It doesn’t feel like Christmas at the moment in Paris with the unusually warm weather we’re having, but I still couldn’t resist popping into the Galeries Lafayette to have a look at this year’s tree.
After last year’s upside-down Christmas tree this season they have gone for a gold and glitter extravaganza – a cosmic tree made from meteorites under a shower of stars. It’s always a pleasure to admire the gorgeous glass dome, and impossible not to love Paris when she’s at her glamorous and over the top best for Christmas.
- Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. Metro: Chausée d’Antin Lafayette, Havre Caumartin, Opera, Auber
- Open Mon – Sat 9:30 – 20:00 (21:00 on Thursday)
It’s hard to resist a view of the beautiful rooftops of Paris. I recently discovered perhaps my new favourite place to enjoy the sunshine and some amazing views of the city, complete with gold domes galore. On the top of the Printemps department store, there is a small café with a spectacular roof terrace giving you amazing views right across the city. If you’re not in the mood for eating, you can still go up there and take some great photos.
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more glamourous, and are there around lunchtime, head to the Brasserie Printemps on the 6th floor of the Printemps de la Mode. Set under a magnificent glass dome built in 1923, you can have a delicious lunch here in spectacular surroundings.
Menu and prices
- Printemps Haussmann, 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. metro: Havre Caumartin
The café with the roof terrace is on the top of the Printemps de la Maison, and is called Deli Cieux. The food is ok, not very exciting and a bit overpriced. If you’re looking to eat, lunch is much better downstairs in the brasserie.
Brasserie Printemps open Monday through Saturday for lunch.
Imagine a tiny shop, filled with jewel coloured cakes, each more beautiful than the last. Then imagine the best of French patisserie, infused with Japanese flavours – green tea, yuzu, wasabi or sesame. To me it’s a match made in heaven.
Sadaharu Aoki has been living and working in Paris for the past 20 years. He has 3 shops (the one at Port Royal is also a tea room) and a stand at Lafayette Gourmet, as well as supplying many of the couture houses during fashion week.
I’m a die hard fan of Pierre Hermé macaroons, but I have to admit that Sadaharu Aoki’s are amazingly delicious too. I love the flavours he uses, particularly the wasabi, earl grey and thé matcha. Slightly firmer than Pierre Hermé’s, the flavours are intense and beautiful.
Drop into one of his shops if you get a chance, they are a visual feast and a wonderful treat for your taste buds!
- Sadaharu Aoki, 35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris / 56 Bd de Port Royal, 75005 Paris 25 rue Pérignon, 75015 Paris / Lafayette Gourmet, Bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Where to find Sadaharu Aoki in Paris
I seem to be spending a lot of time in the covered passages around Paris at the moment, but as the days get shorter and colder they are lovely places to escape the chill. Recently I discovered the Passage des Panoramas, and was lucky enough that it was lunchtime, as it’s packed full with cafés and restaurants and is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat.
Built in 1800, the Passage des Panoramas is the oldest of the covered passages in Paris. Like many of the others it feels like a tiny village hidden within the city. There’s a great choice of restaurants, many of them with tables spilling out into the passageway. It’s lively and full of atmosphere. And the food is pretty good too!
There’s a gluten free restaurant, grocery shop and take away – NoGlu – quite rare in France, that also has a bakery opposite. Of course we couldn’t resist a cake, or two…
There are also several shops to browse. If you’re nearby and it’s around lunch or tea time, drop in for a visit and something to eat, and then pop over to the Passage des Princes just nearby, especially if you have children, as it’s full of toy shops.
- Passage des Panoramas, 11 Boulevard Montmartre / 158 Boulevard Montmartre / 10 rue St Marc / 38 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. metro: Grands Boulevards
Open daily 06:00 – midnight.
The Passage des Princes is a lovely place to visit at this time of the year. Not only is it very beautiful, it is also completely full of toy shops.
Built in 1860, this was the last covered passage built under the Haussmann era. It was destroyed in 1985 but has since been completely rebuilt using the original elements, including a gorgeous 1930’s glass dome.
I went in yesterday and it was full of children. The glass roof lets in the winter light and you can see the beautiful buildings around it through the transparence of the roof. It’s a short walk away from the big department stores, and just round the corner from the Passage des Panoramas, another beautiful passage and a great place for lunch.
- Passage des Princes, 5 boulevard des Italiens / 97 rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris. metro: Grands Boulevards
Even though I don’t go to the Galeries Lafayette very often, (I much prefer the Bon Marché on the Left Bank), I couldn’t resist popping in to have a look at their Christmas tree which is getting quite a lot of attention at the moment. It’s hanging upside down in the spectacular art nouveau glass dome in the centre of the building.
The dome was inaugurated in 1912 and is incredibly beautiful with or without the Christmas tree. The Galeries Lafayette is a luxury department store selling all the major brands and more, and has a gourmet food section on the other side of the boulevard which is also well worth a visit. But be warned, they receive over 100 000 visitors a day!
- Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris. Metro: Chausée d’Antin Lafayette, Trinité, Opera, Auber
- Open Mon – Sat 9:30 – 20:00 (21:00 on Thursday)
Galeries Lafayette website
The Passage du Grand Cerf was built in 1825 and has a beautiful glass roof that is 12 metres high, meaning it is always flooded with light.
Home nowadays to many wonderful artisan boutiques, it’s a lovely place to visit and shop – choose between hand tailored clothes made to measure, knitting supplies, a shop selling only gorgeous socks made in France, hand made jewellery and much more. It also houses an excellent restaurant, le Pas Sage, just at the front entrance.
Add this one to your list if you are doing a walking tour of the covered passages, it’s charming and crammed full with treasures.
- Passage du Grand Cerf, 145 rue St Denis or 8 rue Dussoubs, 75002 Paris. Métro Etienne Marcel
The Opera Garnier, built in 1875, is as spectacular inside as outside.
Even if you’re not a fan of visiting historic buildings, or an opera fan, I still highly recommend you go and look at the ceiling in the main auditorium. Painted by Marc Chagall in 1964, it caused a huge scandal when it was unveiled. Divided into five main colours, it pays homage to the great composers and their works. Surprising in this setting, and incredibly beautiful, it’s worth a visit just to be able to look at this, even if only for a few minutes.
I would happily visit again and again just to enjoy the beauty of this amazing work of art in such an incredible setting.
Open daily from 10:00 to 16:30. Check that they are not rehearsing, in which case you won’t be able to go into the auditorium. Tickets cost 10€.
- Palais Garnier, 75009 Paris. Metro: Opera