Living in a small neighborhood of the Bastille, the hardest phrases to hear over the last year have been: “We’re closing and retiring” and “They have sold the shop for their retirement”: Holmes, the stationery store, and now à la Petite Fabrique, the chocolate factory. Holmes was transformed into an upscale Italian restaurant and word is that Alain Ducasse is buying the Petite Fabrique…. The neighborhood in the area of Hugo’s Les Miserables and the French Revolution has gone upscale.
To get you into the holiday spirit a special Swedish-style musical event is held in Paris. The event is always held at the Swedish Church (Svenska kyrkan) and most years at a large church in Paris; Paroisse de la Madeleine, Notre-Dame de Paris. The event is a musical Swedish tradition celebrating lightness during the winter darkness.
The RATP (Paris transportation system) has highly upgraded their website. They provide clear information when you find it. Some pages are in English, French and Spanish. Others include German, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Brazilian. How would a party of five find their way into Paris from the airport?
Don’t complain about a full email inbox. Last year, Père Noël (Santa Claus) received around 91,000 emails once the season opened. And it is that time again. Madame and Père Noël’s post office opened November 9. This year, you can email or send a colourful paper letter. Get out the crayons and colourful ideas. The secretariat is part of la Poste France. The elves are working in Libourne in the Gironde region. According a LaDepche.fr, 1.2 million children from over 140 countries wrote paper wish letters addressed to Père Noël”.
Two events will effect somebody this latter part of 2017. Planning on the Champs-Elysées Christmas market? Stuck in traffic? It’s like a soap opera or a custody fight in a divorce. Whose side will you be on?
Every year Christmas markets attract 30 million people visitors in France. Fifteen million of those visit one or more of the 250 chalets along the Champs-Elysées for the Paris Christmas market. If you are stuck in traffic this week, the carnival operators are conducting an “escargot” (snail) slowing down and blocking traffic with their semi trucks on the expressways. They want to set up their chalets on the Champs-Elysées.
A chance Estonian Internet encounter in table arts gave me an idea: Visit a professional trade show for the first time. Arro Keraamika arranged a pass for me and off to the exhibition halls in Paris Nord Villepinte I went. Originally my quest was to find all the products Made in France. In eight giant halls that was a bit too overwhelming a task! I changed my focus to tableware that you keep on your wall as art, use it for dining, put it in the dishwasher and then back up on the wall.
“A Taste of Paris, A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food” is a fun book in David’s style. David combines history, travelogue and a personal quest. David’s quest this time: “What is it about the history of Paris that has made it a food lover’s paradise?” You can follow his Paris food seduction from 53 BC to the present. Bringing Paris food history alive, David presents lots of written culinary activity between the 1300s and 1792 (end of the Ancien Régime) with all the King Louis’s, their chefs and the chefs’ cookbooks. David takes us back to the barbarian Parisiis squatting, eating with no tableware and demonstrates how the Romans were the more elegant diners and knew how to entertain and cook refined meals. In “Taste” food origin myths are dispelled.
Bring Home France on rue de Birague in the Marais offers unique Paris and French souvenirs designed by a street artist, graphic designers, fashion and home designers. Some products are made by long-standing French firms in Gien, Limoges, by Duralex and Laulhère-France.
In the store and for shopping online they have a wide selection of products ranging from gastronomy and jewels to fashion, decoration and toys. Nathalie Crouzet tells you some stories and legends behind some of the souvenirs in my first video story.
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrates the 70th anniversary of the creation of the House of Dior until January 7, 2018 in a lavish and comprehensive exhibition, Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams (Couturier du Rêve). Whether or not you are a fashionista, if you love history, fashion (retro and future), fabric, intricate beading, art, interiors, photography, etc. this is a rich exhibit that I can recommend. The Dior Héritage collection and works of art are on loan from museums in France, United States and England. Most of the works featured in exhibit are from the Dior Héritage collection and the first time they are shown in Paris.