Skates away! Christmas ice-skating in Paris

Baby it’s cold outside, and if you’re feeling like you want to earn your festive glass of vin chaud or those cinnamon infused Christmas biscuits; what better way than to spend an hour or more on the ice?

The brilliant news about living in Paris is the possibility of ice-skating for next to nothing – paying merely to rent your skates for an hour.

Ice-skating is fun, something you can enjoy alone or with friends and a great way to stay active in this cold weather. So while your morning run may be as appealing as jumping in the ice-cold Seine at this time of year, and the prospect of indoor exercise puts you off because of those smug French gym bunnies who don’t seem to break a sweat or increase in body temperature after 45 minutes pounding the treadmill…heading to some of these beautiful central Paris locations for an outdoor, after-work or weekend endorphin-rush could be a welcome replacement. Get your skates on!

1. The Eiffel Tower (Trocadero)

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Not only do you get La Tour Eiffel standing spectacularly in the background; the rink at Trocadero also features a ‘Santa’s Village’ of log cabins for Christmas treats and last minute gifts.

2. Hotel de Ville

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The gorgeous Hotel de Ville building hosts an outdoor ice-rink each year which remains until early March. Perfectly located for a Paris Sunday, afterwards you can enjoy roaming the artistic haunts of the nearby Marais.

3. Champs-Elysées

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This year the Christmas market on the Champs-Elysees features an outdoor ice-rink, complete with a special section for little ones learning to skate for the first time. Buffered between the Grande Roue de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe at the end of a light-infused, tree-lined avenue, not to mention the countless culinary and craft delights at the market itself, this is a wonderful way to spend a chilly December evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Maison Guerlain – For A Truly Parisian Experience

A few months back, having run out of my favourite perfume of the past year, Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire, I stepped into a local Marionnaud hoping to re-stock on what has become my signature scent.

Mais non! Completely impossible – the sales assistant shook her head. Only selected boutiques can carry Guerlain’s perfume in Paris, she assured me. I found this fascinating, and decided to venture to the flagship store of the brand at 68 Avenue du Champs-Elysees. 

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What I found was a shop in the midst of a total revamp and not, at that time, open to the public. Le 68 – as it is referred to by the brand – was undergoing a rejuvenation, the second since its location to that same address in 1914.

Looking into the history of a brand simultaneously synonymous with Parisian chic and seduction, I learned Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain opened his first shop in 1828 on the Rue de Rivoli, later relocating to Rue de la Paix in 1839, before inaugurating a new store at number 68 on that most famous of tree-lined avenues in the City of Light.

Fusing the celebrated – the building is classified as a historic site – with the contemporary seems to have been the challenge before luxury-boutique architect Peter Marino in renovating La Maison Guerlain; the resulting retail experience is simply incredible.

Features such as the original 1939 Institut de Beaute, gold ribbon and ‘perfume organ’ – a 10-foot chandelier in the shape of what the name suggests – remain. However, a host of idiosyncrasies incorporating the original design attributes whilst creating a the modern boutique have been introduced.

A trip down the marble staircase will take you to the new underground restaurant ‘Le 68’ – no prizes for guessing the inspiration behind this name – which offers cakes and teas in recognition of the power of scent when comes to taste. Each offering has been influenced by the fragrances of Guerlain’s extensive perfume portfolio.

The four floors also consist of The Consultation Room lined with bee-bottles and the various ribbons you can choose to customize your creation with, and The Couture Room – where gloves scented in Mitsouko or La Petite Robe Noire have been designed by glove maker La Maison Fabre. Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser has developed formulas to keep them scented for at least one year.

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The Mezzanine has a somewhat enchanting quality – the mirrored, golden gilt surroundings are almost disorientating from reality – reminiscent of a famed hall in the Chateau Versailles. This is recognised in the name “La Galerie des Glaces”.

For your home to carry the scents of Guerlain via candles will set you back somewhere around 70 euros, the same price range as scents like ‘Eau de Lingerie’ or ‘Eau de Lit’. If you can’t afford it though, just a wander around the sweet-smelling surrounds of La Maison Guerlain is enough to make a girl dream…and/or add to your Christmas wish list.

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like…Christmas in Paris.

Some might chastise me for mentioning the ‘C’ word while it’s still November (according to some very wise sources close to me, it’s bad luck to say it before December 1st), but as far as I’m concerned it’s less than a month to the big day and the excitement and anticipation of being reunited with friends and loved ones, as well as the inevitable gifts, songs, embarrassing jumpers, over-indulgence and excuse for general merriment is just what we need to help get us through the otherwise cold, dark month ahead. IMG_0468 IMG_0470

Such excesses were on beautifully on show in the windows of the nearby Galeries Lafayette and Printemps yesterday. Having moved to this area recently following my first 8 months of life in Paris being located on the Left-bank, I was pleasantly surprised on a mini-exploration of the surrounding Rive Droit by our proximity to Opera and the Grands Magasins of Boulevard Haussmann.

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Chestnuts roasting…on a shopping trolley on the side of the street, Disney princesses being painted onto the pavement, musical moving bears and other animals taking part in a Christmas feasts of ‘Be-our-Guest’ proportions – to stroll past the windows is to bear witness to a magical, at times bizarre but unquestioningly entertaining display of Christmas cheer, that is appealing to all age groups. Indeed, I witnessed Parisiens and tourists alike of every demographic enjoying the show.

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And why not? I don’t know what form my future Christmas’s will take; wearing Prada whilst being draped across the banquet table might cause some raised eyebrows chez moi – but this is a great free way to spend an hour before cozying up on an outdoor heated terrace with a chocolat chaud, perhaps after having spent some time exploring the nearby outdoor market on the Champs-Elysees. 26 days and counting…

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