Friday, December 4, 2009

Marché de Noël at La Défense

Since I had an unexpected cancellation in the middle of my day earlier this week, and I was already in La Defense, I decided to go check out the Christmas market.  Christmas markets are one of my favorite things about Christmas in Europe.  They are such a nice Christmas tradition that we do not have in the US.  I was pretty excited to get to go because Christmas markets just put me in the Christmas spirit, and I also had some shopping I wanted to get done.

I went to the market at La Defense for the first time last year, and all I really remembered was that it was big and Christmas-y.  I figured it would be great to go again.  However, perhaps my memories were a little rose-colored because when I went this week, I was just disappointed.  I prefer a more traditional style market that sells more food and traditional goods, but the market at La Defense is just extremely tacky, not particularly Christmas-y, and kind of depressing. 

They barely sell anything traditional (except some food products such as foie gras) and the whole thing seems like more of a joke than anything else.  It felt like I was walking through an infomercial decorated for Christmas.  Most of the products for sale were the kind of junk you see for sale on American TV but that no one actually buys (a saw that can cut through anything...complete with demonstration, a machine to make perfectly layered candles, a stretchy scarf that can be a scarf, a shirt and a skirt, a jacuzzi! etc).  There were really no Christmas products at all, except one little building (not even a Christmas chalet) that sold Christmas decorations (now mind you, the French style Christmas decorations, so a lot of things in pink and black..........very ugly!).  And everything was extremely overpriced...raclette sandwiches for 7 euros for example.  All I had hoped to find were some nice, somewhat traditional, perhaps handmade Christmas ornaments to bring back to my family for the tree, but no such luck among all the junk.  Do people actually buy that stuff?

And on top of that, you would think they would play Christmas music.  But no, they don't.  I shouldn't be too surprised since this country seems to have something against the Christmas music that all Americans know and love, but still, it is supposed to be a very Christmas-y activity so some holiday music would be appropriate.  So, instead of Christmas music, they have a group, a band, an I-don't-know-what of musicians dressed up as Native Americans (moccasins, feather headdresses, the works)  playing Native American style music.  First of all, I can't even understand why they are there, it just seems bizarre to me.  And second of all, what does Native American music have to do with Christmas?

So this weekend I plan to hit up the Christmas market on les Champs Elysees, the one here in the KB and perhaps also the ones at St. Germain des Pres and St. Sulpice in hopes of finding some actually nice Christmas ornaments and perhaps some other nice products as well that I can bring back to my family.  Here's hoping that there is at least one Christmas market in Paris that is as nice (though not as big) as the one in Strasbourg or the ones in Germany, Belgium and Eastern Europe!


  1. That's really a shame. When I went to the marché de Noël in La Défense a couple of years ago, I really liked it! Maybe something changed....let's blame the economy or global warming, since those are the popular scapegoats these days. ;-)

  2. Yeah, I was disappointed, I definitely thought it would be better than it was. And I went to the one on the Champs Elysees and wasn't particularly impressed either. The setting is definitely more beautiful with la place de la concorde et l'arc de triomphe and all the lights along the champs elysees, but the products and the overall atmosphere were no better than la defense. :(