Sweet Christmas in Paris & Strasbourg with author Steena Holmes

December 1 – 8, 2024

Meander through the streets of Paris, sipping mulled wine in the markets while enjoying a fairytale Christmas setting with New York Times & USA Today best selling author Steena Holmes.

Steena can’t wait to share her perfect day exploring the streets of Paris with you. In a fairytale setting you’ll sip hot cocoa (or mulled wine) in the market, be dazzled by gorgeous lights and displays – and of course indulge in the best chocolates and macarons ever. In Strasbourg, the magical Christmas capital of France, Steena will take you on a quest for the best hot mulled wine, French onion soup and grilled chestnuts. After a hands-on pastry workshop in Paris you’ll be cooking like a French pastry chef. ‘Tis the season to fill your senses with everything decadent, sweet and Christmassy!

It’s said there’s an author in everyone! How would you like to help Steena plot a new story set in Paris during Christmastime? Every evening over dinner you”ll discuss highlights of the day: places visited, things you saw, special moments and more to be used as scenes for an upcoming book. You will also help her create and name characters within this “Paris themed” story. And as a special treat you will receive a signed copy of a “special” novel to be released during the Sweet tour. You’ll be the very first to read the story!

Sunday December 1 : Bienvenue à Paris
Your sweet tour of Paris begins! From Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport,  you will transfer  to a charming 4-star boutique  hotel  @Maison Favart, where you will have time to freshen up, relax or explore. Steena and Nancy  will be greeting you and the other guests for a welcome cocktail at your hotel followed by dinner at  the lively local french bistrot Le Vaudeville.

Monday December 2 :   Chocolate and markets 

One of Steena’s favorite areas is the Left Bank and it’s not just because that’s where the famous Shakespeare & Co bookstore is located, (Odette’s puff pasty is just around the corner)  or the fact there are so many amazing chocolate shops to explore or quaint streets. You’ll start your day with a croissant or chocolatine @foudepatisserie, one of the first boutiques of its kind in France. Here  you will find  beautiful and delicious  pastries along with other gourmet treats by  famous chefs .   For lunch, sweet and savoury crepes will put you in the mood for more treats  at the picturesque and lively  Tuileries Marché de Noel  market.  After a glass of mulled wine or a cup of café au lait, across the bridge over the Seine we’ll enjoy a most spectacular light show as night falls on the Hotel de Ville market (city hall).  Dinner will be at the  legendary belle époque bistro  @Le petit Riche.

Tuesday December 3 : Strasbourg, the capital of Christmas

We’ll take a morning train through the countryside to a winter wonderland : Strasbourg.  On arrival, there will be free time to stroll  some 300 stalls at the main market offering an amazing choice of sweets by master chocolatiers, gingerbread, mulled wine and hand crafted items  for Xmas gifts – presided over by a giant  Christmas tree!  After lunch you’ll have time off to try more local specialties such as quiche Lorraine, gingerbread, pretzels…    Our guide Vincent will take us on a tour of the Strasbourg cathedral, described as “a skillful combination of monumental size and delicateness” by Victor Hugo.  The spire is considered as a masterpiece of elegance for its ornamental features decorating the facades. At nightfall  the Christmas lights will illuminate the town, just the time for some mulled wine before boarding the train back to Paris. Dinner will be “on the go” with delicacies you will have picked up  from the  Strasbourg market.

Wednesday December 4 : French desserts  & Montmartre 

The day begins by donning our aprons for a hands-on pastry workshop to make delicious desserts in Montmartre.  Then we’ll take our  pastries for lunch at a quaint tavern  in Montmartre where a fondu or raclette will hit the spot.  There will be free time this afternoon to further explore the area which includes a small Christmas market, or visit a favorite museum, or relax at the spa.  On our way to dinner, we’ll pass through the most beautiful passageway of Paris, the Vivienne Gallery for dinner at charming Bistrot Vivienne.

Thursday December 5: Did someone say chocolate and cabaret? 

Today begins with an exploration of the right bank and a guided tour with Vincent of the iconic @Opera Garnier, best known for The Phantom of the Opera. YOu’ll start the day with a best hot chocolate in town at Angelina’s. Before lunch, will be a discovery of the best macarons and the unique chocolate sculptures by Roger chocolatier.   If you have never had a croque monsieur, the lovely wine bar in Place de la Madeleine where we will have lunch has the best!   You can’t leave Paris without admiring the window displays and the giant Christmas tree in the art deco dome of the Galleries Lafayette.  Their gourmet food section is not to be missed for its iconic chocolates by  Ducasse,  and other fine chocolate makers and pastry chefs including Christophe Adam, whose work is entirely devoted to éclairs. Another must-see in Paris is  a genuine French cabaret. After  an early dinner dinner  it will be time to head to the @Le Moulin Rouge  for champagne and showtime!

Friday December 6 : A fairytale Christmas Palace  
Today, we’ll visit fairy tale Christmas palace Chateau Vaux le Vicomte on the outskirts of Paris. The castle, which inspired the design of the Château de Versailles, transforms into a magical palace for the Christmas holidays decked out with garlands, illuminations, decorations, vintage toys  and baubles which can be purchased in the wonderful gift shop.  After lunch at  L’Ecureuil, you’ll discover the secrets of the French art of entertaining in the intimacy of a private salon at the château.  Dinner will be at a sophisticated Macéo  just  a short walk from the hotel.

Saturday December 7: Only the Best 

No best day in Paris is complete without a photo op @Eiffel tower  and @ the Louvre on your way to admire  impressionist Monet’s works in a small jewel of a museum, tucked away in Paris’ posh 16th arrondissement. You’ll have time off to make your last minute purchases and have lunch  at the magical Christmas market just across from Notre Dame cathedral.    Specialties at this market include high-quality arts and crafts , a wide range of clothing, jewelry and fancy gourmet foods.  Back at the hotel, you’ll raise your glass of  bubbles  before heading to a farewell dinner at the elegant @Le Grand Vefour in the courtyard of the Palais Royale.

Sunday December 8:  Farewell 

It’s time to  have that last café au lait and  bid farewell to glittering Paris  bringing home unique stocking stuffers,  sweet memories and new friendships.  Transfers to Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport will be arranged in the morning.

 

Read here why Steena likes travelling with tour participants 

 

Deposit
To secure a place on our tour, we ask that you fill in our reservation form, which indicates that a 30% deposit will be required. The balance will be due 2 months prior to the tour.

Included
All meals indicated in the program with  wine at dinner, gratuities in restaurants, taxes,   tour facilitator & professional tour guide,  return trip train ticket Paris/Strasbourg, transportation by subway  and on coaches for day trips, activities and admission fees as indicated in program, airport transfers on first day and last day of tour in the morning, accommodation in a 4 star  hotel boutique hotel with a pool and wellness area.

Not Included
Round trip airfare to France, tip to tour guide and coach driver,  any personal souvenirs or purchases outside of this tour and not indicated above, additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals, spa services at the hotel and all the sweet treats you pick up along the way, travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age).

Terms and Conditions
If insufficient numbers of participants register for the tour  or in the event of conditions deemed unsafe for our clients, the tour may be cancelled or postponed. While we endeavor to operate all trips as described,  we reserve the right to change the trip itinerary owing to circumstances beyond our control or if more interesting opportunities arise. Any changes will be of similar or superior quality and  content. If Steena is unable to travel, the tour will go ahead as planned with Nancy McGee, Director of Absolutely Southern France.

Cancellation Policy
This is a package group tour and non-refundable, even in case of injury or illness or personal emergency. Cancellation must be notified by email to nancy@absolutelysouthernfrance.com. We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance including medical assistance and cancellation. If you get sick before the trip departs or during it you will need your own medical and trip cancellation insurance to cover any costs incurred.

Payment
We accept Visa, MasterCard, & American Express.

Travel with insurance – and rest assured 

Check out  SquareMouth, insurance specialists that compare coverage, including Covid, from 19 reputable providers. Just select what best suits you (cancellation for any reason, interruption, medical evacuation…) . Prices are reasonable and well worth it for a stress free trip.

Photo Release
You hereby grant Absolutely Southern France permission to use your likeness in a photograph, video or other digital media in any and all of its publications including web-based publications, without payment or other consideration. In addition, you waive the right to inspect or approve the finished product wherein your likeness appears.

Arrival and Departure
You will be welcomed on arrival by author Steena Holmes and Nancy McGee Director of Absolutely Southern France at the meet and greet cocktail followed by dinner. Your Paris airport transfers to the hotel on day of arrival and departure are included. When searching for flights, check out  Skyscanner which compares rates for flights to and from Paris with numerous airlines.

What to Pack
Phone chargers, medication, warm clothing, an umbrella, comfortable walking shoes/sneakers/boots.

Physical Requirements
This tour is “physically active”. The best way to get around Paris and avoid traffic jams is to take the metro which will be the main means of transportation in the city. We will also be travelling in a coach for the day trip to Vaux le Vicomte chateau and to the Marmottan Monet museum, and on a train to Strasbourg.  You may be on your feet, walking and standing, on uneven sidewalks,  going up and down stairs in the metro, for a few hours, indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. If you need help climbing onto a tour bus or if you are winded after walking 50 feet, Steena and Nancy will have other trips for you to join.

Weather
We expect average  temperatures of max 8°C (47°F) and min 4°C (39°F).

Additional Services
Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France is happy to assist with roommate matching in twin occupancy as well as pre- and post-tour travel planning.

Read here what Steena has to say about travelling with tour participants 

 

CONTACT US

To reserve your spot or request additional information,  please fill out the form below. Nancy will then contact you to discuss the tour details and arrange your booking.

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Tour Details

Dates: December 1 -8, 2024
Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
Cost: 5550€ single / 4950 € twin occupancy
Participants: 12

Tour HIGHLIGHTS

  • Travel with New York Times & USA Today best selling author Steena Holmes on her special Christmas trip to Paris and Strasbourg
  • Learn how to host a French dinner party  in the dining hall of a Chateau with champagne and macarons bien sur !
  • Join a quest for the best mulled wine, French onion soup, crepes and grilled chestnuts at  three Christmas markets in Paris
  • Take a day trip to the French capital of Christmas markets : Strasbourg
  • Take part in a hands-on cooking workshop to make delicious desserts in Montmartre
  • Gaze at the festive Galleries Lafayette window display and their giant Christmas tree
  • Capture images of the Eiffel tower and its Christmas village
  • Watch dazzling performances at the Moulin Rouge cabaret
  • Meander through the cobblestone streets of Paris while tasting the most delicious chocolates, macarons and hot cocoa.

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