The November Newsletter: From Le Black Friday to Le Cyber Monday

At first, last Friday, I thought it was the ad campaign for a new American horror film opening in Paris. I then realized that the notices for a mind-control experiment meets an invasion of the body snatchers were real: BLACK FRIDAY had arrived in France.

Not just any Black Friday, but LE Black Friday, so evocative and so directly imported from the New World that no one even bothered to translate the words, let alone explain the concept. One major retailer promised “jusqu’à“ (up to) 15% off… for those armed with a membership card discounted to 10€. If they plan on inciting a stampede and some shopper-on-shopper violence in Paris they’ll have to do better than that! As it was the so-called discount didn’t promise anything more than the usual salesperson-on-shopper abuse.

But now that France has gotten a whiff of Le Black Friday, can Le Thanksgiving be far behind?

Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the holiday season is upon us in France as elsewhere and that a traveler may well wish to embrace it. The City of Light, which, ironically, has some of the wimpiest holiday lighting of any major capital north of Belgrade, has actually perked up a bit this year in some quarters. You’d think that high brand shops were about to invade the Marais the way they’re stringing lights up there this year. (Well, actually the invasion has begun.)

A Christmas Tour of France
France may be a deeply secular nation, but everyone gets into the spirit of what are called “les fêtes de fin d’année”, the year-end holidays, meaning Christmas and more. Allow me then to take you on a tour of the Christmas season through Alsace, Champagne, Lille, Lyon, Provence, Nice and Paris in an article naturally entitled A Christmas Tour of France. The tour starts here.

A Winter’s Woodcock Tale
The approach of winter, in addition to bringing phone scammers invariably called Anne-Sophie promising to send burly men with accents to check out the electrical installations in the dangerously wired apartments of little old ladies (and writers working from home), has inspired a wonderful little essay about woodcocks (recipe included) by British journalist Janet Duignan, who lives in Dordogne. Read ” Winter’s Woodcock Tale here and learn about 250 years of fine-feathered cuisine and the ideal woodcock wine.

Paris Restaurant News: Eggs-istentialism and Dining à la car(te)
Meanwhile, back in Paris, contributor extraordinaire Corinne LaBalme presents two worthy restaurants and a side order of less worthy puns. First, on the Champs-Elysées, Corinne goes dining à la car(te) in order to test drive the menu at Renault’s newly re-conditioned showroom/restaurant. Then, in the Odeon Quarter, where philosophers, revolutionaries and writers once roamed, she visits a chic new bistro that offers diners tasty lessons in eggs-istentialism and the pleasures of carpaccio-diem.

On the radio with Peter Greenberg
Someone also forgot to tell me that I was on American radio a few weeks ago. That someone is the producer of Peter Greenberg’s show The Travel Detective. But no harm done. An astute and most thoughtful reader, to whom I’ve now promised coffee and a kiss on each cheek, eventually tipped me off with a message asking “Was that you on the radio on Nov. 1?” as though there might be a parallel universe where another Gary Lee Kraut operates a web magazine called France Revisited. Luckily the Nov. 1 show is available in podcast for those curious to know how I answered Peter Greenberg’s questions about how travelers should best to approach Paris and where to find the best macaroons and chocolates in the city. You can find the podcast by starting here.

The gift of travel
Finally, I’d like to tell you how you can contact me and my little elves to order a most fantabulous tour de Paris as a holiday present for your friends or family or self. But after the French Black Friday fiasco I don’t want to do anything to encourage Le Cyber Monday. So I’ll get back to you on that next week.

Happy travels always,

Gary

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