It’s beginning to look a lot like…Noël

December 22nd, 2008 by misty

This weekend Paul and I braved the balmy 11C weather (58F) to celebrate the holidays. Mind that I had the flu and a temperature of 40C which is higher than the water temperature I use to do laundry, so our daytripping was curtailed. The weather is cloudy but warm and I did enjoy the fake snow machine at the Swedish Cultural Center for the sense of winter wonderland.

Paris isn’t overflowing with Christmas shoppers. Strasbourg in Alsace with its world famous Christmas Markets hosts over 2 million tourists for the holiday while Paris probably only has somewhere between 1 million and 34 million. Something like that. You really can’t tell the difference.

Tour Eiffel in EU colors

Tour Eiffel in EU colors

We started with drinks at Au Petit fer à Cheval Friday night, a great old zinc bar in the Marais. I then slept for 36 hours or thereabouts and returned to the world for a whirlwind of Paris’ Christmas Markets. The Left Bank stalls were traditional, with the addition of mint tea with pinenuts (my favorite!) to the vin chaud and biere allemande on offer, and Peruvian flute players. Small wooden sheds decked with holiday lights on a bed of astroturf filled with knickknacks, chocolates, and charcuterie.

The disturbing thing we noticed as we hit two more Christmas markets was that all the stalls at all the markets were exactly the same. Each vendor was part of a chain with few exceptions. At St. Surplice, there were hand-made doggie bags. Which is say, someone took stuffed animal dogs, emptied out their insides and put a zipper and strap on them. Dog purse. I would like to see someone put a little yorkie in one of those.

Poodle shaped purse

Poodle shaped purse

Along the Champs-Elysees from the Ferris Wheel at Concorde to Franklin Roosevelt, stalls upon stalls of Christmas cheer await the giant crowd of tourists pushing slowly on to the even bigger crowds in front of Champs’ megastores. Quality of wares decreased and so we have nothing to bring back to our friends – unless you wanted 20 € plush toy eiffel towers with malevolent smiles, santa hats with red spirals going up instead of an actual cap, incredibly ugly jewelry shaped like snakes, or a Christmas back scratcher. Please tell us now if any of those items were on your list, we still have 2 shopping days to go!

We enjoyed it as much for the silliness of the mercandise as the presentation and showmanship (break-dancing Santa in front of drink stall). The vin chaud here is brilliant and the macarons even more so. That’s the thing about Paris, the best gifts are edible and would not last the shipping. Paul and I will happily eat these for you and think of you fondly while we enjoy ;>

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