The year is winding down – it’s Christmas time in Paris. We’ve just returned from a couple weeks in the US. I visited my mom and brothers in Illinois, and Brenda visited her mom in Spokane. My brother Chris organized an early Christmas dinner at his house in Pekin, Illinois – we even had some snow. Then we looked at more Christmas lights than most towns have – many many lights. Back in Poulsbo we visited as many friends as we could fit into a weekend and saw lots of Christmas decorations. We also saw the dentist. Now we’re back in Paris and it feels like home.
Perhaps you want to know what Christmas in Paris is like. Our apartment looks pretty Spartan. We have a 6 inch paper Christmas tree with LED lights that flicker like candles and some snow flakes pasted to the window panes. There’s a light strip in the corner that we can turn different colors, and perhaps we can light a bunch of candles to create more atmosphere. I personally don’t know about any presents – maybe some will turn up. Though our apartment decorations may not sound festive, we’ve been doing most of our celebrating outside of our home.
The day after our return from the US, we went to a cooking class to learn to prepare some traditional French Christmas fare – Carpaccio de Saint-Jacques à l’Huile de Truffe, Caille farcie au Foie Gras with Sauce au Porto, Purée de Panais et Poêlée de Champignons Sauvages, and Mousse Chocolat Blanc et Citron Vert with Mangue Rôti and Biscuit Cacao. So that’s sliced scallops, a deboned quail stuffed with foie gras and port reduction sauce, a mixture of wild mushrooms in a sauce and a parsnip puree, and dessert of white chocolate mousse served in a chocolate biscuit with roasted mango. After dinner was prepared, we got to eat it, and was it good! Every event we’ve been to a La Cuisine has been a hit – we always look forward to it.
Brenda went back the following day to learn how to make Bûche de Noël, a traditional French chocolate roll cake. The cake included meringue mushrooms as decoration, chocolate génoise for rolling, cherry syrup for soaking, chocolate cream for filling, and chocolate ganache for frosting. She brought her completed cake home, and we just finished eating it. Yum!
Tomorrow we have an invitation to celebrate Christmas Eve with the family of our good friend Catherine, who lives outside the city in Nogent Sur-Marne. She already let us know that we would need to take a cab home early Christmas morning. We are excited to be able to celebrate with her, her husband Jacques, and their family in this normally family only dinner and party.
Paris is a city of neighborhoods, so there isn’t a single downtown area with a mass concentration of decorations. Instead there are many areas with a few streets of decoration clumped together. We’ve put together a photo slide show of some of the decorations we’ve seen over the past month or so.
That’s our Christmas for this year. We hope that wherever you are, you have a happy and wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Hugh Nelson and Brenda Prowse
See our slide show of Paris Christmas Decorations.