Christmas In Paris

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Joyeux Noel from Paris

Christmas Eve in Paris is busy and festive.

Rue de Rivoli and the department stores are heaving with people, wrapped up against the winter’s cold and rushing about doing last minute shopping for presents and food.

Tourists wander around in awe, snapping up photos of window displays and Christmas lights and revellers pack the cafés clinking glasses of champagne with friends and family, enjoying the festive season.

Concerned that I might miss the opportunity to view the famous Christmas windows at Galeries Lafayette department store before they dismantled them for the January sales, I decided it fitting and somewhat stupid that I spend Christmas Eve strolling down Boulevard Haussmann and join the multitude of shoppers, tourists and admirers.

Please click on the images for a better view of these excellent window displays

Although you can enter the department store Galeries Lafayette directly from Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette metro station without climbing the stairs to the street, I had no intention to enter except for a quick look at the Christmas tree.  It was the windows that I was here to see.

Surfacing from the metro, I was met with the usual, overwhelming amount of people, pushing and shoving to make their way down the Boulevard Haussmann, stopping to gaze and photograph the windows, smoke cigarettes or buy roasted chestnuts from vendors that are dotted along the street with a fuel cooker, set upon a metal supermarket shopping trolley.

It was chaos but it adds to the excitement.

Each year small platforms are erected in front of the windows to allow children to climb the ramps and get a prime view.

They squeal with laughter,  call out to their parents  ‘regardez’ – to look at what they see appearing before them, as you will hear in this video.

But this was the cutest thing that I saw today.

A TV camera man was about to shoot some footage of these exceptional Christmas windows and asked one of the parents if they minded him filming their child and that it would appear on the news tonight.

All of a sudden, there was an onslaught of parents preening and pushing their cute smiling children forward.

They were directed to peer into the window and then at the camera and unfortunately I missed filming the huge round of applause given to the kids after they had finished their shoot.

I might have had one or two tears in my eyes as we all laughed, clapped and cheered the kids for their performance.  I felt equally as proud of the cute kids as their parents did.

It was such a sweet, unplanned moment for them and for me.

The windows are always spellbinding, moving and colourful, supported by big brand names but this year was something very special.

Advertising remained but was extremely subtle.

The theme was an all white, Arctic Christmas.  Mechanical polar bears preparing for Christmas but if you look in the cabinet of this particular display, you will see the familiar bottle of Chanel No. 5.

The window below with its grand staircase and more polar bears decorating trees, very subtly advertised Mui Mui shoes but it was not lost on this little girl.

One silver sparkling shoe, rotating at the top of the staircase like Cinderella’s lost shoe had her captivated.  A new Mui Mui fan in the making.

What made this years windows stand out above the previous was Lyon born artist Lorenzo Papace’s medium and that was paper.  Everything you see above was created by using white paper.

The video of the mechanical polar bears and train set, was made from paper!

 

As was the giant Christmas tree that sits under the central, stained glass cupola.  Usually a traditional green tree decorated by a big brand, advertising their wares but this year, it was made entirely of paper, including the ferris wheel and cable cars that accompanied it.

The white Arctic theme carried on through the entire store, including a display of the artist’s models of each window.

And French fashion designer, Christian Lacroix’s limited edition Evian water bottles were to be had for 2.69 euros a bottle!

If a glass of bubbles is more your thing, a Champagne bar has been set up on the rooftop, where you can brave the cold by swaddling up in blankets scattered around the all white deck, sit by a white table lamp and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower or if you prefer to have the plat du jour in a warmer environment, you can dine in a clear plastic igloo.

How stylish is that?

Galeries Lafayette has always been a magical shopping experience for me each year but this all white, paper extravaganza was one of the best that I have seen.

If Galeries Lafayette is trying to be evocative and seduce me with free wi-fi, extraordinary displays and good product – it worked and I entered the danger done.

A frenzy was contained but nonetheless items were purchase and I will deal with my credit card bill later.

Of course nothing simply ends as neatly as that for me in Paris.

I headed to my favourite bar for a festive glass of champagne and dinner.  A fellow regular and avid cufflink collector who I have seen in the bar before but never met finally did and we got chatting.

Just when I thought I was leaving and said my goodbyes to each and everyone, the chef invited me into the kitchen where I watched him cook food into the wee hours and nibble on pan seared scallops.

Paris always throws a few surprises at me each day and todays surprise was a great way to start celebrating Christmas.

That was a white Christmas if I ever saw one, even the food if you don’t count the scallop roe.

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4 Responses to Christmas In Paris

  • Chris

    Glad you had such a lovey time at LaFayette Adèle .. What a clever idea to do the entire Xmas display using paper … So environments friendly too !! Hope you had a great Xmas day too . I’m sure we’ll hear about that soon !! I’ve been a bit behind in reading your posts .. I’ve had internet issues .. Ggrr ..

    • parisadele

      Hi Chris, I am so far behind on blogging. I have been having too much fun but I am determined to catch up, I so missed not being able to blog last year. Watch this space – ha ha. Bonne Année from Paris!

  • Daisy Lackaff

    What a joy to stumble onto your blog. I was searching for info about Senlis and found so much more than anywhere else, and gorgeous photos too! Then I went on to Paris to learn more for our trip next month, and found so much more. Haven’t read everything yet. Have you visited the Hôpital St. Louis in the 11e yet? or discovered the lovely bee hives tucked away in the Luxembourg Gardens? we are always looking for the next surprise.
    Thanks so much for making my day.
    Daisy
    PS I chuckled at your comment on Jan 7,2014 about the sculpted men “lifting their tops.” They are Actually multiple copies of the Michelangelo sculpture of the BOund Slave.

    • parisadele

      Bonjour Daisy
      thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely and kind comment. Merci Beaucoup. Thanks also for the heads up on the Michelangelo statues, ha ha! I haven’t been to Hopital St Louis but I will be sure to go now and yes the bee hives are wonderful in both Luxembourg and Jardin des Plantes. Thanks so much once again. I hope you enjoy Senlis.

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