Last year I flat out forgot to buy a Christmas Tree.
Not in the irritating way that some people ‘forget to eat lunch’ (really, WHO FORGETS TO EAT LUNCH?!), no, I just simply did not get around to it.
Which meant that when Christmas Day came around I felt totally blindsided, like I’d wasted December and missed every chance I had been given to get festive. I was NOT about to let that happen again, and nor, it seems was my boyfriend.
On Saturday morning I got back to London and found Alex sitting in the house listening to The Chainsmokers’ song: Paris. He told me to pack a bag and grab my camera, we had a train to catch, we were going to France for 24 hours to get festive: see the markets, do some shopping and enjoy the beautiful city.
Having grown up totally bingeing on American television, first Sex And The City and later Gossip Girl, I have always had an incredibly romantic notion of Paris in my mind. A city reserved for the Blaire Warldorfs of the world, the Carrie Bradshaws, in their Louboutins, delicately eating macaroons.
The fact that I lived a mere stone’s throw away from it and the Eurostar doesn’t have a dress code never really occurred to me. So off we went, feeling a tad underdressed and a tad resentful of the spot on my chin, but 100% sure Paris was going to make me infinitely more beautiful, sophisticated and glamorous, just in time for Christmas.
Unfortunately that wasn’t necessarily the case. But as we opened our mini bottle of champagne on the train I realised that didn’t matter at all, because Paris was about to make me very happy indeed and that was all I needed.
In our 20 hour visit we managed everything and nothing. We walked the streets, we peered in through well lit windows, we wore gloves and were mistaken for Parisians a number of times (the greatest compliment you can pay a Brit abroad I reckon).
Alex had originally planned for us to eat our dinner in a restaurant called Kong, featured in a Sex And The City episode, since he knows what a fan I am, and it was every bit as glamorous as I knew it would be.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stick around: the food was all chockablock with gluten and/or dairy and the waitress could not have given less of a shit; suggesting perhaps I pay €45 for the only thing available to me, a starter size portion of artichoke. Piss off. If you have a food allergy or intolerance and are heading to Paris, might I suggest you give this one a miss?
We left without so much as a cocktail and headed across the Senne on the hunt for somewhere fun, warm and understanding of my plight. It didn’t take long and within half an hour we had steaks on the way and a glass of wine in hand.
This is what Paris is to me: spontaneity, light, noise, good wine, better food, atmosphere, laughter. And that’s what it was.
We had been promised by a local that the Christmas Market at Saint-Germain would be open until 1am, so didn’t rush as we ordered a second bottle of wine. Sadly, that local had lied to us and when we finally found where the market *had been* at 10.30, we were met with nothing but boarded up market stalls. Whoops.
We drank more wine, made our way back to our hotel, woke up early the next morning, vaguely aware that we were yet to see a French Christmas Tree, but somehow ended up clinging onto our coffee cups, wondering through the red light district. Not festive, but certainly an experience.
By 3pm we were back at home in London, laughing at our time away and amazed by how much you could pack in to such a short space of time.
Sure we didn’t have the Instagram holiday of dreams, having arrived in darkness and spent the next morning sheltering from the rain in sex shops, but it was just what I needed to kickstart the festive-feeling.
Paris in December, no matter where you end up, is a dream come true.
Spurred on by the previous night’s adventures, we decided yesterday afternoon to bring Christmas to our flat then and there, gathered our flatmate up and headed down to our local Pines and Needles to find ourselves the tree that we had neglected to buy last year.
Six foot, I told them. Guys, it cannot be bigger than six foot.
It HAS to be, Alex told me. (I found out later that his best mate has a seven foot one).
Half an hour later we were sitting in the pub sipping on mulled wine in our local pub with our enormous *7 foot* tree, propped up against the wall behind us.
Home now and everything is (almost) decorated, the rest of the decorations are arriving tomorrow, the house looks wonderful, the tree is squished unceremoniously into a corner of the room that it is definitely too big for and I couldn’t be happier.
What a weekend.
I have achieved in the first weekend of December, the feeling that I slightly missed out on last year and that is excitement for the weeks to come.
Mulled wine, Christmas markets, beautiful lights, trees, decorations, glitter, adventures, laughter, warm clothes, presents, memories really.
Christmas truly is a wonderful time of the year, not least of all because it is the one month in which people come together. There are events everywhere, there is always somewhere to go and something to do.
There’s beauty in everything and joy around every corner.
I am home now feeling utterly wonderful about everything.
Sure an adventure across the channel might be a little extravagant, but if I learnt anything this weekend it’s that there is festive spirit everywhere, 24 hours is a very long time and a Christmas Tree is an absolute must.
PS. Before you ask, WHERE’S THE PHOTO OF THE TREE?!, I’ll upload a photo to Instagram tomorrow (@prettynormalme) – I feel it would be unfair to share a photo of it whilst it’s naked. I shall dress him first. Save the poor thing the embarrassment.