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Thursday, 24 December 2009


So Paris is all dressed up for Christmas. Les “Grands Magasins” have gone to town with their window dressing and what decorations they are ! Printemps have taken on a very Russian theme and doesn’t “Russian” always hit the spot when fairytale themes are called on. It must be their literature and both their classical and folk music that so sparked our imagination, even if we only dipped into them and gave up because of the language, even if we only got the juicy parts through films full of theme music, huge trains and snow. The windows of Printemps reminded us of these “warmy, warmy” feelings with sumptuous furs and jewels along with Matrioshka dolls, caviar as big as pearls and a "troika" drawn by horses completely covered in beaded tapestry. It must also be the ballet dancer in me that's coming out. Magic. (See pictures).

Then there are the Christmas markets. The stalls in the Champs Elysees were selling “vin chaud” made with white wine, surprise. It was delicious and I had to ask the seller how it was made. She said the secret ingredient was honey. That was all it took for me to note it for my, soon to be given, seasonal party.

It was fun giving our first “apero dînatoire” in Paris. Lots to do in a typical Paris kitchen, “très petit”, but there was sufficient space for twenty people in the salon as long as they didn’t all want to sit down at the same time.

Then there is the Eiffel Tower which had its own “light-show” for the Christmas season. The best place to view this is from the Trocadéro. So husband and I braved the minus 2 degrees, crossed the river (Seine) and photographed the display from the esplanade of the Palais Trocadéro . It was a cold but crisply dry night and everything sparkled on the Tower and round about too. More magic. The Christmas market stalls on the way up to the Trocadéro looked like a miniature Alpine village and even though they were closed up for the night the surrounding street lights gave a certain atmosphere. Yes Paris is still the City of Light and with the exception of the areas of Champs-Elysées and Montparnasse the light comes from the highlighting the monuments.

French people seem to be the least commercially minded people. I am comparing this to cities I have either lived in or visited where every business opportunity is exploited. Husband and I walk around noticing missed opportunities for making a fortune for someone. But, the French work to live and are not driven to working long hours “at mill”. When they work, they work hard and then clock off. The saying goes “In America the shops are mostly open, in France the shops are mostly shut”. A great philosophy and a healthy outlook on life. Only a nuisance is when the food cupboard is bare on a “sauf” day. Sauf is a handy French word meaning “except”. It is to be found on shops which claim to be open every day till late “except” and there follows several days of closings including lunch hours and early closing days. So be sure to stock up, if living in deepest France or even in the cities.

Bon Voex, Bon Noel, Bon Fin de L’Année, Bon Fete. Yes France is full of bon-bons

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