Paris Winter Sale (Soldes)

soldesParis only has two sanctioned sales during the year — in January just after the Christmas break and in July just before the August holiday.  The winter sale is in full swing through February 20, with many stores now in their second and third markdown.  Unlike sales in the U.S., stores are open mostly during normal hours, except have extended days open on a few Sundays.  While it seems impossible, French law only allows sales during this time period, otherwise stores must get permission from the police to hold discounted sales outside this time period.  The theory behind this is that this protects the small mom and pop shops from heavy discounting by the major giants, like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, but, in reality, this is a way to preserve price protection and state sanctioned price parity among retailers. Read More »

Galette des Rois (King’s Cake)

Galette des Roi.JPGJust when you think New Year festivities are at an end, La Fête des Rois starts on the Epiphany holiday, which falls on the first Sunday in January.  This is a great holiday, where bakeries in France and throughout Paris make a round almond pastry cake that families buy to share, and celebrate a holiday where anyone can be king or queen for a day.  A ’fève’ (originally a bean but now tends to be a plastic or enamel trinket) is baked inside the cake and the cake is shared around the table. Whoever bites into the almond crusty cake and finds the fève (just be careful not to break your tooth!) is crowned king or queen for the day.  It is not too late to get your galette to be king for a day! Read More »

New Year’s In Paris

IMGP0555.JPGIf you are lucky enough to be in Paris for New Year’s, the difficulty is not finding out what to do but narrowing your choice of where to go. Notably, the metro is free until New Year’s early morning.   There is just too much to choose from, as the city stays up all night to welcome the New Year.  Places to go on New Year’s include: Read More »

Grand Carousel — Place de la Concorde

Winter time in Paris is always festive, but to experience the city from on high in the heart of Paris, go visit La grande Roue — the Great Ferris Wheel – at Place de la Concorde.  Towering the size of a football field, La grand Roue comfortably fits 6-8 people in a single chariot (seat), and offers some of the best views of the city.  Situated at the entrance of Jardin des Tuileries, it is also close the the Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.  Read More »

Christmas Markets in Paris

Nothing exudes the spirit and festiveness of Christmas more than the traditional Christmas markets in Paris. Sip hot spiced wine while shopping for artisan cheeses, giant-sized ginger bread cookies, sausages, wines and other winter season specialties.  Each market has its own character, but it very much feels like being in Strasbourg, or the really charming towns of Colmar and Kayserberg, with their ginger-bread style Alsace homes. Read More »

Strasbourg for Christmas

Strausbourg 017-1.jpgThe French seem to radiate holiday warmth as the temperatures drop and Noël draws nearer. Believe it or not, this country of wine, cheese and on average, rather little snow may contain Santa’s Workshop itself. Strasbourg, the self-proclaimed “Capital of Christmas,” certainly convinced me that Christmas magic is from here, amongst its incredible Gothic cathedral and superb Alsatian eateries. Read More »