Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Paris Christmas Markets

I noticed them last year when JC and I went to Paris to see the first Hobbit movie at the Gaumont cinema. All the lights, the crowds, the merchandise. What was it all about? I was determined to find out this year.

JC and I braved the chill and the long car journey with the associated traffic hassles to get to Paris to look at the Christmas markets. They are temporary
structures, merchandising cabins really. To fortify ourselves we started with a hot drink in a nearby cafe in the ritzy fashion district.

There were wall-to-wall people and pickpockets. I left my wallet in the boot of JC's car and he put his wallet in a zipped compartment on the inside front of his jacket. Just as well. As he was collecting his hot roasted chestnuts he realised his pocket had been picked. Only a few coins but in Paris wherever there are crowds of tourists you have to take serious precaustions (as I unhappily discovered at the same time of the year in 2010).

Both sides of the Champs Elysee at the Place de la Concorde end are involved in this market where the wares include lavender, meats, cheese, dried fruit, toys, touristy souvenirs, ornaments, hats and gloves and handbags and scarves, ice-skating. There were stalls offering hot wine and hot soup. There were plenty of weird and pointless consumer goods for sale too. And food, food, food.

JC and I bought what turned out to be one of the most disgusting sandwiches we've ever eaten. It was made of two enormous round buns filled with cooked onion sand fatty ham bits. Beurk! The bread and ham were tasteless mushy, floury gunk and the onions weren't properly cooked. Just as well, said JC, that he and I like each other. We tossed our sammies in the rubbish bin. See, industrialised crap food can happen even in Paris. It was a shame.

One thing I did enjoy was the featured lighting in a couple of areas near the Grand Palais. It was set up so that members of the public could take photos of each other with a festive backdrop - a great idea. And of course La Grand Roue ferris wheel is always  pretty. It's now a permanent feature there, not just at Christmas.

The merchants didn't make a killing out fo us. JC bought his hot chestnuts and I bought a tiny bottle of Lavender oil for my diffuser. We simply went along for the experience, the atmosphere.

The photos show the merchandise on offer, a statue of Clemenceau, JC in front of the photo opportunity area, street lighting, entertainment. 

I had some problems with condensation inside my camera due to the low temperatures here now. In future I'll get some silica and store it with my camera.


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