How Paris Does Christmas

The tree at Galeries Lafayette. ©Lisa Anselmo

The tree at Galeries Lafayette. ©Lisa Anselmo

A few weeks ago, a friend posted this on Twitter:

“Parisians: even though you’ve seen it in the movies, unless you ONLY hang out in midtown, NY doesn’t really do Christmas very well.”

My reply: What, what? As a longtime resident of New York, I stepped up to defend the city that does everything over the top, including the holidays.

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Twitter conversation with a friend about Christmas, NYC vs. Paris. Follow me on twitter @Lisa_Anselmo

But seeing how Paris does Christmas, I started to understand what my friend was talking about. It’s like Vegas over here. Every shop no matter how small, every cafe, is tarted up and bling-ed out, with glorious and often artistic trimmings. Fantastical swags of lights adorn most every street. The entire city explodes in color, twinkles and glows—from the Champs-Élysées to the tiniest lane in the 11th arrondissement.

Christmas swags across Rue de Bretagne. ©Lisa Anselmo

Funky Christmas swags strung across Rue de Bretagne. ©Lisa Anselmo

This exuberance, this desire to celebrate, was especially meaningful this year, after the attacks of November 13th that rocked Paris. In spite of the grim realities, festive lights began to crop up, adorned pine swags appeared above cafe awnings, bedecked trees went up in front of town halls around the city. With each sign of the season, my heart lightened. Somehow, seeing Christmas trees for sale at the local florist made me feel everything could be normal again. Paris would be okay, and so would I.

"The arrival of the pines" at the aptly named "Happy." ©Lisa Anselmo

“The arrival of the pines” at the aptly named “Happy” florist. Rue de Bretagne. ©Lisa Anselmo

Being raised Catholic, of course the Christmas-y trappings have meaning to me. And part of me did wonder if this ostentatious expression of Christianity might be just the kind of thing that further isolates our non-Christian neighbors. It’s how we are thinking now, and maybe should have before. But I hope, regardless of one’s religion, just seeing Paris sparkling and glorified again might bring with it its own joy, one that transcends and unites.

After being thrust into darkness and fear, to have the streets and buildings illuminated and festooned, seems to indeed lift the collective mood in the city. Now more than ever, Paris needed a reason to rejoice and celebrate, and the holidays served up the perfect opportunity—a chance to embrace the giving spirit of the season, the goodness in each of us. After everything we’d been through, we could all use a little peace on earth, good will toward men, no?

How Paris Does the Season
From the grandest shops to the humblest streets, Paris really decks its halls. 

Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

Light display on Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

Windows, Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

Windows, Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

Windows, Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

Windows, Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

Rue Montorqueil. ©Lisa Anselmo

Rue Montorqueil. ©Lisa Anselmo

Rue Montorgueil ©Lisa Anselmo

Rue Montorgueil ©Lisa Anselmo

Twigs and branches are a favorite for holiday trimming. Lovely trim on Rue Charlot. ©Lisa Anselmo

Twigs and branches are a favorite for holiday trimming. Lovely display on a shop on Rue Charlot. ©Lisa Anselmo

Rue Oberkampf. ©Lisa Anselmo

Even the U Market is getting into the spirit, Rue Oberkampf. ©Lisa Anselmo

Patriotic holiday bling post-terror attacks, at the Noshaba-Ji Bazar on Rue Oberkampf. ©Lisa Anselmo

Patriotic holiday bling post terror attacks, Noshaba-Ji Bazar, Rue Oberkampf. ©Lisa Anselmo

Fantastical, twiggy decor, 2nd arrondissement. ©Lisa Anselmo

Fantastical, twiggy decor at the sexy Passage du Desir, 1st arrondissement. ©Lisa Anselmo

Local boulangerie, 11th arrondissement, really takes the season seriously. ©Lisa Anselmo

Local butcher in the 11th arrondissement really takes the season seriously. ©Lisa Anselmo

Childrens' drawings on a sidewalk outside St. Joseph of Nations church, 11th arrondissement. Seems like someone really wants shoes for Christmas. ©Lisa Anselmo

Childrens’ drawings on the sidewalk outside St. Joseph of Nations church, 11th arrondissement. Either someone really wants shoes for Christmas, or this is a depiction of the St. Nicolas Day tradition. Pretty stylish chausseurs, huh? Ah, those petit parisiens. ©Lisa Anselmo

A man and his son snag their tree. ©Lisa Anselmo

Father and son taking their tree home, 11th arrondissement. ©Lisa Anselmo

Read my posts from Christmases past.

Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season, and a New Year that is prosperous, and peaceful. —L.A.

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