Friday, December 16, 2016

Paris Miscellany December 2016 - The Beautiful, The Festive, and the Quaintessentially Parisian

When I take pictures in Paris, I'm a little bit... reckless? Carried away? It's hard to avoid - between the excitement of being on vacation, and the EXCITEMENT of being in Paris... well, there's a lot of beauty that I feel that I want to capture. And much of it doesn't fall into any nice thematic sort of plan, so I'm just going to show you things!

First - PASTRIES!!!  The holidays are when chestnuts come into their own, and my favorite dessert - Mont Blanc -  is topped with a TON of candied chestnuts that have been forced through a ricer. I can eat these until I am absolutely ill...

But if chestnuts don't appeal, every pastry shop window has a ton of possibilities!

Does that chocolate thing in the front look like it has three eyes,
with long eyelashes, and like it's smiling at us?

 Cold weather also brings the need to drink a great deal of "chocolat chaud!" You can order it "a la viennoise" which brings mounds of whipped cream, or "a l'ancienne," at which point you are presented with a mug with a smear of tarry dark chocolate in the bottom, and then a pitcher of warm milk, and some sugar! You can sit an experiment for HOURS to figure out just the right combination...

And of course winter wouldn't be winter without a pile of "choucroute garnie," - sauerkraut with all sorts of... pig parts. And some boiled potatoes, and a dab of mustard. You've got to walk for MILES the next day to work off this meal!

For me, one of the biggest delights of window-shopping in Paris it just the sheer variety of shops available. No matter how far I walk in Chicago, I'd be hard-pressed to find an entire shop dedicated to toy soldiers (I'm assuming tin, but I'm not sure?). In fact, I think I can remember THREE such places in Paris. Truly, Paris is a city that encourages and indulges the individualist, and doesn't pay nearly as much attention to the idea of conformity.

The bottom photograph is tough to see, but it's a wooden box, balanced on the "legs" of 5 metal "runners." Their 5 heads are the handles of the box. Creative doesn't even begin to describe this...

Probably the hardest thing about writing The Vivienne Files is trying to find just the right color for garments; I don't find a wide range of colors available online, and when I DO find something close to being right, it's poorly photographed... Contrast that to these subtle shades, just hanging in a shop window looking irresistible...

I told you that Paris has a really wide assortment of shoes available, and I believe that we all concluded that this would probably include some really silly things. The shoes at the top are both ugly AND impractical - a winning combination! And the boots at the bottom? Yes, they look like they're broken, but they're MADE THAT WAY.... I couldn't get a better picture, because we were waiting to go into Sainte-Chapelle for a concert, and the room was quite dim. But I couldn't pass these up. Could you imagine going down the street wearing boots that looked as if the heels were in the process of snapping off? I don't get it....

Yes, there's a gap at the back of the heel, where it "would" have broken off.
The angled heel is flattened on the "new" bottom.... hmmm...

This window wasn't specifically holiday, but it was just so pretty that I wanted you to see it. The white pattern is painted on the interior, and you were able to glimpse the display (maybe antiques?) through the paint. Just lovely...
Speaking of color combinations, and window displays, and festivities - these were all just stacked in a store window. Couldn't you just dream of walking in and buying a whole stack of these sweaters? The color combinations are particularly creative - the tops of the stacks are somewhat predictable, but then as you get nearer the bottom, some interesting choices are made!

We went to the Hermes on the Left Bank, because it's close to the grocery store at Bon Marche (which was a delight...). The Hermes was a madhouse, and their windows weren't particularly Christmassy. But creative, always! I couldn't imagine weaving silk through this woven bent wood, but someone did it, and brilliantly, too.
However, I didn't really feel the lack of the festive winter season - most store windows were beautifully decorated, and a delight to study at length:
In the mood for a chocolate snowman - large or small? I can hook you up...
For those people who have EVERYTHING - who can't use the most elegantly packaged box of chocolates in the world?
I love me a moose or two, in a hat with ear flaps, of course.
Wooden reindeer MUST have snow in their (very large) antlers:
I will leave you, as we leave Paris, with the most winsome and graceful of Christmas fairies...

and love,
Window shopping during Christmas in Paris, France


  1. Very enjoyable. It was like I was there with you.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful stroll through Paris.

  3. Wonderful. Forget the moose--how about that HAT? Beautiful! The fact that the intricate design is monochrome keeps it from being over the top (so to speak).
    I forget whether it was at Angelica or at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée that I had what was was billed as "unctuous" hot chocolate. It was unctuous indeed, and was fantastic.

  4. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. I would love to see a wardrobe based around either of the photos that show the blues and greens. Especially the first one. Some of my favorite colors!

  5. Thanks for the vicarious trip to Paris. I always feel as if my head is just full-to-bursting with art and color when I leave Paris. This post has brought some of that back.

    Also - that picture with the blues and greens - those are my colors. I've been searching for art or scarves or something with those exact colors. I second the request for a wardrobe based on those colors.

  6. Thank you for sharing your photos! As a Canadian, I enjoyed the moose.

  7. Louisville KY - Frazier History Museum - has a large collection of toy soldiers. They also have costumes from White Christmas on loan from the Rosemary Clooney House. I love the store windows. I always remember going to Chicago at Thanksgiving and going downtown with my grandmother and aunts to see the windows.

  8. Thanks for sharing the windows! When I was young we would take the train into Manhattan to see the store windows at Christmas - so magical! I'd be happy with the grey leather gloves with fur trim to the right of the cute moosies! - nancyo

  9. Thank you for sharing your trip. It's like an early Christmas gift. :) That hat with the moose -- SWOON!!!!

  10. Janice,
    The joy of creativity and freedom of expression shines through these shop windows ! Strains from " The Nutcracker "swirled through my head when I viewed that last photo with the holiday fairy ! The silly, ugly boots, the box carried by the metal runners -- how fun ! And the gray hat above the moose -- sigh ! Wish I was a hat person ! Thank you so much for the free trip , I felt like I was right there with you !

  11. So beautiful! I love the hat. It is the creativity that makes Paris windows an art form. Your photos cause me to see and smell and taste Paris. Merci!

  12. Such wonderful window displays - do the owners do it themselves or do they get the professionals in?
    I know it's a bit late and maybe a bit predictable, but I would love a blog on winter coats and boots with accessories, but not in the traditional 'fashion' sense, but in colour and design, perhaps based on your Paris sightings? Sharon. U.K.

  13. Ooh la la...Paris windows are so enticing!
    I would have Imagined Hermes to be extremely festive with their presentations at this time of year and that same Left Bank location was a madhouse when I was there in the Spring a couple of years ago! Love the Bon Marche, espceially the food many tasty things in the food emporium!
    Thank you for the tour and Happy Holidays to you!

  14. Thank you, Janice. I feel as if I've just made a trip to Paris!

  15. Happy you were able to find so many pleasant diversions in Paris and share them with us. Laughed at the ugly and they had to be uncomfortable to wear. Hope you are feeling better.

  16. Marvelous photos! Although we've just returned from taking in the Paris windows for ourselves, this makes me want to go right back!
    Joyeux Noel-

  17. Great photos! I will take any (or all!) of the sweater bundles.

  18. Delicious windows! That you for the peeks!

  19. Thank you for sharing all these lovely windows! From the silly to the sublime! Paris is such a wonderful place!

  20. Very good, I think I found the knowledge I needed. I will see and refer some information in your post. thank you.

  21. How long does it take to complete this article? I have read through other blogs, but they are cumbersome and confusing. I hope you continue to have such quality articles to share with everyone!
    io games