glimpses of the holidays

There is something magical about Paris at the holidays.  There is a chill in the air…never too cold or too unforgiving.  The city recreates itself into a microcosm of lights, music, delicious smells and general cheer.  I find it is like being in a movie from a time gone-by.

It’s officially the end of October and glimpses of the holidays are emerging all over town.  As much as I detest the commercialization of Christmas and the holidays, in general, I find myself welcoming displays this year.  Paris (through my rose colored glasses, of course) never seems as commercial and capitalistic as the United States in the holiday period.

Parisian storefronts are beautifully curated by artists and designers.  It seems to me the displays are geared towards children or at the very least to evoke the imagination of adults.    The whimsy factor is off the charts.

I am less than a month from leaving Paris so each day I am trying to experience the city all over again.  I walk with no place to go…I just walk.  The Christmas cheer is lifting my spirits and easing my separation anxiety.

As I walk through the courtyard and pavilions of the Louvre, vendors are roasting chestnuts.  The smell and the touch of warmth as I pass the open fires stay with me.  I want to bottle that experience.

The small perfumeries, chocolatiers and florists are transitioning to the holidays with their own brand of magic.  Just as Père Noël does not visit until the children are sleeping, so too is the case for these shops.  One day, windows display autumn leaves and pumpkins;  and the next day the full-on whimsy of Christmas is presented.

The statues at Hotel de Ville (City Hall) bearing festive gifts

The major department stores and fashion houses have been working on their holiday displays for at least the last year.  The themes and sets rival New York Broadway productions.  I have enjoyed standing across the street watching cherry-pickers and cranes construct the 2018 holiday displays.  Decorations, lights, magic all coming to life before my eyes.  It’s a performance in itself.

Louis Vuitton’s holiday display coming to life

Creating an additional spectacle of light and music is the Dame de Coeur 2018 at the cathedral Notre Dame.  While this week long show is not specifically holiday related, it certainly inspires awe in its audiences.  The theme this year was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  It was narrated in French with occasional musical interludes including “What Child is This?” – one of my favorite holiday hymns.

Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris – Dame du Coeur light spectacle

I am not certain Paris will be in full holiday mode prior to my November departure, but I hope so.  It’s one more thing I love about this city.  Paris is truly a sensory experience.  It shakes its visitors from the monotony of routine to a world of possibility.


2018-10-28T10:27:51+00:00October 28th, 2018|Categories: Featured, La Ville|Tags: , , |11 Comments


  1. Heather October 28, 2018 at 11:45 am - Reply

    I am glad you are taking it all in. Thank you for sharing stories, pictures and your journey. Hug to you.

    • Gretchen October 28, 2018 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      xoxo – the year now feels like it zoomed by.

  2. Buck rose October 28, 2018 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Beautifully written. I get the impression that this will not be your last visit.

    • Gretchen October 28, 2018 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Dad. I get that impression too 🙂

  3. Penny October 28, 2018 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Savory these last days in Paris and the preholiday splendor!! See you soon…Penny

  4. Tom Cowhey October 28, 2018 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    I have truly enjoyed receiving your email each Sunday morning. Enjoy your time. And, thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience.

    • Gretchen October 29, 2018 at 9:09 am - Reply

      Thank you, Tom. What a nice note! Trying to savor the last few weeks…my best to you. Gretchen

  5. Julie Cohen October 30, 2018 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos and memories! Thanks for sharing all of this…I’ve lived vicariously through you all year.

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 8:57 am - Reply

      My biggest supporter! Thank you Julie! Can’t wait to see you in 2 weeks! xoxo, G

  6. Gina Diamond November 1, 2018 at 6:56 am - Reply

    What wonderful photos, I hope that you get to enjoy more holiday spirit before you go! I have loved reading about your experiences throughout the year and it sounds like it has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I can’t wait to hear what you have planned next.

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Gina, Thank you so much! This has been an incredible experience. I hope all is well you and your family! xoxo, Gretchen

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