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The Year of the Water Snake 2013 – Chinese New Year in Paris

17 Feb

Nian beasts and the red lanterns and drums used to scare them away

Whereas our own New Year’s Celebrations have long passed, the Chinese New Year Celebrations are in full swing and the year of the Water Snake has just begun.

Paris’ “Chinatown” is the largest one in Europe and there are New Year Festivities taking place in the 3rd, 11th and 13th arrondissement, the ones in the 13th offering the biggest parade to visitors, find its route and the Métro stations (Place d’Italie, Porte d’Ivry…) here.

The Dragons are awake

The dragon in the 13th will open its eyes at 1:00 pm for the  New Year’s Parade on Sunday, February 17, 2013, and start dancing down the streets followed by his fellow dragon friends, chasing their mythic pearl. I am always amazed on how realistic its movements look, fluttering through the air, twirling around, it definitely looks like a real being.

Colorful embroidered costumesWhat at first appears to be  a furrier, stumpier version of the dragons are in fact no dragons, but the Nian. The Nian was said to be a cruel monster, living under the sea or in the mountains. Every year for the Spring festivities / Chinese New Year it would appear and chase people because, unfortunately, his favorite dish was humans. The Nian’s terrible reign didn’t last forever though. A wise monk came up with the idea to turn the tables on the monster the next time it appeared, fighting it by lighting fireworks and firecrackers and beating empty bowls, plates and gongs, making an awful noise and frightening the beast.


The Nian tried to flee, but wherever it went it was greeted with more noise, the people often wearing red, as this color scared the Nian even more. According to some of the legends, the Nian was eventually killed, according to others it never dared returning to the village ever again and peace was restored.

The red lanterns you see hanging everywhere during the Chinese New Year’s week and the firecrackers used still date back to these ancient stories and shall forever bar the Nian from doing harm again.

Crunch Bob

The acrylic Nians you spot during our modern parades don’t really scare us anymore, but don’t forget what they stand for and root for the right team, the Nians are the baddies, the Dragons will bring you luck.

More of my pictures from previous years' Chinese New Year celebrations and this year's poster

The Chinese New Year Celebrations and the colorful costumes and traditional rites bring color and fun to the still cold and harsh Winter days, still, two things you should consider in order for you to have a great time:

1)   There will be many, MANY people, as you see in the pictures below, if you’re a woman you’re lucky, wear heels, you’ll have a much better view. And if you don’t like huge crowds and overflowing streets, don’t go, really, it’s madness

2)   Authenticity. Over the past years, the amount of advertising has risen drastically, almost everything is endorsed by anything, and even many of the lanterns and balloons are branded (phone companies, airlines…), it just clashes with the ancient traditions and kind of gnaws on its ceremoniousness.

Gold Proc p

A happy Chinese New Year to you all! After the turbulent Year of the Dragon, Chinese astrologists expect the Year of the Water Snake to be a calmer and luckier year. Now that sounds great, let’s cross our fingers.

Did I mention the huge crowd of people..?

La Mer à Paris – Paris Plages at the Bassin de la Villette

13 Aug

I am njoying a warm evening in Switzerland before returning to Paris tomorrow.

One of the highlights that I am looking forward to is visiting Paris Plages again; two beaches right in the city of Paris.

Held from July 20 to August 19, 2012, and already in its 11th year, Paris Plages is well-known and loved by many. I recommend to skip the Pont Neuf Plage though and head right to Paris Plage at La Villette Bassin.

This is by far the more charming Plage, it is less crowded, has a more relaxed feel to it and an especially large area dedicated to children’s entertainment. Still it is spacious enough for adults sans children to enjoy calm and relaxing beach-time without too much of a hullabaloo.

It is the perfect gathering place for people of all ages for trying out new activities, for socializing, eating, drinking and simply for having fun.

Villette Plage for grown-ups

Restaurants, shuttle boats, ballroom dance classes (mostly attended by the not-so-young- anymore-but-young-at-hearts) where people of every age stop by, admiring the, mostly, graceful dancers. Just look at people’s faces in the picture below; if you want to see happy and loved-up couples, you will find them there.

There will also be a performance of Molière’s “Le malade imaginaire” on water on  August 15 – 17. For the more nautically-inclined there is the Nautical Centre at the Quai de la Loire where you can also book boat rides, there are pedal boats (big favourite for many, me included), typical French Petanque games, table football – and to start your day in a serene mood, you may attend one of the Tai-chi classes held every morning from 10 am to 12 pm (also at Paris Plage Pont Neuf).

I’ve taken the “aerial view” picture from atop the canal’s highest bridge, from which you have a great view over the whole Plage.

Villette Plage for children

Slides, Zip Wires, beach games, water zorbs, a pirate ship, science workshops in collaboration with la Cité de la Science, a mini-golf course and more.

Find detailed information about both Paris Plages here (in English and French) and details about the canal and the different events around it here (in French only).

Wishing you a great Summer holiday in Paris!

Picnic in the Streets of Paris

1 Jul

Paris Picnic

Paris is bathing in the sunlight today and we’re preparing for a lazy Summer afternoon. If you happen to be in town right now, escape the big city hustle and bustle and join the picnic in Rue Montmartre. The whole quarter is coming together for a Summertime picnic in the charming pedestrian area. Bring your own food and drinks, tables and chairs will be provided.

Hope to see you there.

From 12:00 h – 16:00 h, Rue Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement, 75002 Paris.

Paris in a Gift Box

7 Nov
Etsy ByOhFiddleSticks

Is there a cuter way to say bonjour? ByOhFiddleStick's Melissa and Jen have designed this jewel of a tank top, which is also available as a onesie. If it was adult size I'd wear it myself.

Doesn’t it seem that in early November Christmas is still far away? The leaves are changing color, it has gotten chillier outside and Christmas decoration keeps popping up in stores; but it’s still almost two months until the 25th of December.

But then, all of a sudden, the big day is here and Santa is knocking at the door. ‘How did time fly by so fast?’ is what I’m asking myself every year.

So it’s a good time to start browsing for presents for loved-ones now.

Etsy GraceHesterDesigns

Languages made easy, with these artfully composed prints for children and grown-ups alike. In Grace’s shop you’ll discover color charts, nursery rhymes, colors and the days of the week in French, English, Korean, German – you’ll be spoilt for choice. By GraceHesterDesigns

True to the blog, I aimed at finding Paris-themed gifts, and in this post it’s all about sweet surprises for kids and babies. Where to find experts on the matter? On Etsy of course. And its EtsyKids is an international team consisting of many talented and creative minds (and hands..!) sewing, painting, gluing and drawing stylish creations for little ones.

Etsy NotyBaby

Stylish babies and toddlers will love Maria’s aqua blanket featuring white Eiffel Towers adorned with lush flower bouquets. Beautifully backed with cuddly minky fabric. By NotyBaby

Paris and French style is always à la mode and handmade spells “special” like nothing else. Whether you’re currently in Paris or anywhere else around the globe, these cheerful designs will instantly put you in a French mood.

Etsy Chichiboulie

Living in France, Gretchen is an expert when it comes to French design. Chichiboulie's elaborate prints not only take you to Paris, but invite you to a trip across the sea to London and lead you into a colorful fairy-tale world. > P.s. Don’t miss her wonderful collection of printables.

It hasn’t been easy choosing from the many Paris-designs by EtsyKids members; using the search terms EtsyKids and Paris or France you will find many more beautifully crafted items.

Etsy PrettyBowtique

If you like being creative yourself, you will love Sandi’s pink Paris sealed bottle caps. Turn them into hair bows, magnets, decorate a photo frame, the possibilities are endless. By PrettyBowtique

A little word of warning though: if you have shopped on Etsy before, you know that once you start browsing all the great Etsy-things you just can’t stop…

Etsy HappyBabeeAndBeeyond

Baby’s first trip to Paris. Melinda’s bib features “le métro”, pretty Parisian cafés, little bistros, French poodles and of course the famous Eiffel Tower. By HappyBabeeAndBeeyond

Featured EtsyKids Team sellers:







Special thanks to Jocelyn of TheLittleLoveBug

… and this is the EtsyKids Team blog.

All Posts Are Now Also Sorted by Arrondissement

22 Aug


To facilitate looking up my articles by Parisian arrondissement I have now categorized them for you.

Wherever in Paris you want to go, this new search function gives you an easy overview on all the mentioned places and adresses located in the same area.

Also, I haven’t just listed the twenty arrondissements by their numbers, but also added to each a well-known place, momument or similar, to make knowing what is where a breeze.

My arrondissement categories are:

1st arr. (Louvre)

2nd arr. (Bourse / Stock Exchange)

3rd arr. (Temple & northern Marais)

4th arr. (Hôtel de Ville, Notre-Dame & southern Marais)

5th arr. (Panthéon & Quartier Latin)

6th arr. (Jardins du Luxembourg)

7th arr. (Eiffel Tower)

8th arr. (Champs-Elysées)

9th arr. (Galeries Lafayette)

10th arr. (Gare du Nord / de l’Est)

11th arr. (Place de la République)

12th arr. (Bercy)

13th arr. (Paris Rive Gauche & main Chinatown)

14th arr. (Gare Montparnasse)

15th arr. (Vaugirard & High-Rise District)

16th arr. (Passy & Ave. Foch)

17th arr. (Place de Clichy)

18th arr. (Montmartre)

19th arr. (Buttes-Chaumont)

20th arr. (Ménilmontant & Père Lachaise)