Monday, October 10, 2011

Anticipation (!!!)

Recent items on my mind:
  • Could the Austrian Christmas markets possibly live up to expectations?
  • How rewarding is a Winter Wonderland-style vacation if you are not a ski bunny?
  • What, exactly, does one wear in Paris in December?

That's right, folks... we're spending Christmas in Europe!

We're bursting with excitement about this trip, which is the perfect mix of romance and family and practicality.

  • Romance: Three nights in Paris, just us. Not a piece of cheese or cup of hot chocolate left in my wake.

  • Practicality: Seeing our brother-in-law play hockey professionally, which we have somehow still never done. And not that the clock is ticking on how much longer he'll be playing, but you know... tick tock.

We're thrilled. And the great thing about spending half the trip in Salzburg and Linz with locals is that we can let our hosts be hosts, and focus on planning the Paris portion of the trip. Which leads me to ask the following questions:
  • Have any of you ever visited Paris in winter?
  • Do you have a Paris hotel recommendation?
  • What are your must-see's and do's, keeping winter weather in mind?
  • What in the world should I pack? 
  • What are your must-eats? (the fun question!)

Merci! Danke!


PS: Perhaps the promise of future posts labeled "Eurotripping" will guilt me into finishing the recaps of A&A's wedding trip... a year and a half ago. Oops! I really can't believe I still haven't written about my favorite part of Prague.


  1. If you are in Salzburg for any lengthy period of time and love The Sound of Music, you must do the tour :) It will be cold, but I did it in late October and it was lovely, one of my best memories of study abroad :)


  2. Some Paris restaurant resources:

    I just moved to Paris and haven't made it through a winter here yet or been out to eat that much yet. Some of the good meals we have had so far were at La Bricola (Italian, 3rd arrondissement), Breizh Cafe (Breton creperie, 3rd), Cafe Tolo (French Basque, 10th).

  3. I haven't been to an Austrian Christmas market, but if they're anything like the German ones (which I'm guessing they are) they will totally live up to your expectations. Gorgeous lights and decorations everywhere, hot mulled wine and spiced nuts, oh, and a bazillion people everywhere.

  4. How fun! I've only been to Paris in the summer, so no help there. I think all the cafes and bakeries will keep you plenty warm while you wander the streets... which seems a vital part of any trip to Paris.

  5. So jealous! What a wonderful way to spend the holidays!

    You may have read this on my blog already, but a wine class at O Chateau would be at the very top of my list of suggestions. You learn about french wines, in English, with sommeliers that are knowledgeable, funny, and charming.

    Here is their website:

    And the trip advisor reviews:

  6. Paris at Christmas is MAGICAL! I wish I had better hotel and food recs, but I was 20 at the time so I fear taste levels / standards have changed... a LOT! We mostly subsisted on brie and baguettes and gallons of cheap jug wine (actually, now that I type that out, it doesn't sound TOO terrible...).

    Pack a beautiful coat, classic riding boots and slim fitting pants - warm wool layers underneath.

    Skip Versailles and don't even try to go up the Eiffel Tower (enjoy the view + a ridiculously overpriced cafe au lait at one of the many nearby cafes instead). The Musee d'Orsay is one of my favorite museums in the world. And of course, the Louvre (we spent an entire rainy day there - with a big champagne lunch to break it up!).

    Mostly, we just wandered. Despite the cold, it was beautiful just to meander.

    This tip might be sliiiiightly more difficult with T in tow, but if you can find some charming Frenchmen to take you on an impromptu midnight tour of the Sorbonne, I HIGHLY recommend that :)

  7. Oooh you lucky duck! Christmas in Paris and HOCKEY. So much fun. Okay, this tiny little hotel is precious. My mother and I stayed here during my French exchange student's wedding. and our room had a great, deep tub. Walking distance from everything and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Feel free to email me directly if you have more questions!

  8. Yo bro! K. and I really like the not-too-steep Hotel des Academies et des Arts: It does not have large rooms, but I think that's just a standard scourge of Paris, and it has charming common areas, has very helpful staff in our experience, and is right by the Metro and in a cute neighborhood.

    I recommend splashing out on a 2-day museum pass so you can skip lines and feel free to just stop into places for an hour rather than feeling like you have to grind out your money's worth. There's an of-the-Louvre-but-not-in-the-main-Louvre decorative arts museum that we've always really enjoyed, especially the jewelry rooms. Also recommended is a stroll from Cardinal Lemoine metro over to and then down Rue Mouffetard -- specialty cheese vendors and vegetable sellers and stuff, le cute. If it's not prohibitively cold, park-wise I'd say: Luxembourg, Tuileries, Palais Royale, Place des Vosges. And definitely a window-shop through the Marais.

    I actually think winter is a nice time to go -- easy to see lovely riverside sunsets without cutting into happy hour. We've often taken a book of walking tours and just done that in between/in order to walk off meals, and I recommend getting one of those if the idea appeals.

    FOOD. Dinner: Frenchie (I thought it wouldn't live up to the hype but I loved it; reserve early), Chez Rene (really traditional old-school stuff like duck confit, celeri remoulade, lentils, boeuf bourg etc.), Aux Lyonnais (presumably the cuisine of Lyon, especially delicious fish quenelles, good wines by the glass), rustic steakhousey place Robert et Louise is also overexposed to American tourists but genuinely really delicious. Though you will smell like steak smoke afterward. Lunch: If you're going to do a fancy place I actually like to go for lunch; we haven't been to all the heavy-hitters but had a wonderful blowout lunch recently at Arpége. Also recommended for lunch: Les Botanistes. Bakeries: Croissants at Gosselin, near the Louvre. Also for sweets, Christian Constant (particularly the dacquoise at the one near the Jardin de Luxembourg). If you're interested in fancy coffee I like Verlet, also near the Louvre. For tea, any location of Mariages Freres is pretty nice and a good way to warm up if you're not ready to start drankin'. Though MF can get crowded, so don't wait until you're freezing and cranky.

    I am obviously not short of opinions here. I/we are happy to consult if further input is desired. Bonne vacances!

  9. Amanda & I just spent a weekend in Paris recently. We used airBnB to find a nice apartment near the Centre Pompidou in the 4th arrondissement.

  10. I AM SO EXCITED FOR Y'ALL! Apologies for the all caps situation, it was necessary to express my excitement! Paris in winter is a dream of mine. I'll email you my favorite haunts!

  11. Oh, the jealousy. I'm so living vicariously through this.

    I've done Paris in the winter, but it has been a good ten years, so my references are out of date. What Kate recommends fashion & sightseeing-wise sounds good to me; the d'Orsay is also one of my favorite museums anywhere. And if you don't get a Nutella crepe on the street while you're there, I'll have to stop reading your site immediately.

  12. amazing. so jealous. all i can say is Paris was a lot colder than i expected in January. i don't know why i expected warmer weather than DC (maybe because I was thinking of those north Atlantic currents that keep the English Isles relatively mild), but it was, indeed, FREEZING. pack warm clothes!

  13. So exciting!! Have so much fun getting ready. I hope to see plenty of pictures.


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