I very rarely get the idea to flit off to France for a quick five-day visit. In fact, for me, not being of the Taylor Swift branch of the family and all, it’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime kind of whim. But that very thought crossed my mind recently, and that’s how I found myself in Paris last Friday, going “Huh?”
Paris in its holiday bling can be perplexing.
The famous department store Galleries Lafayette went with a “Christmas From Another Planet” theme this year…yeah, I don’t get it either…and they went all out to put up a huge Cosmic Christmas Tree in the center of their main floor, under their famous stained-glass rotunda:
I think those are supposed to be either atoms, or planets, or carbuncles of silicone-based life forms, bubbling on the surface of the cone/Christmas tree-shaped object:
You might already know how this store was constructed around that enormous open space in the center — which means that you can gander at the Cosmic Christmas Tree from every floor:
Dyed mink from Fendi:
Yeah…I don’t get that either.
Down the road from the Galleries, the other famous department store of Paris — Printemps — was celebrating its 150th year in business:
The interior of Printemps only allows for a three-story exhibit, which includes a mock-up of the store’s facade…
…and a traditional Xmas tree — bedecked with this large, bug-eyed metallic creature with a flower-like pustule growing out of its head:
It is in typical French earthiness that this creature’s head-canker includes globules in the exact color of pus. That mutant Pillsbury Dough Boy is the mascot of Printemps 150. Do you sense that the running theme of this post is “I don’t get that either“?
The outside of Printemps is laden with the flowers that have, presumably, been exploded out of the craniums of millions of metallic mutants:
Under this canopy of blossoms are the store’s famous Xmas windows, each one sponsored by a fashion brand. This is the Burberry window (note the sneakers on the kid on the right — and the antenna on his hat!):
In France, sneakers are called baskets. When you think about it, calling them baskets is not a whole lot dopier than calling these kinds of shoes sneakers.
This window is Sonya Riekyl:
Those little dolls moved like go-go dancers. Very Christmasy, you think?
Guess where the other grand explosion of Xmas cheer is? Here’s a hint:
Right: The Champs Ulysses!
These Christmas Villages run almost the whole length of the Champs — and if you look real closely at the background (below) behind these ice skaters (there were several rinks set up on the sidewalk of the Champs Ulysses — how cool is that??) you’ll see the REAL Eiffel Tower, lit up like gold:
In general, though, Christmas decorations in Paris are rather low key. I was sure that the ultra-luxury shops around the Place Vendome would be all a-glow for the make-or-break shopping season, but I was wrong:
Yes it’s tasteful, but I like to be WOWed. Here’s some other random decor I found along my ambles in the City of Light:
That last picture was taken in the Canal Saint-Martin area, at a cafe called La Bonne Biere:
At the Bonne Biere on November 13, ISIS killed five people.
The cafe has recently re-opened in defiance: Je Suis en Terrasse — I am on the Terrace — is how Parisians mock the terrorists with their joie de vivre (which includes cafe culture…sitting out in the open, on terraces). I made it a point to have lunch at the Bonne Biere because, although I do not like sitting out on the sidewalk (it’s the smoking section, now that you can’t light up indoors any more), to give my personal Fuck You to ISIS.
La Bonne Biere serves decent, 2-star pub food. I just wish the pasta hadn’t come garnished with dandelion greens. Even when you push them aside, they leave trace bitterness on the plate. It’s a Princess and the Pea situation. I have the same problem with cucumbers. Just can’t stand them.
Yes, there is still a make-shift shrine to the innocents of November 13 in front of the Bonne Biere…
…but the main shrine to all 129 innocents is at the Place de la Republique:
Meme pas Peur — Still Not Afraid — is playground French, something that kids say to a call the bluff of a bully; it’s like blowing a raspberry in ISIS’ face. It’s also very silent and sad here, the way I remember it was on certain street corners in New York City after 9/11. All those innocents…yeah; I just don’t get it either.
Ah, Paris. Beautiful and beguiling even on an ordinary day on the cusp of Winter…
Just goes to show you that Paris does’nt need the glitz of Xmas in order to shine…
…she already, and always, glows, just being herself.
OMG, look at the time, it’s getting late and I haven’t even told you about the real reason I went to France. Well, Dear Readers, that will have to wait until we meet here again, next Friday!