I’m a huge Christmas fanatic in general, so experiencing Christmas in Paris takes things to a whole other level. I personally don’t get into the Christmas spirit until after Thanksgiving (regardless of living in France), and the first thing I always do is get my Christmas tree – ‘Sapin de Noël’ in French.
In the past, I’ve been known to go what some might call overboard with my Christmas trees. After college I didn’t go with a three-foot “starter tree.” I went directly for a 10 foot monster (my ceilings were 14 feet tall). Things escalated from there, the trees kept getting bigger, the lights more numerous, and bien sûr, the ornament collection grew.
My First Christmas in Paris
When I moved to Paris, my apartment size shrunk to a quarter of what it was in Dallas. I packed only the necessities – which obviously included part of my ornament collection. I couldn’t wait for my first Christmas in Paris. Romain worked for a firewood delivery company when he was in college, so he coordinated the ‘Sapin de Noël’ delivery logistics. I asked him to make sure the tree was big (the apartment is small but the ceilings are high).
When the ‘Sapin de Noël’ arrived, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. It wasn’t the tree I was expecting – it was short, scrawny, and definitely not flocked. To add to my very personal “champagne problems,” France banned halogen lights so I had to go with white LEDs (I can’t stand the colored LEDs). It was a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and not what I envisioned for my first Christmas in Paris.
I came around on the tree. It was a good tree. It stayed perfect and didn’t dry out at all – something I attribute to setting it in a bucket of water (the French don’t water their trees). But for this year I knew I wanted more.
Parisian Sapin de Noël 2019
This year, I found the tree by pure luck. On the Friday after Thanksgiving and I went to the Fnac Montparnasse to replace my TV remote control. The remote was mysteriously missing for about three months. I don’t watch a lot of TV so I never had the urge to replace the remote, but I needed to get to the Smart TV to watch Christmas movies, of course! After I got the remote and saw that there was a Monceau Fleurs on the way home. I decided to stop by to see if they had any Christmas trees. (Sidenote – I found the “missing” remote control literally the next day).
As soon as Monceau Fleurs came into sight I got my first real feeling of the Christmas spirit. I literally felt giddy. Small flocked trees in every color lined the sidewalks. The real source of joy for me was the plethora of trees on the median of Boulevard Raspail.
I immediately asked to see the largest trees in the lot. I found a massive, beautiful Sapin de Noël that I thought was just perfect. The man informed me that opened up it would be about three meters wide (almost 10 feet…). I remembered my sweet Charlie Brown Sapin de Noël from my first Christmas in Paris and decided a gradual increase in size would be better for me.
My Sapin de Noël 2019
Ultimately, I chose a modest (for me) eight and a half foot tree. I lucked out and Monceau Fleurs delivered the tree that evening. The next two days was spent lighting the tree, which proved to be a bit of a mess due to a massive tangle in a very long strand of lights. On Sunday evening, Romain and I decorated the tree with some of my favorite ornaments, along with a few new additions.
I’m very happy with how the tree turned out this year. While it isn’t like my trees from Dallas, it’s perfect for Christmas in Paris.
2020 UPDATE: I wanted to include my 2020 Sapin de Noël!
My Sapin de Noël 2020
This year is my third Christmas living in Paris, and the Sapin de Noël keeps getting bigger. After all of the twists and turns and lockdowns and confinements of 2020, I decided to pull the trigger on this tree early. I bought my Christmas tree the weekend before Thanksgiving, on the first day Christmas Trees were authorized to be sold in Paris (as an essential item).
I named this tree the beast because it is very large and in charge. It must’ve been cut very early because it quickly went from perfectly green to dry and brown. I still love it but this year I’m probably going to wait a few extra days before buying.