Mon Dieu. It’s been five weeks since I returned from Paris. Five weeks, and I have not kept my promise to share some of my adventures until today. I have the photos. I have the stories. I just have not had a chance to sit down and sort through them. Procrastinating, are we, French Girl? Un peu. Mind you, I shared my travels daily on the French Girl in Seattle Facebook page, you will recall. It does count, doesn’t it? Trying to be cute now, are we, French Girl? Un peu.
Très bien. Time to get back on the horse. Le blog has felt neglected lately, no doubt. The weather is always a good place to start. Spring is here, and in a few weeks, it will not feel right to write about a visit to Paris in the heart of winter. People often ask me: When is the best time to go to Paris? Spring, summer and fall all offer perks. The Holiday season is a special time. Yet, after this visit, I was reminded of a valuable lesson: Paris is a great city year round.
Look at this photo. This is Paris-in-the-winter as many people describe her: Slate gray skies. Short days. Perpetually rainy weather. Chilly temperatures. Now look closer. Notice the light, the sky, low and soft, the peaceful surroundings. Notice the beautiful reflections in the Seine river. History is still there, all around you. Do you see it now? This is the mythical Maison Fournaise restaurant, and its famed terrace, immortalized by Auguste Renoir and his friends. For several years, as a Paris resident, I was lucky to enjoy this view from my office window.
Do not discount Paris in the winter. Even after she has shed her spectacular Holiday lights, January and February offer many surprises to those who take the time to slow down and look. Of course, you will follow locals’ example and spend more time indoors. After hours of walking, you will welcome the chance to warm up with hot chocolate, or a cup of tea at a local café or tea room.
You will visit museums, and exhibits.
Keep in mind that Paris awaits outside, as beautiful and mesmerizing in the winter as she is in the summer months – minus the crowds.
It is easy to forget that Paris has great bones when she is wrapped in summer foliage. The temptation, then, in the shadow of the trees, is to look around, more than to look up. In the winter, your eyes focus more easily on the elegant façades, the architectural feats, and the details.
How fun to return to summertime favorites and discover them dressed in their winter attire!
In the summer, Parisians take the sun and heat for granted. In the winter, they live for those precious moments when the clouds part; and the sunlight wraps them up, bringing some warmth, revealing colors and shadows.
Then there is the rain, the ubiquitous rain. Like most Parisians, I used to hate it, as I commuted to work. I would overhear tourists rhapsodize about it. I did not get it, but I do now. Paris in the rain glistens. Paris in the winter shines. Forget pollution and filth: The rain magically washes it all away, revealing those great bones, that once immaculate complexion.
Let’s give credit to Paris: The city makes even the rain feel special (if not downright romantic, according to some.) And so rainy Paris continues to inspire visitors and artists, old and new.
– A bientôt.