Sparkles for the Season

Archbishop Palace
The magic of the season in tiny sparkly lights adorning the medieval walls of the Archbishop’s Palace in Narbonne.


The holiday season is winding down, with all the busy-ness of shopping, wrapping, mailing, cooking, and partying. I’ve gathered some photographs from my celebrations of both Christmas and New Year’s Eve to give you an idea of how things looked in my corner of paradise.

Christmas — Noël

On Christmas Eve—Réveillon de Noël—I joined some of my French friends for a visit to Narbonne to stroll through the Christmas market, watch the parade, and hope for a glimpse of Père Noël (Santa Claus). A week later, on New Year’s Eve—Réveillon du Nouvel An, or Saint Sylvestre—I was with many of the same folks to share a meal and watch the festivities televised from Paris, where 400,000 cold revelers crowded the Champs-Élysées.

In between, on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, I joined some of my English-speaking friends, celebrating both days with good food, Christmas crackers, and a lot of good cheer and laughter.


Robine Noel
The Canal de la Robine was originally built by the Romans about 2,000 years ago and heavily modified in 1686; it runs right through the center of Narbonne. On the right is the Christmas market. Visible in the upper center is the Archbishop’s Palace, whose tallest tower always gets wrapped in a giant red ribbon for Christmas.


Roasted Chestnuts
One of my favorite cold-weather treats is hot roasted chestnuts, and our first stop at the Christmas market was this fellow’s stand for a bag of the too-hot-to-handle goodies.
Archbishop’s Palace 1
The Archbishop’s Palace of Narbonne, with parts of a Roman foundation and several medieval additions. It is now the city hall.


Photo Set
Kids with bears: first up is big sister, who poses with a smile and then skips back to her parents while her little brother gives the bear a bear hug.


Santa Circus
Père Noël arrives in style, with costumed dancers and some very tall people.


Photo Set
It’s hard to know where to look! On the left is a wagon carrying a woman making and giving away cotton candy. In French, it’s “barbe à papa” (father’s beard). On the right is a unicyclist zipping around the other performers.


Photo Set
This fellow smoothly walked atop his ball the entire length of the parade, stopping occasionally to juggle. No wobbles, no dropped pins, just smiles all around!


Toros Locos
After the parade, the kids made a beeline to the other side of the canal, where a carnival of rides awaited their pleasure. This is “Toros Locos,” a row of mechanical bulls with a backdrop of the Stars and Stripes. The kids were tossed about mercilessly, and they loved every minute of it.


Noel Halles
The beautiful Les Halles dates to 1901, built on the bank of the canal to house the food market. Open every day of the year, it’s a lively place, with smiling (and sometimes shouting) merchants, jostling customers, and several bars serving wine and tapas.


Robine Passerelle
The passerelle, or foot bridge, across the Canal de la Robine. A glittery “Narbonne” bids us farewell on a lovely Christmas Eve.



New Year’s Eve — Réveillon


Photo Set
Our pretty New Year’s Eve table setting included dinner rolls with “Bonne Année” (Happy New Year) written on them. I made a caramel-pear tart for dessert.


Photo Set
The televised New Year’s Eve festivities at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The Champs-Élysées was packed with 400,000 cold celebrants watching a fantastic lightshow, the countdown to midnight, and truly spectacular fireworks.

Photo Set







3 thoughts on “Sparkles for the Season”

  1. My those buildings in Narbonne look different in their holiday finest. Great storytelling as always. Good health to you!


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