Paris Lockdown 2.0: Week 6

Yeah, that’s what I did this week. ©Lisa Anselmo

End of week 6, and coming to the end of our Reconfinement. Starting December 15, we no longer need a document to leave our homes, but will have a strict 8pm – 6am curfew. We didn’t reach our goal of 5,000 cases a day (we’ve plateaued at 10K), so theaters and museums will stay closed for now. Restaurants and bars won’t see the light of day until January. And while they are lifting the curfew for Christmas Eve, they are not for New Years Eve. Probably a smart move.

This last full week of Reconfinement was also my birthday week—yes, it’s a weeklong celebration. What? There would be no birthday party this year, but I’d made peace with that. Instead, I organized a virtual soirée, and for the first time, had friends and family from both sides of the pond in attendance. That’s one upside of going virtual.

Going virtual means global attendees. Not too shabby.

My actual birthday was two days earlier, and I made a plan to devote the day to things that made me happy—sweet little things, festive things, self-care things. I kicked it off by talking to two of my dearest friends, one of whom sang me “Happy Birthday” on his guitar (I know!). You may remember Matthew, who lives in Tokyo, from my Lockdown Diary: Viewsday Tuesday and Fun Friday.

What a way to wake up! Happy Birthday sung rockstar style, courtesy of best bud, Matthew.

After that, well, my day was already made. I told myself that whatever else came along would just be icing on my birthday cake. So come along with me on my big birthday out…

THE SIGHTS: GRAND & FESTIVE

And speaking of icing on the cake, next on my list of birthday happy-making activities: the holiday windows at les grands magasins, capped off by the tree at Galeries Lafayette.

The windows at Printemps are really sweet this year, and made me giggle out loud. I dare you not to be happy watching these videos.

Holiday windows, Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo
Holiday windows, Printemps. ©Lisa Anselmo

The windows at Galeries Lafayette told the story of the travels of a young explorer. That’s her in the teal jumpsuit on the right of the scene, next to the flamboyant bird. This little girl was captivated.

The windows at Galeries Lafayette centered around the adventures of a junior explorer. ©Lisa Anselmo

The tree at Galeries Lafayette is to Paris was the Rockefeller Center tree is to New York—a symbol of hope and stability, never more needed than now. It was especially uplifting to see that, despite everything, some things, like this beautiful tree, endure.

The tree at Galeries Lafayette. ©Lisa Anselmo
The entire space comes alive with lights, motion, and music every few minutes.
The tree at Galeries Lafayette. ©Lisa Anselmo

THE SWEETS: SIMPLE PLEASURES

After I snapped about 100 photo of the tree, I took a stroll in the area. Let’s just say I didn’t get far. The lure of chocolate stopped me in my tracks. This darling shop, packed with handmade chocolate, Au Chat Bleu, has been in business since 1912. Normally, I’d scan the window and keep going; I’ve been off sugar for a while. But you know, birthday. Would it make me happy to go inside? Yes. So I did.

Au Chat Bleu, since 1912. 85 Blvd. Haussmann, Paris. ©Lisa Anselmo
Yum courtesy of Au Chat Bleu. ©Lisa Anselmo

As soon as I entered the tiny, charming boutique, I was bathed in golden light, the scent of chocolate hanging in the air—as close to heaven on earth as a person might ever come. The whole team was there, as sweet and welcoming as their confections. I had a chat with the owner, who proudly showed me their signature chocolates, like these, below, with the blue cat heads. But I’d been lured inside by something I saw in the window. So I bought those.

Adorable blue cat chocolates from Au Chat Bleu. ©Lisa Anselmo
These are the three gems I brought home. Clockwise from left: Milk chocolate ganache; chocolate hazelnut “cupcake,” chestnut treat that looks a lot like the real thing, fallen from the tree.

THE SURPRISE: GOING OFF THE PLAN

I had it in my head that I wanted to go the center of town, maybe walk along the Seine, which I haven’t seen in weeks due to confinement. I took the train to the Chatelet station, one of the busiest transport hubs in Paris. I tried in vain to find the exit near the river, but instead ended up in the belly of Paris, as Emile Zola called it: Les Halles. Of course, it hasn’t been a food market since the 1960s. Instead, it’s an underground shopping mall.

Les Halles at Christmas time. ©Lisa Anselmo

I was attempting to beeline out of the mall, eager to get back on track, when I saw a frock in a store window. It’s been so long since I shopped for anything but essentials (February, to be exact), so I did what any red-blooded girl who grew up in New Jersey would do: I did a little shopping at the mall. Hey, I couldn’t afford the designer pieces at Galeries Lafayette, but I could pick up a cute off-brand number, on sale.

Picked up this little dress for my birthday at a shop in Les Halles. I couldn’t quite afford this gorgeous Jil Sander skirt or yummy Fendi sweater at Galeries Lafayette (below).

I finished out the day in the Marais, where I met up with a friend, totally by accident. We walked around a bit, ending up in Places des Vosges. It was his idea to buy a teeny birthday cake at Carette.

My teeny birthday cake from Carette. About 2.5 inches of yummy chestnut-y goodness.

Looking back at my day, it seemed to be a lot about shopping and sweets, huh? And maybe so, but I don’t think it was really about what I bought. It was more about feeling normal, surrounding myself with beauty and the things that make Paris special to me. If cafés had been open, I’d surely have sat on a terrace somewhere, since that’s my real idea of the perfect day. But until I can settle in at a café table again, I’ll keep strolling around and taking away the things I love with me.

The tree at Galeries Lafayette. ©Lisa Anselmo

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16 responses to “Paris Lockdown 2.0: Week 6

  1. Bonjour Lisa
    You made my day !!!! Merci 🇫🇷
    Thank you for this awesome post.
    What a treat to be in Paris the windows
    are fantastic ..chocolate ..cake ❤
    Having visited Paris it was a lovely treat I was there in 2018 and had a fabulous week. I have visited a few times the first was about 1963 when Les Halles really was a food market !!!
    What a way to spend your birthday starting with your virtual visiting …sigh !!!!
    Love your new dress 💕 A belated birthday wish…..from Canada 🇨🇦 🥂

  2. Happy birthday! I’m having one of those next week too! 🤓
    The galerie Lafayette tree is wonderful to look at, it really captures the spirit. Wonderful dress you picked up too. So elegant.
    Have a great rest of the month!

  3. Another Happy Birthday wish for you! What a beautiful day you had doing exactly what made you happy. And, doing it in Paris!

  4. Happy Birthday, Lisa. I love Galeries Lafayette (I bought myself a black patent leather hat from there, every time it rains I wear my Paris hat). Thanks for sharing the walk round Paris. Keep enjoying. On Sunday, I have all the ‘strays’ coming to my house for Christmas lunch. Happy Christmas. Keep it going. Trish.

  5. Lisa,
    Bon Anniversaire!
    On my very first visit to Paris, I spent a very drunk late night into morning in Les Halles, smoking, drinking wine and having onion soup at Au Pied du Couchon (which is still there, btw). I was a naughty, naughty girl back then.
    Most recent stay is Paris was at one of those extended stay places close by Chatelet; we were in and out of it so often that I like to think that I conquered it. But it’s so massive and confusing that no one ever truly conquers Chatelet. One endures Chatelet. I would adore the opportunity to be there again to try and re-conquer it.

    We are under strict lockdown here in LA, ICUs at capacity. It’s getting scary. But we will endure because we must.

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