Paris-lovers often ask me where to see holiday lights in Paris. This always festively illumined city pulls out the stops during late November and December. Here are some great tips:
The Eiffel Tower: The tower is celebrating 120 years of age and looks better than ever. From now through December 31st, the wizards who illumine the tower are offering a special light show four times each night, at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. You can see the show up close or in any of the zillion distant views of this iconic tower all over Paris.
The Champs Elysées is a veritable wonderland of lights from now through the New Year, with every tree strung with jewel-like lights along this stunning avenue. Parisians join with visitors during the holidays to stroll up and down between Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe, admiring the holiday window displays and reveling in the warm glow of the lights. With the early winter darkness, a stop in Ladurée for a pot of hot chocolate or tea, and a macaron would be a nice addition.
At the eastern end, just off Place de la Concorde, you can climb aboard the "Grande Roue" (Ferris Wheel) until 10:30 p.m. everyday until January 20th, 2010. The view is worth every bit of the 10 E fee for adults, 5 E for children, under 3 free.
The windows at the "Grands Magazins" along Boulevard Haussmann are always a treat with their remarkable design and lighting effects. Printemps sports an exclusive new creation featuring a shower of stars and snowflakes, capped off with red flowers on the facade. At Galeries Lafayette, enjoy the multicolored lights by artist Valerio Festi in the windows and go inside to see the 20-meter high tree decorated with gingerbread, lollipops and candies. You could stop in the splendid Galeries Lafayette food halls if all those goodies are just too tempting.
Finally for a more homespun but not less sophisticated holiday lighting reverie, the city of Paris also encourages neighborhood holiday lighting as part of "Paris Illumine Paris". Check out rue Vielle du Temple in the Marais for example, but over 75 merchants associations all over the city get involved. You may be delightfully surprised.