This December I’m more eager than ever to return to the City of Light.
My heart still aches for everyone affected by recent events. Our trip was booked some time ago, and after due consideration, we concluded we would take our usual precautions, use common sense, and travel as planned.
Mostly I just want to be there, just want Clive and me to do our small part in participating in the movements and tasks and ordinary activities of daily life – to see our neighbours, do our shopping, support cafés and markets and local businesses and soak up the extraordinary spirit of this extraordinary city, particularly at this time of year.
As always, I have a list, or at least a guideline, because it’s never possible to do everything you’d like to do in Paris.
Christmas and the holiday spirit
* Strolling around Christmas markets large and small, sipping hot mulled wine and maybe purchasing a few gifts
* Walking on illuminated streets decorated for the holidays; the city publishes a list by arrondissement (district)
* Admiring ice skaters as they glide across temporary patinoires, or rinks, around the city
* Seeing the grand Christmas tree outside Notre Dame Cathedral
* Watching the Grande Roue – the giant Ferris wheel – circle above Place de la Concorde, by day or by night.
Window-shopping and real shopping
We tend to avoid most of the grands magasins, the often-crowded big department stores, though we may check out their windows — in favour of Paris’s endless small shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques. We’re hoping to find a few special items for special people during our wanderings.
There’s one big store I can’t seem to stay away from: BHV. We’ll undoubtedly find ourselves there at some point, if only for a browse of the stationery section (me) and/or the basement DIY section (Clive) and a coffee in the top floor café overlooking Paris rooftops and the Seine (both).
As a gift to myself, I’m planning a visit to the Georges Thullier shop (adjacent to the Christmas market at Saint-Sulpice), to add a few santons, or Provencal figurines, to the crèche and pieces I purchased last year.
An exhibit or maybe two …
* ‘Villa Flora, Enchanted Times’, a private collection including Impressionist works at Musée Marmottan – not forgetting their always-brilliant gift shop
* Musee d’Orsay – the permanent Impressionist collection and maybe the temporary exhibition (‘Splendour and Misery’, works of many different artists about prostitution in 19th-century Paris, of all things) – also not forgetting the museum gift shop
… and a weekend in the USA
A combination of factors caused us to make a rather last-minute decision to interrupt our time in Paris for a short visit to my mother.
Although we were with her last month, I still felt a bit guilty about not seeing her around the holidays (she’s not totally aware of calendar dates, but I am …). Then she had a minor fall, onto her knees when getting out of a chair. She’s fine, but still … And then we found frequent flier seats were available on a few flights from Paris.
I think Clive almost fell out of his chair when I said I wanted to leave Paris, if only for a few days; I kind of surprised myself with this one. Being the supportive spouse he is, he understood completely. We’re looking forward to spending time with my mom (and a bonus get-together with my son’s wonderful in-laws), then returning directly to Paris and picking up where we left off in the City of Light.
Shine on, Paris. I can’t wait to see you again.
Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Paris.