Sights and sounds of an impending Christmas, ghost-like and semi-transparent in the most bitter cold, still flicker before my eyes as I write these lines; the sweet nostalgia of meeting with gregarious people with a wicked sense of (dark) humour mingling with the sense of bygones and the desire for new beginnings the New Year brings upon us.
The stall market alongside the big arch at Champs, a couple of blocks before Place de la Concorde, filled with kiosks yielding under the weight of small gifts and unexpected delicacies. The lights on the trees directed upwards, forming what looks like giant chalices. Children's eyes (lots of them) filled with awe and anticipation at the sight of the big carousel and the Wheel at the square. The delectable and oh-so-sinful chocolates by Patrick Roger at Bld St.Germain in the shape of bumblebees as well as the crunchier nougatine; everything the child in all of us marvels at with unbridled glee! (If you can't get the chocolate, at least get the books). A quiet morning at Société de Géographie, its doors flanked by classical caryatids, peering over shadowy maps which delineated in their own way ~and my own interest~ the decline of the Ottomans; chased by a demi-tasse lounging and studying on the red sofas of Café Mezzanine for hours on end. The phantasmagorical shop windows on Haussman Avenue and in full contrast the sketches of a couple of clochards looking for a haven from the bitter cold under the bridges.
And what perfumes do the French wear, you might ask? The top sellers according to the info I gleaned at Sephora, Marionnaud and Galeries Lafayette (the latter comprising a lot of tourists sales as well) are Chanel No.5, J'Adore, Angel, Coco Mlle, Kenzo Flower for women and 1 Million, Eau Sauvage, Le Mâle, Boss and Terre d'Hermès for men. I suppose some of it falls under the "if it smells good and enough people buy it all the time" adage...My own nose accounted quite a bit of Lolita Lempicka, Hypnotic Poison and Guerlain's Vétiver.
Interesting all the same, all these best-selling lists, no?
Black & White photo Les Amoureux de la Bastille by Willy Ronis, painting L'Arc de Triomphe, Paris, Winter by Edouard Léon Cortès.