Autumn In Paris

Autumn in ParisEveryone knows about April in Paris. They’ve even written a song about it. But, autumn in Paris has a glory all its own.

There’s a bit of crispness in the air. The weather gets cooler and you can almost see the briskness start to wake everybody up. The trees turn gorgeous shades of red and golden yellow. Small children jump & kick their way through piles of leaves everywhere you look.

The parks all around the city are still filled with people, but the demographic seems to change as summer shuffles into fall. Instead of hundreds of 20-somethings, lying on the grass, soaking up as much of the sun as they can, you start seeing parents taking their kids on pony rides, young couples strolling hand in hand, while their dogs try to wriggle over and kiss everyone they meet. You see old folks dressed up in suits, sitting on benches and chatting with each other about life. And as always, the littlest ones are riding the antique carousels, pretending to be hot air balloon pilots or princesses riding swans.  It’s nothing short of heaven.

There’s a shift in the energy around town as well. A relaxed country gets even more relaxed if that’s possible. As the end of the year draws closer, the French philosophy of “Slow down and take a moment” transitions into “Go ahead…Take all day.”  Personally, I love this change. I love the “sitting, reading, watching the pony rides” thing.

But the best part about autumn is that the city starts to dress up for Christmas. Around the second week in November, lights and decorations go up all over Paris, and that turns a gorgeous city into a magical one.

Thousands of white tents come out, marking the beginning of the Christmas bazaars that spring up along the Champs Élysées, La Defense and Saint-Germain. Tent after tent of nougats, wines, cognacs, crepes, antiques, jewelry, scarves, gifts…it’s a carnival of delights.

As for decorations, Notre Dame Cathedral gets an enormous Christmas tree every year. The tree is covered in thousands of blue and white lights and stands almost half the height of the famous 200-foot tall bell towers. Not to be outdone, the Champs Élysées transforms itself as well.  All of those gorgeous, square trees that line either side of the avenue get sprinkled with millions of fairy lights. It’s simply beautiful here.

Galeries Lafayette and Printemps get all of their big picture windows decked out with animated Christmas displays. No matter how grown up you are, standing in front of those windows makes you feel like a kid again. Each one is magical…and so different from the next. The stores even place cool, little viewing platforms right up front for the kids, so they don’t have trouble seeing everything when a scrum of tourists crowds up next to the window to get a good look.

My husband and I have a new ritual now. Every Saturday morning, we sleep late. Then we take a nice, slow walk down to our favorite coffee place, and we sit together at one of the tables outside, just petting the dogs and enjoying each other’s company. There’s nothing like it: sitting outside in the crisp autumn air, sipping on a gigantic cappuccino and munching an almond croissant while you watch the world go by for an hour or so. Every time we do this, I think to myself “Life just doesn’t get any better than this.”

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