit and spend a few hours. Let’s just say that we couldn’t resist indulging in a little vin chaud, which really helped to offset the cold weather!
It’s hard to say if the market is better during the day or at night. The market was a fun daytime activity, but I also loved touring the market at night. Just imagine strolling and shopping amid a glittering backdrop from the holiday lights on the trees and the Place de la Concorde Ferris Wheel. If only I was able to capture this view on camera! Here’s a good photo that captures the lights at night.
Requisite Tourist Moment at The Eiffel Tower
After a nice time strolling and shopping, we took a scenic walk over to The Eiffel Tower. We walked over the Pont de la Concorde bridge and along the Seine. During the walk, it was easy to track our progress towards the Eiffel Tower.
I still cannot get over how clear the sky was on this day. It’s rare to have an opportunity to take photos with a cloudless vibrant blue back drop!
Christmas Lights Along Boulevard Haussmann
Later in my trip, I stayed at The Radisson Blu Ambassador Hotel along Boulevard Haussmann in the heart of the Opera district. Many of the Le Web speakers and attendees stayed here because the conference offered free shuttles to and from the venue outside of the hotel. I thought the hotel was perfectly comfortable for a business traveler. We had a very nice large room and bathroom with free Wi-Fi, plus a great gym on the ground floor. The food at the hotel bar was expensive, but very good. However, at just over €300 per night, it wasn’t cheap! Luckily, I had a friend who was also traveling to the conference that I was able to room with and cut down on the costs.
One of the best perks of the hotel was its proximity to the Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps. During the holiday season, both the Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps are decorated with Christmas lights and incredible window displays. Au Printemps had its windows dedicated to Dior, while Galeries Lafayette featured Louis Vuitton. Though very different, both were incredible!
All in all, it was so much fun to be in Paris during December. Paris truly sparkles from its holiday lights and festive window displays. It’s definitely worth braving the cold weather for a visit during this time of year!