Winter in Paris

If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve been trekking through Poland here on the blog. Now that my series is over, it’s time to share a little what I’ve been doing since I’ve been in Paris, not Poland, during the past few months!

Winter in Paris. I weirdly really enjoy this time of year in Paris when I’m not complaining about the rain and lack of sunshine. Once Christmas and New Year’s passes, the tourists clear out the city. For a few short-lived months, the city feels like it belongs to us. The Parisians, the locals, who love this place enough to tough out the dreary, wet, gloomy winter season.

Clear skies help combat the winter blues.

Clear skies help combat the winter blues.

As I said, I enjoy it when the weather doesn’t get me down. The problem is that I sadly think my tolerance for the cold has plummeted. I’m not sure how Europe has done that to us - increased alcohol tolerance and increased sensitivity to cold shouldn’t simultaneously happen, right? Part of me wonders if it’s part of my adaptation to the way people dress here. It seems that people wear a lot more layers of clothing at all times. (Summer scarves exist. Proof right there.) I’ve gotten used to bundling up more, even in temperatures that used to not feel very cold to me. Maybe it’s possible that I’ve started bundling up more, thinking it is colder than it really is because everyone else dressed that way.

It’s a bit confusing, because I’ve always prided myself on being a Jersey girl. I’ve grown up with cold winters, so I’m used to it (or so I say). It’s nothing new - winter is supposed to be cold, and it is. Suck it up. But the other night, Michael and I went out to do some night photography. We were maybe halfway between our apartment and the Seine when we decided it was too darn cold. What did we do instead? We detoured to a café nearby and shared a carafe of red wine, happily sitting underneath a heat lamp on the terrace. (That is one thing I love about Paris - no matter how cold it is, you can always sit outside under the heaters. Just don’t let a little smoke bother you.) See what I’m saying? Increased alcohol tolerance and sensitivity to the cold go hand in hand.

Then when we got back home, Michael chatted with a friend back in New York. He quickly  informed us that our chilly 40 degrees (F) was “balmy” compared to what they’ve been experiencing. Goodness help me when I have to endure a winter on the East Coast again!

February at the Medici Fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Though my resistance to the cold has decreased, winter in Paris really isn’t that cold. It’s mild enough that the city gets A LOT of rain, but rarely ever snow. I can say this now, since my friends and family are an ocean away and can’t slap me: I really have been wishing for snow all winter! Just once, I dreamed of seeing Paris covered in a white blanket of snow. (The one time it snowed significantly while I've lived in Paris was in January of 2013. And guess where I was visiting? New Jersey!) I keep imagining just how pretty it would be, if only the city was coated in snow for a few hours. Though we did get snow in Paris this year - twice, oh so briefly, it was cold enough to produce a few flurries. They melted right away, but it still was a magical moment. It was then that I realized how much I’ve become like the poor kids in Texas who can only related to “Frozen” on a theoretical level. Not thirty seconds after the flurries started did I get two chats online telling me about the snow. Let me tell you, it was a highlight of the week.

Check out this ice in the fountain in front of Saint-Sulpice! I think the kids here wanted to see some snow too. We watched some children picking the ice out of the fountain and playing with it in Place St. Sulplice since it was the only cold thing they could play with in Paris.

Seriously, the brightest blue skies in March, framed by the Eiffel Tower - first time I've been underneath the tower post-construction of the first floor!

Passing by Invalides on a beautiful winter day

These photos of this winter may be a little misleading. Not pictured are the many hours I stayed indoors while it rained. And the many, many cups of tea I drank while curled up under a blanket with the heat cranked up in the living room. It became less about wanting tea and more about consuming hot water, and holding a warm mug. 

Dusk along the Seine on the first day of March

But I don’t want to sound too down on winter - after all, I do love the quiet and calmness of the season. Being sun-starved for weeks makes me appreciate the moments of clear sky - hence all of these photos taken in precisely these moments of gratitude. And those rainy days gave us opportunities to explore new places in Paris. When the nicer, warmer weather sets in, all we want to do is walk for miles or linger at a picnic. We didn’t mind then staying indoors when we weren’t missing out on sunshine. In the past three months we got to see the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Château de Vincennes, the Conciergerie, Musée du Quai Branly, the Paris Magnum expo at Hôtel de Ville, plus revisit some museums like Musée Picasso and the Louvre. 

Nothing better than emerging from the Louvre to find that the rain has stopped, and the sun is vibrantly setting

All in all, I can say that hard as it is to get through it sometimes, we need winter to appreciate the spring.

How’s your winter been?

Lou Messugo