Paris in Christmas Regalia
By Ann Rafi
19 Dec 2013
A first stop to tour the Christmas regalia of Paris must be the Galleries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann (near the Paris Opera) where you will see what must be the world's largest and most opulent Christmas tree. Sponsored by the Austrian crystal company, Swarovski, the tree stretches towards the 10-story golden dome, passing arched-shaped galleries of famous brands. To say the building is constructed of steel and glass is to say the harvest moon is composed of rock. Meander through the shops in this upscale department store while the tree in the center turns colorsâ��blue... white... red. If you buy nothing at all, at least stop in the cafÃ© on the roof, linger with an espresso and biscuit, and soak in the views of the city.
Since this is Paris, don't expect your ordinary Christmas trees on the city's most fashionable boulevard. The deciduous trees on the Champs- Elysees are adorned with large neon hoops, which change colors, of course. Rains are intermittent in December in Paris, and colors alternating from orange to blue in the trees glimmer in the water sheath on the broad sidewalk, and sweep you into a 19th century painting.
The Cartier building is gift-wrapped with its signature panther sparkling and ready to pounce onto the boulevard. (website only)
Fountains on the Champs- Elysees spout blue lights for the season.
At the end of the boulevard the Ferris wheel on the Place de la Concorde is lit up and carries visitors high above the obilesque. The Eiffel Tower beams off in the distance in golden lights for the season.
To its side the Rue Royale is decked in red and green for the holidays with the L'eglise de la Madeleine overseeing all at the end of the street.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in the Montmartre neighborhood was the setting for a Christmas market.
Moving from the sacred to the profane, just down the hill is the famous Moulin Rouge, which is always lit up in red for festivities!
Even in the winter Parisians enjoy the outdoor cafÃ©. This brasserie is across from Moulin Rouge, and the street was draped in holiday lights.
Along the Seine
Even the heavy, sorrowful energy of the Cathedral of Notre Dame is lifted and brightened with lights at night. A small stadium seating arrangement has been set up across from the cathedral to allow visitors to pause and contemplate the history this building has witnessed.
Near the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Hotel de Ville de Paris (Town Hall of the city) is lit with the spirit, and the three pyramids of lights set to its side. This is Paris--we'll have pyramids at Christmas as we like!
We'll close where we began--on the Champs Elysees. I'm captured and linger and visit a few nights. Joyeux NoÃ«l