It’s Valentine’s day… ♥
Ever since leaving the United States, I stopped making it a big deal. I didn’t boycott it though, even in my years as a single girl. That would be too drastic.
But Valentine’s day has never been a huge commercialized event in France. Well, until now. Most of the shop windows are sprouting V-day décor, and everyone and their brother is offering a Valentine’s day special. The Hallmark holidays are here to stay I think in France. They have seen what great commercial profit that can be.
Chéri and I have always done a little something…be it a dinner out together, or a dinner in together, or a little gift… But nothing too extravagant. And I just can’t go back to buying into too much of that over-commercialized-almost-forced declaration of love. I prefer to tell him EVERY day… Continue reading
When chéri-amour (sweetie-pie) is coming home from several days away on business what does any self defined parisienne, do in anticipation?
1. Clean house…okay fine but the ironing can wait.
2. é-pi-la-tion… in other words undergo the torturous ritual of tearing the small hairs off of one’s legs. Oh joy. But the smooth skin après is a temptation tool with incredible powers!
3. That old golden rule that our grandmothers told is is still true…the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. A little love-cake baking is in order.
4. Determined not to be defined only as a maid, temptress and fée de cuisine… the parisienne heads out to see an art expo that not only is quite interesting to her and at the top of her to-do list, but can add a little more to her conversation. She doesn’t want to bore chéri with a recount of the socks that have missing pairs. Not that she actually counted them herself while doing the laundry. Really! She didn’t. I promise.
5. Pilates class… to um stay in shape… Oh and it helps maintain a nice level of flexibility! Which is good for… for…, for many things. (Address shared by the always perfectly shaped, Dita Von Tease, in Vogue août 2010).
And then finally at 9:30pm he arrives and the parisienne is in an exhausted slumber on the couch, spent from too much anticipation! Good thing it’s Sunday tomorrow!
That’s what they say anyway, that Paris is the city of love. We don’t need Valentine’s day to remind us that it is, but it seems that the Hallmark holiday mentality has hit us in full force. I have seen Valentine’s day specials in most every shop that can get away with it. Ok, chocolate shops, fine, lingerie store, of course, but why would I need to buy new shoes just because it’s supposed to be the lover’s day to celebrate love. Aren’t we the place that does it 365 days a year!?! …Doisneau captured it well…
It’s funny, when I lived on the other side of the Atlantic, V-day used to be a huge deal for me. I would get gifts, cards and flowers for those I loved, and would hope to receive some from others. It was always an organized, packaged, hyped up deal. V-day IS a big deal on the other side. If you don’t celebrate it, it seems you either are a jerk or you feel like you have to counter attack it because you are single by attending an “anti-valentine’s day party” to poo poo upon what the rest of the population is going willy nilly silly about.
Seven years ago when I first came here to live, I noticed the French didn’t make a big deal about it, (and frankly at first I objected to that) but things have gradually changed in that time, (as have my needs for something spectacular on V-day) and now there are restaurants that serve up special Valentine’s day menus (for a higher price of course), hotels that have special (higher) rates, chocolates that fly off the shelves like so many expensive jewels, oh and jewels, don’t EVEN think of not getting her a bijou for la Saint Valentin! The celebration level has gone up with the price tags, perhaps because they seem to have understood that the more you spend apparently the more you love, right?
Yeah well, I will take any occasion to tell my chéri that I love him, but I don’t need a hole in my wallet to do it. So I will tell him I love him in a way that’s better than any over priced meal, box of fancy chocolates or sexy lingerie can do… I suggested we spend Valentine’s day with his parents. Now it doesn’t get more devoted than that! Or then again maybe it’s just my self acquired Parisian attitude that refuses to be told when I am to say ‘I love you’. Either way, Valentine’s or no Valentines, I won’t miss a day to say… chéri, je t’aime!
Christmas is always a magical time of year for those who love the Christmas spirit. I didn’t have to search far for the magic in Paris…
The place where you can find all the children with big round eyes is in front of the display windows (“vitrines”) of the Grands Magasins, Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. Every year they have celebrity designers invent a concept for their Christmas windows, or “vitrines de noël”. They always have some mechanical fantasy that moves puppets and objects to create for a little show. In front of these large and wonderful mechanical scenes there is a special, platform that runs the length of the window, wide enough for two children to pass eachother, and guarded by a railing so that only children may get on it. It brings them up above the knees of the pushy camera bearing adults so that they can see and dream…
The adults can enjoy other smaller windows that are more for displaying the designers’ clothing and accessories than the Holiday scenes, but in a festive manner with all the trimmings that can only be conceptualized by the reative minds of the designers.
And they do seem a bit more geered towards adults this year, or is that just the general French attitude towards “allure”? Whatever it is, it certainly catches the eye!
The other theme that Printemps touched upon was luxury and fine things…Although stunning, I found this less magical in a year of financial crisis and high unemployment rates…
These windows are by DIOR and CHANEL :
But most of the magic that I found was within the company of loved ones. Whether it was baking cookies for them, decorating trees with them or just spending these precious moments together, moments that seem so fleeting as every year sails on by and by…the magic of Christmas for me can’t be found in a gift box or display window, the magic of Christmas is the warmpth that comes from loved ones.