Winter has officially hit and the snow has transformed the Parisian streets into a winding landscape of undiscovered mysteries. La neige et moi have never really seen eye to eye mostly due to my extreme clumsiness and tendency to skilfully slip on absolutely anything in my path. France has instilled a confidence in me, however, that perhaps I won’t fall this year. From the first sign that a cold spell was on the way, salt was put on all footpaths and roads, something that only occurs in Ireland once the snow has hit! Puddles were frozen and there was ice everywhere, but I could safely walk down the road without worrying that a tremendous stumble may be just around the corner. Vigilance Orange has been announced in the majority of France meaning that everyone has to be extra careful to prevent accidents that may easily happen due to the adverse weather conditions. It is advised that one avoids driving altogether and trucks/lorries are strictly forbidden in certain areas so SOYEZ VIGILANTS out there folks!
The cold weather has stilted many a plan to be tourists this week. When you live in a city with famous landmarks nearby, you tend to take them for granted. I live so close to the Eiffel Tower that I can go up it anytime that I please – but two weeks in and do you think I have done it yet?! We bared the cold during the week to climb the 704 steps but the tower was fermée à cause de la glace. Typical! Never being one to shy away from a photo-op, I still managed to snap some shots to prove that we did in fact try.
I can officially tick another landmark off my Paris bucket list though: Notre Dame. My memory of Notre Dame is passing by it on an open-top bus on a very hot August day about 10 years ago so it was a treat to actually see it up close (or at least remember it this time!). The church itself is enchantingly exquisite; the gargoyles, captivatingly creepy and le vin chaud (mmmm hot wine!) we purchased while waiting for friends in baltic conditions was delightfully fruity!! It turned out that waiting was worth it though as on exiting Notre Dame, it was dark, the cathedral was lit up and it started snowing properly in Paris for the first time. Simply magical!
We took shelter in a restaurant in Saint-Michel where I indulged in a delicious crêpe gratinée au four – quatre fromages to be exact. I am officially all cheesed out till at least next week – Totally worth it though!
It wasn’t until we spent 20 minutes on the metro that we realised that quand il neige, il neige! At least 5cm had fallen in less than half an hour. Oh the excitement! Picture six grown men and women having a snowball fight on the Champs Elysées. You’d think we’d never seen the white stuff in our lives 🙂
Unfortunately, we encountered our first not-so-magical aspect of Paris this week. One of the girl’s unluckily had her bag stolen while in Quick (France’s version of McDonalds – try their chocolate fondant!) and so we spent a little over an hour in the police station in the hopes of somehow finding it. Not surprisingly, the girls all had a great time checking out les gendarmes who came in and out of the station. There’s just something about a man in uniform… Anyway, there are signs warning of pick-pockets everywhere in Paris, but I never really took them that seriously until now. Lesson learned!
Two weeks down, 10 weeks left. I’m actively trying to extend my stay in Paris till September so fingers crossed it works out – Paris in the spring will be so much better than Paris in the snow, but let’s face it, it’s pretty amazing all year round!