We are taking a break from life amidst the caprice of winter in Paris (snow, rain, sleet and all the in between) to seek refuge beneath a welcoming sun. Two weeks basking in the glorious sunshine of Florida. Feasts skillfully prepared by le chef Mom, long, lazy days by the pool followed by evenings of tennis. Perhaps an early bird special or two… Is this what they call retirement?
Last year we spent our first Christmas in Paris. Alone. Together. It was perfect. This year I am looking forward to sharing the traditions we have created. While we relive those of my childhood. Replacing Galette des Rois and chocolat chaud with fresh fruit and mimosas.
From this far away land I send warm thoughts. In honor of the holidays, family, friends, and all that is worth celebrating.
From the Land of Palms to the City of Lights, the adventures continue in 2011…
Meilleurs voeux a tout le monde!
My favorite French tradition thus far is the celebration of the Epiphany on January 6th, the day when the 3 kings visited the baby Jesus. To commemorate this day, we ate a Galette des Rois, a delicate puff-pastry cake filled with a rich frangipane filling, delicious!! As part of French tradition, a small figurine is hidden in the cake and he or she who finds “la fève” in their slice becomes king or queen for a day. As luck would have it, I almost bit into a tiny ceramic rat in my first slice (not certain of the symbolism of what we consider a rodent in the USA, an insignificant detail perhaps?). I am the Queen! Rather than entertain ourselves with the traditional dance which we have yet to learn, we made a bet in which I would indeed be treated most royally. Needless to say, we have been indulging in this “king cake” every day since. Time now to take off the crown.
Christmas in Paris. The many customs of my childhood came to mind as I prepared my first traditional Polish Christmas eve dinner (in France with an Italian, mind you), consisting of homemade borscht (beet soup) and pierogi (a sort of dumpling typically filled with cheese and potato). This dish became a melange of cultures as I could not find the commonly used farmers cheese and concocted a combination of fresh chevre and parmesan. C’est pas mal! I have created a new recipe. Post international feast we were led by a serene path of stars into the melodies of a choir filling the air of Cathedral Notre Dame, followed by midnight mass. No translation was necessary. I was completely taken with the feeling and tradition of Christmas.
In honor of the holidays, every corner of Paris is magically lit.
From Hôtel de Ville to the Champs-Elysées, Paris is transformed into an even brighter ‘city of lights’.
The ultramodern architecture of La Défense looms large, reminiscent of a mini-Manhattan. It encompasses over 100 buildings, home to one-third of France’s 20 largest corporations. The Grande Arche, the most impressive of these structures, is a monumental cube composed of Cararra marble, housing government and business offices. There exists a unique and intense energy in this high-rise business district, isolated in the west of the city. It does not feel at all like the Paris of postcards, refreshing on those days when I desire an escape.
Every store imaginable exists within this inclusive universe of silver walls and layered malls. Majestic renowned sculptures by Calder and Miró, among others, add an element of color and culture.
These wintry afternoons, a holiday market fills the walkways as familiar Christmas carols fill the air. My lunch visits to La Défense remind me of the many years I spent gainfully employed amidst the skyscrapers of New York City. I miss working. More accurately, I miss the team dynamic of working towards a common goal and the satisfaction that follows. These days my greatest goal is to learn a language, not to mention a culture. I have decided (finally) to attend courses, to share this grand and often intimidating task with those in a similar predicament. I may even enjoy the experience, and learn French!