Friday, December 2, 2011

December in the Auvergne - trees and trucks

There’s an old Latvian Christmas carol that sings of Christmas arriving in a decorated sleigh:
            Ziemassvētki sabraukuši rakstītāmi kamanām’,
            Tidrallā, tidrallā, rakstītāmi kamanām.
Here in Clermont, it arrives on an AltéAd semi-truck.

Last Wednesday the plumbers and heating repairman that were once again visiting our apartment had a difficult time finding parking. The signs we had noticed the previous night clearly stated no parking anywhere on rue Blatin all day. Roberts took the car to work, and so we weren’t worried, but the repair team spent some time finding an alternate spot and blamed the day’s ban on the city installing Christmas lights.

I was excited, and kept an eye out all day for the Clermont elves. The Christmas decorations and lights had been appearing up and down all the other streets all week and it seemed ours was the only one left bare. I wondered if there would be a mass towing of disobediant parkers as there had been with one of the large marathons.

Then at dusk the flashing lights alerted me that something was going on. I grabbed Laurīts and the camera, and we went to the balcony to watch. But instead of the machinery needed for Christmas lights, instead we had police blocking off the side streets and redirecting all traffic…

Then, off in the distance, what to my wandering eyes should appear? A slow moving flatbed semi, with the annual Christmas tree on back! In Chicago the Daley plaza Christmas “tree” is actually composed of many smaller trees mounted onto a base, so I was delighted to see one single giant tree riding down our street like a forest on wheels.

27 meters high and weighing 8 tons, the tree is over eighty years old and from the Allagnat region. Those citizens that dared disobey the no parking signs will possibly find scratches on the sides of their cars, as the branches of the behemoth stretched from curb to curb. The Christmas tree was set up the following day, and over the past week has slowly been decorated. Lauris and I have followed the daily progress closely; one day watching as bottom branches were cut off only to be mounted in barer spots higher up, the next few as dozens of smaller trees were installed around the base, then as the lights, decorations and topper attached.

Redistributing branches and adding decorations

We can’t wait until all the lights are turned on this Saturday! And the tree will remain illuminated in Place de Jaude until the 8th of January, giving us more than a month to enjoy its festive beauty and remember the day that the Christmas tree came riding past our windows.


  1. Hi Liene, thank you for visiting Polonica; Home Again. I am so pleased to make your acquaintance: you moved from the US to France, I moved from Poland to Canada and then back to Poland again. And Poland and Latvia both lie on the Baltic sea and relatively close to each other. I will gladly follow you.

  2. We saw the tree last Saturday and Nathan was so excited he ripped off a branch to bring home! I can't wait to see it all lit up!

  3. Really, really, true. Thanks for this.

  4. How. Beautiful. That is amazing. And what a surprise to watch it be assembled. I didn't realize how they made those trees look so perfect. Have a very happy Christmas!

  5. I'm looking forward to seeing the tree when I pass through Clermont on my way to my mother-in-law's for Christmas! Less thank three weeks now! :-)

  6. Helpful advice. Fortunate me I uncovered your web webpage accidentally, and I’m astonished the reason this particular coincidence did not came about beforehand! I actually book marked it.

  7. Just want say thank you for the material you've got shared. Regards!


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