In the UK, you definitely know when Christmas is approaching. As soon as November rolls around, we are bombarded by television adverts and signs in restaurant windows warning to BOOK NOW or say goodbye to the office Christmas party. Not to mention the fairy lights overkill and eerie plastic Santas hanging from windows.
These signs suddenly materialise overnight, knocking us over the head with their forceful message: “Christmas is here; spend, spend, spend!”
The changes are much more subtle in France, however. You might be forgiven for not even realising the festive season is approaching. Most towns splash out on a few lights and stars for the main streets, and only a small number of people get slightly carried away decorating their houses.
This is a far cry from big events in the UK, like Doctor Who Matt Smith turning on the Christmas lights for large Cardiff crowds.
Tacky and over the top are not in the Parisian vocabulary. Sadly, the same cannot be said of these Brits who have truly gone to town with their house.
Paris manages to come alive nonetheless. The Christmas lights on the Champs Elysees are a lovely sight. The small blue fairy lights twinkle in the long rows of 450 trees, and the Christmas market is rustic and tasteful.
The highlight has to be the decorations in the Grands Magasins. The Galeries Lafayette and Printemps on Boulevard Hausseman are famous for their incredible window displays. The toy animations are family favourites which change every year, attracting thousands of specatators. This is the most extravagant it gets, and with the luxuary shops spending millions on them, they are better than all the British extravagance put together.