Metropole's Pre-Christmas Program

photo: ice rink at hotel de ville
The skating rink at Paris' Hôtel de Ville, last year.

Humbug Started Earlier This Year
Than I Thought It Would

Paris:- Friday, 13. November 1998:- Last week I thought it was just a tiny bit early to put up my Christmas lights and starting to run Paris' festive program on a weekly basis until the big day.

It is still too early for my lights. But by absolute chance - a fluke from outer space! - I got my hands on a copy - a very bad photocopy - of the season's program for Paris. Now I can safely forget about doing my lights until about 22:46 on Christmas Eve.

As expected, the program resembles last year's. Maybe they are always the same; the various performers change a bit and the day numbers change a bit - and maybe even the big department stores change their windows a little bit - but year-in and year-out it is the same old round of marchés, choirs and midnight masses.

I know it's tradition and you know I am the 'humbug' guy. All the same, as soon as the big ferris wheel at Concorde goes up I am going up with it - to get some photos from a place it's not possible to get them any other time. I guess that's why the thing's at Concorde.

It was a mistake to write last week that "A lot of the details won't change much," because thesephoto: lights on champs elysees are exactly what do change. Now that I've seen this year's program, it is generally the same as last year's, but with new details.

Another year-old photo; of the Champs-Elysées in the rain.

In the coming weeks, I expect to find more of them and they will be added here. One of my tipsters has told me the big stores on the Grands Boulevards are busily putting up their decorations - so even if there doesn't happen to be any new words here, there will be new photos.

This year's Christmas program is below, and below it are the references to Metropole's own past seasonal features.

Events, Displays

Christmas Lights - Paris' Quarters:

From mid-November to January 1999:

Rue Royal - Opéra Quarter
Avenue Montaigne - from 15. November to 5. January
Champs-Elysées - from 26. November to 11. January
Vendôme - rue de la Paix - from 30. November to 5. January
Faubourg Saint-Honoré - from 11. December to 5. January

Hôtel de Ville Skating Rink - Patinoire - Eisbahn:

Place de la Hôtel de Ville: Christmas decor, with two merry-go-rounds at either end of ice-skating rink. No charge. Ice-skate rentals. From Tuesday, 15. December until 7. March 1999. Open from 9:00 to 22:00 daily.

Giant Ferris Wheel - Grande Roue - Riesenrad:

Place de la Concorde, Tuileries side. From 19. December until 3. January. Daily from 10:30 until 19:30.

Merry-go-rounds - Les Maneges de Noël - Karussel:

Two at the Hôtel de Ville, from 19. December to 3. January; daily from 10:30 to 19:30. Also located in most other Paris arrondissements.

Christmas Windows - Vitrines de Noël - Schaufenstern:

Bon Marché, Rive Gauche, 'Peau d'Ane;' at Galeries Lafayette, 'The Noël of Christian Lacroix;' La Samaritaine, 'Le Chocolat dans tous ses Eclats' and at Printemps, 'Baslle, Jouet 'Fetische.'' From November to January 1999.

Christmas Mangers - Crèches - Krippen:

Noêl aux 5 Continents:

From the four corners of the world, 120 crèches representing voyages full of fantasy. At the Forum des Halles, 1 and 3, Grand Balcon, level -1. From 10:00 to 19:30 daily. Closed Sundays except for 6, 13 and 20. December. Open from 28. November to 2. January.

La Crèche du Vieux Paris:

Find yourself in the Christmas of medieval Paris as if it were 1491. Notre Dame is finally finished, shops and houses are on bridges; apothecaries, barrel makers -with more than 400 actors, some of them robots, in period costumes to animate this replica of another time. With narration. In a circus tent at the place du Palais-Royal; daily from 10:00 to 20:00. Starts Friday 4. December and continues until 4. January. Reservations possible; Info. Tel.: 01 40 21 40 21.

Christmas Markets - Marchés de Noël - Weihnachtsmarkt:

La Foire Saint-Nicolas:

'L'Atelier du Père-Noël en 40 Chalets' - From all of France and all the continents, the Christmas decorations of artisans from around the world. Place de la Bourse, Paris 2. Starts Tuesday, 17. November, until Sunday, 6. December. From 10:00 to 19:30, on Thursdays until 21:00.

Marché de Noël - Champs-Elysées:

Exhibition - market organized with traditional handcrafted items and products from Alsace, including decorations. From 28. November to 24. December; daily from 11:00 to 19:00; until 17:00 on 24. December. Maison d'Alsace, 39. avenue des Champs-Elysées, Paris 8.

Marché de Noël - Parc Floral:

Also from all of France and all the continents, 250 stands; crèche with panorama of animals, musicians, with a children's chorus performing carols. 'Pagno' miniature Noël village with dozens of houses; populated by over 100 'santons' from Provence. With clowns and mimes.

Parc Floral de Paris, Route de la Pyramide, Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12. Métro: Château de Vincennes. On Friday, 4. December, from 14:00 to 22:00; Saturday, 5. December, from 10:00 to 22:00; and Sunday, 6. December, from 10:00 to 20:00.

Alsatian Noël At Gare de l'Est:

Reconstitution of two Alsatian villages, with timbered houses. Specialty food products from the region along with typical Christmas decorations, and Christmas trees crowned with stars. On Wednesdays from 10:00 to 19:00, Saint-Nicolas gives goodies to the kids.

Gare de l'Est, suburban and long-distance train halls, Paris 10. From Tuesday, 6. December until Saturday, 19. December; daily from 9:00 to 20:00.

Gare Saint-Lazare:

There will also be a 'Marché de Noël' situated in this major train station. At this time, no details are available for it.

Christmas Concerts:

Ensemble Olivier Opedebeeck and Cori Spezzati vocal ensemble, directed by Olivier Opedebeeck Legrenz. 'Christmas Vespers of Venice,' featuring original works. At the Saint-Louis des Invalides church, 2. avenue de Tourelle, Paris 7. On Thursday, 10. December, at 20:30.

The Children's Choir of L'Ecole Sainte-Marie d'Antony, sing Noël under the direction of Père Giraud, with Georges Bassonnet on the organ. At the Saint- Germain-des-Prés church, 6. place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris 6. Performance on Tuesday, 22. December at 20:30.

Concertsolo - by the Choir of the Russian Patriarch. 'Un Noël à Moscou' features ancient orthodox chants, liturgical choir and traditional Russian chants. At the Saint- Louis-en-L'Ile church, 19 bis, rue Saint-Louis-en-L'Ile, Paris 4. On 24, 27. December and 1. January at 17:00 and on 26, 28. and 31. December at 20:45.

photo: illuminated hotel de ville in 12th

Candlelight Christmas Concert - featuring the Alegria Ensemble, performing 'Les Plus Beaux Noël au Moyen-Age et de la Renaissance.' At the Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre church, 1. rue Saint-Julien , Paris 5. Sunday, 26. December, at 21:00.

Christmas Masses

Midnight Mass - with the participation of artists from the world of showbusiness; under the direction of Patrick Marco. At the Pelouse de Reuilly in the Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12. On Thursday, 24. December, at 23:30.

Christmas Mass at Notre Dame - Thursday, 24. December, Mass of the Virgin at 18:30, 'Eve of Noël' about 21:00 and Midnight Mass at 24:00. On Christmas Day, 25. December, there will be masses at 8:00, 8:45, 10:00, 11:30 and 12:30, and possibly one at 18:30.

Metropole's Christmas Past in Paris:

Past Christmas' Season Features in Metropole at a Glance:

Anno 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.49 - 8. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.50 - 15. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.51 - 22. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.52 - 29. December 1997:

Anno 1996:

Metropole Issue 1.43 - 16. December 1996

  • Features: 'Shopping' on the Rue Saint Honoré,' 'Standing Around Waiting for Food' and 'Best Christmas Window Contest.'

Metropole Issue 1.44 - 23. December 1996

  • Feature: 'The Eating Season'

Metropole Issue 1.45 - 30. December 1996

  • Feature: 'New Year's in Paris'

I thought I was writing 'Humbug' last week when I wrote that this page would be updated. This obviously caused the new program to fall into my hands. When I saw the photocopy of it, I asked for a version in French. The one I saw looked like it was written with Japanese characters. It turned out to be an incredibly lousy copy - in French - and if you find screaming howlers of typos above, they've come from all the drop-outs and my sorry pinwheel eyes.

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