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Noël in Paris 2003

photo: champs elysees lights 2002

The Champs-Elysées glitters, damply.

Twinkles in the City of Lights

Paris:- Saturday, 8. November 2003:- The items below are those available early in November, but I think the list is pretty complete as far as special seasonal events are concerned.

For all regular exhibitions and other events, you need to turn to last week's Scène column, which was updated within living memory. A little later on, another column will be added that will include suggestions for shopping, dining and how to do New Years Eve in Paris. I'm working on it.



Christmas In Paris 2OO3

There are so many items, with some of them difficult to classify, that the following may be a bit of a hodge-podge. Look it over and ye may find.

Christmas Lights
  • Rue du Saint-Honoré, from Tuesday, 25. November until Sunday, 4. January.
  • Place Vendôme, from Tuesday, 25. November until Friday, 2. January.
  • Avenue des Champs-Elysées, from Etoile to Concorde, from Thursday, 27. November until the beginning of January.
  • Avenue Montaigne, from Thursday, 27. November until Sunday, 4. January.
  • Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, from Thursday, 27. November until Monday, 5. January.
  • Place des Victoires, and the rues Montorgueil, Petits-Carreaux and Etienne-Marcel, from Saturday, 29. November until Monday, 5. January.
  • Rue Lepic, from the beginning of December until mid-January.
Christmas Windows

Seasonal window decorations have evolved from displays of tons of 'Lego' and hundreds of 'Barbies' to elaborateposter: tintin, le temple du soleil themes this year, with Printemps being the first to be shown on TV-news, last Thursday. Result - there's more to look at for a longer delight. A good viewing time may be before noon on Sunday mornings. Otherwise, let the kids and moms stand in front.

  • Printemps, Haussmann, until Wednesday, 7. January. Theme - Hearts of Rose. At 64. Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9.
  • BHV, until Thursday, 1. January. At 52. Rue de Rivoli, Paris 4.
  • Aux Galeries Lafayette, from Friday, 14. November until Tuesday, 6. January. Eight windows designed by Gilles Cenazandotti. At 40. Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9.
  • Au Bon Marché, from Wednesday, 19. November until Monday, 5. January. At 24. Rue de Sèvres, Paris 7.
  • La Samaritaine - no official details yet, but the windows were full of toys and stuffed animals last Thursday. At 19. Rue de la Monnaie, Paris 1. At the Pont-Neuf.

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.

Christmas Crêches
  • Crêche at Notre-Dame - on view from Saturday, 8. December until 2. February 2004, from 7:45 to 18:45. Place du Parvis-Notre-Dame, Paris 4.
  • Crêche at the Madeleine - a giant crêche created by the Santonniers de Provence is on view from Saturday, 20. December until Friday, 2. January. Daily from 9:00 to 19:00. Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8.
  • Exhibition of 250 Crêches - from Saturday, 8. December until Tuesday, 6. January. Daily from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00. At the Paroisse Saint-Joseph Artisan, 214. ue La Fayette, Paris 10.

Ice Skating - the Hôtel de Ville's outdoor ice skating rink will be back in the place in front of Paris' main city hall at the beginning of December. Another one will be placed in front of the Gare Montparnasse. Both will be open for daily twirling until end of February. Skate rentals are usually offered.

Christmas Tree Forest - top Paris fashion designers turn their hands to 100 Christmas trees - to aid the Orphans Foundation of the Apprentis d'Auteuil, by auctioningposters: fondation cartier off printed designs of the trees and their decor. The creations can be seen at the Hôtel Dassault, which is located at 7. Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées. From Saturday, 20. December until Saturday, 3. January. Closed Sundays, Christmas Day and New Years Day, but open from 10:30 to 19:00. Paris 8. Métro: Franklin Roosevelt.

Merry-Go-Rounds - one in most of Paris' 20 various arrondissements, free for kids. The merry-go-rounds - 'les manèges' - begin operation on Saturday, 20. December, from 10:30 to 19:30 daily, and circulate until Sunday, 4. January.

Marchés de Noël

The Christmas markets located around Paris can vary somewhat, but if you only visit two they might seemposter: cirque de pekin identical. These markets sell traditional Christmas items, which might not all be made in China - such as the little figures that come from the south of France.

  • Village Noël, under the arcades on the Montparnasse Commercial Centre - facing the Place du 18. Juin 1940, from Thursday, 4. December until Wednesday, 31. December. Paris 15.
  • Marché de Noël, Place de la Nation. From Thursday, 4. December until Wednesday, 24. December. Paris 11.
  • Marché de Noël, Les Halles. At the Place Joachim-Bellay. From Friday, 5. December until Wednesday, 24. December. Hours from 11:00 to 20:00, and until 21:00 on Friday and Saturday. Paris 1.
  • Village du Père Noël, Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. From Wednesday, 10. December until Wednesday, 24. December. Paris 6.
  • Marché de Noël, Gare de Lyon. From Wednesday, 10. December until Wednesday, 24. December. At 20. Boulevard Diderot, Paris 12.
  • Marché de Noël, Gare du Nord. From Wednesday, 10. December until Wednesday, 24. December. At 18. Rue de Dunkerque, Paris 10.
  • Marché de Noël, in the place in front of the Gare Montparnasse. From Wednesday, 10. December until Wednesday, 24. December. Paris 15.
  • Marché de Noël, Gare Saint-Lazare. From Wednesday, 10. December until Wednesday, 24. December. Paris 8.
  • Marché de Noël, Place Saint-Sulpice. This market is distinguished for the third year in a row by aiding the handicapped, who have made all of the products for sale here. Hours are 10:00 to 19:00, and 12:00 to 22:00 on the first day. From Thursday, 11. December until Sunday, 14. December. Paris 6.
  • Marché de Noël, Gare de l'Est. In the past this market has featured many regional specialties from Alsace. From Monday, 15. December until Wednesday, 24. December. Paris 10.
  • Marché de Noël de Ménilmontant. This one is located in the 'quartier,' and includes all of the street animation associated with Paris' east. From Friday, 19. December until Sunday, 21. December. Paris 20.

Paris' regular marchés are also open during the festive season and have many edible specialites associated with it. There are several of these marchés in each arrondissement. Some are open six days a week while others operate on two or three days.

Les Voix de la Neva - the vocal ensemble of the city of Saint Petersburg, directed by Oleg Kovalev, will be singing in Russian and other European languages. The dates, times and locations -

  • Christmas Day, at 15:00 at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle and at the Eglise Réformée des Batignolles at 17:30.
  • Friday, 26. December, at 20:45 at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle.
  • Saturday, 27. December, at 20:45 at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle.
  • Sunday, 28. December, at 15:00 at the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Blancs-Manteaux and at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle at 17:30.
  • Monday, 29. December, at 20:45 at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle.
  • Tuesday, 30. December, at 20:45 at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle.
  • Wednesday, 31. December, at 18:00 at the Temple de l'Oratoire du Louvre and at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle at 20:45.
  • Thursday, 1. January, at 15:00 at the Eglise Réformée des Batignolles and at the Eglise Saint-Louis- en-l'Isle at 17:30.
  • Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre - on Wednesday, 24 December, the mass for families at 19:00 and at midnight, a solemn mass conducted by the Benedictines. On Christmas Day, masses at 11:00, 15:00, 18:00 and 22:00. At 35. Rue Chevalier-de-La-Barre, Paris 18.
  • The Madeleine - on Wednesday, 24. December. Doors open at 22:30 and the ceremony begins. This includes carols accompanied by the famous organ. The mass is about 23:00 and ends at 00:45, in time for the last Métro. On Christmas Day, the mass at 9:30 is followed by a high mass at 11:00, with singing and the organ. Additional masses at 12:30 and 18:00. Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8.
  • Notre-Dame-de-Paris - on Wednesday, 24 December, the mass for families at 18:00 and an international mass at 20:00. The midnight mass is conducted by Cardinal Lustiger. On Christmas Day, the first mass is at 8:30 followed by a Gregorian one at 10:00. Cardinal Lustiger leads the one at 11:30 and there is a final mass at 18:30. Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Paris, Paris 4.
  • Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés - on Wednesday, 24 December, the mass for families at 19:00 and an another mass at 22:30. On Christmas Day, masses are at 9:00, 10:30 and 19:00. Paris 6.

Paris de la Musique - chamber music and orchestras give a series of concertsposter: alsace of music by modern composers, at a variety of locations. Continuing until Wednesday, 26 November. Try the Web site for more precise information about this classic and contemporary festival in Paris. RésaTel.: 08 92 70 50 75.

Les Nuits des Musiciens - this 12th edition starts off with mezzo-soprano Hélène Delavault on Thursday, 11. December, followed by Andre Ceccarelli on Friday, 12. December, and wraps up with Souad Massi on Saturday, 13. December. All with varying accompaniment, all beginning at 20:30. All at Le Trianon, 80. Boulevard de Rochechouart, Paris 18. Métro: Barbés-Rochechouart. InfoTel.: 01 44 92 78 04.

Musique Sacrée - at Notre-Dame de Paris, with the big organ and traditional Christmas carols, under the direction of Nicole Corti. On Monday, 22. December, at 20:00. Cathedral Notre-Dame, 6. Place du Parvis-Notre-Dame, Paris 4. Métro: Cité. InfoTel.: 01 44 41 49 96.

Festival d'Art Sacré - includes 20 concerts, performed in 11 locations in theatres, museums and churches. From Monday, 17. November until Friday, 19. December. Most concerts start at 20:00 or 20:30. Tickets available from FNAC ticket locations and Ticketnet-Virgin, at Carrousel du Louvre, Champs-Elysées and Galeries Lafayette. InfoTel.: 01 44 70 64 10.

Pink Floyd Interstellar - rock sounds and an exhibition about this famous band, grouped together for an extended stay, until Sunday, 25. January. Organized around the idea of the 'Dark Side of the Moon.' Open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 12:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00. On concert evenings, the temporary exhibitions are open until 20:00. At the Parc de la Villette, 211. Avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de Pantin. InfoTel.: 01 44 84 44 84.

Epouses et Concubines - is just one of the dances put on by the company and soloists of the Chinese National Ballet. From Friday, 21. November to Tuesday, 25. November. At the Théâtre du Châtelet, 1. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 40 28 28 40.

Zazou - is a musical about love during the occupation, by Jérôme Savary. From Friday, 14. November until Sunday, 11. January. At 20:00 and at 15:00 on Sunday. Noposter: gumboots shows on Monday, and none on Thursday, 8. January. At the Opéra Comique, Place Boïeldieu, Paris 2. Métro: Richelieu-Drouot. InfoTel.: 08 25 00 00 58.

Gumboots - is subtitled 'Rhythm is a Language,' with this groupe from South Africa. From Tuesday, 25. November until Sunday, 21. December. Except Monday, shows are at 20:00, at 16:00 and 20:00 on Saturday, and at 15:30 on Sunday. At La Cigale, 120. Boulevard de Rochechouart, Paris 18. Métro: Barbés-Rochechouart. RésaTel.: 08 92 70 75 07.

Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris I - for December - 'Concerto Barocco,' with George Balanchine, features the opera's first dance team. Also see Jerome Robbins' 'Afternoon of a Faun' with music by Debussy. George Balanchine also stages two other pieces, 'Tchaikovsky-pas de Deux' and 'Sérénade.' Often at 19:30, but also at 14:30 and 20:00. First date is Monday, 1. December. The last date on Wednesday, 31. December, is a 'gala' night requiring evening dress, with deep pockets. At the Opéra Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, Paris 9. Métro: Opéra. RésaTel.: 08 92 89 90 90.

Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris II - for December - 'Pavane,' with Michel Kelemenis and music by Ravel, features the opera's first dance team. Also see 'Glacial Decoy,' 'Un Trait d'Union' and 'Liebeslieder Walzer.' George Balanchine and Angelin Preljocaj are the dance masters and some of the music is Bach and Brahms. Dates begin on Wednesday, 17. December and continue until Saturday, 3. January. At the Opéra Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, Paris 9. Métro: Opéra. RésaTel.: 08 92 89 90 90.

Fluid Canvas - will be performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, within the Festival d'Automne program. From Tuesday, 2. December until Sunday, 7. December, at 20:30 and 15:00 on Sunday. At the Théâtre de la Ville, 2. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 42 74 22 77.

Near Life Experience - choregraphy by Angelin Preljocaj, with electro-pop by the group 'Air' - which is not the same as 'techno!' From Wednesday, 10. December until Tuesday, 23. December. Times are usually 20:30 or 15:00, but no shows on Monday, 15. December or Sunday, 21. December. At the Théâtreposter: grand celeste, l'homme canon de la Ville, 2. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 42 74 22 77.

Tango Pasion - for its 10th anniversary, the steps are managed by Hector Zaraspe, with the El Sexeto orchestra, and a bunch of slinky dancers. Start date is Friday, 19 December, followed by various dates until Sunday, 4. January. At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 15. Avenue Montaigne, Paris 8. Métro: Place de l'Alma. RésaTel.: 01 49 52 50 50 - same as last year.

Der Fliegende Hollander - by Richard Wagner, with the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra. Directed by James Conlon. On the following dates and times - Monday, 1. December at 19:30, Thursday, 6. December at 19:30, Friday, 14. December at 14:30, Thursday, 20. December at 19:30 and Tuesday, 23. December at 19:30. At the Opéra, Bastille, 2 bis. Place de la Bastille, Paris 12. Métro: Bastille. InfoTel.: 08 92 89 90 90 [toll number].

Die Fledermaus - by Johann Strauss, with the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra. Directed by Vladmir Jurowski alternating with Rudolf Bibl; Mise en scène by Coline Serreau. On Tuesday, 2. December at 19:30, Thursday, 4. December at 19:30, Sunday, 7. December at 14:30, Tuesday, 9. December at 19:30, Saturday, 13. December at 19:30, Monday, 15. December at 19:30, Thursday, 18. December at 19:30, Friday, 19. December at 19:30, Monday, 22. December at 19:30, Wednesday, 24. December at 19:30, Friday, 26. December at 19:30, Monday, 29. December at 19:30, Monday, 12. January at 19:30, Thursday, 15. January at 19:30, Wednesday, 21. January at 19:30, Saturday, 24. January at 19:30, Tuesday, 27. January at 19:30 and Wednesday, 28. January at 19:30. At the Opéra, Bastille, 2 bis. Place de la Bastille, Paris 12. Métro: Bastille. InfoTel.: 08 92 89 90 90 [toll number].

La Belle Hélène - by Jacques Offenbach, directed by Marc Minkowski. Many dates beginning on 7. December and including New Years Eve, and continuing until 4. January. At the Théâtre du Châtelet, 1. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 40 28 28 40.

Blanche Neige - is the musical-comedy version about the little girl who had seven dwarfs for uncles - for kids five and up, by les Frères Grimm. This is a big production with 40 players, who act, really sing and dance. Beginning on Friday, 19. december and continuing until Sunday, 4. January. Daily, at 11:00 and 16:00. At the Folies Bergère, 32. Rue Richer, Paris 9. Métro: Cadet. InfoTel.: 01 44 79 98 98.

Tintin, Le Temple du Soleil - is the musical comedy version of the comic book and is probably a pretty big show. Regular showtimes are 20:30, with 15:00 and 20:30 on Wednesday and Saturday, and at 15:30 on Sunday. No shows on Monday or Tuesday. At the Hippodrôme d'Auteuil, Allée des Fortifications, in the Bois de Boulogne. Paris 16. Métro: Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 01 42 61 39 95.

Voltige - a high-voltage circus performance at the Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione. On Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 14:00 and 17:00, and at 14:00 every day during school holidays. At the Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione, 110. Rue Amelot, Paris 11. Métro: Filles-du-Calvaire. InfoTel.: 01 48 05 48 70.

Ca C'est du Cirque - is the name for the Cirque Diana Moreno Bormann, which performs all year long on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 15:00 with a second Saturday show at 20:30 twice a month. Other performances on all holidays. Most likely like real circus. Find it at Rue de la Haie-Coq, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de la Chapelle or bus 65. InfoTel.: 01 64 05 36 25.

The Cirque de Pekin Visits the Cirque Phenix - features circus stars' from China. To start on Saturday, 22. November and continue until Sunday, 4. January, with no shows on Mondays. At the Foire du Trône, Pelouse de Reuilly, in the Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12. Métro: Porte Dorée or Liberté. InfoTel.: 08 25 03 90 40.

Le Grand Céleste - is a smaller, human-scale circus that mixes up carny acts like the 'Human Cannon' with original music and with sort of a story to it all. Until 25. April, showtimes are at 20:45 on Friday and Saturday. Additional shows at 15:00 on Sundays and holidays, and at 14:30 and 17:00 on Sundays in December. At Le Grand Céleste, 22. Rue Paul-Maurice, Paris 20. Metro: Porte des Lilas. RésaTel.: 01 53 19 99 13.

Zingaro - a very snazzy show full of snazzier horses, with Tibetan monks attending, and directed by Bartabas. Until 29. February, at 20:30 and at 17:30 on Sundays. No shows on Monday and Thursday. At the Théâtre Zingaro, 176, Avenue Jean-Jaurés, in Aubervilliers. Métro: Aubervilliers-Pantin Quartre Chemins - or Paris bus 65. InfoTel.: 08 92 68 18 91.

Cirque d'Arlette Gruss - presents 'Carnaval,' a traditional circus, with two hours worth of laughs. From Wednesday, 26. November until 29. February. At 20:30 on Wednesday, 24. December, followed by a midnight mass; Performances at 14:00 on Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. On the Pelouse de Reuilly, Paris 12. Métro: Porte de Charenton or Porte Dorée. InfoTel.: 01 40 36 08 00.

Nouvelles Figures du Clown - follow Buster Keaton, with nine companies, in two circus tents, plus another tent for eats. Modernity mixed with classical in this series of shows. Beginning Friday, 5. December and continuing until Wednesday, 31. December. At theposter: cirque veniseParc de la Villette, 211. Avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de Pantin. InfoTel.: 01 40 03 75 75.

Le Cirque à Venise - the Cirque Messidor presents 'Arlequin au Carnaval.' To begin on Friday, 28. November and continue until Wednesday, 14. December. Performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 14:30, at 20:30 on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 17:00 on Sundays. At the Cirque Messidor, Pelouse de Saint-Cloud, in the Bois de Boulogne west of the Auteuil racetrack. Paris 16. Métro: Ranelagh or Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 01 43 22 41 71.

Megalopolis - is a 'hip-hop' circus, inspired by the Tower of Babel, presented by Joseph Bouglione. This starts on Saturday, 27. December and continues until Sunday, 29. February. Usually at 14:30 on Wednesdays, at 15:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Check for other times. At the Pelouse de Saint-Cloud, in the Bois de Boulogne west of the Auteuil racetrack. Paris 16. Métro: Ranelagh or Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 06 80 11 11 98.

Le Dindon - or, 'The Turkey,' which is a strange name for a theatre piece, except this one plays every Christmas. It's a comedy by Georges Feydeau, about dancing fools. Continues until 25. January. At the Comédie Française, 2. Rue de Richelieu, Paris 1. Métro: Palais-Royal. InfoTel.: 08 25 10 16 80.

Boule de Neige et Casse-Noisette - is show for little kids, presented by Lou Véronique Husson. With music by Tchaikovsky, the little snowball discovers a new world. From Sunday, 7. December until Wednesday, 7. January. At 10:30 on Wednesdays and at 11:00 on Sundays. At the Aktéon Théâtre, 11. Rue du Général-Blaise, Paris 11. Métro: Saint-Ambroise. InfoTel.: 01 43 38 74 62.

Scéne Items

Shanghai - is featured in two photo exhibitions. One is 'Shanghai 1920-1950' and the other is 'Shanghaiposter: musee nat ernest hebert Hier et Demain' by Marc Riboud. Starting on Wednesday, 10. December and continuing until Sunday, 7. March 2004. Except Mondays, from 10:00 to 18:00. At the Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris, 23. Rue de Sévigné, Paris 3. Métro: Saint-Paul or Chemin Vert. InfoTel.: 01 44 59 58 58.

Ernest Hébert - he was a portrait painter of the Proustian 'Belle Epoque.' He lived for 40 tears in Italy, some as director of the Villa de Médicis. This obscure museum - in a historical monument - features his works, and well as furniture and artifacts. Open Wednesday to Friday, 12:30 to 18:00, and weekends and holiday from 14:00 to 18:00. Closed Tuesday. Musée Nationale Ernest Hébert, 85. rue Cherche Midi, Paris 6. Métro: Vaneau or Saint-Placide. InfoTél.: 01 42 27 23 82.

No two Christmas seasons in Paris are exactly the alike, but except for 1999, they aren't much different either. Here are a selection of festive year-end pages from past issues.

Anno 2002

Metropole Issue 7.50 - 10. December 2002

Anno 2001

Metropole Issues 6.50, 6.51 - 8 and 15. December 2001

Anno 2000

Metropole Issues 5.50, 5.51, 5.52 - 9, 20 and 23. December

Anno 1999

Noël of 1999 was somewhat confusing because Paris decided it was changing the century and the millennium a year early, so there was a big program for this year-early fête - which was quite successful.

However, all the hoopla for it subtracted a bit from Paris' usual seasonal program - and caused Metropole to have three weekly 'Scene' columns for a number of issues.

Metropole Issues 4.51, 4.52 - 18 and 27. December 1999

Anno 1998

Metropole Issue 3.52 - 28. December 1998

Anno 1997

Metropole Issue 2.52 - 29. December 1997

Anno 1996

Metropole Issue 1.45 - 30. December 1996

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