Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas in Paris, 2008 - Part 2

I think the Champs Elysée is always stylish when dressed in its holiday lights. This year, I think for the first time ever, there is a big Christmas market starting at Place Concorde and going along the Champs Elysée. In Chicago, a similar idea (but on a much smaller scale) is called the "Christkindlmarket". In Strasburg or in Alsace, the real Christmas markets can be found. Oops, that's a faux pas if ever there was one....I guess we need to actually go to Germany to see the real "real markets". (Right, Ulla?!)

Seeing as we have a thing for these markets, we decided to check out what the Champs Elysee has to offer. We heard that each country of the EU would be represented and would be offering specialty Christmas items from its region. Great idea we thought. We started our excursion at Place du Concorde & walked toward the Arche de Triomphe. The beautiful lights sprawling the Champs Elysée charmed us. I especially liked the spheres of lights sitting in a shallow pool of water, showing a spectacularly nice reflection. At Rue Montaigne, we were drawn in by the beautiful red lights lining the street. All of this was great. I do love lights. Here are some pictures - doesn't it look nice?

And it is a very nice idea, but unfortunately, I think the market itself somehow lacked a spirit. The spirit of what we thought it was going to be. Maybe the taxi driver got the story wrong about it having regional products from the EU countries. Maybe the time of day had something to do with our disappointment. First, avoid going on a late Sunday afternoon, like we did. It was absolutely packed with people, which obviously took the fun away from browsing each booth. Second, avoid (if possible), going there after it rains because the dirt path that boarders the relatively narrow paved sidewalk turns into a puddle of mud. This is especially a problem if you happen to accidently step in a big puddle (like someone I know!) trying to get a look at the rather maigre (thin) Santa Claus....! I wish we had seen a lot of really cool hand crafted items, but we only saw a few. And imagine our surprise when we saw a booth hosted by GDFSuez....not selling a tangible thing (or was it energy they were trying to sell? kidding)...well, it was hard to find the symbolism of Christmas anyway. We ended up seeing a somewhat limited view of the market given the dynamics at play that day, and when we got to the metro Franklin Roosevelt, we called it quits. Too many people; not enough energy to fight the crowd, and really only a limited interest in what merchandise we could see, unfortunately. Oh, well, it was worth checking out anyway. For the lights alone.

p.s. I heard that the ferris wheel at Place Concorde is really great -- each cabin is enclosed in glass and they're heated....doesn't that sound like fun?!

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