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Paris, city of holiday light

Deborah Hopewell
December 19, 2012

Could there be any better time to experience Paris than Christmastime? Sure, it's cold. And often rainy. But the City of Light is nothing less than dazzling during December. From the seasonal Christmas markets, to the gorgeously over-the-top window displays to sipping hot chocolate in a cozy café, Paris knows how to throw a holiday party.

Bundling up in a hat, scarf, gloves and an umbrella at the ready, I took recently took to the boulevards and rues of Paris for an afternoon of  faire du lèche-vitrines – which is French for window-shopping, bien sûr (literal translation: "window-licking").

The Grand Magasins on Boulevard Haussmann are not to be missed, like this one at Printemps. This year the displays at Printemps were created by Christian Dior, and feature 74 dolls dressed in miniature replicas of Dior designs. The sidewalks outside of these windows are filled with music as these animated dolls whirl around the display.

Bright Christmas reds and glittering gold and silver were the signature colors at Printemps windows designed by Christian Dior.

Another Printemps window designed by Christian Dior features moving, dancing dolls wearing animals masks and disguises, dressed in Dior replicas.

Outside the Printemps windows, steps that lead to a viewing platform have been constructed for children to get an up-close view.

A sparkling ceiling of lights on greets shoppers and passers-by on Boulevard Haussmann.

It seems like nearly every every street corner has its own vendor of marron chaude, or roasted chestnuts. Hand him a couple of euros, and walk away with a newspaper cone full of nutty warmth.

A two-story Christmas tree greets shoppers inside the Gare Saint-Lazare.