Christmas is by far one of my most favourite times of the year. Despite the chill and wintery darkness, there is such a warmth in the air, what with all the fairy lights, festive songs and carols, and delicious spiced food being enjoyed. And it has to be said, one of the best bits about Christmas is getting to spend time with your family and spoil them with gifts. So show them just how much they mean to you, and treat them to something a little extra special this year. If you happen to be visiting the continent any time soon, there's still plenty of time to get some Christmas shopping in; and if you're not, why not plan a trip over and shop 'til you drop! Take a look at some of my favourite cities for Christmas shopping in Europe for a little inspiration.
Being French, I am probably biased, but for me there is nowhere in the world that compares to Paris. No matter what time of year you visit, the romantic 'City of Lights' will steal your heart, but particularly at Christmas. There is just something about it, aglow with countless strings of lights as people hurry down the cold, crisp streets. And it also just happens that, as one of the world's most respected fashion capitals, the shopping here is first rate. For something truly decadent, in terms of the shopping experience as well as the merchandise, head for the luxurious Galeries Lafayette. This glamorous department store has everything you could possibly want for everyone on your Christmas list, all under one roof. And if you're stuck for stylish ideas, they even host fashion shows in store, which are sure to inspire! If you're in the market for something a little more quirky, though, head to the famous Colette boutique, or simply wander the streets of Le Marais or the Latin Quarter - you're guaranteed to stumble across unique curios for the whole family.
Quadrilatero della Moda, Milan
Slightly further afield, but definitely worth the longer drive, is the beautiful city of Milan. Another of the world's greatest fashion capitals, there is some seriously good shopping to be had in this Italian city. If you're in the market for some luxury goods, then there is nowhere better to indulge than Milan's Quadrilatero della Moda, also known as the Quadrilatero d'Oro. With all the finest names in high-end fashion and accessories, you're sure to find just the thing to spoil that special someone. If you're looking for more artisan or unusual gifts, however, a trawl around the shops of the Brera district is guaranteed to uncover some real gems. From locally crafted, handmade shoes, to weird and wonderful antique artefacts, there will be something unique for everyone. And for a bargain, head to Il Salvagente, Milan's most popular outlet store!
If you're looking for a truly festive shopping experience, you'll be hard pushed to find anywhere better than Vienna in Austria. At any time of the year that you visit, you're sure to have a magical time, but even more so throughout December. Vienna is known for having some of the best markets and specialist boutiques in Europe. During your visit, try to dedicate a couple of hours to simply wander the streets of the Innere Stadt, with charming little lanes and squares lined with shops selling all manner of beautiful gift ideas, from chocolate to fine porcelain. Otherwise, I cannot recommend Vienna's incredible Christmas market highly enough. Browse all the beautiful glass baubles and ornaments, and shop for handmade gifts at the craft stalls, whilst enjoying a warming glass of mulled wine. For more inspiration, why not take a look at Eddie's guide to
the best Christmas markets in Europe
Christmas Market, Vienna
Christmas Shopping with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the vibrant cities and bustling boutiques are a matter of moments away. It takes just 35 minutes to cross the Channel from Folkestone to Calais, where you drive straight of Le Shuttle and hit the road. And with services running up to four times an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it couldn't be more convenient! Just make sure there's enough room in the car for all the presents you're going to buy! Merry Christmas!
Lafayette © Fox Wu
Walking in Milano night #1 © Angelo Amboldi
Christmas market Vienna © Tony Hisgett