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Christmas time in Paris


vanoce-1.jpgIn the Saint-Sulpice church among hundreds of wooden chairs there is a table with four white candles. One of them is already shorter, the second one will be lighted in two days. The cradle in the Betlehem is still empty, fresh straw waits for the little Jesus. 

Every year I try to get in the mood of the Christmas markets in Paris. However, whether it is at Montparnasse, La Défense, Trocadero, Champs-Elysées or Saint-Germain, I am not able to feel Christmas looking at the rows of the white commercial stands selling the vanoce-2.jpgproducts from all over the world and the sellers with the red Santa Claus hats.  

I feel and experience the Christmas time in Paris at other places. You can feel Christmas in the air when even the Parisian children have the hats on their heads, when in the windows of the bakery Poilâne in the 15th arrondissement there are hanging Christmas biscuits, when the leaves on the trees of the Luxembourg garden become very rare, when the empty flower pots wait for their spring dress, when the whiteness of the sand-stone of Parisian buildings is even more visible in the greynevanoce-3.jpgss of the short days and in the lights of Christmas decorations. 

On Friday evening I walk from Odéon to the Saint-Sulpice square. Behind the window of a bakery a lady hangs up on the wall a cloth Advent calendar in a form of the Christmas father „Père Noël“. I pass by the fancy shop windows with a soft Christmas decoration, dominated by red and white colours, look at the satin bath gowns, chocolates in the shape of Christmas decorations, parfumes and elegant coats. Behind the window of the shop „Cire Trudon“ with an old fashioned royal production of wax, founded in 1843, with candles proudly carrying tvanoce-4.jpgheir several cipher prices, I observe a woman in a wool coat discussing at the cash desk with four long white candles in her hand.

On the empty square with holiday shop windows of the converging streets, two pigeons are playing their love game on the head of the stone lion. After the love moment they wave their wings and fly towards the church tower. A yellow post car has an inscription “smile, maybe there is a love letter in this truck for you”. 

In the coffee place “Café Madame” on the street „rue Madame“ under the mirror with a painting of Parisian man and lady I am served two pale crêpes with strawberry jam. Some apparantly frequent clients are confortably seated, reading newspapers, chewing, watching TV, discussing with the waiter behind the bar desk, drinking coffee.

A group of friends is leaving joyful talking and laughing. Several minutes after their departure the waitor comes to pick up their payment from the little plate on the table.

With each step towards Pantheon the street Soufflot discloses a little more from the Eiffvanoce-5.jpgel tower. In the coffee place „Café Juliette“ a young man with a book opened on the chapter „lung oedema“, without any useless movement follows the lines with his eyes, after several minutes turns a page. A girl with the earphones tries to put in order an untidy bunch of papers. With her finger she taps on the drawing of a kidney.

I walk by Pantheon covered by a fabric top with the photographies of faces, in order to hide the repairing works. In front of Pantheon there is a bunch of kitch Christmas trees with white and pink balls. I get to the square Contrescarpe lighted by the small Christmas lights, I walk by the jar with a hot chocolate Deville, Christmas trees bundled in the middle of the street Mouffetard, I pass by the brown crabs, black bottles of the red whine, white cheeses, plenty of chocolates, chocolate train powdered with sugar pretending to be a snow, sleigh loaded with smarties, lighted teedy bear on the big chocosleigh, chocolate balls on the trees, white oysters St Jacques, pink prawns, green snails and sharp round sea urchins. Chickens are being roasted, mandarins neighbour the Asian fruit litchi, mushrooms with nuts, the chocolate shop Jeff de Brugges knows that its shop windows is one of the most attractive, Italian shop is full of Christmas Panettone packages. 

Parisian Christmas is in smells and tiny dense little lights hanging above the old streets of Paris. In the Christmas time in the air there are friendly meetings of the smells of the pine trees from the flowershops, fruits and vegetables, smells coming from the bakeries and from the street sellers of the roasted chestnuts. 

Maria Danthine-Dopjerova




Preview of picture in folder Paris Christmas | Jan Schinko jr.