Countdown to Noël

Well, it’s been a week since my unfortunate tête-à-tête with a pigeon, and I’ve only had one nightmare involving birds since, which seems like a win. I haven’t had anything quite as interesting to talk about at French class, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for personal space.

Also, thanks to all of you who offered to buy me a pigeon helmet. Helmets are the new berets, I hear.

Anyway, in the spirit of moving on: let’s talk about holiday spirit.

Paris is truly magical during the holiday season. String lights and Christmas trees (sapins de Noël) are everywhere. Department stores build intricate window displays with dancing marionettes. It’s cool enough to warrant wearing a chic Parisian scarf, but it’s not so cold that you don’t want to go out. It’s the perfect weather for a cup of rich chocolat chaud.

French Noël is a bit different from American Christmas, though. The most noticeable difference is the utter lack of Christmas music here. Apparently the French superpower for quietness also applies to music! In the States, Christmas music is ubiquitous from the day after Thanksgiving until December 26, to the point that you wish you could listen to anything else. Here, I’ve only heard Christmas music once, in a department store.

Another difference is that Christmas trees are everywhere. Even small stores put up a tree, and they’re for sale at florist shops and supermarkets all over the city. And they’re all real! No plastic trees here in Paris. Also: they come in teeny tiny sizes, to fit in teeny tiny Parisian apartments. Here’s our tree, which is about two feet tall and sits on top of our table:

We’ve loved being in Paris for the Christmas season. It seems so quiet after the chaos of our visitor-laden fall, and the magic of the city is irresistible. We’ve been spending our weekends exploring Christmas markets, drinking hot wine, going to concerts, and just taking in the charm of the lights and decorations. On the list for this weekend: ice skating at the Grand Palais.

Bonnes fêtes à tous!

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