Paris Christmas Season

photo: barbie window, samaritaine

'Barbie's' window at Samaritaine - you have to look closely.

Dining and New Years Still To Come

Paris:- Saturday, 9. December 2000:- Like almost anywhere, Christmas and New Years in Paris are the affairs of friends and families. Paris' difference may be that these friends and families may have been here for a very long time.

But Paris is also one of the world's major crossroads. It stands to reason that many who are in the city at this time of year are without friends or families. If this is you, Paris considers that you are entitled to just as much seasonal cheer as residents enjoy - in fact, you can share it with them.

From what little I've seen of this year's Christmas windows, the crass commercialism of former years has been cut back. Without last year's 'fin de siècle' hoopla and even more local prosperity, Paris returns to its 'regular' festive program. This offers something for everyone. This ought to be more than enough.

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Christmas In Paris 2000

There are so many items, with some of them difficult to classify, that the following may be a bit of a hodge-podge. Mostly likely - look and ye shall find.

Christmas Lights -

  • Rue Royal, until the beginning of January
  • Avenue Montaigne, from 17:00 until midnight; until Friday, 5. January
  • Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix, until Friday, 5. January
  • Avenue des Champs-Elysées, from 18:00; until Sunday, 31. December
  • Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Christmas Windows -

  • Bon Marché, Rive Gauche, until Sunday, 26. December. At 24. Rue de Sèvres, Paris 7.
  • La Samaritaine, until Sunday, 31. December. At 19. Rue de la Monnaie, Paris 1.
  • Printemps, Haussmann, until Sunday, 31. December. Theme - 'Glam'rock.' At 64. Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9.
  • Aux Galeries Lafayette, until Sunday, 31. December. Theme - 'Alice au Pays des Merveilles' which is otherwise known as 'Wonderland.' At 40. Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9.

Neighborhoods - 'quartiers' - also put up their own light shows, usually on shopping streets, around markets, or even on the city halls of arrondissements - so you may run into lights of cheer wherever you go in the city. This applies to decorated windows too - with lots of shops having their own seasonal displays.

Ice Skating - the Hôtel de Ville's outdoor ice skating rink is back in the place in front of Paris' main city hall. At the moment it has the only ice in the city. Open daily forcover: nova twirling from 9:00 to a late 22:00; until 25. February. Skate rental. Métro: Hôtel de Ville.

Christmas Tree Forest - Paris fashion designers turn their hands to 80 Christmas trees, which can be seen at the place in front of the Pompidou art museum - or, inside the art warehouse itself. Closed Tuesday; open from 11:00 to 22:00; until Thursday, 4. January. Paris 4. Métro: Rambuteau.

Merry-Go-Rounds - one in each of Paris' 20 arrondissements, free for kids. This includes the 'Grand Roue de Paris' which operates from 11:00 to 00:30 daily and 11:00 to 00:45 on weekends at the Place de la Concorde. The merry-go-rounds - 'manèges' - operate from 10:30 to 19:30 daily; from Saturday, 23. December until Sunday, 7. January.

Un Conte de Noël - a Christmas Fable, by William Korso and Pierre-Alain Perez, features dancers, singers, jugglers and magicians. Until Sunday, 31. December. From one to three times daily, at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, 16. Boulevard Saint-Martin, Paris 10. Métro: Strasbourg-St-Denis. InfoTel.: 08 92 69 90 00.

Le Mystère de Noël - is an opera of 3D images featuring religious art works, from Byzantine mosaics - to Rembrandt. Accompanied by sacred texts, classical music and gospels. Subtitles in English and Italian. Until Wednesday, 10. January, in the heated tent located on the Parvis in front of Notre Dame. Daily performances hourly from 13:00 to 19:00. Métro: Cité. InfoTel.: 01 56 56 44 23.

Marchés de Noël

Le Village de Père Noël - more than 40 wooden chalets have been set up to offer artisanal toys, cookies and other products. Until Sunday, 24. December; from 11:00 to 20:00. In front of the Gare Montparnasse, Paris 15. Métro: Montparnasse.

Le Monde des Enfants - tress and decorations, Santa Claus' house, rides and merry-go-rounds, at theposter: staline medodie, thr village of more than 70 chalets. Until Sunday, 7. January; from 11:00 to 20:00; 11:00 to 22:00 on Friday and Saturday. At the Place de la Bastille, on the Port de l'Arsenal side. Paris 4. Métro: Bastille.

L'Alsace Fête Noël - regional products from Alsace, representing its 'art de vivre,' are in the departure hall at the Gare de l'Est. Until Saturday, 16. December; from 6:00 to 20:00 and from 9:00 to 19:00 on Sunday. Gare de l'Est, Paris 10. Métro: Gare le d'Est.

Au Pays de Noël - festive products, attractions such as jazz concerts, fables, rollers, circus acts and another Santa Claus house. 'Nuit du Conte on Thursday, 21. December, from 17:00 to 02:00. From Saturday, 16. December until Sunday, 24. December; from 10:00 to 19:00 and from 10:00 to 22:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. At the Parc Floral de Paris, Route de la Pyramide, in the Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12. Métro: Château de Vincennes.

Grand Choir - of Saint Petersburg's Moussorgsky Theatre, will be singing in Russian and other European languages. At the Eglise Saint-Louis-en-l'Isle, 19 bis, Rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Isle, Paris 4. On Monday, 25. December at 17:00 and from Tuesday, 26. December to Saturday, 30. December at 20:45. The final concert takes place at the American Cathedral at 20:45 on Sunday, 31. December. At 23. Avenue George V, Paris 8. InfoTel.: 01 44 62 00 55.

Gregorian Ensemble - of Notre-Dame de Paris. Gregorian chants and French polyphones from the 11th century. On Friday, 29. December, at 20:30; at Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite. Métro: Cité. InfoTel.: 01 42 34 56 10.

Handel's Messiah - performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, on Sunday, 31. December, at 20:30. At the Eglise de la Madeleine, Place de la Madeleine. Paris 8. Métro: Madeleine. InfoTel.: 08 03 80 58 03.

The other 'show,' on Sundays during December, consists of free concerts usually beginning at 16:00, performed on the Madeleine's very large and famous organ. I believe that there is also a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass on Sunday, 24. December - which is such a tradition that there is no mention of it. Tickets for this: at fnac, Virgin and agencies.

Festival d'Art Sacré - takes place for the 23rd time in the 10 Paris churches with antique organs, and in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées - for a total of 20 performances, continuing until Saturday, 16. December. At the Saint-Eustache church, also see Bill Viola's video 'The Greeting,' until Sunday, 7. January. Order tickets from the Festival d'Art Sacré, 14. Rue de Madrid, 75008 Paris. Also available at fnac. InfoTel.: 01 44 70 70 64 10.

Orchestra de Paris - Krystian Zimerman performs Rachmaninov, Dvorak, under the direction of Wolfgang Sawallisch. From Wednesday, 20. December to Friday, 22. December; at 20:00; at the Salle Pleyel, 252. Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Paris 8. Métro: Ternes. InfoTel.: 01 45 61 65 89.

Orchestre National de France - under the direction of Hans Graf, Elzbieta Szmytka sings Ravel, Szymanowski and Bartok, with the Radio France Choir. On Thursday, 21. December, at 20:00. In the Salle Olivier Messiaen at the Maison de Radio France, 116. Avenue du President Kennedy, Paris 16. Métro: closest is Ranelagh. InfoTel.: 01 56 40 15 16.

Le Quatuor - with 'Il Pleut des Cordes,' directed by Alain Sachs. Featuring Laurent Vercambre et Jean-Claude Camors on violins and Pierre Ganem, alto. Laurent Cirade, violoncello. Performing Schubert, Mozart and Lemarque. Théâtre du Châtelet, 1. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 40 28 28 40.

Casse-Noisette - is the 'Nutcracker Suite' as performed by leading artists of the Ballet of the Paris Opéra. Choreography by Nurevev, music by Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky. Until Sunday, 24. December; on the 16th at 14:30 and 20:00; on the 19th, 20th and 23rd at 19:30; on the 24th at 15:00. Opéra, Bastille, 2 bis. Place de la Bastille, Pris 12. Métro: Bastille. InfoTel.: 08 36 69 78 68.


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