Chriostmas in Paris or London

My wife and I wit our two kids are thinking about going to Europe over Christmas 2013. Specifically to London and Paris. Are there restaurants open on Christmas day? Other things to look out for as we plan this? My wife sees that the Louvre and Notre Dame and Musey Dorsey seem to be open at that time. Advice welcomed.
Randy Blackmon

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1689 posts

There are some restaurants open on Christmas Day in London - the Time Out website usually puts a list of them up closer to the time. The main thing you need to worry about on Christmas Day is that no public transport of any kind runs in London except for (very, very expensive) taxis, so you need to be aware that you'll be limited to walking distance from your hotel.

Posted by Stephanie
Dallas
34 posts

Hi Randy, we did both cities last year at the same time. Yes-London is really shut down on Christmas Day-no public transportation at all. But we did a lovely walk around Hyde Park. Our Hotel had breakfast and we found another bigger hotel nearby that was serving dinner so it was a nice relaxing day. If I had to do again I would get an apartment so we could of stayed in and cooked something. Our friends were in Paris at that same time and from what they said Paris was more alive. Restaurants were open-though not all, the metro was running, and they went to Midnight mass at Notre Dame-which they said was wonderful. Hope this helps =)

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

We were in London over Christmas, and Paris two weeks earlier. Completely agree with those above about London. I looked at an apartment but found no bargains. Opted for a hotel as a more festive option. The one advantage of an apartment is Christmas dinner. I do not know about Paris on Christmas day. One major difference: London is FAR MORE festive than Paris.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
532 posts

We went over to London a few days before Christmas. We went to the Royal Albert Hall for a marvelous seasonal presentation by the London Symphony and Royal Trumpeteers, complete with bearskin helmets. It was one of the best outings we've ever had, complete with a sing-along for the audience with all the favorite Christmas carols. We went nightly to Trafalgar Square to watch the caroling groups from around the UK singing carols beneath the spectacularly lighted Norway spruce. Christmas markets, hot mulled wine, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, did I mention hot mulled wine, ice skating, Harrod's stunning window displays, Christmas Eve at Westminster Abbey and Christmas Day at St. Paul's cathedral and all that was just part of the wonder of London at Christmas. We booked a Christmas dinner at the Paddington Hilton and stayed nearby. It was one of our best Christmases ever. (The kids each were at their in-laws so we were able to slip away.)

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

You will find some Indian and Chinese restaurants open in London because Christmas is not a religious holiday for them. If you have your eye on one, you should call the day before to make sure they will be open. The reason a couple of them might be closed would be because they anticipate not having any customers on Christmas Day.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4868 posts

I too recommend an apartment, especially with children. It's nice to have a kitchen and the ability to do your own thing food wise if necessary.

Posted by Tod
San Diego, CA, USA
215 posts

We've done the south of France just before and Paris actually during Christmas and while the city is quiet it is not nearly as shut down as we anticipated. The energy in both places was really good. NIce had a whole "Christmas Faire" area set up with booths and a flocked Christmas tree maze for the children. We got roasted chestnuts from a street vendor and wandered through the old town. Since Paris is the shopping capital of France it was decorated and people had clearly come in from the countryside to shop since many of people puzzling over the tourist Paris maps were speaking French. On Rick's recommendation we stayed in the Rue Cler area and the specialty shops were all decorated and the streets had lighted displays over them and it felt very festive. We had prepared to have enough food for Christmas night and put off our outdoor site seeing - like acre Coeur and Luxembourg Gardens - until the day. Put many of the brasseries around the tourist sights were open and we didn't have trouble with anything we wanted being closed. Notre Dame is done up for Christmas and had services and choral events during the day. We walked by but it looked very busy inside and we had been through - seeing the empty manger cradle - earlier in the week. The great brasserie by our hotel was open but very slow when we got back to our hotel, but he said he would be open until at least eight. By the time we came down for dinner it was getting more busy and by the time left the place was packed with happy people. The only downside I found to traveling around the holidays is that French people are also on vacation until the new year. Some of our favorite small restaurants were closed and the famously gregarious hotel owners were out of town so we didn't get to meet them. But all in all it has an added feeling of a special time. =Tod