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Is it Elon? Branson? Bezos? Captain Kirk? Maezawa? When you look toward the top of the famed multi-storied Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette, you see an astronaut in red, with bushy white eyebrows and beard tucked in his space helmet.
Yes. It’s Santa. Fitting seamlessly into 2021 news. And he’s on the run … weightlessly … with things to do and places to go.
Paris is alive and bursting with holiday spirit.
‘Twas . . .
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the city
The sparkles were dazzling and windows looked pretty.
The Guccis and Hermèses were presented with care
In hopes that Père Noël would bring some to share.
Santa appeared here and there, as spacemen and hipsters
There were even secret sightings provided by tipsters.
He played rock guitar and floated weightless in space
And worked hard with blue elves to keep up the pace
At the markets and stores he brought smiles to all
The children were awestruck; the grownups enthralled
And even though Santa wasn’t speaking out loud
We knew his holiday wishes would make us all proud
Let’s have good health for all and, of course, peace on earth
And a new year that gives each human full worth.
In the Spirit
Parisians started singing “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” quite early this year. Most decorations were in place by mid-November. Everyone seemed anxious to capture the holiday spirit for as long as possible after living in pandemic shadow.
Lights twinkle in every quartier (after all, it IS the City of Light), as do creative store windows and animations that garner rapt attention from the young and young-at-heart.
Christmas markets flourish in La Défense, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Bercy Village, Les Halles, Hôtel de Ville, Abbesses, Station F, Square René Viviani, Gare de l’Est, Jardins des Tuileries, Christmas Eco-Villages at La REcyclerie, Place de la Bastille, and many more smaller venues.
The famous department stores do not disappoint, breaking creative barriers year after year.
At Printemps Haussmann, the diverse team of helpers in the windows is hard at work. The blue-clad characters are helping Santa to meet his deadlines after a freak snowstorm, by sewing for Prada, turning gold into Chanel perfume, baking croissants and meringues, sorting mail, and playing music to lift everyone’s spirits.
Galeries Lafayette presents windows made to inspire letters and lists to Santa — from toys to crystal to haute couture. There is even a hologram Santa who goes pouf into a thousand pieces. Perhaps not the best thing for those who still believe. (“Mommy, Daddy, Santa just exploded.”)
Le Bon Marché features dancing gingerbread cookies — expert in genres from cabaret to hip hop. Add a few windows with brightly striped candy canes and the Bon Marché signature white stuffed animals as counterpoint. A gold and candy cane tree inside provides a sweet elegance.
Le BHV Marais pays tribute to Switzerland in a white and silver wonderland. Mountains. Dancing cows. Chocolate and cheese.
Samaritaine makes its holiday debut, after being closed for 15 years for renovations. Its windows echo the elegance of the upscale merchandise inside. Holiday ski vacations. Golden boats in the Tuileries. And elegant French gardens.
The Four Seasons-George V Hotel presents all the glitter and style that might be expected from the Paris luxury hotels.
Creative director Jeff Leatham creates a fairyland of light and gold, with a particularly innovative mirrored Christmas tree, where reflections and distortions run rampant.
The parvis in front of the Hôtel de Ville had been transformed into a festive Christmas village, with fir trees, lights, food stands, a luge run, carousel, and a holiday market. And the traditional lights on the Champs-Élysées and Avenue Montaigne are always worth a visit.
There is sparkle for everyone this season in Paris — well-deserved after a challenging year.
We wish you all a happy holiday and a healthy and peaceful 2022.
Lead photo credit : The Christmas Village at Hôtel de Ville © Meredith Mullins