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Holiday happenings
by Georgina Oliver

In magic mode...

Waiting for the next metro, in the buildup to Santa’s credit card-busting spending spree... Parisians puzzled over a tantalizingly enigmatic billboard that read, “In the mood for magic? rendezvous @ from December 19”… Sure enough, “all” that’s required for the holiday season to feel festive is a zest of childlike magic! But, what on earth was that mysterious website going to treat them to?

It’s magic!
Traditionally, at Christmas time, French families throng to Paris from the provinces to see the capital’s street illuminations and gape at its various department stores’ decorated theme windows featuring animated toyland tableaux… The most famous are the Galeries Lafayette’s and Printemps’ on boulevard Haussmann. “C’est magique!”

Skating Thrills
The ultimate yuletide thrill? Ice skating in the city. From December 9 to February 27, the City Hall installs an open-air rink on the place de l’Hôtel de Ville (infoline: 08 2000 75 75/0.13€ p/min). For a futuristic take on this real-life “greetings card” experience… head for the Parvis de La Défense, where skaters aged 7-77 “freestyle” beneath the Grande Arche (Dec 1 to mid-Feb). However, clubbers preferring to “come in from the cold” will scoot over to Bercy’s Patinoire Sonja Henie (Palais des Sports, M° Bercy, tel: 01 40 02 60 67), open not only Wed & Sat 3-6pm as well as Sun 10-12am & 3-6pm, but also for weekend DJ sessions (Fri & Sat 9:30-12:30pm).

Xmas Spirit
Who says the Christmas spirit has disappeared? It’s the 10th anniversary of “Les Sapins de Noël de Créateurs,” an expo showcasing over 100 “alternative” trees conjured up by top-flight couturiers and young designers in aid of the Orphelins Apprentis d’Auteuil foundation. (To Jan 3, 10:30am to 7pm, Hôtel Dassault, Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées, 8e)

Meanwhile, in the Ile-de-France region, in and around the capital… Actor/filmmaker Richard Berry is the celebrity fundraiser at the helm of a massive “solidarity and generosity” campaign dubbed “Don en Fêtes.” This “Festive Giving” event is a “first” as three charities — Emmaüs, the Association des Paralysés de France (APF) and the Comité Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Dévelopment (CCFD) — that combat “exclusion” (linked to hunger, homelessness or various handicaps) will be jointly circulating special “smile logo” donation envelopes on display “everywhere… in public places and cultural hotspots,” from Dec 15 to Jan 15 2004.

Danish Feasts
The Maison du Danemark (142 av des Champs-Elysées) has something “Christmassy” for all pockets. At its annual “Marché de Noël” a free glass of gløgg (a seasonal warm wine, raisin, cinnamon and almond specialty)” awaits shoppers in search of one-of-a-kind gifts and decorations (Dec 11-14), while its La Butik gourmet food store and gastronomic restaurants, Flora Danica and CPH, proffer “nothing but the best” Nordic delicacies prepared with contemporary panache. (New Year dinner, at the latter — 200€ , plus drinks, reservations: 01 44 13 86 26)

Nearby is another Champ-Elysées “Must” — Cartier’s brand-new “haute” jewelry emporium, designed by interior architect Bruno Moinard (the founder of Ecart International in association with Andrée Putman). You can’t miss it with its spectacular storefront made of black gold-veined marble!

Wish List
What do you really, really want? An i-mode cell phone “as advertised by Bouygues Telecom,” a UFO-like “artificially intelligent” Electrolux Trilobite vacuum cleaner or… a designer gift? Hervé Van Der Straeten — who designed Dior’s J’adore perfume bottle — has a gallery in the Marais where he sells his ultra-stylish lamps, mirrors, tables and chairs with an “updated 1930s” feel, more often than not gold-trimmed. (Galerie Van Der Straeten, 11 rue Ferdinand Duval, 4e, tel: 01 42 78 99 99)

Alternatively, the Court Circuit “Salon de la Jeune Création” spotlights wacky furniture, quirky clothes and zany accessories by 150 “creative sparks.” For instance… Colorful “cooking utensil” bags by Anne-Marie Elorza. (10am to 9pm, Dec 6 & 7, Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Espace Condorcet/Niveau 0, 30 av Corentin-Cariou, 19e, M° Porte de la Villette).

Creative Spark
The art world is celebrating the advent of a new wunderkind. Quentin Garel is only in his late twenties. But, his XXL drawings and monumental sculptures of wild fowl and cattle have truly “extra-ordinary” presence. Among the smaller pieces, a bronze calf’s head whose patina is so faithful to the grain of the timber of the original it was cast from that it looks as if was actually made of wood. (To Jan 17, Galerie Rachlin Lemarie, 23 rue Beaubourg, 4e, tel: 01 44 59 27 20)

Kinky Cocktails
For “attitude-addicted” beauties or beasts — Absolut Vodka’s latest arty collaboration is an “Eyes Wide Shut”-style white leather mask cum belt commissioned from the Duke&Duke design bureau in a limited edition of 200. This year’s reveler’s tipple, “to be consumed with moderation”? Vodka or champagne with a “shot” of rose or violet syrup from Monin’s trendy floral range.

Lido Show
The world-renowned Lido cabaret is launching a 9 million-euro (including 3 million’s worth of costumes) “Third Millennium” revue named “Bonheur,” the latest addition to its existing series of soirées titled “Plaisir,” “Champs-Elysées,” “Emotion” and “Quelle Nuit.” An à la carte stage-side menu has been elaborated by Paul Bocuse and show-and-supper “deals” range from 140€ to 200€. Absolute bliss for “frou-frou” fans… (116bis, avenue des Champs-Elysées/

Printemps Christmas

“Absolut Attitudes” belt/mask

Electrolux Trilobite vacumm cleaner

Announcing the Lido’s new revue