Posts Tagged ‘champs élysées’

It’s How Long Until Christmas?!

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Dear Father Christmas,

All I want for Christmas is a very clear sign involving flashing lights and someone handing me a piece of paper with lots of detailed information outlining what I am going to do and where I am going to live next year. And maybe some sort of delicious cake to eat.

Thanks!

Love Jess xx

So apparently it is already December and Christmas is a mere three weeks and one day away. That, of course, means that 2013 is four weeks and one day away. My natural instinct to count down days and reflect on the previous year etc. means I am now going into slight panic mode as I realise that I have some fairly major decisions to make within the next few weeks. I had been feeling a-okay with my “Holland or England” concept but now that isn’t even really definite enough as visas need to be applied for and apartments found. It is true that it doesn’t matter where I end up, I can always move. But the idea of moving all of my stuff multiple times appeals about as much as someone stabbing me with a fork so I’d kind of like to get it right. Or, at least, not completely wrong.

Anyway, that aside, the Christmas festivities have sprung throughout Paris with decorations and markets coming alive across the city. On Saturday evening I met my friend Chuck on the Champs Elysées and we wandered through the Christmas markets drinking vin chaud. The markets were as commercial as I expected and I didn’t actually look at any of the stalls apart from the man selling hot spiced wine. The decorations down the street were quite pretty and you can’t help but feel somewhat happy and festive as you walk past fairy lights, wooden huts, ice skating rinks and people eating churros. The cold winter air certainly made it feel Christmasy.

Christmas markets

So many people on the Champs Elysées

A decorations throughout Paris are fairly simple – lots of fairy lights which I always think are the best lights to have. If it were up to me, one hundred helicopters would fly across the city and dump huge lengths of fairy lights over buildings and streets, creating a web of twinkling stars. So pretty. The decorations on the Champs Elysées are a bit sci-fi and look like aliens have wrapped laser beams around the trees but at least they’re simple. There is a distinct lack of religion in the decorations which I find quite interesting. No Jesus or Marys hanging from lamp posts here.

The other day I was wandering aimlessly through Paris and walked through Place Vendôme, near the Ritz. There were some intriguing Christmas decoration statue things that appeared to be reticulation pipes stuck together at angles and then covered in sparkly fairy lights. They improved as it got darker, but in the day light they looked quite average. It is somehow pleasing that even in a city like Paris, their Christmas decorations are just as tacky as Perth’s.

Christmas decorations

Jaunty.

Still no sign of snow in Paris and I’m not getting my hopes up this year. I still REALLY REALLY REALLY want a white Christmas but I don’t think Sheffield is going to deliver. It did snow when I was there in April so there is a chance. But I think it will require a Christmas Miracle or lots of soap suds.

Lots of Lycra

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

My presence on the Champs Élysées for the end of the Tour de France has become an annual occurrence – yesterday my friend Brandon and I joined the crowds of British tourists to watch the boys in lycra roll into Paris. It amazes me how easy it is to actually do this – I always imagined pushing and shoving and hordes of people lining the grand rue for the final day. Instead, Brandon and I met 50 minutes before the riders’ expected arrival and managed to find a spot right near the finish line without any problems.

Tour de France

Le Tour

Paris finally brought out the sunshine and it was a glorious day. The atmosphere amongst the crowd was very positive and it is such an exciting experience to watch the bikes zooming past. They go a LOT faster in real life than they do on television. Absolutely amazing.

Tour de France

Allez!

I was particularly thrilled to see Jens Voigt, the craziest and awesomest German bike rider EVER, heading the group for most of the way. He was clearly telling those legs to “shut up and do as I tell you”. Amazing.

Jens Voigt

GO JENS!

There were a few amusing moments, too. Last year I complained about Tina Arena singing the Australian national anthem when Cadel Evans was standing on the podium – this year was even WORSE. Perhaps it was my proximity to one of the speakers, but the opera singing who screeched out God Save the Queen burst a few ear drums amongst the crowd. It made me screw up my face in horror, this then resulting in a girl standing near me laughing. It was truly awful. So I say “Go Tina!”

Then there was Wiggins’ speech, which he made in English and that wasn’t exactly the most inspirational thing I had ever seen. But there was then a French translation for all of the non-english-speakers in the crowd. I’m not sure if this translation was shown on the television but it was absolutely terrible! Firstly, the translator was a girl. This just seemed strange. Secondly, she then ‘beautified’ the rather crude things that Wiggins’ had said, and said that his father’s dream of seeing his son winning the Tour de France had come true, rather than his mother’s dream as Wiggins had stated. Wiggins had also asked the crowd not to get too drunk, which was not translated at all and somehow turned into him thanking the crowd with all of his heart. Good work, translator.

The third amusing element was the overly dramatic music that was pumped through the speakers before the presentation of each of the jerseys. It was all violins and rolling drums. It certainly ‘added’ to the atmosphere. Amazing stuff.

So another year of the Tour is over and next year will be the 100th! Looks like I will have to stay in Paris in order to participate in the festivities.