Saturday, December 29, 2012


BarcelonaPhoto info

Barcelona Travel Guide

Barcelona contains both the authentically historic and the wildly bizarre. From the tree-lined Las Ramblas to the narrow alleys of Barri Gòtic; from the beachside nightclubs to the city's dozens of sacred churches and cathedrals, this city by the sea seems to attract all types: the family, the adventurer, the couple, the backpacker, the culture lover -- and more -- with an almost overwhelming variety of things to do. You could stay for a few ... continue»

Mecca, the Holiest City in Islam

Kaaba in Mecca
Pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba during the Hajj in Mecca
Photo by: Muhammad Mahdi KarimCreative Commons
Mecca, also called Makkah, is a city in Saudi Arab. It is the holiest city in Islam, which is considered to be very sacred to Muslims faith. There is a saying that goes: “anyone who is born a Muslim, must visit Mecca at least once to wash his or her sins”. It is very interesting to know that almost two to three million Hajjis (pilgrimage to Mecca) pay visit to this city every year. Mecca today is facing both good and bad times. Good times because its popularity and bad times because of infrastructure problem.
Mecca is the home of Masjid Al Haram. Initially, it was a place for trading during the 7th century. Also, till 1924, it was governed by the local sheriffs’. After that, it saw a lot of modernization in its size and structure. Today, it is ruled by the local municipality of Mecca with a Mayor who is directly appointed by the Government of Saudi Arabia.
The history of Mecca takes one back to 2000 BC, with some people believing that Abraham built the Kaaba with his son, Ishmael. Over the years, this place had almost three hundred and sixty idols. Mecca today has the biggest Mosque in the world. Everyday, daily prayers are offered in it and another step is being taken by the government to renovate the entire place so that it can accommodate 900000 people at a time.
By Saudi law, non-Muslims are forbidden to enter Mecca, which is strictly enforced by the government.

Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao

Banaue Rice Terraces
Clear and Sharp View of Banaue Rice Terraces
Photo by: jonrawlinsonCreative Commons
The Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippines have been said to be like the 8th wonder of the world. They were carved from the hillside by the tribes people of Ifugao about 2,000-3,000 years ago. The tribes people did this with their bare hands and crude implements, without using machinery to level the steps where they plant their rice, which is what makes this wonder so attractive, aside from the fact that the rice terraces are still used today.
This is considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of mankind, because if each one were connected end to end, then they would reach halfway across the globe or be 10 times as long as the Great Wall of China. It was not until only 13 years ago (1995) that the Banaue Rice Terraces were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The rice terraces are like stepping stones stretching towards the sky, where some of them reach almost 5,000 feet in altitude and cover about 4,000 square miles of land. They are now beginning to show signs that they are eroding, and some of them need maintenance, while the Ifugaos’ new generation is migrating to nearby cities in search of better opportunities.
Even though it is about 8 or 9 hours from Manila in a car, the Banaue rice terraces are known to be one of the most spectacular places to see in the Philippines. They have transformed the Cordillera mountains of barren stone into ledges that are fit to grow rice.
Pictures & Photos

Golden Temple of Amritsar

Golden Temple in India
View of the Golden Temple in India
Photo by: appajiCreative Commons
The Golden Temple in India, which is often called the “Darbar Sahib or Harmandar Sahib” by the Indians, is one of the oldest places of worship for the ‘Sikhs’ and is located in Amritsar, Punjab. It is considered one of the holiest, blessed and sacrosanct places in India. It is a symbol of both beauty and peace. The temple is surrounded by a small man-made lake which has tons and tones of fishes in it. This lake is supposed to have holy water. The temple can be entered from four different sides and thus symbolizes openness, acceptance. This concept is based on the old tents which were open from all four sides, welcoming travelers from all directions.
The Golden Temple has three holy trees. There is also a small Sikh Museum near the Ghanta Ghar in Amritsar which is very rich in information, especially for the first time visitors. The entire top of the temple is made of pure gold and thus adds a lot of pride and beauty to the entire temple.
During the earlier days, this place was a huge lake surrounded by a thin line of forests. It is also said that Buddha journeyed to find out the real meaning of life spent some considerable time in this place. The first guru of the Sikh community called the Guru Nank also used to meditate in this peaceful place and years after he passed away, many of his disciples kept coming back to the site and then it finally became a sacred place. It was during the Fifth Guru, Arjana when the Temple was finally built 1604. It was Guru Arjan who installed the “Guru Granth Sahib” in the temple and appointed the first reader in August 1604. The temples architecture is that of both Hindu and Muslims. On many occasions, it was destroyed by a certain set of community and rebuilt by the Sikhs.

Moscow Kremlin

Moskva River & The Kremlin Castle in Moscow, Russia
Photo by: olpolCreative Commons
Moscow Kremlin is also called the Kremlin and is a castle that is situated at the heart of Moscow. It has four palaces and four cathedrals. The site is the official residence of the president of Russia.
The great Kremlin Palace is one of the biggest castle in the entire Russia. The palace has a very stunning looking combination of yellow and white with a green roof top. The golden color adds a touch of wealth to the entire palace. The palace was made in the year 1837 by King Nicholas I. The palace was initially built in the year 1462 during the rule of Ivan the Terrible. However, it was rebuilt because a lot of damage was done to the place during war times. During the 18th century, the construction came to a halt as the entire Russian capital moved it the north city. It was in 1740’s when an Italian architecture was hired by queen Elizabeth and once again the construction began.
The Palace was built to extend the Russian autocracy. The best architects were hired to perform the splendid job and finally they did come up with a fine piece of art. The dimensions of the palace are massive. The total length of the palace is 125 meters and the width is 47  meters and thus covers a total of 25,000 sq. meters. The whole building has almost 9 churches from the 14th, 15th and 16th century and has more than 700 rooms in it. The west side of the palace was for the Royal family. Just like many other palaces, this one is also off limits to public viewing.

Brazilian Carnival in Rio

Dancer From Brazil Carnival
Isabel, a dancer from the Brazilian Carnival in Rio, Brazil
Photo by: sfmission.comCreative Commons
The Brazilian Carnival in Rio, Brazil is an annual festival that takes place four days before Ash Wednesday, which is described as the beginning of the 40 days fast, called lent. During the days of fasting, some Roman Catholics and Christians do not consume meat. The reason of the carnival is to bid farewell to some pleasures of the flesh and it is dedicated to Christ’s death.
The carnival in Brazil is a little different from its counterparts in Europe because it has a mixture of the Europe and African fundamentals. So much so that even the music, rhythm, and costume, changes a bit from one region of Brazil to the other. A fine example to quote the differences is seen in the southeast part of the cities, where the parade of the carnival is usually led by the Samba schools and only Samba school affiliates’ participate in it whereas in smaller towns, there is no public to view the carnival and hence, the carnival is organized in clubs. In the North east section of Brazil, even the common public is allowed to dance and take part in the parade and enjoy it to the fullest as they are made to feel a part of the big show. The Carnival is all about having fun, dancing to the catchy rhythm and wearing colorful clothes.
The modern carnival originated in the year 1641, it was actually a mimicry of the European style of having fun. However, over the years, it refrained itself and took inputs from different cultures like Europe, North America and Africa.

Ladakh and Its Mountains

                      Fifty beaches, wild, unspoilt & so near -your perfect weekend break!

Ladakh, also called the Land of the High Passes, is part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in between two world’s greatest mountain ranges, i.e. the Himalayan Ranges and the Karakorum Ranges. The people who stay there are migrants of Indo Aryans and Tibetan civilization.
The Ladakh region is very thinly populated. This place is said to be the young land and only formed a few million years ago. Ladakh has an altitude of 9000 feet at Kargil and 21,170 feet at Saser Kanri. The temperature in winter reaches minus 22 degree Celsius and during summers, can go up to 20 plus. Leh and Ladakh have been said to be the only places where you can have a sun stroke as well as frostbit at the same time.
Water in such places is always scarce because the place hardly receives any rain. Ladakh was once covered by a Lake. The main source of water here is the melted water from the snow which is carried down by smaller streams and thus helps in irrigation. The farmers usually pray that the rains should not destroy their crops and the sun should melt the snow which should be the real source of irrigation. It is interesting and shocking to know that the place does not receive any water from the rain for almost 300 days in one year.
There are beautiful mountains all over Ladakh and it’s worth visiting if you’re into mountain activities. Some of the adventures that tourists can indulge into are mountain climbing, cycling, Jeep and yak safari, trekking etc. Also, there are a lot of monateries in Ladakh that are worth visiting.

Dead Sea between Israel & Jordan

The Dead Sea is also known as the Sea of Salt. This massive salt lake is spread between Israel and the West Bank to the west and Jordan on the east. The Dead Sea is 1,385 feet below sea level. It is said that the shores of the salt lake are the lowest on earth.
The Dead Sea is 1,240 feet deep, which makes it the deepest hyper saline lake in the world. The total salinity content is 33.7 percent. Because of its high salinity content, fish and vegetation does not thrive, it does not exist at all, thus its name. The Dead sea is eight times saltier than the other oceans and it is 67 kilometer long and 18 kilometer wide. The main tributary of the sea is the Jordan River as it lies in the Jordan Rift Valley.
Visitors from all over the world come to the Dead Sea, especially those who come from the Mediterranean basin. Over thousands of years, visitors have been visiting this grand sea. Historically speaking, the place was a refugee camp for King David. The Dead Sea is also considered to be the first health resort in the world as it supplies a variety of products likes potash for fertilizers and balms. Moreover, the salt from the sea is used to create cosmetic and herbal packets.
The Dead Sea is not polluted and experiences sunny skies and dry air all year round. The place has become famous for its therapeutic qualities. Some of them are the Climatotherapy, Heliotherapy (which is harnessing the positive biological effects of the suns radiation) and the Thalassotherapy (which mean bathing in the sea water.)

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is situated in Sydney, Australia. The opera house was made a part of the UNESCO, World Heritage Site in 2007 and is said to be the world’s most distinct 20th century buildings. It is also considered one of the most famous performing art centers in the world. The Sydney Opera House was built by an architect Jorn Utzon and also received the Pritzker prize in the year 2003. The synopsis of the quotation that was written on it said that the opera house is one of the masterpieces designed by this architect and will be considered the icon of the 20th century not only for this city but also for the country & continent of Australia.
The Sydney Opera House is located on the Sydney Harbor, which is very close to the Sydney Bridge. The opera house serves as a venue for art performing center rather than just the opera theater. To name a few, it became a major presenting venue for Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony. It is maintained and administered by the Sydney Opera House Trust.
Sydney Opera House Interior
The interior of Concert Hall, which is the home of Sydney Symphony with 2,679 seats
Photo by: Jason7825Creative Commons
The opera house has a concert hall with a seating capacity of 2,679 seats, the Opera Theater with a seating capacity of 1507 seats, a drama theater that can accommodate 544 seats, a play house, a studio, Utzon Room and a Forecourt. The opera house covers a total are of 4.5 acres. It is 605 feet long, 388 feet wide and is made up of concrete frame, precast and ribbed roof. Its construction got completed in the year 1973.
Day Shot of Sydney Opera House
View of Sydney Opera House during the Day
Photo by: Corey LeopoldCreative Commons
Dark Night at Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House very dark at night
Photo by: Corey LeopoldCreative Commons
Syndey Opera House Panorama
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House at Night – Panorama View

Potala Palace at Lhasa

The Potala palace at Lhasa was built by King Songtsen Gampo during the seventh century. It is located on the Red hill of Lhasa, Tibet. It was struck by lightning and war that led to its destruction. However, the fifth Dalai Lama in 1645 rebuilt the palace again. And since then, it became the political center of Tibet. The Potala Palace has 2 palaces in it, the Red and the White Palace. The red one signifies religion and the white one signifies ad ministerial building. This place is known for its complex constructions, huge buildings and the peaceful atmosphere and not to forget, its artwork.
Once you enter the palace from the east. It takes you to the main courtyard where the Dalai Lama used to watch the Tibetan Opera. The White Palace was called the Winter Palace and the white color signified peace, calmness and togetherness. The largest hall in the White Palace is on the fourth floor, the living quarters and the offices are on the fifth floor. The Potala Palace has a beautiful Balcony that faces the Lhasa.
The Red Palace exists in the middle of the Potala Palace and after the fifth Dalai Lama died, it was painted in red color that signifying power and dignity. The walls of the Red Palace have many Buddhists stories written all over. It has three chapels, the North which is dedicated to the Dali lama, Buddha and his medicines. The East chapel is dedicated to the Indian monk who introduced Buddhism in Tibet. The west chapel is said to be the most luxurious chapel as it has 3,000 kg of gold and foil with hundreds and thousands of gems and pearls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tourists from colder climes flock to Dubai

Tourists from colder climes flock to Dubai

posted on 26/12/2012
Even as Dubai's denizens flew out over the weekend to make it home for the holidays, a new airline survey reveals that the city recorded a higher influx of tourists, as festive cheer brought planeloads of people over for a sunnier Christmas.
British Airways released findings of a recent survey that states customers are flocking to Dubai this festive season to escape the chilly northern hemisphere winter.
The news comes as the city features in the airline's top five long-haul destinations for Christmas travel.
"Our customers' favourite long-haul destinations from London this festive season are New York, Miami, Cape Town, Hong Kong and Dubai, which shows that, with the exception of New York, people are looking for a warmer way to spend Christmas and New Year,” said Paolo De Renzis, Area Commercial Manager Middle East and Central Asia, in a statement.
More than 1.9 million people are booked to fly with the British carrier this festive season, including almost 30,000 on Christmas Day.
Also, in a recent poll by the airline, more than 2,660 users nominated the overseas destinations they most want to visit in 2013 and Dubai was named in the top five.
Featured alongside Dubai were New York, Australia, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro.
De Renzis, said earlier: "This list shows that while travellers are eager to visit well-established destinations such as Las Vegas and Dubai, they are also looking for something off the beaten path.
"Dubai has long been a destination of choice for Europeans looking for sun, sand and shopping, while at the same time, Dubai residents are looking for new cities and countries to discover,” he said. – Emirates 24|7

UAE top destination for European expats

posted on 25/12/2012
The UAE is one of the top destinations for European expatriates looking for new opportunities and an improved quality of life, according to the latest study.
With average unemployment across the Eurozone countries at record levels (11.6 per cent in September 2012, according to Eurostat), expatriates are increasingly looking to build a new life abroad. Senior executives at Damac Properties, the Middle East's largest luxury private developer, says it has experienced a strong upturn in investments from Europe as people look to move their money to a more stable and secure environment.
"As the global financial crisis continues to hang over the Eurozone, we have seen a significant increase in clients from Europe looking to improve their standard of living and benefit from the tax-free incomes on offer in Dubai,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president, Damac Properties. "The crisis, and the high levels of unemployment, has been the catalyst for many people to say ‘enough is enough' and make the move improve their family's way of life.” – Khaleej Times

Ras Al Khaimah hits a record 1m visitor mark

posted on 24/12/2012
The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (Ras Al Khaimah TDA) on Sunday said the total number of visitors to the emirate until end of November 2012 reached 1,001,495.
With this, Ras Al Khaimah achieved its 2012 target of 1 million visitors a month ahead of schedule, thereby generating a revenue boost of almost Dh582.7 million, the tourism authority said in a statement.
Germany took the lead in visitor numbers with more than 283,733 visitors having visited Ras Al Khaimah in 2012 until November, followed by the UAE with 267,616 visitors and Russia with 136,430 visitors. Other source markets included Russia, the UK, Italy, Ukraine and Czech Republic.
Victor Louis, Chief Operating Officer, Ras Al Khaimah TDA, said in a statement that the tourism authority exceeded its target for the second year in row. "In 2011, we welcomed 835,200 visitors exceeding targets and we achieved the 2012 target of welcoming 1 million visitors one month ahead of schedule. It is testimony to Ras Al Khaimah's capability and attractiveness as a tourist and tourism investment destination,” he said.
Meanwhile, hotel occupancy in Ras Al Khaimah in January-November period rested at 2.19 per cent for the beach resorts while total hotel revenue increased to almost Dh582.7 million in the period, marking an increase of 45.7 per cent compared to 2011, according to Ras Al Khaimah TDA.
"Our targets have been set since Ras Al Khaimah TDA was established in May 2011: welcoming 1.2 million visitors by 2013 and increasing the hotel room inventory to 10,000 rooms by 2016. We are working towards achieving these goals, where new attractions, hotels and resorts are scheduled to open. – Gulf News

Revealed: Top 13 destinations for 2013 are Dubai and...

posted on 19/12/2012
Rio de Janeiro, Derry in Northern Ireland and Alicante in Spain also recommended
British Airways has compiled a list of the top 13 destinations to visit in 2013, with Dubai featured as one of the hot spots alongside Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas and Alicante.
Paolo De Renzis, Area Commercial Manager Middle East and Central Asia, said the list for 2013 is a mix of new destinations and popular favourites.
"This list shows that while travellers are eager to visit well-established destinations such as Las Vegas and Dubai, they are also looking for something off the beaten path.
"Dubai has long been a destination of choice for Europeans looking for sun, sand and shopping, while at the same time, Dubai residents are looking for new cities and countries to discover. This list is just a small selection of the 175 destinations in British Airways' extensive network, which can be accessed with easy connections through London Heathrow's Terminal 5.”
Richard Tams, British Airways head of UK & Ireland sales, said: "Undoubtedly consumers will continue to be driven by value-for-money next year, with routes such as Dubai, Cape Town and Bangkok already proving popular. We're also experiencing a real growth in Asia right now and responding to demand with a number of new routes, including Seoul and Sri Lanka.”
Compiled by a panel of experts and using company data, in addition to Dubai, British Airways' top 13 destinations for 2013 include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Derry, Northern Ireland; Las Vegas, USA; San Diego, USA; and Alicante, Spain. – Emirates 24|7

Mina Rashid named world’s leading cruise port

posted on 16/12/2012
Mina Rashid, operated by global marine terminal operator DP World, has beaten the world's top cruise ports to win the prestigious World Travel Awards (WTA) 2012 for the World's Leading Cruise Port for the fifth consecutive year.
The regional cruise hub was voted the world's best from among WTA's 17 regional winners for the year, including top ports such as Miami in Florida, PSA in Singapore, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Shanghai in China.
Mohammad Al Mannaei, director of Mina Rashid, DP World, UAE Region, received the award at WTA's grand final gala ceremony event hosted in New Delhi. The red-carpet event was attended by hundreds of top industry executives, including decision makers in global travel and tourism.
In line with the Dubai Government's efforts to make cruise tourism an economic growth engine, DP World is expanding Mina Rashid's capacity to continue its leading position as the largest cruise centre in the Middle East. DP World's vision is for Mina Rashid to eventually be able to serve as many as seven cruise vessels at one time. – Khaleej Times

Dh1 billion boost to Sharjah tourism

posted on 16/12/2012
Almost Dh1 billion is being spent to develop tourism in eastern and central regions of Sharjah.
The emirate's government announced construction projects aimed at bringing facilities and infrastructure in areas such as Dibba Al Hisn and Kalba up to a level similar to Sharjah City.
The projects include a Dh500 million plan to attract visitors to Dibba with the creation of Al Hisn Island and an eco-tourism project in Kalba. Dh420 million is also being spent building the Khorfakhan Chedi resort.
"The new project in Dibba Al Hisn will be a leisure and tourism development that will be a new unique destination for the area's residents, as well as visitors and tourists," said Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, chief executive of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
"The projects are being developed on the directives of the ruler of Sharjah to developing the Eastern Region.
"The aim is to deliver projects that serve the interests of citizens in these areas, drive economic growth, and attract investments that help create jobs and add economic value to Sharjah city and the emirate in general."
Plans to develop eco-tourism in Kalba will be centred around Kalba Lake, already a popular destination with locals, and will be made up of restaurants, retail outlets, family parks and places to watch wildlife. Mangroves and hafiya tree forests will also be created around Kalba city.
"Engineers and environmental specialists are conducting the necessary studies and research to carry out the project to the highest international environmental standards and develop the project to help protect the area and its various environmental components," said Mr Al Sarkal.
An eco-friendly hotel with more than 300 rooms and chalets will also be built overlooking the Gulf of Oman.
In Khorfakhan, Shurooq is carrying out studies to develop the Khorfakkan Corniche with the aim of adding amenities such as family areas, parks and public utilities.
The Chedi Khorfakkan Resort is due to open in 2015.
Shurooq also has plans to develop a leisure project in the Al Badayer desert, an area in the Central Region known for its impressive sand dunes.
The project will include an integrated tourism complex with restaurants and cafes, an outdoor theatre, camel and horse riding areas and Bedouin camps. – The National 

Paris Christmas Markets

Paris Christmas Markets

 Christmas in Paris
You don’t really need a purpose to visit Paris but the Christmas markets are definitely one good reason to visit during the festive period.  The twinkling lights along the Seine, the elaborately decorated department stores in the Champs-Elysées and shopping areas and the great decorations as well as the iconic sights make Paris a spectacular sight to see during this time of year.
This is a big city and there are several Christmas markets offering gastronomic specialities traditional arts and handicrafts.   The main Christmas markets are:

Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées

Open: From November 21st , 2012 to January 6th 2013
Location: Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde, Paris
Metro: Charles de Gaulle – Étoile
This is the largest Christmas market within Paris’s city limits. The 160 chalet market lines the Champs-Elysées between the Rond-point and Place de la Concorde.

Christmas Market at La Défense

Open: From November 21st to December 29th,
Location: Parvis de la Défense (near the Grand Arche), Paris
Metro/RER: La Défense
With more than 300 stalls in a village of some 10,000m² , this is  the largest and most festive Christmas market in the Paris region – set among the high rise buildings of this major business area – it’s got more of an authentic and eccentric feel to it than most other Christmas markets! You’ll find traditional arts and crafts lots of gorgeous festive decorations and plenty of tempting things to eat and drink.
Christmas in Paris

Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Trocadero

Open: Daily from December 13th 2012 to January 6th 2013
Location: Place de la Trocadero, across from the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Metro: Trocadero
Quite a big market with over 120 stands peddling Christmas goods, an ice-skating rink and “snow villages” with a gian igloo and snowman etc.   Ideal for families – young children will love it. The European Christmas Village ‘Trocadéro on Ice’ will be held at Trocadéro, opposite the Eiffel Tower, taking on the look and feel of a ski resort right in the middle of Paris!
Village open daily from 11am to 8pm.

Christmas Market at Disney Village

Open: November 7th, 2012 to January 8th, 2013. Open during normal park hours.
Location: Disneyland Resort Paris
Every year the traditional wooden chalets pop up at Disneyland Paris, so if you’re planning an outing to Disney World Paris around Christmas, make a point of stopping by the christmas market in the Disney Village to take a stroll and enjoy the characters, lights and buzz.  As you’d expect – Christmas at Disneyland Paris is no ordinary affair. It kicks off in early November and  lasts for 2 months. The whole place has a magical festive air and it won’t be just the children who get over excited by the attractions! It “snows” every day on Main Street USA  where there’s an huge 80 ft Christmas tree! Santa lives at Disneyland Paris during this time and kids can drop their wish list letters off at his post office. Every night there is a tree lighting ceremony and the whole place sparkles (click on the Disney box on the right to see more details and to book).
Christmas in Paris

More Christmas markets in Paris – the smaller ones!

Montparnasse Christmas Market

Open:  December 5th, 2012 to  December 30th, 2012. This market specializes in regional French delicacies and you can enjoy a snack in a festive atmosphere!
Location: Below the Montparnasse Tower Block
Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenüe

Christmas Market and Santa’s Village Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Open: December 6th, 2012 to January 2nd, 2013 .
Location: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Notre-Dame / Quartier Latin
Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Around 30 chalets in a pretty location selling regional foods and seasonal goodies.
There are several more smaller markets. For opening times and details on all Paris Christmas market 

The History of Paris Christmas Markets

The winter holiday season in the city of lights would feel degrees less cheerful and inspired without the traditional Paris Christmas markets that spring up each year. The markets, with their iconic clusters of wood chalets offering custom holiday treats like mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages and specialties from various regions of France, are an essential part of celebrating Christmas in Paris. They also make an ideal outing with kids in Paris. Visit one of Paris's many Christmas markets for a scenic winter stroll, or stock up on traditional foodstuffs or handcrafted toys, clothing and other items for gifts.

The History of Paris Christmas Markets

Christmas markets in Paris and elsewhere in France have their origins in the northern Alsace region, which has belonged to Germany at various junctures in history and therefore draws on German Christmas market traditions stretching to as early as the 14th century. The most famous-- and largest-- marché de noël in France is in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace.

Paris Christmas Markets in 2012-2013

No matter where you're staying during your holiday trip this year, you're bound to find a market nearby. Some of these dates and times are subject to change; check back closer to December for updates.
  • Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
    This is the largest Christmas market within Paris's city limits. The market stretches from the Champs-Elysées roundabout (Metro Champs Elysées-Clémenceau) to the Place de la Concorde (Metro Concorde). Also visit the Maison de l'Alsace at 39 avenue des Champs-Elysees, a temporary boutique offering traditional Alsatian Christmas goodies.
    Open: From November 16th, 2012 through January 6th, 2013
    Location: Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde
    Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau or Concorde

  • Christmas Market at La Défense
    With 350 stands, one of the largest and most festive Christmas markets around-- in the surreal setting of high-rise buildings.
    Open: From November 21st through December 29th, 2012
    Location: Parvis de la Défense (near the Grand Arche)
    Metro/RER: La Défense

  • Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Trocadero
    Featuring over 120 stands peddling Christmas goods, an ice-skating rink and "snow villages". This one's ideal for the kids.
    Open: Daily from December 13th, 2012 to January 6th, 2013
    Location: Place de la Trocadero, across from the Eiffel Tower
    Metro: Trocadero

  • Christmas Market and Santa's Village at Saint-Sulpice
    Open: dates and times to be determined. Check back soon.
    Location: Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris 6th arrondissement
    Metro: Saint-Sulpice

  • Christmas Market and Santa's Village at place Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Open from December 6th, 2012 through January 2nd, 2013 .
    Location: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris 6th arrondissement
    Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés

  • Christmas Market at the Montparnasse Tower
    Open from December 5th, 2012 through December 30th, 2012. This market specializes in regional French delicacies.
    Location: In front of the Gare Montparnasse, facing the tower.
    Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenue

  • Christmas Market at Place de la Nation
    Open daily from early December (precise dates to be announced), 1:00 am to 8:00 pm
    Location: Place de la Nation, 11th arrondissement
    Metro/RER: Nation

  • Christmas Market at Place d'Italie
    Open from November 24th-December 24th, 2012.
    Location: Centre Commercial Italie 2 (Shopping Center), Metro Place d'Italie

  • Christmas Market at the Place des Abbesses
    This market, nestled in the heart of the quaint Montmartre neighborhood, will be open daily starting in December (precise dates to be announced).
    Location: Place des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
    Metro: Abbesses

  • Christmas Market at Gare de l'Est
    Dates and times tbd: check back soon.
    Location: Gare de l'Est, 10th arrondissement
    Metro: Gare de l'Est

  • Christmas Market at Notre Dame Cathedral
    This year a market dedicated to arts, crafts, and fine cuisine is set to spring up on the square outside Notre Dame Cathedral, where a giant Christmas tree generally stands as well each year. Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, warm chalets and even Santa Claus are reportedly set to take the square by storm.
    Open: Daily from December 15th-23rd, 2012.
    Location: Place du Parvis de Notre Dame, Metro/RER St Michel or Cité  

Amazing Australia & New Zealand add-on with Singapore pre-tour stopover

This fabulous tour is carefully planned to make sure that you get to visit all of those must-see sights for which this vast, friendly and lovely land is so famous, with many excursions included. Before the main part of your tour stopover in Singapore and explore narrow streets, quiet squares and the frenzied harbour area. After your holiday in Australia, you will travel to New Zealand for a 14 night stay.

Included excursions

  • City sightseeing in Perth, Alice Springs, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Auckland
  • Sunset and sunrise at Ayers Rock, including Aboriginal Caves
  • Full day excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, including lunch
  • Visit to a sheep station
  • BBQ lunch
  • Farewell dinner on The Colonial Tramcar
  • Waitomo Caves
  • Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch
  • Te Puia Thermal Reserve
  • Tranz-Alpine Express
  • Milford Sound

Also included

  • 37 nights’ accommodation in your own room
  • The services of an experienced Just You Tour Manager
  • Dinner in the Marlborough Province
  • Farewell get-together dinner and drink
  • Maori Concert and Hangi
  • Welcome drink and dinner
  • Hotel porterage
  • Use of an executive airport lounge on day 1
  • Transfers & transportation as detailed