Last week a good friend visited me for three and a half days. On Saturday, we had a lovely lunch topped off by two huge profiteroles each. The presentation was as delightful as the actual consuming of the dessert. The server brought two plates of the puff pastries filled with vanilla ice cream and then ceremoniously poured a pitcher of hot chocolate sauce on it. Could we have shared one serving? I thought of it briefly, then decided that my friend was here for a short amount of time so she might as well go big. Yeah, we’re gourmandes, no hiding it. There’s no equivalent word in English. Someone who is gourmande enjoys food.
After lunch, we took a walk on the Champ de Mars. Upon entering the large park in front of the Eiffel Tower, we were confronted by a group of about sixty Santas. In case you’re wondering, this is not a scene one sees in Paris every day. With his white beard slung over his shoulder, the ringleader explained the program to his fellow Santas. They would head towards the Trocadero area, and on the way spread Christmas cheer. After, they would gather in a bar.
Before commencing, they took a group photo. Inexplicably, a couple of them held signs featuring an image of a donkey wearing a tuxedo. The other signs said, “Les cadeaux, c’est maintenant !” Cadeaux means gifts. This is a play on French President François Hollande’s political slogan during his campaign, “La change, c’est maintenant !” (“Now is the time for change!”).En route to Trocadero, the Santas sat down in two neat rows and the band of four or five Santas began to play music. The organized lines quickly became mayhem as the Santas at the head of each row jumped onto the Santas behind them and crowd surfed. The subsequent Santas supported and passed along these Santas as well as they could, which at times was not very well, making it funnier. This chain continued for quite a while. To anyone who says that all Parisians are grumpy, I have just this as a counterargument: Dozens of French Santas crowd surfing in front of the Eiffel Tower. It sure put my friend and me in the holiday spirit.