Let’s talk about autumn. Autumn is the best. It’s always been my favourite season, a time to snuggle up in toques and big scarves, watch the leaves change and eat & drink copious amounts of pumpkin-flavoured delights. Now back in Calgary, we usually had a beautiful autumn with bright yellow leaves and it would last all of…..maybe a week? Then a roaring chinook would blow through and strip all the poor trees of their leaves and then the following week a blizzard would dump twenty centimetres of snow. Maybe I exaggerate slightly, but the point is….autumn was always too short in Canada for my liking.
In Paris, however, the season is given its proper time allotment. Today is November 22….which now officially makes it LATE November, and autumn is still clinging on. The Bois de Boulogne remains full of gold and red, and there is a carpet of crunchy leaves underfoot. Murphy and I have been having the most amazing walks these days!
Let’s talk about the temperatures. I know that all my Canadian friends and family are going to roll their eyes and joke amongst themselves about how soft I’ve gotten; but let me tell you, anything below 5℃ feels FREEZING here. I know how weak that sounds, and trust me- I’ve done plenty of Calgarian winters where weeks will pass by without the mercury crawling above -25℃. That is true cold. But let me point out a few major differences. Firstly and most importantly, in Paris you spend hours and hours every day outside. We don’t have a car, so to get anywhere it’s a 10 minute walk to the metro, plus however far awaits you on the other end. If you want to take the bus, you walk to the stop and then wait outside. If you want to go shopping, most places are individual store fronts which aren’t connected indoors. In many restaurants you are still eating outside…with heating lamps and blankets, but still! It’s VERY different from the culture in Canada (and Switzerland for that matter) where you are only outside whilst walking from your parking spot to the mall/restaurant/house.
Now lets’ talk about what awaits you at home. In Canada we had central heating. In Switzerland we were lucky enough to have in-floor heating. Here in France we have radiators of dubious quality…our apartment is strangely FREEZING during the afternoon and then really warm and cozy in the evening.
And finally, it’s a damp cold. So there.
Now, complaining aside, let’s talk about the good stuff. What is it (besides the colours) that makes autumn so amazing in Paris? Well….
- Everyone looks SO stylish in their beautiful long coats, boots and giant scarves
- Two words….vin chaud!
- The holidays- thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of them all! Plus it was Marc’s birthday in October, and he shared the timing with three of our friends here (they were all within a week of each other), so we had a joint party! It was so fun.
- The fall sunsets in Paris seem even more epic than the summer ones. Or maybe we just see more of them because it gets dark so early?
- The entertainment value of watching the neighbours wage an epic battle against the leaves. We live in Neuilly-sur-Seine, which is full of huge, spectacular trees- and during the autumn the whole town comes together (or attempts to!) to deal with all the leaves. The mayors office has a very efficient program where two men walk in front of a street cleaner and sweep leaves en masse into it. This I understand…. leaves rot and become slippery, block the drains, etc. The part I don’t understand is the home owners or gardien/nes who spend hours every morning sweeping the sidewalk in front of their building into neat piles of leaves….usually around a tree trunk or on the road. This is all well and good except for the fact that they leave them there, and 10 minutes later the wind comes or a car drives by (or a golden retriever marches right through them and pees… or so I imagine, Murphy would NEVER) and they are redistributed. It all seems like an extremely pointless exercise to me, but rain or shine they will be out there every morning, sweeping away. It puzzles me greatly but I find the rhythm of it all very soothing.
- And finally- Paris is well known for being the city of lights. It was the first city to introduce gas lighting to the streets, and it takes great pride in continuing the tradition with amazing iron street lamps that give off a really soft, warm glow. The many (many!) hours of darkness we experience during this time of year don’t feel so bad with such amazing lights around. Plus we get to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle (from a distance) almost every night.
To sum up, autumn has been amazing here in Paris, and we have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of weeks….American thanksgiving this weekend (it’s THE BEST to have American friends, because it means you get two thanksgivings!), and then Christmas celebrations start. Marc and I are hoping to go to Strasbourg for the famous Marché Noël in early December, so that is really exciting!
PS- the autumn isn’t all good, it means a lot more rain which means mud which means Murphy often looks like this after our walks *sighhhhhhhhhh*