It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Okay, I know, the titles of these Christmas-inspired posts are beginning to sound cheesy, but how can I help it? Christmas in Paris is magical, and as if I am not inspired enough by Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (it’s currently on repeat), all I have to do is hop on the metro and get off at Champs Elysees-Clemenceau to experience Paris’ incredible Christmas spirit. As my friend Shaun and I prepared for a surprise birthday party for my roommate on Saturday, we decided to take a little detour to the Christmas market on the Champs Elysees to see what all the buzz was about. It was wonderful – roasted chestnuts, vin chaud (hot wine, but closer to heated sangria), singing bears, and seasonal lights were out in all their glory. The crowds were a bit out of control, but I’ve never let that stop me from enjoying a good Christmas experience. The vin chaud was delicious, and for 3 Euro was a better blanket than our jackets.

Vin chaud, a staple of my holiday survival kit

The gift options at the Market are somewhat limited, but nonetheless not that bad. Cashmere scarves, crafts (elephants!), Christmas ornaments, sweets, meats, and wine were just some of the stands that lured me with their potential for Christmas gifts, but I decided instead to wait it out and see what else I can find. Despite the crowds, the mud, and the abundance of whining children, I was rather impressed with Paris’ Christmas efforts. Kudos, Paris, you’ve done me proud.

Following our excursion to the market, we headed to H&M, which was just recently opened on the Champs Elysees. I will never go back, unless it is an emergency. Crowded, snobby, and chock full of long lines for the cabines (dressing rooms? I can’t remember the English word) and the cash registers, it was an experience I would not wish upon anyone. I lost Shaun for about 30 minutes, who had left me while I tried on some dresses to go find a scarf and a sweater. Turns out he had been sitting outside the cabines the entire time. Not the greatest shopping experience, but at the end of the day, I walked away with a hot green velvet dress that screams “Christmas!” when paired with red tights, a cute animal print top that will surely prove to be multifunctional. We booked it out of there, though – French crowds are the worst kind.

I caught this carrousel moment and couldn't help but share - a mother with her son, holding on as they circled around watching the Champs Elysees pass by. Precious.

The surprise party was a hit – my roommate was somewhat surprised (he had been suspicious upon returning to a perfectly clean apartment), and the crowd was just big enough that nothing got out of control, but we still had a good time. Most people were gone by 1:30 so they could catch the metro, and we immediately crashed. The party was a hit, but I have to be a foodie for a sec here and talk about the biggest hit: COOKIES!

Millie's American cookies, my new favorite munchie

My friend David, a fellow food-lover and our token vegetarian/falafel-fanatic, brought a batch of 18 of Millie’s American Cookies, a bakery that’s actually in the Opera metro stop. Apparently the cookie-expert company is located all around Europe, which ruins the fun a bit, but nonetheless it was the best cookie I have ever had. To be honest, I’m not much of a cookie girl – I like hardcore sweets: cake, macarons, Boston Creme Pie, chocolate – but this cookie changed my mind. The flavor: caramel chocolate. The taste: gooey, half-baked, and just salty enough to not overwhelm my delicate sweet tooth. I think I ate 3 of them (shh, don’t tell!). Okay, maybe 4. At 8 Euro for a batch of 18 – 40 cents apiece – I will definitely be making a trip to Opera if only for the cookies.

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