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Suggestions for Christmas Eve and Christmas

We will be visiting Paris the week of Christmas with our two sophisticated daughters, ages 13 and 9. I have already gotten some great dining ideas from the Chowhound board, but was wondering if there was anything special to do on december 24th and/or 25th. Will restaurants besides in the hotels be open? I was thinking of the ballet at the Opera and dinner-but would love some other recommendations. Merci!

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  1. My advice is to check all restaurants carefully as many will be closed. Christmas is a traditional time to close in France and with Christmas Day on Tuesday many people will start their vacations on Friday 21st (or earlier).

    1. My first thought would be to check north african restaurants, or else jewish restaurants. North african restaurants are all over the place (and, in my opinion, a lot of the couscous places are amazing!). the jewish restaurants tend to be in the marais.

      it's not really a religious thing, it's just that the city kind of empties out during vacations more than an american city.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Loblaw

        Also open restaurants all have special "reveillons" and they usually suck and are expensive.

        1. re: souphie

          Any particular north african or jewish restaurants--or any other names of restaurants that might be decent?

      2. souphie is right the reveillons suck.

        go chinese on christmas or other ethnic restaurants.

        5 Replies
        1. re: jock

          Recommendations for Chinese: Tong Yen rue Jean Mermoz, Passy Mandarin, Diep rue de Ponthieu, Vong rue de la grande truanderie, Tse Yang avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie. North Arfican: not sure if they will be open, but La Table de Fes (6th) and Wally le saharien (rue Rodier 9th). Also my secret Italian: Luna Rosso, in Romainville (far away but worth it -- see http://www.julotlespinceaux.com/2007/...) and less secret Italian: Sormani, rue du General Lanrezac.

          1. re: jock

            somehow I think this OP is not looking to have Chinese food on a visit to Paris. I know I would not!

            Actually, Christmas week is probably the single worst week, foodwise, to be in Paris.

            1. re: ChefJune

              They are really good, you know, those Chinese restaurants. And for Christmas, one of the best available choices, imo.

              1. re: souphie

                They may be fabulous, but they're still Chinese in Paris! I don't often eat Chinese in New York... sure don't want it in Paris! (that's pretty much what you get in New York if you go out on Christmas Day, tho....) everything is closed here, too.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  North African in Paris should be a good option, then! I understand your hesitation about Chinese in Paris... but with the colonial ties, and the major Maghrebian population, it's a great place for couscous, tagines, etc.

                  Do a search on this board for North African, Morroccan, Tunisian, Algerian, etc.
                  My favorites are Le Souk and Au Petit Cahua (Kahua?), both in the 11th near Bastille, although there's also a petit cahua on blvd. st. marcel. There's a fancier couscous place that's really good on St. Germain in the 5th, maybe at the intersection of Cardinal Lemoine? If not, right by that. Worth calling ahead for reservations.

          2. Have you chosen a hotel? If not, go for a hotel with a kitchenette or a self-catering/rental place - there are many in Paris and not a few people are visiting family for the holidays. I have been in Paris a few times at Christmastime but was always invited chez des amis.

            Perhaps if you do classic French other times you might not mind a lovely resto from the Maghreb (whether the owners are Muslim or Jewish), Asian etc. I have seen websites on restos open at Christmas and will try to track them down.

            Or try yourself, googling: Paris restaurants ouvert à Noël

            But the most foodie alternative is to join all the other Parisians (of all religions and backgrounds; I have celebrated "les Fêtes" with quite a few friends of Muslim and Jewish origin - one secular Jewish friend wishing another "Joyeux Noël"...) buying fine foods, wine, sparkly water etc and have a feast in your kitchenette-equipped hotel suite or rental unit (a good idea with kids anyway).

            smoked salmon and things like that are popular. You'll see lots of things that appeal, not only in the fanciest speciality shops but even in good supermarkets. Yum.

            I'm from Montréal so anywhere is warmer than here, but usually Paris is warmer than NYC at Christmastime, though hardly tropical, and you can enjoy strolling around en famille in the evening...

            1. I was in Paris last Christmas also wth my 8 and 12 year old children. On the 24th we ate at le Procope, on the 25th had a nice lunch at Brasserie Gallopin. Neither of these are gastronomic destinations but both do a more than acceptable job with common bistrot foods. Procope is part of the Freres Blanc chain, Gallopin is independent. Both have websites and will probably be open this year too.

              Other than the 24th and 25th we found plenty of places open during the holiday period (were there from 20 Dec - 01 Jan) and ate at several one stars and Bibb Gourmands.

              I suggest you get a Michelin Red Guide. They do a good job of listing what days restaurants are open / closed.

              3 Replies
              1. re: f2dat06

                thanks everyone for all these great ideas. I did rent an apartment and I do not mind Chinese food, btw.

                1. re: holleygolitely

                  Well, if you did rent a place, do also consider eating "in" that day, as that will give you a WONDERFUL excuse to hit the shops and markets! (Yum!!!!)

                  It is easy to search this site - you can search on this board alone but that will only go back one year; you should also search the general site with expressions such as Paris markets, Paris food shops etc. Since you are on holiday, you can take your time (the French families queueing with you are probably still working before the big break) and enjoy the atmosphere.

                  Rentals are really a good idea with a family, or for anyone who likes to visit shops and markets, even if you get mostly prepared stuff.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    Agree with "f2dat06" many restaurants are closed but not all of them - my original post was to simply advise that it is wise to check and be prepared to alter plans especially if you had chosen some of the popular Chowhound favorites.

                    As "lagatta" says you do have a great opportunity to go food shopping, Christmas is quite magical in Paris with the shops beautifully decorated, far less commercial than I have seen elsewhere. There are also lots of Christmas lights in the streets which makes Paris very festive - for example the view up the Champs Elysee from Concorde is great with twinkling white lights in all the trees. Your daughters will love the window displays in the big department stores like Printemps and Le Bon Marche (they are usually very well done and quite funny).

                    Food shopping around Christmas is really good, the shops are full of wonderful Christmas treats, don't miss the food hall at Bon Marche, they have baskets of turkish delight, crystalised fruits, dates, figs etc. The other smaller specialist chocolate and cheese shops will have great Christmas displays and will have some interesting seasonal specials. As you have a rental apartment you are spoiled for choice, so you can grab lots of great food from the stores and feast to your hearts content.

                    I used to live in Paris and the run up to Christmas was one of my favorite times. There are far fewer tourists than usual, people seem very happy, and the place is festive without OTT commercialism. I am certain you will have a good time.

              2. Holly, I started doing a search for "restaurants paris ouvert Noël" (restaurants à Paris ouverts à Noël) and Le Coupe-Chou, which has earned good comments here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/265321 came up:

                http://www.lecoupechou.com/Reveillon-... This is in French - the resto does have an English page but I haven't seen the Christmas Eve stuff there (yet). They say they feature their regular menu but the specially priced menus (table d'hôte) are only available for lunch on the 24th.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lagatta

                  I am not necessarily saying Coup Chou would be a bad place to eat on a regular night. It probably would be OK. The dining room is kind of a warren of several connected cozy rooms, there are several fire places. Looking at their regular menu, they serve reasonably priced fairly standard bistro items. I have only been there on NYE and I say again skip the reveillion.

                  The revillion menu (and the only menu available on NYE) I had there was no way worth the price. The restaurant was completely jam packed so service was lacking and it was obvious the menu was made up of items easily prepared in advance or did not require much cooking.

                  For 150e per person I had an amuse of gourges, a piece of foie gras terrine (nothing special), half of a cold lobster (it was intended to be served cold, this is not slam on the preparation), and pigeon in foie gras sauce. None of the desserts were really appealing so I took the assorted ice creams, caramel buerre sale, vanille, cafe. I can best compare this dinner to the kind of things you get in business class on an airplane, edible but absolutely nothing special.

                  All told with a mid priced wine, water and coffee this dinner ran more than 400e ( for 2 people). During the same trip we also ate at one stars Violon d'Ingres, la Brasiere, les Ormes, Jacques Cagna and Bibb Gourmands la Rotonde, Gallopin and l'Oulette. Each of these were SIGNIFICANTLY better than the revellion menu at Coup Chou and all a fraction of the price.

                  So based on my experience I say skip the reveillion menus. Your money is much better spent going to a good place on a regular (non reveillion) night. You will pay much less, get better food, and most likely better service since the staff will not likley be stretched so thin.

                  1. re: f2dat06

                    f2, according to their website, they offer "regular menu items" on the 24th December, not a special réveillon menu. But true, the overcrowding etc could apply.

                    We still have months to help holley find a likely place, and if not, a réveillon en famille with an assortment of fine foods from Paris shops and markets is not a shabby alternative to put it mildly!

                    1. re: lagatta

                      Just sending this to the top as Xmas is getting closer. ;o)

                2. My partner and I are gearing up to our third Christmas in Paris in a row. We've learned a few things: Christmas Eve is by far the harder meal to find, but with planning and reserving you could be fine. Many more options Christmas Day. Had a fine Christmas Choucroute at Bofinger (you can reserve online)-- bright and cheery and crowded, even if the food wasn't brilliant; had a decent Christmas dinner at Chez Julien in the 4th (mushrooms Bordelaise was divoon). One constant danger: lots of tourists like ourselves out and about. Was very bummed to be seated next to a table of loud (quelle suprise) Americans at Julien. Might try Christmas Eve at the rented flat with Charcuterie and baggette if nothing else emerges in websurfing. Last year ended up in a small boite on Ile St. Louis that literally had a busload of American teenagers from the south, speaking only English, with puzzled looks on their faces whan no-one understood. Probably our worst experience in Paris... like, ever! If I come across any...

                  1. Ours and a friends family will also be in Paris on Christmas Eve and Christmas. We are taking our two daughters on their senior trip. My wife and I had been in Paris on Christmas once before and had a fantastic meal but unfortunatly don't remember the name of the Brasserie we ate in. It was off of St. Germaine. I am continuing to research and if I find anything worth passing on I will. Have a great and blessed Christmas. Your daughters will love it.