I had a terrible idea on Saturday morning, to brave the wind and rain and go into Paris with the children…

Why? Because there are famous Christmas markets – the marché du noël – on the champs élysée. Because there are only a few days till christmas. Because I need another christmassy thing we can do with the kids.

So we went, and when we popped up out of the metro at the arc de triomphe it was pouring with rain, gusting our umbrellas about and generally making us miserable.

Whose idea was this?

Eventually Luuk talked me into stopping in MacDo for a little early lunch and warming-up-session. This turned out to be a very good idea. The food was not particularly bad and we all felt much better afterward. The weather had even improved a bit.

We continued our walk down the champs élysée and eventually got to the marché du noël. We weren’t in need of presents or anything but perused the selection and picked out a couple of treats for christmas: candy canes and nougat!

This particular nougat stall had loads of these ginormous rounds of nougat. I picked the cranberry pistachio variety – seemed christmassy. And it’s delicious. I wasn’t a fan but nougat is on the list for the 13 traditional desserts to have on christmas eve (a tradition perhaps only in the south of france, but we can try). My expectations weren’t great but this stuff is amazing.

Louis walked a lot – little trouper! – and splashed in most of the puddles on the champs elysee. Luuk and I stopped for a little vin chaud – mulled wine. Perfect in the cold and rain.

At the bottom of the champs elysee, right outside the metro station: a merry go round! Perfect finish.

Louis rode a horse, round and round, and it was free! The city of Paris’ christmas present to us all.

And this was the view, standing by the carousel. Melancholic and beautiful eh?

So Saturday’s Christmassy thing was the christmas market. Sunday’s was a carol service.

Hannah (my sister) and Will (her husband) arrived from Ohio on Sunday morning and so we were busy catching up with them. We took them down to the market in Antony and picked up the last of the ingredients (and cheeses!) for christmas eve and christmas dinner.

And then Elena’s dedication was in the evening. Louis got loads of lovely play time with his doting aunt and uncle but not a lot of attention from me.

Not a flying success of a christmas challenge day, but a great day nonetheless…


On Monday, Christmas Eve, it was Hannah and Will’s first chance to see Paris. And the weather was great. So off we went…

We started at Trocadero, for a grand view of the Eiffel tower, and then walked down to the monument itself, through the christmas village/market thingamie-bob… we had lunch which was spread thoroughly with raclette cheese and then walked it off – all the way (less than 3 ks) to the arc du triomphe.

On the way to the champs elysee: this monument, flamme de la liberté, is a to-scale replica of the one on New York’s Statue of Liberty, and it has become a memorial to Princess Diana because it lies above the tunnel in which she was killed.

Aunty Hannah, Elena and Me

We stopped for coffee and cuddles, a bit of a reprieve from the pushchair for Elena, and a sit down for Louis, who had pretty much walked the entire way so far. And then we continued on, walking up the busy busy champs élysée to meet some friends (kiwis, travelling in Europe) at the arc du triomphe.

All together, we then walked down the champs élysée (again) and this time we got to see the lights!

It was very busy, but beautiful and festive.

So that was the christmas challenge thing for the 24th – the lights of paris. And boy! do they put on a show. Before we headed home Louis had a ride on a Christmassy train-thing and the grown ups partook of a little vin chaud and talked… Not that we hadn’t been talking all the way walking down, but it was difficult with all the crowds.

At home it was time for a special christmas eve supper… but that will be another post. Possibly tomorrow. Oh the food!