Noël à Paris

December 11, 2006 at 12:41 am | Posted in vie quotidienne | 4 Comments

It’s been a long time since I spent a whole Christmas season in Paris, and I’m finding it strangely refreshing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why until the other day, when I found myself hunting through BHV for various holiday items.

There I was, stuck in a stuffy, overcrowded department store, two weeks before Christmas — by all rights, I should have been miserable. And that’s when I realized: no Christmas music! Instead of the ubiquitous Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree one inevitably hears in American shopping malls as early as October, I noticed the gentle strains of perfectly ordinary pop music wafting through the perfume-tinged air.

Rihanna, Beyonce, JT, and all their seasonless tales of love, heartbreak, and betrayal… Sure, the music is still dull and insipid, but at least there’s not that insufferable sense of forced gaiety. It’s amazing how, in the absence of simulated good cheer being shoved down your throat, the holiday season can actually be enjoyable.

Indeed, it might even be perfect — if not for the trees.

sad trees

For the past month, the streetcorners of Paris have played host to these pathetic troops of shrunken and bound shrubbery. Don’t misunderstand — I love Christmas trees. But, having grown up in the wilds of upstate New York, I have to admit that I find city Christmas trees a little sad. I just hate to see them, all skinny and bagged, the better to fit on subway cars and up narrow apartment stairways. There’s nothing joyful about such compromise.

One of the joys of urban living is that major holidays become public affairs, and the parvis of Notre Dame can act as a living room for us all.

arbre de noel

Face it: your lonely little apartment tree will never be as gorgeous as this. (Look here for an even more majestic view.)

Not that I’m entirely opposed to interior decoration. But I did go a somewhat more minimalist route this year than the good folks at the cathedral.

pink lights

Look, ma! No pine needles to clean up!



  1. Heh — the sad little Parisian “Charlie Brown” Christmas trees. And the price tags on them!!! ($$$)

    I’m from the west coast of Canada — we used to buy enormous, beautiful, thick trees from the Boy Scouts for next to nothing!

  2. I bought a fake tree. I love it.

  3. Fake trees! Now that’s what I’m talking about. We city-folk should leave the redwoods to the Canucks.

    And the Kids!
    They can put it together themselves!
    No driving around or wrestling with a real tree in a car, the metro the elevator!
    In short: Awesomeness. Pure and unadulterated.
    I’ll try and remember to take a picture.
    My mom (still a real canuck) will be choquée by my “perfect” tree when she arrives on Saturday….

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