Saturday, December 12, 2009


It's my first Christmas in Paris. Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire...Okay, maybe not an open fire. More like chestnuts roasting on a silver aluminum platter resting over hot coals atop a metal garbage can, but who cares? The chestnuts are still warm and roasted and with much delight, their
wonderful scent wafts to my nose. Plus, they certainly are everywhere—especially at the metro entrances. Nat King Cole would be thrilled.

Paris is not just about the ubiquitous holiday foods floating around town. This wouldn't be a complete article, if we didn't discuss the lights, lights and even more lights. It's no wonder they call this place, The City of Light.  Admittedly, if you happen to find yourself in the primarily Muslim area of the 10th arrondissement, you are not likely to find too much going on in the way of holiday lighting, but walk down the Champs-Elysees during this time of year and you will get a big dose of Christmas. Every tree aligning the street has streams of blueish-white lights running down the branches. Many of the shops have lights outside on the buildings, as well. I was trying to determine if I liked it or if it was too gauche. I decided to lean on the side of liking it. If they put up just one more light, however, it would look like Las Vegas.

While in the U.S., avid light stringers align doors, windows and rooftops with flickering lights. Here in Paris, strands of lights are hung either vertically or in lace-like designs covering windows and even walls. It's as though banners of strung lights are hanging from the rooftops of both private residences and many public buildings. Check out l'Hotel de Ville (city hall) and le Marie de Paris (the mayor's office of Paris: please note that each arrondissement has their own mayor too, but I am talking about the mayor of all of Paris here). Two words: "simply lovely."

One mustn't forget to visit Notre Dame during the holiday season. It goes without saying that Christmas is their deal, after all. Blue ornaments highlight the beautifully lit tree in the Plaza. Meander inside the cathedral and you will eventually come upon the creche, which of course, has special significance for those belonging to the Christian faith. This is not like the table top creche you have at home. This one would surely take up one of your small rooms. Unfortunately, when I was there the baby Jesus was missing. Mary, Joseph and all the rest looked adoringly at an empty crib. Where was Jesus? Was he stolen? No, it turns out that in Europe, they don't put the baby Jesus out until December 25th, since that was the date of his birth. So, don't get discouraged if you are seeing loads of creches minus the most important element. He will show up in just a few days!

While at Notre Dame make sure to check out some of their musical programs. The choir of Vespers and the organ concerts bring to life the holiday season all the more. Go to Notre Dame for more details.

Keep in mind that even though you are cold from the winter blast during the month of December, bundle up and take a walk in town anyway.  Allow yourself to get lost and see what you find. Various streets have themed holiday lighting and decor. Frankly, there is plenty to see and who knows, maybe you will run into a caroler or two.

Thank you for reading and Joyeux Noel!