Saturday, December 10, 2011

Noël à Paris

The Christmas lighting on the Champs Elysee.
Modern or silly?  Personally, I think they are
pretty darned cool.
Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noël my most excellent friends,

It is Christmas time in Paris and regardless of your religious, cultural or personal convictions, Christmas is as ubiquitous as winter air this time of year.  Paris has a long tradition of lighting up the city without Christmas, but during the Yuletide season the lights are especially bright.  I’ve taken a brief break from blogging and observing as I had to make yet another trip to Canada.

Many friends and readers would wonder why I did not stay in Canada to celebrate Christmas with friends and relatives.  I decided, for better or worse, that I would spend my first Christmas in Paris as let the cards fall where they may.  Hopefully I won’t spend Christmas cold and alone… <sniff>  :)

Audrey Tautou illumine les Champs Elysées par mairiedeparis

Here is my latest set of Parisian observations:

Culture:  It seems that Paris society operates between vacations and there are many.  After taking time off in October for no reason I’ve been able to understand, all of Paris will be going on Vacation for the week or so between Christmas and New Years.  I will probably stick to my North American roots and do some work during this period, but I WON’T be fencing or attending art class since those are closed for the season.

An advert for an exhibit at the Musee D'Orsay.
Do check it out!
Commerce:  I’ve noticed something missing.  I was in the Metro waiting for a train and looking at a sign for some exhibit at the Musee D’Orsay when I noticed… I was looking at an ad for a museum exhibit.  I was NOT looking at an ad for fast food.  I did a quick scan and noticed that none of the ads in the Metro featured food.  In America (or possibly Canada) the subway would be choked with Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King ads. I haven’t noticed one such ad since making this observation.

Transportation:  The Metro has changed.  There are new cars on the #1 line that operate without a driver.  They seem to stop for no reason more often and start and stop a little more abruptly than the ones with a driver, but they do the job.  Another change is that the announcements are in four languages rather than just French.  You’ll also hear Metro announcements both in the stations and on the new trains in English, German and Spanish.

  • I’ve talked a lot about musicians jumping on trains and playing in the tunnels of the metro, but lately at the Chatelet station I’ve had the pleasure to hear a large string ensemble on regular occasions.  I managed to snap a picture while racing to get to art class.

A string ensemble who happen to be very good, entertains passersby
at the Chatelet Metro station.
Sport:  Fencing.  Oh, man!  Things have changed at fencing class.  I’ve advanced beyond the “noob” level and now fight with the advanced students.  This is often a painful experience.  A fencing bout goes for 5 points and the advanced class uses only the large epee.  This means that I get hit 5 times for every match and… sometimes with impunity as I am unable to hit the very, very good fencers back.  The result was a week of painful breathing with a bruised rib.  I’m getting a little more confident in my strokes but wow… This has been a tough transition.

  • I now have all the fencing equipment that I need for the sport.  I mentioned once before that a true hobby requires the expenditure of about $10,000… or 7,000€.  So far, with lessons, club membership and equipment I’m at about the… oooh… 1,200€ mark.  My equipment is very good, so I expect that it will take a long time for me to get to 7,000€…. a very long time.
  • For those concerned, I have won a match in the advanced class.  I attributed the win to blind luck, but my instructor says that “In combat, there is no such thing as luck.”  I may have mistranslated this. 

Art:  It’s the last week for art class and then I have 2 weeks to study on my own.  If you’ve ever wanted to be immortalized in a sketch, please look me up over the holidays!  I need models badly!  To be an art model, you require two simple abilities.  The first is to be naked and the second is to stay still for 20 minutes… and I mean completely still.  All models will be provided with the best possible champagne for their efforts.  :)

L'Hommage Veronese - Pencil (original) - Robyn Blaber - 2011
My latest effort in art class. 

Entertainment:  Lastly, my friends, I will be hosting a Christmas soiree at my home on December 22nd.  I hope it to be the best party in all of Paris.  Please RSVP with me if you are a friend on facebook or leave your email if you are in Paris and would like to visit/meet me and share a glass of holiday cheer.

Bon journee and have a great holiday season.

Your true friend,
Sir Robyn

Bonus Picture!
Sir Robyn makes an appearance at an
Eyes Wide Shut party at an undisclosed
location in the heart of Paris.


  1. Hi from Toronto Robyn,

    I was wondering if you ever act as a personal shopper for Canadians? I am a collector of small knik knacks and there are sellers in France who only accept French cheques. I had a personal shopper and paid his fee via paypal but he is on vacation now --everybody seems to be on vacation in France these last 2 weeks in december. I love christmas but I still work inbetween the main celebration days when I can.

    I was searching for your email on here to email you directly but I cant find it. And Im not on facebook (I hate facebook). I am an experience ebayer but sometimes the items you want from France arent on ebay. Anyway do you do the personal shopper thing?

    please let me know

  2. Thanks for asking George, but no... I would not be interested in that kind of thing.

  3. Hi Robyn,

    thanks anyway. Hope you had a great Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

    I live vicariously through your Paris blogs. I hope to visit the city of lights soon.

  4. Hello Canadian in Paris! I'm also Canadian in Paris? I was wondering if you know what is happening in Paris for Canada Day? Last year I went to The Great Canadian here in Paris but I heard something about a barbacue, do you know anything about it?

    By the way, love the blog! Hope you are enjoying the life style in Paris! Good luck with all the administration paperwork here...

    Joseph Cardeira