When I was in elementary school, my concept of Christmas was carefully writing a letter to Santa Claus, telling him how good I was the whole year, what I want for Christmas, promises on how I will even be better the next year. On the night of the 24th, I will go to sleep with excitement and when I wake up on the 25th, a big box of gift will be placed next to me in bed. As I grow older, and know that Santa Claus is no one other than my parents, Christmas for me is a day like any other, with just one exception of my friends and me exchanging greeting cards with each other, but every other thing goes on like normal.
It was not until I came to France, I got a 3-week vacation every Christmas, and the activities to prepare as well as celebrate Christmas here are so colorful, that I got to enjoy a true European Christmas. One of the most special activities enjoyed by both tourists and locals is to go to a Christmas market (Marché de Noel) in Paris. This is the first Christmas of Miamivores, so I will share with you guys some photos of the Christmas market in Paris.
(Photo: A giant cotton candy that cost 3eur)
Bài viết tiếng Việt: Chợ Noel ở Paris
Christmas evening is on the 24th, but you can already feel the Christmas excitement in the air from the start of December. The city seems to put on a new layer of sparkling clothes, made by thousands of lights everywhere to celebrate one of the biggest holidays of the year. Big Christmas trees, garlands of decorating lights, decorations in all shapes and sizes are put up everywhere. All of these create a very fun and warm festive atmosphere.
Photo: A small decorated tree in front of a bank
Photo: Inside a mall of Paris
Tourists and even locals cannot forget to enjoy on of the most special activities to celebrate Christmas of the city, which is the big Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées boulevard. The market started on the start of December, and runs until the first days of the New Year. Even though there are Christmas markets in various spots of Paris, the market on Champs-Elysées is probably the most famous for its size and special activities that are hard to find in other places. Even though it’s called a ‘market’, it is not just a place to come a purchase stuffs, it is also a place to meet up with your friends, to enjoy delicious treats and enjoy the festive atmosphere of the most important holiday of the year.
(Photo from parisinfo.com)
The Christmas market is situated along the boulevard, from the mid point of the boulevard to the Concorde Square, with plenty of stalls along the two sides. The first impression when entering the market would have to be the grandness and the sparkling lights of the market. The trees alongside the boulevard and the stalls are decorated with big lights, and the crowd of happy people makes the boulevard even livelier than ever. This market is also an ideal place for people who want to try certain specialties of France, because more than half of the stalls are food stalls, and the smell from these stalls is enough make your mouth water from afar.
Christmas in France is often cold, the temperature can even go down to below 0°C, so most of the food are either deep fried or roasted. The food are prepared and served at the stall, both to help keep the delicious heat of the dish, and also to ‘lure’ people in. Just imagine, in the chilly windy evening, how can you resist when walking pass a bright stall with hot waffles fresh from the irons, churros fresh out of the oil pan and are being rolled in white sugar, or piece of salmon being roasted directly on open fire, especially when all these dishes give out a smell that is simply irresistible. With only 2-3eur, you can enjoy a bag of 6 crunchy churros, or a hot fluffy waffle. If you’re feeling generous, 4-5eur will give you a sandwich with hot slices of roasted salmon, or a hotdog with freshly grilled sausages. The food is so delicious, and the price is not too high, so most of the visitors would try at least one dish.
Beside food, hot drinks are also very ample: from very general drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, to the more ‘rare’ ones like hot beer, and the most special one is vin chaud – hot mulled wine, typically sold in Christmas markets. Even though I can’t drink too much wine, I always break the ‘tradition’ during Christmas and buy myself a cup and share with Matthias, only to have one small sip, but it’s enough for me to enjoy the warm taste of red wine infused with cinnamon and orange zest. The ingredients are nothing special, and you can even find in stores during Christmas kits with all the ingredients to make your own hot mulled wine at home, but I feel that if the smell of this hot wine is not there in Christmas markets, the atmosphere would probably be much less festive.
Christmas market is also a place to find very interesting products like a piggy bank with a face that can smile and ‘eat’ your money, cute shaped gloves and slippers. There are also many stalls that sell decorations for Christmas and New Year, from glass ornaments in all sizes and colors to make your Christmas tree stands out, small colorful porcelain dolls, to wooden table decorations and wall decorating pictures.
Matthias, me and our group of friends wandered in the market, eating and buying souvenirs for more than 4 hours, and the festive feeling still follows us on our way home. Even though the market is almost the same every year, but me and my friends still go together every single year, and enjoy the same festive treats. I think we all feel that this activity takes a very big part in creating a true Christmas atmosphere, and it also helps students that are away from home like us to feel less lonely in this family holiday. And so, another Christmas in my life passed with memories that sparkle with lights and music just like that.
Have a merry Christmas everyone ❤