Thursday, December 1, 2011

December is Here

Today I woke up on time, at 7:30am. It wasn't raining and it was above 50 degrees, and it was December 1st. I walked mon enfant across the Champ de Mars and recounted the story of the Little Red Hen for probably the 50th time this fall.

Side note: I asked him what a hen was this morning, and he goes, "It's red." Don't worry, I amended his definition to "a mommy chicken."

I came back to my room, and as I am often wont to do on Thursdays (my day without classes), promptly fell asleep until just before noon. It was a beautiful sleep, although I did have a slightly terrifying dream in that I was by the ocean and saw a 50-foot wave, and then somehow accidentally purchased $4000 worth of yoga mats featuring Barbapapa...yeah, I don't know either.

^That's Barbapapa, everyone. The pink one. The rest are Barbamaman, and then the other ones whose names all start with "Barb-," but I can't tell the names apart because I don't have a French accent (Barbidou and Barbidur sound really similar to my untrained ear).

Anyway.

This afternoon I went out with my host mom. We took the baby and drove over to a busier area of the 7th arrondissement. We first stopped at La Maison du Chocolat, where I got to try a piece of chocolat noir (dark chocolate), which is the specialty of the house, and a champagne truffle, which are very popular during the Christmas season in France. So very excellent.

Then we went into Hermes, which was just next door. The store has taken over the old swimming pool of the Lutetia Hotel, and so the floor is sparkly blues and whites. It looks just like a pool in an old movie, with the balconies all around, and sunk deep down. So gorgeous, and the most amazing part is that didn't even care that we were just openly gawking at the layout. No one bothered us, and my host mom said it's that way in Paris--I shouldn't worry too much about going into fancy boutiques alone, just to see them! Which is great news, because I am so obviously never going to buy anything from a major label. I just am dying to pretend I could.

From there we went into a large children's bookstore, where I could have easily spent house. There was a gorgeous pop-up of Le Petit Prince, and huge copies of TinTin. Did you know bookstores smell the same everywhere? After the books, we went to a foie gras store, and I sampled the wine that traditionally goes with foie gras--so very sweet! And I learned the best ones to buy for gifts (don't get TOO excited, because I'm not buying a lot, family...sorry).

Our next stops were these interesting new concept stores for children. It's very chic to have fashionable children these days, and there is a whole crop of new "lifestyle" shops that cater to this fantasy. We saw an amazing armoire made from old blue leather luggage, beds made of pipes from old apartment buildings, and tons of kitschy pillows and knick-knacks.

The final stop was Le Bon Marché, which is a department store. It is less famous than other Parisian department stores like Les Galleries Lafayette or Printemps, but according to my host mother, it's the one most Parisians shop at. It was decorated for Christmas on the outside and in, and they blended the decor with the art-deco style of the building. We couldn't stay too long because we had to pick her son up from school, but I'm definitely going back one afternoon to snoop around and pretend I can afford the fur hats I saw stacked inside.

Now the rain is falling, and I had an easy evening with the family. Almost all the leaves are gone from the rain these past few days, and many streets around me have garlands strung across them. People have told me Paris doesn't go all-out for Christmas the way I am used to, but so far, I like it. It's just decorations the French way--classier, understated, but that doesn't mean it's not Christmas-y. I'm seeing a lot of sales on Champagne and oysters. Sounds like Christmas to me!

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