You know how you picture Paris? The sprawling parks and grand boulevards, the charming mansard roofs and Art Deco metro signs? Well La Defense, Paris’ financial district, looks nothing like that. Okay, maybe the metro sign still looks like that.

To be honest, I didn’t like La Defense at all. But the Christmas market certainly cheered up its bleak concrete vistas.

La Defense

Paris Christmas Market

Paris Christmas Market

I headed to La Defense to meet one of my favorite travel bloggers, Edna from Expat Edna. We clicked right away, and it seems like I’ve made my first real non-French or Spanish friend in Paris.
Expat Edna

Then we tried the traditional Christmas market accompaniment, mulled wine. In contrast, mulled wine and I didn’t click. Mulled wine, or vin chaud, kind of tastes like you threw a ball of potpurri into a pot of boiling red wine.

Mulled Wine

Luckily there was raclette to get the taste of hot merlot/Britney Spears Curious out of my mouth. For those who don’t know, raclette is a cheese as well as a dish. It’s essentially half of wheel of cheese awkwardly propped up and slowly tortured by a flaming copper rod. The cheese then melts and is scraped off and added to sandwiches or potatoes.

Raclette

We had it on a sandwich and it was so delicious. And heart-healthy, I may add.

Raclette

Paris Christmas Market

Paris Christmas Market

I am officially turning into a negative nancy over here, or maybe the Grinch, but the Christmas market seemed rather… forced. Or maybe kitsch is the word. Did you see that glittery red bear? I’m hoping the market in Germany are a little less Epcot-like.

Paris Christmas Market

La Defense does boast a great view of the Arc de Triomphe, which directly mirrors the La Defense arch (the two arches are connected by the Champs-Élysées). Seeing them together was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new.

La Defense

La Defense

La Defense

So wins of the day? Meeting a very cool travel blogger and eating a cheese sandwich. Losses? Everything else. But,as the saying goes, you win some, you lose some. And if you lose a lot then you should probably eat raclette.

Have you ever visited a Christmas Market in Paris? What did you think?

Psst! My Bedbunks and Backpacks interview is now live! Take a look if you’re feeling curious.

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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