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London/Paris for Christmas 2018

We are planning a 10 day family trip for 6 to London England for Christmas 2018. We are looking for affordable housing Options in a central location. Also please give any advice on things not to miss. We would really like to attend afternoon tea and would like recommendations. Lastly, Is it reasonable to try to squeeze in 2 days in Paris? My 4 children range in age from 13-22.

Posted by
357 posts

Since Christmas was just a couple of weeks ago, you can find a lot of recent answers to your questions on the Trip Advisor Paris/London and Fodor's France/UK forums.

Posted by
11500 posts

It's lovely to be in London for Christmas. We spent a week there over Christmas in 2015, but be aware that from noon on the 24th through the 26th it's pretty darn quiet and many sites are closed. In fact, all public transportation (except taxis) shut down on the 25th, even the national railroad.

That said, for the rest of your time you can fill your days chock-a-block and still not get to everything. For the period when London is more-or-less shut down, you can still take lovely walks, see movies, enjoy family time. We spent Christmas Day with an American-style breakfast in the apartment, taking a long morning walk along with tons of Londoners in St. James' Park, a nice Christmas Lunch in mid-afternoon (reservations advised!), then a first run movie in the evening. We must have walked 10 miles that day.

Location of your lodging is crucial, especially for the 24th-26th. Affordable is a relative term. London is very expensive. We crack that nut by having an apartment and preparing at least half of our meals "at home." We also eat in pubs a lot when we do go out, and patronize Pret a Manger restaurants, a healthy-fast-food chain found all over London. We like London Connection for apartments. Have used them 3 times and always had great service.

As to what to see, there is so much you really need to do the research based on your family's interests. Rick Steves' Guide to London is a great starting point. Have your kids each plan something to get them involved.

I would skip Paris. The cost of travel via EuroStar for 6 people is quite high for a couple of days. Better to put that $$ toward your lodging in London.

Posted by
1175 posts

We just spent the two weeks leading up to Christmas this past year and flew home on the 26th. Here's what we did and bought tickets as soon as they came available. The Royal Albert Hall has Christmas spectaculars with orchestras, choirs, seasonal readings by celebrities, afternoon teas, and most are sing-along with audience participation singing carols. One of our all time favorite things to do. St.-Martin-in-the-Fields church, adjacent to Trafalgar Square, also has Christmas programs with audience participation. All of these programs sell out in advance so start watching in October. St. Martin also has the Cafe in the Crypt, with great cafeteria selections including a full English breakfast, all manner of beverages including wine, all at great prices. We enjoyed the various Christmas markets around the city and seasonal food and drinks. Caroling by various groups around the lighted Norway spruce in Trafalgar Square was also a highlight. Mince pies and hot mulled wine were available on site. We took the local #9 bus from Trafalgar Square toward Highsmith that traveled Regent Street, Bond Street, and Piccadilly I think, all festooned with marvelous Christmas lights and displays. There was a huge Christmas market in Hyde Park. We found great meals at the National Gallery also on Trafalgar Square.

You can take the Eurostar to Paris even on a day trip if you take an early train over and a later one back to London. Tickets go on sale 6 months prior to your travel date. Christmas isn't such a big deal in Paris but there are still famous sights to see on a day trip. Be sure and get on www.tripadvisor.com, London forum and Paris forum for more specifics about both cities. Christmas in London last month and in previous years have always been one of our all time favorite experiences.

Posted by
1175 posts

We just spent the two weeks leading up to Christmas this past year and flew home on the 26th. Here's what we did and bought tickets as soon as they came available. The Royal Albert Hall has Christmas spectaculars with orchestras, choirs, seasonal readings by celebrities, afternoon teas, and most are sing-along with audience participation singing carols. One of our all time favorite things to do. St.-Martin-in-the-Fields church, adjacent to Trafalgar Square, also has Christmas programs with audience participation. All of these programs sell out in advance so start watching in October. St. Martin also has the Cafe in the Crypt, with great cafeteria selections including a full English breakfast, all manner of beverages including wine, all at great prices. We enjoyed the various Christmas markets around the city and seasonal food and drinks. Caroling by various groups around the lighted Norway spruce in Trafalgar Square was also a highlight. Mince pies and hot mulled wine were available on site. We took the local #9 bus from Trafalgar Square toward Highsmith that traveled Regent Street, Bond Street, and Piccadilly I think, all festooned with marvelous Christmas lights and displays. There was a huge Christmas market in Hyde Park. We found great meals at the National Gallery also on Trafalgar Square.

You can take the Eurostar to Paris even on a day trip if you take an early train over and a later one back to London. Tickets go on sale 6 months prior to your travel date. Christmas isn't such a big deal in Paris but there are still famous sights to see on a day trip. Be sure and get on www.tripadvisor.com, London forum and Paris forum for more specifics about both cities. Christmas in London last month and in previous years have always been one of our all time favorite experiences.

Posted by
4482 posts

We had a wonderful time in London Christmas 2014. Westminster Abbey has a Christmas Service on both the 23rd and 24th that must be reserved months in advance. The 23rd is better because transportation is still running. We were disappointed that the stores take down their windows prior to the Boxing Day sales. If your kids like Harry Potter, Warner Brothers decorates the dining hall for Christmas and is open on the 24th-go in the morning, again because transportation is still running. Our favorite tea(in place of dinner) is Fortnum and Mason but it is expensive. I'm sure the store will look very festive. If you go to the British Museum, there is a tea place nearby-Tea and Tattle-that we haven't tried and you need reservations.