Waiting for the next metro, in the buildup to Santas credit card-busting spending spree... Parisians puzzled over a tantalizingly enigmatic billboard that read, In the mood for magic? rendezvous @ enviedemagie.com from December 19
Sure enough, all thats 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?
Traditionally, at Christmas time, French families throng to Paris from the provinces to see the capitals street illuminations and gape at its various department stores decorated theme windows featuring animated toyland tableaux
The most famous are the Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps on boulevard Haussmann. Cest magique!
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 lHôtel 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 Bercys 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).
Who says the Christmas spirit has disappeared? Its 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 dAuteuil 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.
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 Cartiers brand-new haute jewelry emporium, designed by interior architect Bruno Moinard (the founder of Ecart International in association with Andrée Putman). You cant miss it with its spectacular storefront made of black gold-veined marble!
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 Diors Jadore 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 lIndustrie, Espace Condorcet/Niveau 0, 30 av Corentin-Cariou, 19e, M° Porte de la Villette).
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 calfs 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)
For attitude-addicted beauties or beasts Absolut Vodkas 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 years revelers tipple, to be consumed with moderation? Vodka or champagne with a shot of rose or violet syrup from Monins trendy floral range.
The world-renowned Lido cabaret is launching a 9 million-euro (including 3 millions 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/www.lido.fr)