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As night began to fall around 5pm, the Christmas lights started illuminating the Champs-Elysées.

People were strolling and shopping from the Village Noël to the Arc de Triumph, making traffic on the sidewalks as congested as on the street.

Luckily there were options for people who got tired of walking, from man powered

to engine powered (rental rate was 89 € or about $120 USD per 20 minutes, which explains why a group of young men hovered around the Ferarri but no one was driving it).

The stark snow white globes and trees decorating the transition between the Village de Noël and the brick and mortar shops lit up once it got dark.

and became huge Christmas globes.

Leaving the Village de Noël to head to the Arc de Triumph the pink twilight glow of Paris added a painter’s palette to the lit trees

and even the traffic couldn’t detract from the beauty.

Once I reached the stores past the Village de Noël, I remembered why I haven’t been here for years,

Yes there are French stores like the now world famous

or perfume house

or the classic La Durée, which made macarons with tea famous,

or Fouquet’s which is famous for their prime location and correspondingly pricey menu.

People come from all over the world to shop here; it is the Rodeo Drive of Paris.

One of the big differences is that here Levi’s is considered chic.

Yes, you read those prices correctly, the clothes on that Levi’s wearing mannequin cost up to $300 US for the coat and those 511 trousers are about $150 US!!!

I love shoes (what woman does not?) and these unusual ones ranged from about $700 US to over $1000 US, even though I am not a big fan of cats, I thought these were cute, but not worth $1000.

Flats were the same price as heels.

If you like Zanotti, and you think $1600 US is expensive for a pair in the US, try 1850€ for a pair in Paris (about $3000 US)!!! Yes, you are better off buying designer shoes in the US, even Louboutins are half to a third LESS expensive in US (especially considering that the euro is about 35% higher than the dollar right now).

Granted this is one of the priciest streets in the world, and the shoppers here have budgets beyond most, so some choices are geared exclusively to the “money is no object” shopper.

And this is not a city where people keep their furs in their closets; many women wearing fur coats walking around, and while men may not have been wearing full length fur coats,

fur collars were popular on men’s leather jackets which cost over $4000 US.

Even the toilettes on the Champs-Elysées are luxurious, especially compared to the rudimentary ones at the Village Noël which were like large porta potties for ,50€ (about $0.75).

What was billed as the cleanest public toilettes had services ranging from basic for 2 € (about $3 US) in various styles, from chic to ethnic, to extra (paid) services ranging from diaper changing areas to make up mirrors. Every stall is manually cleaned after each patron, and I would bet there is always enough toilet paper in every stall.

The animation at the Village de Noël started as evening fell. Busloads of these men descended

and started playing music from Christmas tunes to the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

and even Santa made an appearance in the sky

The lights of Paris

for the holidays

shone through the cold

and reminded me why I love this city:)

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A friend of mine had a pair of “Toe Shoes” by his door and I am not talking about ballet shoes. He said they took some getting used to at first, but he liked them because they felt as if he was barefoot. I am always shopping for shoes and I was intrigued by shoes that could make me feel like I was walking barefoot since my walks wearing regular athletic shoes have led to as many as five blisters per foot.

The most well known manufacturer of barefoot “toe shoes” is Vibram and they retail at stores like Adventure 16 and REI, so finding the shoes is easy. I tried on a few pairs from the lighter Sprint model to the TrekSport, the one I ended up buying.

It took trying on two sizes to find the correct one, but once I did, I loved how light and flexible they felt. There are different models for whatever sports you want, ranging from biking to yoga, and depending on the sport, the soles are made for indoor, outdoor, or rugged rocky terrain. All the outdoor models are quick drying so these are perfect for water sports or places with pebbly beaches.

Look I have alien toes!

The sole of the TrekSport model has more padding for outdoor use on things like sidewalks and rocky trails. I have followed the instructions of wearing them only an hour or two a day and gradually increasing the time to get used to them, but already I want to wear them everywhere. The only negative I have found with them is that even with the Coconut Active Carbon in the upper, my feet perspire after a few hours, but the foot bed is made with antimicrobial microfiber.

Hmmm, something that feels good and is good for you? The philosophy behind barefoot five finger shoes is that they help you walk as you do naturally and therefore the shoes help your posture, balance, and agility while helping you strengthen your legs and feet.
 Since Adventure 16 is having a 20% off sale on all their Vibram shoes until the end of the month, it may be time to get a second pair….

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