Friday, 21 November 2014

Les Illuminations de Noël a Paris 2014 (Christmas Illuminations in Paris)

On November 20, 2014, at approximately 6:00 p.m. the trees lining the sides of the Avenue Champs Élysées were the main event for the crowd that had gathered. 
In partnership with two companies - Sony and Sotec, the Mairie de Paris (city hall) had advertised the Nouvelle Illuminations (new lighting) for the 2014 holiday season, on banners hanging between the trees along the wide, main avenue of Paris.
 The Champs Élysées without Christmas lights
 Camera, lights, click! 
In expectant anticipation, the yellow and blue Christmas lights were turned on in grand scale at about 6:20 p.m. The crowd was truly delighted!
The small blue lights situated on the upper part of the trees look like stars glowing in the night.

 On both of the broad sidewalks on the avenue , the second row of trees had their own light theme, with random spray bouquets  of blue lights, with white running lights on some of the stems, looking like snowflakes.

The much awaited nouvelle illumination - the new holiday lighting, on the main avenue  is a sight to behold, adding another festive touch to the preparations which started in late October.  A week after the Christmas Market opened, the whole stretch of the Champs Elysées is now lit up.

These twinkling lights - whether on the main avenues, small streets, or store fronts - are all part of the preparation for the big celebration. Living up to its name "City of Lights, here is how the French bring Christmas glow into Paris.

Among some of the storefronts on the Champs Élysées...
Pizza Pino - right next to the metro Line 1 exit - 
Franklin Roosevelt stop
This is a favorite food-stop among the tourists.

 Roma Pizzeria - on the other corner, across from Pizza Pino

 Häagen-Dazs' Chalets

 Weeping willow Christmas trees (fake) at the entrance of 
Ann Tuil - a shoe store

 Kusmi Tea - gourmet tea in high quality blends

 Mercedes Benz showroom, with a 
multi-colored running logo lights

Une chocolaterie
 La bounlangerie/patisserie
 A shopping arcade entrance - Arcades des Champs Élysées
 The store with a diverse selection of beauty products
 An enclosed, outdoor café by the Marriott Hotel

 City street lights...
 Avenue Montaigne - a famous street known for all the 
chi-chi, designer boutiques.
 Yellow lights with running white lights, in a spray bouquet arrangement is the basic design used hanging on the trees and the Christmas trees, a change from the red lights that had been used on this street in the past years.

The Dior boutique on Avenue Montaigne 
leads the way in holiday decorating.

The newly renovated Plaza Athenée Hotel

Paul and Joe - a collection of casual to chic fashion

Rue Cler - a permanent street market 
On some weekends, each season, a grande brocante ( a traveling giant flea market ) takes place on a part of this long street.
 Rue de Champs des Mars - intersecting rue Cler

For a fun, magical night, there is more to see in a sightseeing tour - "Illuminations of Paris" that is handled by Paris Cityvision. Enjoy this city tour at this time of the year. This will include the iconic landmarks, decorated and lit up during this holiday season. To book your reservations, please click on this link. Enjoy a lovely dinner or a show, after,  and cap the night with a glass of wine before you head back.

And soon it will be Christmas!  Celebrating it in the French capital is more than a memorable experience. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Les Marchés de Noël à Paris 2014 - 2015 (Christmas Markets in Paris, France)

'tis the season for Christmas markets to open up in different parts of Paris. Unlike in the United States where there is a definite date when the Christmas season begins - on the day after Thanksgiving, the holiday ambiance begins to take over this romantic city by mid November in some areas, and later in others.

A Christmas market is, usually, a street market related to the celebration of Christmas during the season of Advent - the four weeks before Christmas. Its origins can be traced to Germany, Austria, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, and in the French regions of Alsace, Lorraine, and Savoy. The markets are known as Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlsmarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt.

During the Late Middle Ages, some of the German-speaking parts of Europe and territories which once were part of the Holy Roman Empire (France and Switzerland) started to hold Christmas markets. The Viennese December Market came to be in 1294, and this became the forerunner of the Christmas markets that we get to go to in different countries, at this time of the year. 

By definition, Christkindlmarkt means "Christ Child Market." On opening night, special presentations were held - mostly singing and dancing

From a street location, Christmas markets are also set in plazas or in a town square, or in any ideal space that is accessible.

The Christmas Market on the 
Avenue des Champs Elysees

Last November 14, the grand avenue had another destination for tourists and locals, as the Christmas markets from the Champs Elysees rond point (round about) to the Place de la Concorde, officially opened. 

 Christmas stalls by the metro exit, Line 9 Franklin Roosevelt

 The Christmas chalets are on both sides of Avenue Champs Elysees, all the way to Place de la Concorde 
where Le Roue de Paris (ferris wheel) is located.

There are more than a hundred Christmas chalets on the main avenue, gaily decorated, as merchants welcome this holiday season with dreams of economic success. The vendors were feverishly preparing and stocking up their stalls since last Thursday evening and opened to a rainy Friday noon. By early afternoon, the rain had stopped - much to the delight of all. 

A wide array of Christmas crafts, gift items, and culinary delights from different French regions  await the visitors from 12:00 noon to midnight during weekdays, and up to 1:00 a.m. from Friday to Sunday.  

Here are some of the highlights.

 Pork hocks and sausages served with French fries - this is usually crowded as it is very close to the metro exit.

There are several food stalls specializing in Les Saucissons (Sausages of different types) - classique, merguez (spicy), saucisson au fromage, saucisson blanc,  meat on skewers served on baguettes, with steamed vegetables and lathered with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and ketchup. 

 Plain and flavored pretzels

 Sweet or savory crepes

 Canelés de Bordeaux

This small, molded French pastry is a specialty from the Bordeaux region. The ingredients used are egg, sugar, milk, and flour, flavored with rum and vanilla. The mold it is baked in gives it its distinct shape and mixed texture - crusty on the sides and custard-like on the inside.

 Fresh Fruit Skewers dipped in chocolate

 A Brasilian retaurant set-up, serving churrascaria style - where varieties of grilled meat are served on big skewers and brought around to the customers to choose from. 

 Le Nougat de Montségur

This confectionery is, basically, made with sugar and/or honey and whipped egg whites. The varieties are determined by what is added to it, like different roasted nuts and/or candied fruits. It is soft and chewy.

 The candy stand - Bonbons Des Vosges are homemade candies.

 Gingerbread and Pain d'Epices

Pain d'Epices (spice bread) is a gateau (French cake or quick bread) made using rye flour, honey, and spices. In today's formulation, anis seed and cinnamon may be incorporated.

 Macarons in a variety of flavors - from nutty to fruity.

 Marron chaud - roasted chestnuts

 Cotton candy - a favorite among the kids and teens.

 Vin chaud - hot wine, so perfect for the chilly evenings

 Giant waffles - served with different toppings.

 The soup place - serving French onion, vegetable, noodle, and lentil soup

 Decorations de Noel (Christmas shop) - for sale are miniature Christmas villages, manger sets, holiday decorations, lights, including an Eiffel Tower with Christmas lights.

 ...featuring beautiful works of art, handmade, one-of-a-kind items

 Canadian food items, presented as gift ideas - like maple syrup, cookies, vinegar, and different Canadian beer brands.

 An enclosed bar with live music - popular with couples going on a date night

The walk along the Christmas market, on both sides  of the street is about 2.5 km.

This market will remain open up to January 4, 2015.

Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile
           Franklin Roosevelt (Line 9)
           Champs Elysees/Clemençeau (Lines 1 & 13 - the closest metro exit to the Christmas market)

The Christmas Market at La Defense

This is the biggest Christmas market of all. There will be over 350 chalets to open on November 20, to last until December 27. An early evening trip to this location is lovely as the place is illumined by the buildings around it, adding to the usual Christmas lighting of the market. Market hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Metro: Grande Arche de la Defense
RER: La Defense

 The Christmas Market at the Trocadero

The Trocadero Christmas market gives its visitors a view of the Eiffel Tower while going round and about the market. Complete with a skating rink and other kid friendly activities, this is ideal for families, as it is a smaller Christmas market  but big enough to provide something for people of different ages. Come December 13, the Christmas Market at the Trocadero will come to life, until January 7, 2015.

Metro: Trocadero

For a complete listing of all the Christmas markets in and around Paris, please click here.


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