my family of five adults will be in paris for ten days over christmas and new years. we will be renting an apartment on the ile st. louis. i am very interested in what weather to expect. for day trips would car or train be the way to go, or does destination answer that question? would like to go to one upscale restaurant, any suggestions, there are no restrictions. would also like to go to any good/memorable restaurants for lunch and/or dinner. bistro, brasserie, chocolatier, bakery, you name it we're game. any new years recommendations. anything anyone has to offer would be greatly appreciated,
If this is your first visit I would say a day trip is completely unnecessary since there are so many things to see / do in Paris that you will have no trouble filling your schedule with things inside the peripherique.
Also, inspite of all the rhetoric in the USA about the joys of high speed rail, truth is that trains in Europe are very expensive. Price some trips on the SNCF website and you will see what I mean. Car rentails are high as a cat's back in Europe too along with gas that will be in the range of $8 a gallon, and French interstates have toll boths every so often that significantly jack up the cost of car travel. Of course, if there is some destination you are just dying to see maybe the expense does not matter. My point is that central Paris has so many things available with cheap and good and safe public transport that day trips are just not much worth the effort. I have been to Paris more times than I can count and still have a good long list of things I have not gotten around to yet.
Having said all that, Champagne (train takes you to central Reims, might need a car depending on what you want to do upon arrival) is a nice day trip, so is Chartres (train takes you right there) , so is Vaux le Vicomte (need a car), Versailles is OK but will be packed with visitors even in the cold monts, RER takes you right there, Giverny is nice but closed in winter. For more distant destinations you should really weigh how much getting there and back will cut into your vacation time. For instance, you can TGV to Strasbourg in about 3 hours time on the train now but realistically when you consider your time traveling to the train station waiting to board, etc, both ways, you piss away a lot of time, end up beat tired, and such trips end up being more of a burden than fun, just my opinion of course.
DO NOT GO OUT TO EAT ON NEW YEARS EVE. The restaurants jack up their prices, typically have only set menus, items on the menus tend to be things that can be easily prepared in advance to feed the multitudes that pour in. You will leave feeling cheated, believe me. At holiday time in Paris food shops will be filled with all kinds of really good things you can buy to take home for your own celebration, believe me, this is the way to go.
As for one upscale restaurant, pick anything in the Michelin Red Guide with 2 or 3 stars and you will be exceptionally pleased with what you get (just not on New Year's Eve). Be prepared to drop about 300e or more per person for dinner at this level. Lunch will be a much better deal.
Recommendation for favorite chocolaties, bistros, boulangeries, etc are all over this board just search.