Christmas markets have just exploded the last years, have you noticed? They’re everywhere! It’s no longer just an ancient German/Central European custom. These days, every city, every town and every little village seem to organise these festive affairs during Advent.
Some Christmas markets last from late November until well into January. Others are brief one weekend affairs. In fact, some are just 4-5 hours on a Saturday, such as the one in one of my favourite seaside villages, the absurdly picturesque Fjällbacka in Sweden. Blink and you’ll miss it. Which is just what I did this year. On a late November day, I checked to see when it was on… only to discover it had been the day before.
Luckily for me, Paris was on the agenda. Every year, Catarina and I, along with her friend Julie and Julie’s mum, Ingunn, take off for a weekend of girly fun somewhere in the world. This year we chose Paris, with segwaying, shopping, Christmas markets’n’all.
Paris does a gorgeous job with their markets, I think. But then, with the City of Lights as a backdrop, they’d be hard pressed to create anything that wasn’t beautiful. A few years ago, I visited the Christmas market at La Défense, a rather unique mix of old traditional market stalls amidst the hyper-modern architecture of Paris’ very contemporary business district.
This year, we focused our attention on the Village de Noël des Champs-Élysées. Beginning right across the street from the Roue de Paris (Paris Wheel) on Place de la Concorde, this Christmas village stretches along both sides of the world’s most famous avenue.
There’s lots to see and do, with a haunted house and a high-tech Père Noël flying across the Parisian night sky. There’s food on offer, of course – though I had expected a greater variety and, dare I say it, finesse. It’s France, after all, the world’s culinary HQ. As for drinks, I was looking forward to a few delicious hand-warming mugs of glühwein. No such luck here. Oh, there was warm wine, but that’s all it was. Warm. Not mulled. Just dull. And flavourless, in a Starbucks coffee sort of way. Consider yourself warned. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to go far to find much better fare.
What you will find plenty of is ambiance. The City of Lights excels at just that: lights. So that’s what I thought I’d share with you today: Paris Christmas lights.
The Christmas village here on Champs-Élysées is here until Monday 4 January. If you’re in the neighbourhood, pop by and have a look around. If not, maybe next year? And for now, sit back and enjoy Paris Christmas lights and colours.
… and these Russian Matryoshka dolls. They remind me of one of my first visits behind the Iron Curtain, a million years ago, to the Soviet Union, a country that no longer exists. Such an adventure for a young ‘un that. I brought lots of these cheerful nesting dolls home for presents.
Just a few weeks after the latest terrorist attack, and with the UN Climate Change Conference in full swing, Paris was probably the safest place on earth last week. After a long, but surprisingly efficient queue for Notre Dame, we entered this nearly 1000-year-old cathedral, and spotted this Christmas scene. So beautiful.
Here at Sophie’s World, we’re about to throw ourselves enthusiastically into a typical Norwegian Jul, beginning just about now. Whether you’re here in wintry Scandinavia, the UK, Canada, the USA, or in summery Australia and New Zealand, or in any of the other 131 countries our readers come from – and whether your December celebrations are called Christmas, Bodhi Day, Pancha Ganapati, Dongzi, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Midwinter, Solstice or Yule…