We decided to skip Christmas entirely this year and hightail it to Paris. When the news of the gilets jaunes trickled across the pond we got a bit nervous that maybe it wasn’t going to be the perfect escape. But we persevered and we’re so glad we did. Paris was composed, elegant, twinkly, and charming, like a loving elderly aunt. We didn’t have big plans besides going to Lille on Christmas Day for lunch with our cousins and seeing the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Frank Gehry’s fantastical ship moored in the Bois de Bologne. Here’s mainly what we like to do in Paris: Eat. Walk. And eat some more. My last few jaunts were hyper-focused on the new and groovy: upcoming chefs and bistronomy. This trip we went straight-up classic which, if you ask me, is the way to go for the holidays when you’re throwing caution and your waistline to the wind. Our days were centered around a big early lunch with plenty of time to stroll around after. Where we ate: Allard: I wanted to stay in the neighborhood for our first meal as I knew we’d be zonked, so we sashayed off to Allard, now helmed by Alain Ducasse, for poulet, frog’s legs (for my husband who insists on eating anything he can’t get here, of course) and a Baba au Rhum that is NOT to be missed. Truly the best I’ve had. The cozy, floral wallpapered room practically screamed Christmas. A lovely start. www.restaurant-allard.fr/en Chez L’ami Jean: The family favorite. Squeeze yourself into a booth, allow yourself to be entirely charmed by the waiters, and order up some crazy stuff like quail, wild hare, beef shoulder cooked for twelve hours, arriving on fire at the table (those herbs!). The pommes puree are more butter than potato (and they’ll cheerfully spoon out as much as you can possibly eat) and I was happy for a few bits of carrot and parsnip to offset the decadence of the meal. The cheese soup is nuts but worth it, and you simply can’t skip the riz au lait, here more chantilly than rice but kept us warm for the long, cold trek back to our apartment for a much-needed nap. We ALL loved L’ami Jean down to the excitable chef who became increasingly loud as the lunch hour wore on. A favorite in the 7th. (Walkable from Palais de Tokyo and Eiffel Tower). Reservations required. lamijean.fr/ My husband working on his best Parisian look… Rotisserie D’Argent Christmas Eve was a tough chestnut to crack as so little is open. We settled on Rotisserie D’Argent, the less expensive baby sister of the venerable and ancient Tour D’Argent, and a 75 prix fixe menu. A cozy (aren’t they all) room with a private table (i.e. not squeezed up next to our neighbors), tender chicken breasts stuffed with chestnuts, pumpkin and other lovely bits, duck (bien sur) for my husband, truffles and foie gras everywhere. Picture red banquets, mirrors, checked tablecloths, gleaming surfaces. A festive night, a good choice, and I’d go back to check out the regular rotisserie menu. tourdargent.com/en/la-rotisserie-dargent Chez Georges I’ve always wanted to eat at Chez Georges in the 2nd arrondissement, apparently Julia Child’s favorite restaurant. Again, we experienced not one bit of Paris’ infamous snobbery, just delightfully attentive service, and (en fin) a plate of Sole Meuniere swimming in lemon butter, the best salad I had in France (chevre chaud, pears, and crisp greens) and fantastic people watching. I think we had an aging French rock star on one side and perhaps a gigolo (is that term still in rotation??) with a glamorous older French femme on our right. The waiter dramatically decanted some fancy plonk right over her head. All very exciting. 1 Rue du Mail, 75002 Bistrot Paul Bert Bistrot Paul Bert is still one of Paris’ most famous classic bistros and we made it to the 11th for our last lunch. While I do believe we were placed in the American room, our waitress indulged us by NOT responding in English (I always persevere with my French, whether they choose to respond in English or not). My husband’s atypical order of Tartare (instead of the peppered Steak Frites they’re known for) and “corn salad” apparently gave us cred. My daughter’s eggs covered in slivers of black truffle were literally out of this world. For a skinny guy, my husband can chow a rather astonishing amount and even the waitress was surprised when he ordered the enormous Grand Marnier souffle for dessert. But in the end, we were so happy he did. 18 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 +33 (0)126.96.36.199.01 Cafe Breizh We strolled down Montorgueil, Paris’ most famous foodie street, one afternoon and stopped at Cafe Breizh for a crepe and hard cider. On a chilly afternoon, we sat outside under the heat lamps, wrapped in their cozy wool blankets and watched the world go by. Whether you lean sweet (my daughter’s classic sucre) or savory (moi, ham, cheese and egg), the crepes here are meant to be the best in Paris and I can’t disagree. breizhcafe.com/en/ Shopping: While independent boutiques are disappearing rapidly in Paris, the brands now all have their own shops and seemingly in every neighborhood, whether you’re searching for Isabel Marant or Stella Forest. I always check out those two, plus, BA&SH, Mes Demoiselles, Gerard Darel, and Jerome Dreyfuss. A trip is not complete for me unless I’ve ogled every floor at the Bon Marche and can think of no better place to shop for holiday gifts. It was crowded but not crazy on Christmas Eve. We stocked our little apartment kitchen from the Epicerie here, too. My favorite shopping stop by far was the ancient Buly 1803; a museum of an apothecary with intense tiny Parisians hand-calligraphing your gifts. I loved it so much I made a second trip. www.buly1803.com Our AIRBNB apartment: We stayed at a chic little flat on Rue de Vaugirard, right next to the Jardin du Luxembourg. The neighborhood could not have been better and we could walk everywhere easily. Right downstairs is a friendly neighborhood cafe, a lovely Boulangerie for our morning croissants et tartine, a Monop’ and bio-pharmacie. What more could you want? Black, white and spare, with plenty of built-in cabinetry; the two bedrooms, two showers, and one toilette was perfect for the three of us (the toilette isn’t particularly private and one of the showers is typically Francais with water wandering literally everywhere). It had everything we needed including hairdryers, an iron, Nespresso, and lots of fluffy white towels. I didn’t find the bed too comfortable but my family was fine. I’d definitely stay again, but can imagine it would be a bit stuffy in summer (no A/C). www.airbnb.com Photos courtesy of AirBNB Read my previous guide to Paris here.