Monday, 2 January 2012

Christmas again in France

Christmas and New Year 2011/2012 have been very different to my experiences of the previous festive season.

This time Christmas Day was spent with Jean-Claude, his daughter Valerie and his grandson Alexandre. Christmas Eve had been just the two of us with pressie opening close to midnight. Valerie and her son arrived back from visiting other family and we enjoyed a meal together with pressies for Alexandre. They all ended up having the same theme - Cars (the movie). He's only four years old so it's all rather fun for him. He and I got on really well-I have better access to the big kid in me these days. Maybe it's because now I'm not responsible for someone else's life. The pressure's off in that regard though looking out for myself here rather makes up for it. Well, it's different.

So we made up spontaneous games in the kitchen, he tried to explain the rules of a card game (I have no idea what he was talking about). Valerie thoughtfully didn't light up her cigarettes until she was well clear of the living part of the house so this year I did not suffer ill-health from passive smoking. No hospital visits, no loss of money paying for medical care, staying away from sick people, no snow, just a very quiet Christmas.

I debated with myself whether I would use these days of holidays to work on my book but I decided to use the time rather to do very little writing, little housework, more cooking, sharing DVDs with JC, going to Chartres to watch movies, getting up later and certainly to do exercises for strength and suppleness. The later is working but I'm eating a wee bit more, of course, and so putting on some weight which is so hard now to budge. Once I get back home I'll be eating less.

One thing I particularly wanted to do this year was to see the famous Christmas lights of Paris, especially the Champs Elysee. I didn't see them last year because I was in Brittany and then bedridden. JC and I braved the cold and rain to walk along the famous avenue that culminates with the Arc de Triomphe.

What a disappointment! Sure, the weather was horrid for being outdoors at night but it seems Paris had decided to be frugal this time. The magical fairy lights in the trees along the avenue had been replaced by ugly HOOPS.

To me it looked like a commercial shopping centre; not historic, special, romantic at all. Ow wow, after a bit the hoops changed from blue to red. It didn't improve things much. Quite a few tourists were in town. We ate dinner at a pizzaria on the Champs Elysee after joining a long queue to get into the establishment. They had the 'production line' down to a fine art.

Many buildings weren't lit. We didn't go as far as the Seine so maybe we missed some luminary treasures. New Year's Eve has a fireworks display from the top of the Eiffel Tower but there tends to be thousands of people, pickpockets, young guys looking for fights, drinking too much as they do everywhere so we went to the movies in Chartres instead that night.

All in all, quieter, healthier, relaxing and convivial. Maybe my batteries will be recharged for the plunge into work next week.

Photos show a well-decorated house in a village  (Eure et Loir), aspects of the Champs Elysee at Christmas, a quiet family Christmas 2011.


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