December 22, 2010
Above: Christmas window at Galleries Lafayette, Paris (JournaldesVitrines); Below: Christmas windows Galeries Lafayette (JournaldesVitrines); Eiffel Tower (Colodio)
Whoever said “all that glitters is not gold” can’t have visited Paris in December. I mean, why would anyone recoil at the prospect of ordinary, everyday sights being transformed into such delicious, enchanting illusions? From a damp black pavement glowing red, then amber, then green to the Eiffel Tower fizzing in a blaze of sparks, Paris in winter is pure magic.
But this light show is nothing new. The French capital has been flickering on and off for centuries. Its history stretches all the way back to the 1600s when a public decree ordered for lights to burn in the windows of all houses that faced onto the streets of Paris. Ta-da, and so the City of Light was born…
La Grande Roue at the Place de la Concorde, Paris (Feuillu)
These days, over 100 streets are lit up from late November to late January to accompany Paris’ permanently illuminated monuments. Fancy basking in the city’s reflected glory? Follow my lead and wrap up warm for a bracing evening stroll along the Champs-Elysées. The mile-long route from place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe glistens under a canopy of bright white fairy lights. Everywhere you look, there’s a sprinkling of fairy dust and Christmas cheer. Only the proverbial Scrooge would turn down a helping of roasted chestnuts or a spin on the twinkly Tuileries Ferris Wheel.