Before the holidays are in the distant past, I thought I would share some of the beautiful displays in the city. I have been doing some ‘field work’ this week and Paris, quite literally, lights up for the holidays.
My first time seeing the city dressed in holiday attire was last year, 2017. I had specifically wanted to visit Paris at the end of the year to see the lights, markets and displays in the city. It’s a special time of year.
A coincidental connection with a friend from elementary school made New Year’s Eve very memorable. We joined the masses of global visitors to countdown the new year on the Champs-Élysées. Towards midnight, we made our way closer to the ferris wheel and looked down the Champs-Élysées toward the Arc de Triomphe. A light show and small fireworks display declared the new year.
Traditionally, this area of the city is packed with Christmas markets and the “Big Wheel” – a gigantic ferris wheel, constructed in the fall and stays operational for a few months. This year, 2017 leading into 2018, the mayor of Paris announced changes. The Christmas markets were banned on the Champ-Élysées, although the ferris wheel did make its appearance.
The reason seems to be political. The markets have become less indicative of Parisian culture and more about selling food/goods unrelated to traditional France. Think of these markets like a state or county fair in the United States. It’s the type of annual event which brings out the community to enjoy music, food and festivities. Smaller Christmas markets were dotted throughout alternative locations in the city with cheese, spiced wines, roasted chestnuts, chocolates etc. so it was possible to enjoy treats and the holiday environment.
In addition to the cuisine, festive displays line the streets of the city in each arrondissement. Almost everywhere you turn shops are heralding the season. The major department stores do a beautiful job, very often picking a theme which supported/interpreted by various designers.
Galerie Lafayette is renown for their displays. I think of them as the John Wanamaker’s of Paris. This year’s theme was a playful fairground with a healthy dose of pigeons. Pigeons?
Other areas of the city shined as well, I wish I could capture all of them…
Slowly, the city is getting back to work after all the festivities of the past few weeks. Shops and restaurants which closed for the holiday are reopened. The displays are coming down and Christmas trees are on the street waiting for pick up or populating the recycling areas in local parks. The trees are shredded into chips and used as mulch in the garden beds of the parks. The smell is wonderful!
As post-holiday normalcy resumes in the city, I too, am getting into my new routine. I have moved into my apartment and will soon share a closer look at my home for 2018.