The Pre-Christmas Program IV

photo: xmas window, printemps
Paris' Christmas windows are already drawing
crowds this year.

Shopping Goes Into Christmas Overdrive

Paris:- Friday, 27. November 1998:- Big city, big business, and bigger than ever at this time of year. Only one basic tip: do not attempt to do any Christmas shopping at any of the Grands Magazins on weekend afternoons. You can safely ignore this 'tip' if you like very big crowds of frenzied shoppers.

All of the 'Grands Magazins,' which includes Samaritaine, BHV-Rivoli, Printemps, Galeries Lafayette and Bon Marché, will be also be open on the first three Sundays in December. This will extend weekend shopping hours, allowing Samaritaine, for example, to serve an extra 60,000 customers.

Not only the big shops will be under assault, but all of the luxo boutiques will get their share too. For many buyers, Christmas is the only time they will shop at these - somewhat to the annoyance of regular customers.

This means waiting lines at Fauchon and Hedidard, overfull parking lots, traffic jams and full métro wagons. The secretposter: maison d'alsace is to finish all shopping by noon - and then share a big museum afternoon visit with everybody else who is in on the same secret.

If you have been buying gold-plated Louis XIV door-handles in the basement of the BHV for example, when you've finished all you have to do is cross the rue de Rivoli to the Hôtel de Ville, to take in the following:

'Paris, Ici et Là - le Paris des Quartiers' - An exhibition, mostly of photos, of Paris and its 'quarters' - which some have likened to 100 villages. With this show, you get to see a lot of Paris away from the main sights, and get to see them in the comfort of the Hôtel de Ville's reception office.

The 'Paris des Quartiers' exhibition continues until Saturday, 16. January and is open from 9:30 to 18:30 except on Sundays and holidays. At 29. rue de Rivoli, Paris 4. No entry charge.

A little bit further away, but in the same neighborhood: Le Musée de la Poupée - is open all year except on Mondays, and there may be an entry fee, but there is no selling, buying or trading - just a collection of dolls. Until 28. February, the 1/12th-scale collection of Ingeborg Riesser will be on display. Something different to see and worth a detour to the Impasse Berthaud, which is near 22. rue Beaubourg, Paris 3. Métro: Rambuteau. Open from 10:00 to 18:00.

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
Avenue Vendôme - from 30. November to 5. January
Rue de la Paix - from 30. November to 5. January
Faubourg Saint-Honoré - from 1. December to 3. 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. Panoramic view from the top. 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. No charge. Others located in most other Paris arrondissements.

Christmas Windows - Vitrines de Noël - Schaufenstern:

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

brochure: samaritaine toysChristmas 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 on the 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 by Jean-Pierre Coffe. In a heated 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.

La Crèche de Notre-Dame de Paris:

Inside a big tent, errected on the place in front of the church; entry from the church side. Daily from 10:00 to 19:30; on Tuesdays until 22:30. Daily from 5. December to 3. January. Entry charge: 35 francs; under 12 years, 25 francs.

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, breads and spices. 'Avent crowns.' 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.

Christmas Markets - continued:

Marché de Noël - Parc Floral:

Also from all of France and all the continents, 250 stands with thousands of gifts on offer; 'living' crèche with panorama of animals, musicians, and with a children's choir 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. Info. Tel.: 01 43 43 92 95.

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; plus music boxes and Alsatian Chrristmas books. Saint-Nicolas gives goodies to the kids on Wednesdays from 10:00 to 19:00.

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 is a 'Marché de Noël' situated in ticket hall of this major train station, at the same level as the train quais. At this time, no details of dates or times are available for it - only the photo at the top of the page.

Christmas Concerts:

Ensemble Olivier Opdebeeck with the vocal ensemble of Cori Spezzati, directed by Olivier Opdebeeck: Legrenzi's 'Christmas Vespers of Venice,' featuring original works. At the Saint-Louis des Invalides church, 2. avenue de Tourville, 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. Direction by Anatoly Grindenko. At the Saint-Louis-en-L'Ile church, 19 bis, rue Saint-Louis-en-L'Ile, Paris 4. On 25, 27. December and 1. January at 17:00 and on 26, 28. and 31. December at 20:45.

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, 23. quai de Montbello, Paris 5. On Sunday, 26. December, at 21:00.

Christmas Masses

Midnight Mass - with the participation of artists from the world of showbusiness; the 'Masters of Paris,' 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. Info. Tel.: 01 44 70 64 10.

Christmas Mass at Notre Dame - Thursday, 24. December, Mass of the Vigil 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 possibly one at 12:30, and at 18:30.

Festival d'Art Sacré: - 'Les Femmes et le Sacré' is the subtitle of this series of concerts with singers, which begins Thursday, 19. November and continues to a midnight mass on Thursday, 24. December, with the Moscow Ice Circus, at their location on the Pelouse de Reuilly. Métro: Porte Dorée.

Reservations can be made by writing to the 'Festival d'Art Sacré,' 14. rue de Madrid, 75008 Paris. Tickets are also available at fnac and the Virgin Megastore. Info. Tel.: 01 44 70 64 10. The program is a big one, and you might find details for it on Metropole's links page, at the official Paris Web sites.

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:brochure: toys lafayette

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'

Even though this 'holiday program' is already running in this magazine, I am still a bit surprised to find it here when it is not yet December.

Those of you looking for New Year's ideas will have to check out the past year's URLs above - I don't think anything much for this year will be posted until the middle of next month - and even if some new items turn up, I expect it will be pretty much the same as last year. You know: the same old Champagne and caviar again.

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