The Champs-Elysées gets decked out with little white wooden Christmas chalets. These chalets are what mark the beginning of the holiday season in the city, as their bright and colorful decorative lights, Santa and reindeer statues and snowmen exuding good cheer truly declare that it’s holiday season once again.
The chalets begin on the lower part of the Champs-Elysées near the Place de la Concorde, where the enormous Ferris wheel is always erected at this team of year, offering rides to lovers, friends, families and sightseers.
Paris' Christmas market at Trocadéro — Photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
A walk from the Place de la Concorde up towards the Rond Point Champs-Elysées, approximately where the big namebrand stores begin, will have you walking past these mom-and-pop vendors who are selling everything from warm, spiced red wine (vin chaud) to hats, gloves and scarves to sausages and nougat, the special French candy spun from pure honey.
In years when it has snowed, these little white chalets have transformed the avenue into something of a winter wonderland.
But even when there is no snow on the ground, the kids will be delighted with all there is to see, eat, touch, taste and smell. There are even rides for them to enjoy: a two-story fun slide, a little snowman train for the toddlers and a carousel that is set up this year just at the top, on the Rond Point Champs-Elysées.
Most of the products sold here are regional specialties, like the sausages, candies and spiced ginger cakes. But there are other souvenirs and handmade goods to be found, too, if you spend a bit of time looking and stopping at each chalet. Both sides of the street are lined with these chalets, so a walk up one side and down the other can easily take the better part of an afternoon.
Later in the season, usually around mid-December, another little Christmas village opens up at the Trocadéro. This one is especially fun since the view straight onto the Eiffel Tower from the little plaza below the Trocadéro esplanade is always breathtaking, whatever the season or weather.
In most years, they also add a little skating rink for kids and adults to enjoy. Back in the winters of 2010 and 2012 when it snowed heavily, this little village was truly a winter wonderland, covered in white, and the glistening Eiffel Tower and snow blanketed Champ de Mars in the background.
Here, too, the little chalets sell all kinds of trinkets and souvenir gifts, as well as offering refreshments like hot mulled cider and jelly-filled beignets (donuts).
This Christmas market is much smaller than the one on the Champs-Elysées and it does start later in the season. But it seems to get less of a crowd, too. With the added ice skating rink, it’s a good choice for an afternoon’s outing with the children.
Both of these Christmas markets are sure to make your holiday shopping in Paris both easier and delightful.