There’s something almost intriguing about the Christmas Market in La Défense in Paris. I couldn’t tell if it was the level of my excitement when it comes about Christmas or simply the big huge shock that I had when I first got there.
You stumble upon the market right after you exit the Quatre Temps Shopping Center (underground: La Défense – Grand Arche). I got seriously lost in that mall, so make sure you pay the right attention to the exit signs 🙂
The intrigue comes when you first notice the white wooden chalets (around 250) and the entire vibe of the marketplace. There is just contrast everywhere you look: wood vs. concrete, warmth and joy vs. cold business buildings, well-suited people vs. funny characters and animals, bright colours vs. plain old grey. If you’re lucky enough and if you have a bright sunny day ahead of you (like I was), you can spot the Arc the Triomphe way back in the background.
The market is the biggest in Paris and you’ll notice this as soon as you’ll start to wander around the chalets. You’ll probably be feeling like there’s royal blood running through your veins, because of the red Hollywood look carpets. Brace yourself! There’s plenty of food, warm wine or traditional desserts to satisfy your royal cravings (you won’t resist, I’ll tell you for sure).
The entire market zone is animated, alive. It breathes joy and captures the early Christmas spirit at the end of November. Since it’s not December already, you would think that it’s simply too early for people to actually feel something as far as Christmas is concerned. Well, you’re dead wrong!
Take Luca for example.
‘I am really Italian. And those are really Italian, do you want to taste a candy? Choose one that you like, it’s Italian, I told you.’ You could easily notice that he is not French judging by his accent, there’s almost no need for him to stress that he is Italian at every single sentence. But that made him and his candies ‘really’ noticeable.
Luca fell in love with the camera and there was absolutely no need to ask him to pose. He knew how to have fun and how to be really enjoyable with his customers. Hooray for spreading smiles!
Juanito is a charismatic Columbian currently living in Paris. He is now spending his month in between the two chalets that he has in La Défense, but he has bigger plans for January: ‘ I am going to ski in Bali after this month. But I really don’t like Bali that much anymore. Tourists are too rude and sometimes it’s just too much for the locals. This is why I am just going to ski.’
Keep on, though, don’t let yourself caught up, or you’ll end up spending a lot (!) of time in his chalets. There’s just soo much charisma and happiness, but in the same time, there are so many other things to discover.
Csilla was one of the best in English that I met at the market. Until I discovered that she was living in Romania (my home country). Therefore we switched to Romanian, even though she was entirely Hungarian. Her chalet had everything to do with Christmas: there was warmth, both from her personality and the food, music (traditional Hungarian, but don’t be fooled by the words you can’t understand: the rhythm will still remind you of Christmas) and fun.
I got lost on (literally) the red carpets for two hours, but the people there made me forget about the time and all I could do instead was entertain myself and charge my empty Christmas batteries.
If there’s no chance for a clear sky during the day, visit the market at night. It is said to be extremely beautiful because of the way it’s lighted. And it makes sense, right? You’re in the city of lights, welcome! ❤
Photo source: personal archive, courtesy of the beautiful people that I met at La Défense Christmas Market.