Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve, 2014, on the Champs Élysées

The word was out that there was going to be a countdown on the the main French avenue, Champs Élysées. By 11:00 p.m., the people had come to populate the wide avenue, which had been closed to traffic, to celebrate the coming of the new year, 2015. This was going to be a first. In previous years people gathered here just to hang out and drink their champagne to celebrate the new year with their friends. This year, there was a production to look forward to.

While in New York - at Times Square, the glitter ball is always much awaited; over the Thames River in London and the Sydney Opera House, spectacular firework displays provide  the countdown festivities for the coming new year. This year, Paris has landed to be counted among the best places in the world to celebrate the new year's eve countdown in a grand way.

The trek towards the Arc de Triomphe - to get there as close as possible.
 As soon as the arc disappeared from sight, a round of applause signaled the start of the show.
 Cameras and smartphones were held up high to catch the changing scenes on the arc, which was used as the screen.

A fifteen-minute video show started, showing the highlights of Paris' iconic places and symbols, reflecting the Parisian "art of living." There was also a focus on the environment, as France is scheduled to host the International Climate Change Summit in 2015.
 The pyramid on the Louvre grounds
 Centre Pompidou
Metro map
 When the fireworks came on, there was a cheer from the crowd - 2015 had arrived!
 Fireworks displays, normally, are expected during the annual celebration of Bastille Day. 
 It was time to uncork the champagne bottles - cheers to the new year!
 With this, the countdown was over.
As the strove lights went on, the people began to disperse.

To continue with the new year's day celebration, a parade - with a circus theme - with fanfare bands and floats, will be held at the Champs Élysées, at 2:00 p.m. This will be something, especially, for families to enjoy. The parade will commence from Place de la Concord.
Here's wishing you all a joyeux nouvelle année!

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Eiffel Tower - Holiday Season 2014

No one ever seems to tire of looking at the Eiffel Tower, especially, at night. Come winter, spring, summer, or fall, it is always visited by tourists.
During the holiday season, it even becomes more attractive, as some decorative structures are added to keep in theme with holiday Paris.

 A globe is situated at the center, on the ground level of the 
Eiffel Tower...
...housing a white Christmas scene made from flocked, fresh pine trees, and lit up with an animated light projection.
During daytime hours, the globe reflects the rafters (the tower's legs), looking like a canopy that has been designed to house the greenery.

Across the street, the merry-go-round is joined by another attraction. The Eiffel Tower Christmas Market, which opened yesterday.

 The entrance - welcome to the Eiffel Tower Christmas market.
 Though it is much smaller in scale than the Christmas market at the Champs Élysées, it carries the same food and holiday-gift-idea offerings.

What a treat and convenient stop this is for the tourists who visit the Eiffel Tower - there is somewhere they can go to after, to sit, rest, drink and eat, and even have a place to entertain the young kids in - they are the captive audience for this market.

 This snow globe, right at the entrance, is a perfect for a photo op. Once inside, snow-like particles are blown to create snow, falling and swirling around, as your picture is being taken.

For those still shopping for holiday presents, there are artisanal and manufactured products - leather goods, winter clothing accessories and apparel, trinkets and jewelry, wine dispensers and decanters, decorations and other useful items. But, here is one storefront that attracts a lot of attention.
 Anything you buy from this store can be personalized.
From one of the adept machine-embroiderers who said he had a gift for me, I got my name embroidered.

As for the food, there are as many sweet as there are as many savory food stalls.
 Warm wine, sausages, pomme frites (French fries)
 Crepes, waffles, and beignets (doughnuts)

 There is quite a large selection of warm food to order here.

A sweet treat after a meal

One needs to be mindful, though, of all the processed carbs in the sweets and fast-food items, as well as the food additives that are in some of these delicious-looking foods, that are easily consumed in a place like this.

 For those who want to eat well, there are options for a more restaurant-type set-up...
 There are several floating restaurants to get to through the stairs leading to the Seine, and this is just one of them.

When the Christmas season is over, all will be back to normal. And the Eiffel Tower will always be a place to visit and a sight to behold.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Part II: Les Illuminations de Noël a Paris 2014 (Christmas Illuminations in Paris)

There are more places to go for a walk to see and enjoy the holiday ambiance in the City of Lights, Paris.

Rue Faubourg de St. Honoré used to be the shopping mecca for name brand boutiques until Avenue Montaigne became the chi-chi place to shop for luxury goods. Saint Honoré, as it is popularly called is now a street lined with fashion boutiques - with up-and-coming designers, as well as, the long-established iconic French couturiers, specialty stores, art galleries, salon de thé, and cafés, bistros, and restaurants. 

There are other shops on the side streets that are worth visiting as well, like the Pierre Hermés patisserie on rue Rambeau, and other specialty shops on rue Royale.

This fashionable street is narrow, not like the wide Avenue les Champs Elysées nor Avenue Montaigne. It is still a favorite among tourists for shopping, or simply to window-shop.

On this same street is le Palais de l'Élysées (palace) - the official residence of the president of France; and the residences of the ambassadors to France of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom.

During the holiday season, this street is second to the Champs Élysées in its lighting designs. Almost store after store, the facades and the street are decorated and brightly lit with mini bulbs - with some that twinkle, or running lights that create movement, in curtain, swag and random designs.

Here is what has been put up this season on the Saint Honoré and the side streets.
 On rue Saint Honoré, heading to Place de Madeleine
 Place Vendome, on rue de la Paix - an elegant courtyard 
of high-end jewelry stores, 
and where the Ritz Hotel is located. 

 At the intersection of rue Saint Honoré and rue Royale
 Heading to a side street to go to La Village Royale
Entrance to Le Village Royale,  on Cité Berryer
 Courtyard of La Village Royale, exit/entrance on rue Royale -
with additional fashion and home stores, and restaurants.

This is the view from the steps of Eglise de Madeleine - on rue Royale,  through Place de la Concorde, with the Assemblé Nationale on the opposite side.

More hotels, restaurants and some luxury-good stores have joined in decorating for the holidays.

On Avenue George V
 George V Four Seasons Hotel
 Prince de Galles Hotel
 Bvlgari (Luxury Jewelry store)
 ArijeHaute Joaillerie - Haute Horlogerie 
(high-end jewelry and watches)

Restaurants at the intersection of 
rue Clement Marot and rue Marbeuf
 Zen Garden

Back on the Avenue Champs des Élysées
 Publicis Building - a light show on the facade, 
with ever-changing colors and patterns.

 Fouquet Hotel and Restaurant
 Changing light colors from white, gradually, to red

 Ladurée - fabricant de douce (sweets shop)


 This is the most bling-bling of them all!

Champs Élysées rond point (round about), 
where the Christmas market begins

The beauty of these holiday lights all point to the forthcoming celebration of Christmas, as we await the Light of the World -
     When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” NIV John 8:12

Enjoy the walk around Paris. It is so magical at this time of the year!


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