There is no time of the year when the City of Lights more perfectly lives up to its nickname than during the Christmas season. Like most other major cities of Europe, Paris is wrapped up for the holidays in a dizzying array of lights and decorations. However, few other places in Europe, or elsewhere for that matter, can match Paris for the shear scale and exuberance of its Christmas decoration efforts, particularly along the city’s main street, the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.
The Champs-Elysees, Europe’s premier showpiece thoroughfare, pulls out all the stops for Christmas. The most famous feature of this storied avenue’s decorations are the illuminated trees which run its entire length from the Place Charles de Gaulle to the Place de la Concorde. They are so well known that they have become Paris’ iconic Christmas photo destination, usually featuring a floodlit Arc de Triomphe or Place de la Concorde in the distance.
The Champs-Elysees is lined with some of the most beautiful buildings and storefronts in France, and many of these are decorated to the hilt at Christmas. It can be argued that Paris has the best Christmas window-shopping in Europe, and is second in the world perhaps only to Fifth Avenue in New York City in this regard. At the eastern end of the Avenue, the Place de la Concorde hosts the city’s annual Christmas Market, featuring an enormous illuminated ferris wheel, which serves as a magnificent punctuation for the two kilometer lane of trees.
The Avenue des Champs-Elysees runs roughly east-west from the center to the west side of the city on the north side of the Seine River. The illuminated trees and the decorated storefronts are usually up from the beginning of Advent to the end of Epiphany. Web: www.champselysees-paris.com (official website of the Champs-Elysees Committee)