Paris for the Holidays – 2012

This trip to Paris was a chance to rediscover favorite places with old friends and discover old places with new friends. (see older posts for previous visits)

While we held to our former traditions of spending the first night on Montmartre, Disneyland Paris Christmas and strolling through the Christmas Village down the Champs-Élysées we found some new wonderful places and started new traditions as well. Here are some of our new favorites.

  • Le Marais district – This is the oldest part of the city and hides some wonderful charms both old and new. During the day you can find countless shops ranging from cheese to perfume as well as visit the historical homes of many of Paris’s most famous residents. At night, the entire area comes alive with locals coming and going from many bars and cafes andhas the feel of smaller European cities but with the Paris charm and class. While you are there, don’t forget to try the worlds greatest falafel. It is located in the Jewish section of Le Marais, and while there are three other places that have signs that say “Worlds Best falafel” there is a green building that usually has a line around it that truly does have the worlds best falafel, and for vegetarians it is like striking gold. It was so good we snuck out to eat there again late one night (it was an addiction).
Best Falafel in the world

Best Falafel in the world

  • Paris Greeter – Many Parisians volunteer their time to take visitors around to some of their favorite spots and teach them about Paris. Our “Greeter,” Martine (pronounced Mar-teen, feminine), lived in le Marais district her entire life and knew much of the history and hidden spots that we would have never seen if it was not for her. She showed us facinating homes and told us hilarous stories from old and new French history. She was funny, knowledgeable and a true Parisian, making our exploring much more enjoyable. Best of all, the Paris Greeter program is free; besure you book someone in advance (and please tip generously).
Martine our "Greeter"

Martine our “Greeter”

  • Versailles Gardens – While we have visited the main castle before, this time we took the majority of a day (and you could easily spend days there) exploring the gardens where there are many hidden gardens, statues and monuments and a few smaller castles hiden throughout the miles and miles of the property. While the main summer palace was nice (the grand Trianon) the gardens around the Petite Trainon (Marie Antoinette’s home) were amazing. The french style of the Versailles gardens can easily take your breath away, but surrounding the Petite Trainon is Marie Antoinette’s English style garden with its many ponds, cottages and trails. The gardens can easily sweep you away and loose an entire day there.
Marie Antoinette's Garden

Marie Antoinette’s Garden

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  • Window Displays – The Parisian window displays of some of the large department stores can easily rival those of Barney’s New York. They include a vast area of styles with thousands of moving parts, sparkles and lights; each a masterpiece.

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  • Musée Jacquemart-André – When we first heard of this museum we just figured it was one of the hundreds of other Parisian houses turned museum. While this is true, it was a truly spectacular experience. They did not just use the house and turn it into a museum, they left the house as it was so you can see the splendor that the Parisian elite lived in during the height of the Bourgeoisie wealth. The foyer, staircase and private art collection were absolutely amazing. It is a must se if you like seeing an amazing house built for parties (it was like our head exploded).

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There are thousands of things to do and hundreds of things we might have mentioned, but enjoying Paris is about the individual and there is something there for everyone.

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