Dec. 20 - Twinkling lights, bustling holiday markets, and elaborate window displays light up Paris this Christmas, despite a tough economy. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Nevermind the stubborn unemployment and limited household budgets -- it's Christmas in Paris. The city is a-glow with holiday spirit. And for some it's the best time of the year to enjoy the City of Lights. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CHRISTMAS MARKET SHOPPER, CYRUS, WITH FIANCE SAYING: "I left Paris two years ago, and coming back here, with all of the Christmas spirit, it's very beautiful. It's changed. There are the same stores every year, but it's glittery. It's not necessarily to buy things, but it changes your thoughts. And, bizarrely enough, people are nicer during Christmas. If people want to visit Paris, Christmas is the best time to do it." Visitors concur. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM UKRAINE, BOGDAN, SAYING: "Paris before Christmas is very nice. We like to feel the atmosphere of some celebration, the lighting, more people smiling, the cold because how do you feel Christmas without coldness? We like cold climate because we are from Ukraine. So it's good." A recent survey found that most Europeans plan to spend more on Christmas this year for the first time since 2008. The French, however, were among those who plan to spend less as they grow more pessimistic about their purchasing power. But there is no price tag on holiday spirit, which is alive and well in Paris.