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No Champs Elysees Christmas market this year


Fifteen million visitors will have to take a rain check on one of the highlights of Christmas season in Paris, the big Christmas Market along the Champs Elysees, between the Rond Point and Concord. It's been cancelled in a dispute with its long-time operator over what it should represent.

It's a great social experience, with food vendors, lights, music and market stalls selling, in theory, Christmas gifts. For the past nine years, it's been operated by Marcel Campion, self-styled "king of the fairground," but Paris city councillors have been unhappy over high-priced fast food and stalls full of cheap merchandise from China.

The Councillor responsible for tourism, Jean-Francois Martins, said that "wasn't good enough for Paris...the end of year festivities do not depend on a market selling churros and products made in Asia." He, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo say that they raised these issues with Campion but saw no change.

Over the summer, the City Council voted unanimously not to renew the contract, and to offer it out for bids, with Campion eligible to compete. In the meantime, Campion has inspired demonstrations and blockages by vendors, and has ordered his workers to begin setting up as usual along the Champs. Obviously, a story in progress...keep tuned.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Christmas markets everywhere are always full of crap, mixed in with the good stuff.  I went to Strasbourg last year, which is one of the best Christmas markets in France, and even in Strasbourg there are some stands selling crap.

Then again, I always wonder what people are expecting.  "The best Christmas items in the world?"  And about half of the people claim that the items are too tacky and that the items on sale should be higher end.  The other half find everything overpriced and would like to see cheaper Christmas stuff.

Frankly, Christmas markets are exactly what I expect, and I do not really have any complaints about them -- there is something for everybody, and if you don't like some of it, just ignore it.

However, to address the problem of the Champs Elysées Christmas market, I am one of the people who are happy to have seen the previous management thrown out, even if it means not having a Christmas market for a year.  Now there will be a full year to completely rethink the concept.

I can't disagree, especially since I'm seldom a shopper for what the best of these markets sell.

But I do have one fond memory of the market on the Champs. Christmas 2012, first night of the trip, walking and tasting from food stalls (NOT the churros!). After sharing a gendarme sausage with my wife, we stopped by a cheese stall that was offering tastes. But not to us! "I can smell that sausage. Come back later. You can't taste cheese now!"

Maybe she should be the new manager!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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