A weekend preparing for Christmas…and Santa Runs

Before we get to the Santa costume 10K race (where I actually ran hard despite the costume), we’ve gotta get through the weekend.  Some folks have commented that I’ve been lacking some food and Parisian posts lately, thus, we’ll cover that before tomorrow’s race report.  And for those looking for gadget reviews, I’ve got the Garmin VIRB review for Wednesday.

I got back in to Paris late Thursday evening from my week of work in Brazil.  Friday was mostly spent catching up on the previous work week (travel is brutal on playing catch-up on items not pertaining to that trip).  Friday night we met up with a Paris based blog reader and friends.  It was up in the Montmartre area, so afterwards The Girl and I decided to wander up to Sacre Coeur.  It was a quiet night, with just a tiny bit of rain coming down.  Nice to be up there overlooking the city without the huge crowds normally found during the summer.


Moving on to Saturday, Christmas is now in full swing in Paris.  While the major Christmas markets along the Champs Elysée opened up a few weeks ago, many of the smaller Christmas markets opened up this weekend for a shorter run.  For example, the Christmas markets about 100-150m away from us across the street from Notre Dame opened up.  This has mostly home-made knickknacks, and not too much food unfortunately.



After swinging through the markets we went over to pick out a Christmas tree from the garden greenhouses.  These are located just a few blocks away on the island, and in the summer are normally packed with flowers.  This time of year though it’s all about Christmas trees.



After much deliberation we found a tree we liked that fit well into the space we had.  Trees are a fair bit more expensive here in Paris than in the states.  This one that’s roughly my height (~6-feet) costs 85€ (about $115).  Eek!  Even the little 1’ tall (yes, table-sized) ones cost 35€-50€.


This time, we decided against cycling home with it on the Velib, like last year.


Instead, we just walked home with it:


It wasn’t too heavy, and it’s really only perhaps half a mile walk home.  Plus, we could stop along the way to pickup cupcakes at the shop:



Then, it was into the tiny elevator with our tree, and up into the house:


We’d finish putting everything on the tree later Sunday night:


Speaking of trees, the Notre Dame Christmas Tree went up last week.  Last year the tree wasn’t put up due to the grandstands that were installed.  With the stands mostly torn down now, there was room for a tree (well, honestly, there was room for a tree last year too…they just didn’t put one up).


It’s a very…uhh…unique design.  No ornaments or anything, just light strands.  Some fairly random.


We actually really like a bunch of smaller trees they put on the bridge between the two islands:



In between all these Christmas trees, we rushed out to go do packet pickup for the Santa 10K.  Except, we sorta got distracted in a market:


They had all sorts of good stuff, including various things we had not seen before – like these bowling ball looking breads.


We skipped the breads, but did come home with some cheese and sausage we tried:


After we had finished poking around there we headed over to the packet pickup and expo:


At this point things were waning a bit, as they were only open another 90 minutes or so (it was about 5:30PM).  While in the US that would have been prime packet pickup time, apparently that wasn’t the case here.

On the sports technology front, it’s notable that TomTom actually sponsored the race, and from what I gathered was the headlining sponsor along with Brooks – as their stuff was everywhere including the big inflatable finishing banners.


Now, as I noted at the beginning – I’ll hold back the race report until tomorrow.  But here’s a preview of things to come:

VIRB Picture

Yes, I could have shown you the photo of thousands of Santa’s lined up…but I’ve gotta save something.  Instead, here’s the line for the bathroom.

Less you think I didn’t do any sports tech stuff this weekend, I spent a fair bit of time unboxing new products.  In this case, more action cameras.  Thankfully, I’m at the point where I have what I need test-wise for many of the other action cameras, so it’s just a case of writing the actual reviews (which, is the easy part).  So these will queue in behind those.


Below, the new GoPro Hero 3+ Black, hanging out alongside it’s slightly older sibling the Hero3 Black (no +).


We had one final item on our weekend list – which was celebrating The Girl’s birthday, which fell on Sunday.  We went out with friends to a place kinda like fondue, but the French version primarily from in the Savoie region.  They impale large chunks of cheese on these holders, and then you place a heater over it and it melts down onto a plate:



It’s pretty much awesome.  Almost as awesome as the cupcakes that one of her employees made her for her birthday – bunnies!


Which…will be the only bunnies she’s getting anytime soon.

With that, thanks for reading!


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  1. hollyoak

    Nice tidbits ;-) If you’re still around next year you can pick up a tree at Ikea for €11 (€30-€19 voucher), not as romantic as choosing a tree at Notre Dame but a fair bit cheaper.

    • Yeah, though, it’d actually be about the same price-wise for us to get to Ikea (we lack a car). Here’s the rough costs:

      Metro to Ikea: €9 each way x 2 = €36 + then the cost of the tree
      (Though, this is challenging in that it’s both the subway + a bus to get to Ikea, and I’m not sure we can even take a Christmas tree on either. And it’d realistically be 2.5-3hrs round-trip)

      Autolib: This would likely be the cheapest, probably about 20 euros for the car time, but it wouldn’t fit inside the car, nor hanging outside (you can’t open rear trunk window or side passenger windows). And there isn’t an easy way to tie it down on top of car due to tiny size (like a Smartcar)

      Taxi: This would be approx €50 each way + the cost of the tree.

      Ultimately, there’s no real good option for getting a tree cheaply. We probably could have gone to the grocery store and got it there, but you can’t look at the trees ahead of time, it’s all wrapped up and you pick one and home it works out. :-/

    • hollyoak

      Hehe…you’ve done your math haven’t you ;-) Good point about not knowing what the tree will look like…ours is..well ok I suppose once decorated. Now we need some gadgets underneath! Any upcoming races in the Paris area? Houilles is supposed to be a fun one on the 29th, I’ll be there.

    • I’m pondering going skiing on the 29th. :)

      As for other races, we’re still building out a bit of a calendar plan for next year. Beyond the Boston Marathon for The Girl, we haven’t locked much else. Likely the Barcelona Half-Marathon, but everything is pretty fluid – mostly because of my work travel schedule.

  2. Ricardo

    Hey Ray, are you Living in France now? Cool!

  3. CaptainChris

    Happy Birthday!

    My wife and daughter are both 15 December ladies! The Fitbit Force seems to be a big hit.

    • Nice, happy b-day to them as well!

      I like the Force, except, I find the actual band clasp/connector annoying. It’s a bit of a pain to snap in place, and then I find that about once a day the band will fall off semi-randomly. Beyond that, it’s all good.

  4. Matt B

    Mmmmm raclette…. I’m very envious as a bummed out knee is stopping me getting my yearly fix during ski-week this season. Mind you, the cheese dreams after eating a half-wheel can be quite spectacular!

  5. Remco Verdoold

    Shocking price for a tree which can not grow further. But yes you bought it in the center of Paris so you pay the French Capital Price. Looking forward to the Santa run.

  6. Fer

    Hello Ray!!, one year ago I was begin reading your blog, I really appreciate your dedication to do the products reviews, also your tips and of course the race reports!!, Just want to say Happy Holidays!!!

  7. Peter K

    “Virb review for Wednesday” firmware update just dropped and looks like the App will be out for tomorrow (Wednesday)… Coincidence?!?! ;-)

    • No, no coincidence, just really bad luck. I’ve had the firmware update, but not the app…

    • Peter K

      Ah, well if it’s a conciliation the app review will only take a few seconds as there’s not much to it yet! Viewfinder, change settings and start/stop video- that’s it!

      Can’t take stills from it or any way to access the memory card to transfer photos/ videos- I seem to remember it taking gopro ages to add the transfer fuctunality after initial app release!

  8. Nice shots: I’ve never been in France but thinking about a vacation there, now – thank’s for inspiring me! :-)

    And now I am curious to read about your experience with the Garmin Virb…

    Greetings from Germany, Eddy