Paris in Winter

Tour Eiffel
If winter is about grey skies, showers and chilling temperatures, then there's all that in Paris in January. So why go at such an inhospitable time? Because Paris in winter is moody (great for photo ops), less frantic, the bi-annual store sales are irresistible, and you don't have to fight with the swarm of selfie indulgent tourists.

There is no absence of color beneath the threatening cloud cover.

Rue Cremieux
These pastel painted houses were my neighbors during my stay in Paris. I counted five visitors here, myself included. 

Cathedral of Notre Dame
I was at once elated, captivated and saddened to see Notre-Dame de Paris again. Elated that I could behold her in festive finery, captivated by her timeless beauty but saddened by the reality of the threat of terrorism.  For a moment I felt fear when I saw policemen dressed in combat gear with high powered rifles patrolling the cathedral. We shouldn't have to accept this as the new norm. But life must go on.

Galette des rois
The sixth of January is the feast of the Three Kings. The French have been celebrating the Epiphany with a galette des rois or king's cake since the 14th century. The traditional tart is filled with frangipane (cream made from sweet almonds, butter eggs and sugar). There are other fillings to choose from: chocolate, apple and candied fruit. Patisseries are concocting a variety of fillings and introducing new shapes of tarts to attract more customers. A fève or charm is hidden inside the cake. Whoever gets the charm is crowned king or queen and may designate their king or queen.

One of the highlights of the holiday season in Paris is the spectacular Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette behind the Opera Garnier. The theme of the 2017 tree was candy. I thought of M&Ms. The beautiful glass dome provided a dramatic backdrop for the constantly changing colors of the tree. I just made it to the store before they took the tree down. Christmas decorations are usually displayed until the feast of the Three Kings.

Iles des Cygnes
The big news in Paris this winter was the rising waters of the Seine River. In early January, the river was creeping up the banks of the Iles de Cygnes, a man-made island on the Seine. The island was inundated in late January and the water level reached up to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes along the river. The Louvre was forced to close its lower levels to protect its collection from floodwaters. The Seine rose to 19.2 ft. at its peak. 

"Paris is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness." Willa Cather


Images by TravelswithCharie


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