Picture-perfect Paris at Passover

Discover a capital choice for a family break in France this Pesach


Eiffel Tower (Photo: Unsplash)

No city stands more ready to host Passover visitors than Paris. The City of Light not only boasts more than 100 synagogues serving a larger Jewish population than any other city in Europe but more than a dozen branches of Chabad.

In fact the centrally located Chabad Champs Elysées has already announced it will organise communal Seder meals on both nights as it has for the past 15 years, and it is expecting other branches across the capital to do the same.

Paris is a great bet for a Pesach visit, given not only its wealth of cultural and family attractions, but also the abundance of locally available kosher provisions (bear in mind festival closing times).

Its array of kosher restaurants should also not be missed — so be sure to extend your stay beyond the chametz-free days.

This year there is also a great new place to stay in the Jewish-owned Hotel Le Grand Mazarin on the most centrally-located edge of the Marais, home to the community for centuries.

The restored 14th century building has gorgeously decorated rooms, the city’s newest and buzziest Israeli restaurant and a secret to enthrall children — a subterranean indoor swimming pool.

The restaurant, designed to showcase Ashkenazi cuisine, is Boubale, one of five Paris restaurants owned by the Machneyuda Group, born 15 years ago in Jerusalem.

None is kosher but one is vegan, and the jewel in the crown, the Michelin-starred Shabour respects dietary restrictions within the scope of its sumptuous tasting menu. For its own part, Boubale promises there will always be matzah available during Passover.

The rue des Rosiers offers long-established community provisioners for those who might wish to rent an apartment and cook or cater their own Seder meals.

Businesses such as Sacha Finkelsztajn, a bright yellow-fronted deli which has delivered “Yiddish gastronomy” since 1946; caterer Florence Kahn, whose Passover speciality is matzah-wrapped pastrami sandwiches, and the exquisitely-tiled Murciano kosher bakery have for years been serving locals who punctuate their Shabbat shopping with lunch at L’As du Fallafel or, more recently, the first branch of Tel Aviv chef Eyal Shani’s Miznon outside Israel — the place for roast cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes with tahini as well as falafel in pitta.

Kosher butchers and suppliers are also located in the residential neighbourhoods of the 16th and 17th near Etoile, where a kosher tea room can also be found, and there are glatt kosher restaurants right in the city centre, too.

Information on places to eat is available from Flora Goldenberg, granddaughter of the eponymous restaurateur whose main restaurant in the Marais became a postwar hangout for Holocaust survivors and former Resistance fighters. 

A nearby memorial commemorating the 2,000 Parisian Jews deported by the Nazis no doubt lists her great-grandfather along with two of my own family members in its famous wall of names.

Paris, where gaiety is always at hand as an antidote to sombre shadows, may be unique in offering as rich a choice of feasts for the eyes as the tastebuds, with hundreds of museums and galleries.

One of the less well-known but sumptuously worthwhile is the Nissim de Camondo townhouse, former home to one of many bankers who prospered, built and lavishly furnished magnificent new mansions in the expanding city after Napoleon emancipated the Jews of Paris.

A two-day museum pass offering free admission to the most important addresses is one of the highlights of the offering from Kirker, a tour operator specialising in cultural destinations.

A concierge is on hand to make reservations where needed, although it was simple to reserve online the compulsory booking slot required by the Museum of Jewish Art and History, which covers some diaspora history as well as documenting the Paris community.

Also accepting the Museum Pass is the unmissable Musée d’Orsay in a wonderful art nouveau former railway station on the Left Bank — Passover visitors will be among the first to catch their new blockbuster show, Inventing Impressionism.

Within walking distance of the Marais (as is the Holocaust memorial), the spectacular Pompidou Centre is the place for great 20th century art including masterpieces by Chagall, Rothko, Frida Kahlo, Sonia Delaunay and other Jewish artists.

The Pompidou will fascinate children, with its colourful industrial architecture and glass-walled escalator offering views of the Paris rooftops and Eiffel Tower from the highest floors.

And the Tour d’Eiffel is, of course, a family-friendly attraction on its own, close enough to the Seine for riverbank strolls.

Children will also enjoy sightseeing boat tours on the bateaux mouches which ply the river; some also offer candlelit dinners by night.

Almost as romantic as eating on the Seine is walking across it on one of the many spectacular bridges; don’t miss the Pont des Arts, the most popular, Pont Neuf, the oldest, and Pont Alexandre III, the most beautiful.

Not always appreciated are the two islands punctuating the centre of the Seine close to the Marais — the Ile de la Cite, home to magnificent Notre Dame, whose repairs are nearing completion, and the less-visited but highly atmospheric Ile Saint-Louis.

While the Metro makes getting around Paris fast and easy, it’s also worth remembering this is a compact city punctuated with parks which is highly walkable — a special delight for those who opt for the lengthening days of April in Paris; no wonder the very mention of it inspired a song and a film!

Kirker Holidays offers three nights at Le Grand Mazarin from £1,989 in April including Eurostar, hotel transfers by private electric vehicle, accommodation with breakfast, a two-day Paris museum pass, sightseeing notes and concierge. Room only from about £420 at, Eurostar London-Paris from £78 return at

Information on kosher restaurants and tours of the city’s Jewish sites can be obtained from Flora Goldenberg, Sedarim can be booked at

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