For the past few years we have gone to Paris in December because the Eurostar makes it so easy to get there from London. As Audrey Hepburn is reputed to have said, Paris is always a good idea. One of my favourite things to do in Paris at Christmas is visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
You wouldn’t think Notre Dame is a particularly tranquil at Christmas would you? It’s a busy working church, the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Paris and a major spot on the tourist trail of Paris. Every year 2 million visitors are expected to visit its Nativity which changes every year. The nativity below is from our Christmas visit to Paris in 2014.
Yet, I find it oddly tranquil (once you get past the lines getting into the Church). The subdued lighting and the vaulted ceilings contribute to a feeling of serenity. There’s only so much lights, baubles and consumerism I can take before I need a breather.
Most of the gaggle of visitors hang out in the same spots. If you head towards the back of the Church or the side chapels, you will find yourself generally alone. I’m not sure why tourists insist on hanging out by the front entrance to the church. There really isn’t anything creepy in the back and you will not run into Quasimodo come down from the tower to stretch his legs.
The children and I always light candles in whichever church we find ourselves to remember our loved ones. One of the downsides of being an expat family is that we have friends and family scattered around the world. We don’t see any of our friends or family for a particularly lengthy time. On the plus side, we don’t have the time to get sick of them either.
Have you ever been to Paris at Christmas? I’d love to hear where you go to escape from the crowds.