Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas in Paris, Part I

The day that I said goodbye to Casey and Amber, I was lucky enough to say hello to a very old friend of mine-- a friend I've known since the 6th grade, yet one I hadn't seen in six years!  My friend, Neeli.  The funny, quiet, lovely girl of my memory has morphed into a funny, quiet, and lovely woman of today.  And, she's a doctor!!  A chief resident in Chicago who will be a Cardiology fellow this summer.  I'm so proud of and impressed by her! 

 Champagne and macarons at Laduree

We met in the afternoon for a walk around the Tuileries and a hot chocolate at Angelina.  AB will be horrified to learn that I had never sampled the famous sweets at this tea house on the rue de Rivoli, and as Neeli hadn't either, we thought it would be a good place to chat and warm-up. I tried the St. Honore and Neeli had a Mont Blanc, but I have to admit that the chocolat chaud à l'africaine was definitely my favorite part.

Well, we we're having such a good time that we decided to walk around a bit.  We wandered up to the Opera district and caught the newly installed light display at Galeries Lafayette just as it came on... fantastic in the half-light so imagine what it must look like in the dark!

I had read in the paper that morning that the official lighting of the Champs Elysees would be that evening.  We decided we had to see that.  So, we wandered over to the famous street.  We passed the Christmas market set up at the base of the Champs and stopped for a quick warm-up.

 Mulled wine and hot cider for us!
After our spiked cuppa, we walked up the street and arrived at the lighting platform right at 6 pm- the time when the switch was supposed to be flipped.  This being France that didn't happen, of course.  We waited with the small crowd until 6:20 and then decided we'd see the new lights better after a few macarons.  Neeli had never been to Laduree before, so away we went.  A glass of champagne and four macarons later, we emerged to a fairyland of white lights swaying in the wind.  People were just standing still with their mouths open, children pointing to the sky, cars stopping in the middle of the street-- the lights are that striking.  Here's a before and after shot of the street that unfortunately does little justice to the real sight:



After we stopped oohing and awhing, we headed down to the Latin Quarter for dinner at another of my fav Paris restaurants- Le Petit Chatelet.  Snuggled next to Shakespeare & Co, it faces Notre Dame and has a cozy fireplace in the dining room that made for the perfect end to our fantastic day.  Riding the metro home after saying goodbye to Neeli, I realized that getting to spend an afternoon and evening with her in the newly decorated city was an early Christmas present I hadn't expected.  We both decided that we won't let another six years pass before seeing each other again, a promise I think will be easy to keep.

Stay tuned for more images of Christmas in Paris...


  1. Angelina Hot Chocolate + Laduree Macarons + Unexpected Visit from Childhood Friend + Christmas Lights in Paris = A MAGICAL DAY INDEED!

    Love it!

  2. Katie- How fun! I haven't seen Neeli in a million years! Please tell her I said hello and I'd love to get in touch with her again :)