Postcard from... Paris


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The Independent Online


Something has gone wrong with the Christmas decorations in Paris.

The Champs Elysées  used to have white lights which “dripped” through the branches of the trees like melting snow. Seen from the Arc de Triomphe, a two kilometre sweep of melting trees down to the giant ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde was magical.

For the last couple of years, the melting lights have been replaced by electric hoola-hoops. They are supposed to change colour every couple of minutes. They seem mostly to be stuck on a dull shade of white. The most beautiful avenue in the world looks like a giant airport toilet.

There is another disappointment this year at the big department stores, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. For decades, the stores on the Boulevard Haussmann have delighted children with animated Christmas window displays in which toys on strings cavort. A small platform is provided to allow toddlers to press their noses to the glass.

Once there was a risqué display in which teddy bears chased and tried to kiss one another.

This year the window displays are very dull. Galeries Lafayette has a teddy bear dance troupe. Printemps has sub-contracted all its windows to the posh fashion house Prada. Female teddy bears perform a cancan in miniature Prada dresses. Other teddy bears go skiing in white miniature Prada ski outfits.

A “designer” Christmas. You know that something has gone badly wrong in the world when even the Christmas teddy bears wear Prada.