Good Times / Tourism

Christmas in Paris: Markets and a bit of fluff!

Hello lovely readers!

It’s 8 AM on a Saturday, and I’ve been up for an hour and a half inexplicably, so I thought I’d give you all a little something to read when you’re procrastinating papers or studying for finals or are just bored at work/home today!

A "Chalet" at the Champs Elysées Christmas market.

A “Chalet” at the Champs Elysées Christmas market.

The holiday season has been well underway in Paris now for a good month and a half–there being no Thanksgiving in France, there’s no reason to hold back once November rolls around. Lights are strung across the broad (and tiny!) avenues, shops put out decorations, the guardian of my building has decorated the doors, even my Crossfit gym has a little tree all dressed up! It’s been lovely.

Decorations at the Christmas market on Champs Elysées.

Decorations at the Christmas market on Champs Elysées.

The most Christmas-y places in town, however, are to be found in the Christmas Markets. These markets to the best of my knowledge are a German tradition, but have roots in Strasbourg in France (you know, from when that was German/debated territory) and it has by now spread up to Paris. I have visited two such markets, one plopped right on the Champs Elysées and the other in the La Défense region. Both markets feature food, vin chaud (hot mulled wine), tiny boutiques, and occasionally even some rides.

More decorations! Lights for days!

More decorations! Lights for days!

The market on the Champs Elysées is definitely aimed more at the tourist crowd, although you see plenty of French people there as well strolling around and enjoying the atmosphere. There’s even an ice skating rink and a few carnival activities at this one, all for a pretty penny. Most food goes for a whopping 7 euros (but I have to say, the sausages/hotdogs are pretty darn tasty, so I have admittedly paid those prices) and the vin chaud ranges from about 4-8 depending on your cup size and from whom you purchase. Most booths tend to have a theme–scarves, gloves, and hats, random assortments of Russian goodies, jewelry, etc, and there tend to be many of the same items in different stalls. However, there is one small area of the market sort of set back from the rest that carries more artisanal goods that are really quite lovely. And while I wouldn’t pay the 20 Euros it costs for a scarf there, if you were looking to take home sausage or other French foods, this would be a great place to pick them up. My only real complaints here are just that things are expensive and often quite crowded.

Christmas trees for sale at the La Défense market.

Christmas trees for sale at the La Défense market.

Fresh brioche and doughnuts for sale at the La Défense market...these were actually some of the LEAST tempting foods, if that tells you anything.

Fresh brioche and doughnuts for sale at the La Défense market…these were actually some of the LEAST tempting foods, if that tells you anything.

However, a weekend (or two?) ago I popped in to the Christmas Market at La Défense a few metro stops away with some friends, and we were just delighted by what we found there. Although there is more of the same in terms of objects being sold, the restaurant selection is both broader and cheaper and the smells are just AMAZING wafting through the brisk air. We were all struggling to hold onto our purses with the temptation to buy massive amounts of food just dancing in front of us. There are also a few different kinds of trinket stalls and the entire market is a bit more closed in and maze-like, which makes it feel much cozier (and quieter) and we were all big fans.

Cozy pathways gently lit up at the La Défense market.

Cozy pathways gently lit up at the La Défense market.

Little trinkets for sale at the La Défense market...definitely have seen these things in the USA though, so as cute as they are, I passed.

Little trinkets for sale at the La Défense market…definitely have seen these things in the USA though, so as cute as they are, I passed. Very Christmas-y though, don’t you think?

Christmas lights in front of the modern version of the Arc de Triomphe (sorry, don't know the name) at La Défense.

Christmas lights in front of the modern version of the Arc de Triomphe (sorry, don’t know the name) at La Défense.

This was also my first time in the area of La Défense, where I’ve been meaning to go for a while. It is essentially the exact opposite of what one thinks when one thinks of Paris–shiny glass skyscrapers and modern sleek designs on buildings, definitely a major business district. It’s a bit of a cluster all together and is really quite lovely to view at night from the Eiffel Tower when it’s all lit up. I’d been wanting to see what “modern Paris” was like for quite some time, so it was really nice to get over there and away from the trademark white Limestone buildings everywhere you look, as lovely as they are. 

View of the big plaza at La Défense right outside the metro stop-nice and modern for a change!

View of the big plaza at La Défense right outside the metro stop-nice and modern for a change!

And now, here’s a bit of a random list of things that have happened recently to sort of sum it all up:

1) I sorted out a possible immigration problem (hadn’t been set up for a medical appointment which gets me a stamp which validates my Visa after 3 months) so I can now go home for Christmas knowing that I can, in fact, re-enter the country.

2) Geordie Shore. It is the British version of Jersey Shore, filmed in the region/a couple of cities away from where one of my good friends here is from. He decided to show me his people (he would be furious with me for describing them as such) and so we had a FABULOUS time watching it yesterday. I’d NEVER watch Jersey Shore, but for some reason when you put an accent and some hilarious new vocabulary on it I’m all in. LET’S GO PULL SOME BIRDS LADS.

3) The Paris Half Marathon: I’m thinking about it. Seriously thinking about it. Would I win? Heck no, not even close. But I’d love to do it just to say I did. Honestly the only reason I’m not already signed up is because it’s winter and that would mean training in the cold for the race in March. I hate the cold, guys…but I might just suck it up. 🙂

4) Parisian women don’t have short hair. I finally realized this the other day-at best I’ve seen one or two longish bob cuts. Zero pixies. Always long flowing locks that can be wrapped up neatly in a bun.

5) A week and about 30 minutes from now, I will be on a plane headed back home for Christmas. Can’t wait. ❤

The Christmas atmosphere has done wonders for my attitude.

The Christmas atmosphere has done wonders for my attitude.

Have a wonderful Saturday, mes amis!

-B

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s