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The City of (Christmas) Lights

Kristen Durbin | Saturday, December 10, 2011

PARIS—By the time December rolls around at Notre Dame, students face chilly winter temperatures as they roam the snow-covered campus. But students studying abroad during the most wonderful time of the year experience the Christmas season with somewhat more temperate climates and much less snow.

Although Black Friday doesn’t kick off the season in Europe as it does stateside, the Christmas spirit is alive and well in the Old World, as evidenced by the giant Christmas tree in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

In early December I traveled to the French capital with six other Notre Dame juniors studying in Toledo, Spain for the semester. We were lucky enough to experience the Parisian Christmas spirit firsthand. We wandered the seemingly endless Christmas market on the famous Avenue de Champs-Elysees, snapped photos with the Christmas tree at Notre Dame and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Since we can’t be home to enjoy pre-Christmas traditions like decorating our trees, baking cookies or shopping for gifts, drinking warm mulled wine and seeing Paris illuminated provided us with some stand-in traditions to foster the Christmas spirit halfway around the world.

See what students have to say about their favorite Christmas traditions, the tasty treats offered at the Champs-Elysees market and reuniting with old friends abroad.