Royal Holiday - The Traveller


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Friday, January 3, 2014

Royal Holiday

Royal Holiday

Perhaps Royal Holiday is on to something. Christmas is Paris could be a vacation dream come true. Paris earns its nickname as The City of Light during the holiday season. If you take a trip to France's capital city around Christmas, you will find that everything is illuminated.

All the streets, shop windows, historical monuments in Paris are adorned in lights. The Avenue des Champs-Elysee is has 200 trees highlighted with glittering garland, sparkling beads, and showers of light. The trees change color every hour and half-hour, giving a new perspective on the decorations. The display is mounted near the end of November and stays in place until after the first week in January. A tradition for 26 years, the lights on Champs-Elysee draw more than 600,000 visitors to dazzle them. Other streets that participate in the lighting show include: Place Vendome, Rue Saint Honore, Avenue Montaigne, and Quatier du Haut Monmarte.

Not to be upstaged by the parade of lights, city markets in Paris are brimming with holiday festivity and special foods. The markets in Paris have become so popular the tradition has spread across Europe and has been growing as a family occasion since the 1990s. Vendors set up decorative wooden cabins and allow groups of families to shop and explore regional foods and handmade goods. Some families use the marketplace to shop for food gifts or find unusual decorations for the family Christmas tree.

Of particular note among the marketplaces is the 'Noël Gourmand' trade show that happens from December 20-22 at the Palais Brongniart. France's best artisans showcase upscale food products and regional specialties. Visitors get a taste of salted meat, farmhouse cheeses, foie gras, rich chocolates, oils, wines and more. These delicacies are not just for pleasurable consumption. It is a way families get the best ingredients to make their most memorable Christmas and New Year's meals.

Travelers who are ice skaters get their choice of ponds for skating during the Christmas season. The best thing about the outdoor ice rinks is that they are open until March. The ice rink at the Hotel de Ville in Paris is a double rink on the square just in front of the hotel. Along with wintry decorations, skaters can move to music that plays in open air. A special small rink is set up for small children to keep them safe on the ice.

At the Jours de fêtes au Grand Palais, travelers can enjoy a real French monument. This is an especially exciting stop for families with children. Here they can enjoy the Ferris wheel, carousel ride and confection treats. Children all over Paris look forward to this event. Because the festivities go on into the night, they get to stay up far past their bedtimes. Just in case the little ones still have a lot of energy after attending Jours de fêtes, there is a Disneyland in Paris amusement park.

The nativity scenes in Parisian churches, winter sports, cabarets and temporary bars, and seasonal restaurant menus give a new meaning to the holiday season. In Paris, the Christmas holiday truly becomes a grand festival. Parisians and their visitors from all around the world come together to celebrate the best of food, culture, music and holiday rituals. You can get to it all on a cruise ship.

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