Tour Eiffel has been called many things, one of them being “a big heap of rusty metal” but because I belong to the school of thought that old is always gold and spurn modernism in general, to me, it’s beautiful.
Especially at night, and now that I’ve experienced it, especially during Christmas 🙂
To think that we nearly missed it, turned off by the idea of getting swamped by touts like the last time we were there. It turned out to be a wonderful night exploring the Christmas Market at Trocadero, taking the most wondrously magical carousel ride ever, and ending the evening watching Tour Eiffel twinkling benignly above us as we shared a scrumptiously sinful banana nutella crepe fresh off the griddle.
Parisians are huge on Christmas markets – every Noel, they pop up everywhere ! From the extravaganza along the Champs Elysees to St Germain, St Paul, Notre Dame and then the Tour Eiffel.
Stalls selling everything from warm and spicy vin chaud (mulled wine) to packets of lavender from Provence, Candy Apples, and barbe à papa (Father’s beard, or French for Cotton Candy!) pop up along the streets, and you see excited children, sticky hands clutching paper bags of chichi (Churros) ooh-ing and aah-ing over the magical Christmas displays while fond parents look on.
The memory makes me all warm and fuzzy inside – K and I hope to bring our future children here once they are old enough, if only to experience a good old-fashioned Christmas devoid of the demands for presents from Toys R Us and fake plastic baubles strung up along Orchard Road.
Tour Eiffel Christmas Market and Santa’s Village:
LOVED the rustic pine huts with Winter wreaths and all those homey gingham table cloths. The Parisians are so warm and friendly during the winter compared to the summer, when the hot and muggy weather and hordes of tourists turn them into tight lipped, impatient versions of their actually very curious and smiley selves. Remember to always speak to them in French, even if your french is execrable – they appreciate the effort, and there is instantly an at least gruffly affectionate rapport established when you sil vous plait your way through Paris. ^^
Just look at those huge steaming griddles of savoury saucisses with all that sweet, meltingly soft sauerkraut ! All the offerings seem to be specifically engineered to make people ravenously hungry on a winter’s night. We went for the potatoes with melted Raclette cheese which was so calorie laden our forks shook as they brought all that potatoey, cheesy goodness to our mouths, but boy was it worth it. The crispy spiced potato wedges were soft and had satisfying bite on the inside and all that buttery Raclette … Mmmm.
And of course, the beverage of choice at the markets is always vin chaud or chocolat chaud!
There’s just something incredibly uplifting about window shopping at the Christmas markets and exclaiming over pretty soaps or marionettes under the warm light as the proud proprietors look on and chat about their wares, sipping velvety smooth hot chocolate and warming your hands around the little paper cups.
I thought Vin Chaud would be an acquired taste, but it was surprisingly pleasant and palatable! There is an immediate, intoxicating boozy hit when you first pour the dark purple stuff down your throat, but almost straight after the shock, you get a feeling of overwhelming well being deep in the bottom of your belly. K and I were red-faced and enjoying ourselves thoroughly after a cup each.
Lookit ! Life-sized candy canes ! A letterbox to post my Christmas wishes to Pere Noel 🙂
Little things which add so much more magic. It made me nostalgic for the days when I would stay up waiting for the Tooth Fairy to switch my little baby teeth for two-dollar notes or when I dashed down on Christmas mornings hoping to catch Santa Claus before he left my presents (But Daddy, how will Santa Claus come in? We have no chimney!)
I know this is a little out of point, but throughout the night, I kept thinking about how I would love to bring my unborn kids to Paris, educating them on the finer points of eating a large crepe without smearing their faces with chocolate and cream and then laughing at them when they do. ^^ (Mushy, much?)
And then more fooood !
Delicious Chicken Paella scooped up piping hot from pans, slightly charred and smoky and full of seafoody umami ! We scarfed this down in record time, especially K – he’s a real rice man.
Satiated both in spirit and in stomach, we ended the night at a wondrous carousel spinning round and round and laughing like children. 🙂
“Allez, les enfants, allez!”
“Beneath an awning and its shade revolving,
“There passes, every little while, the stand
“Of dappled horses, hailing from the land
“Which lingers long before at last dissolving.”
– Das Karussell, Rainer Maria Rilke
Another unforgettable memory in the City of Lights, my Carousel of Dreams