The common image of Paris as a stylish haven of designer labels and boutiques may put many people off visiting the French capital over Christmas, for fear of paying premium prices. However, the reality is often very different, with Paris being increasingly recognised as a great place to enjoy cheap and unique Christmas breaks.

The traditional Christmas spirit is still alive and well in France, even in major cities like Paris, and while some department stores have caved in to the commercialisation of the holiday, walking through Parisian shopping centres in December is a markedly different experience than making the same trip in the UK or USA. Garish seasonal promotions are less common than nostalgic festive window displays, making Paris a real winter wonderland for those looking to embrace the yuletide spirit.

Away from the major malls, it's even easier to soak up the festive glow, and you can find an alternative shopping experience when walking through areas such as the Boulevard St Germain. Here, you can stroll through authentic Christmas markets, enjoying roasted chestnuts and finding bargain Christmas gifts in close proximity to the city's major cultural attractions, like the Louvre.

Even visiting Paris' numerous museums and galleries can be an effective way to take care of your Christmas shopping, especially if you're looking for gifts for art or history lovers who may really appreciate some art prints, books or collectable souvenirs from the famous locations. Parisian museums offer more than just an insight into history though, with places like the Fashion Museum being a great place to find stylish and contemporary clothing, fresh from the catwalk.

France is famous for its cuisine too, and as well as enjoying this firsthand at the city's many fine restaurants, you can also take food items home for yourself or your loved ones when shopping for gourmet items at Fauchon. This famous store features everything from prepared foods to spices and vinegars to bring your home cooking to life, as well as being one of the best places to buy chocolate in the city.

Despite its size and global fame, Paris can be a surprisingly peaceful city to spend your Christmas break, even in the main tourist areas. However, visitors hoping to secure rooms over the festive period are always encouraged to arrange their Gare du Nord hotels and accommodation in other popular areas of the city well ahead of their date of travel.

Paul Buchanan writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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