My apologies on the delay of this post. I hope you enjoy the Christmas cheer I’m spreading in March! 😀
A few years ago I recall saying, “Sometime I would love to spend Christmas in Paris.” Somewhere along the line, (aka early 2016) I happened to fall in love with a man from France, whose family happens to have a home in Paris. I didn’t do this on purpose. I swear! But the stars aligned, and I got a French Christmas, which I’m lovingly calling a Parisian Holistay. L coined this term proudly, so I cannot take credit! The Europeans use the word “holiday” instead of vacation, so rather than Americanize this with “staycation,” I’m using my new work thanks to my bf!
Even though it may seem glamorous, Christmas in Paris, it’s probably not what you think. (This explanation is for all you Americans! See Capitalist Christmas below) My boyfriend is from Paris. It’s not like every trip home for him involves sightseeing. It would be like a native New Yorker traveling home to the Big Apple every Christmas and going ice-skating at Rockefeller Center. I’m sure some people do, and who am I to stop them? Anyway, I experienced a Parisian Christmas as the girlfriend of a Parisienne. 😉 In other words, I celebrated like a local. Not as a tourist. But you bet we took a walk on Christmas Eve so that I could get that perfect Eiffel Tower shot.
Christmas in France is subtle, yet beautiful– you know, the French way. The usual monuments and landmarks were sprinkled with lights and greenery, but not much else. As an American coming from the land of Capitalist Christmas, it was strange not to be around the hullabaloo that this holiday is in my home country. I am 100% a Christmas girl. Piano recitals, holiday concerts, church choirs and multiple services, cookie baking, brunch with Santa, festive sweaters, cat in Christmas costume, every classic holiday movie marathon, Christmas explosion in my apartment <– That’s the kinda Christmas girl I am. Go big or go back up the chimney.
A Change of Pace
The French enjoy Christmas just like they enjoy everything else– slowly and with lots of champagne and cheese. Meal times lasted for hours, which is pretty normal actually. My boyfriend’s parents are not in the Paris flat full-time, so they decorated with what they had, a tomato plant-turned-Christmas tree! It was my absolute favorite. The lack of commercialism made the holiday feel much more intimate.
While the French certainly celebrate with gift-giving, it’s not the capitalism-centered extravaganza like in the U.S. Parents buy big gifts for children, but once you’re an adult, gifts get smaller, more meaningful, and delicious. L’s family included me in the gifting, and we were given presents as a couple for the first time after eating an enormous feast. We received artisan chocolates, tea, and beautiful hand-painted bowls from the Netherlands. L’s grandmother gave me beautiful, hand-painted bracelets, which became especially precious to me after she passed away as the result of a tragic accident just a few weeks ago. We spent Christmas evening at her house, eating all her food as usual when we visited her. I knew her such a short amount of time, but she really made me feel loved and welcomed. I have written about her before, and you can read more about her life here. I could not write this post without mentioning her, as she was a huge reason I felt so at home in Paris.
I originally started to keep a food diary, but we had spectacular food literally every day. My bf’s parents used to have their own restaurant, and I could certainly tell! Everything they made was fresh, organic, and delicious! They were like food magicians. The food just kept coming and coming from seemingly nowhere. I told them that staying with them was like staying at a 5-star hotel. The days always began with coffee from L’s dad’s espresso machine. He even made me homemade cappuccinos!
There was dessert at lunch and dinner. The French trick to daily dessert is to have a minuscule amount of each option. Portions, people! The nights always ended with tea and perhaps cookies if there were any left.
New foods that I tried: vin chaud (mulled wine), Camembert cheese* (hell no, never again), Serbian Christmas cake.
*L’s family found my disgust for their cheese to be hilarious.
Look how cute that cake is!! It came from a Serbian neighbor. 🙂 It was made of chocolate, oranges, and mousse.
Memorable dishes: Carrot lasagna, veggie soups, and casseroles galore! His mom even cooked with hip, cool food like beets and tofu.
I have spent a decent amount of time in Paris. I visited for a week in 2012 with my architecture school during our 8-country summer tour. I stayed with L for two weeks in the summer and now two weeks at Christmas, putting my time in Paris at nearly 6 weeks total. This time the city felt much more like home to me, and I struggled to leave! I mostly struggled to leave his parents’ cooking. However, running, my dear sweet love, was a big part of the reason I felt so at home. I developed a running route from our flat to Parc Montsouris, the perfect park for running. I highly recommend that to runners in the area! One day I “runsplored” the Jardin du Luxembourg. I did a 10k around the gardens, and enjoyed the sculptures and plants. I was recovering from being sick, so running didn’t exactly feel amazing. But the sunshine and sights made my afternoons much brighter.
We explored the city the evening after Christmas, and we visited Notre Dame at my request. We were lucky enough to visit during mass. It was decorated with elegant blue lights on the inside an outside.
I’ll conclude this Christmas-tastic post with some great personal photos of me and my bf.
Awkward Family Photos
What can I say? We’re so photogenic. #blessed
The photo with L’s eyes half open is actually the best we got for a “Christmas photo.” ^-^
I’ll be back soon with the next episode of Super Delayed Holiday posts with NYE in France!