23 March 2011

10 Things I Love About Paris in the Springtime

Today has been the quintessential spring day here in Paris.  It is still a tad bit chilly, but the sun immediately warms your bones.  The sky is a stunning blue and there are no clouds in sight.  As I sat out noshing on a delicious sandwich from Le Petit Vendôme with Fab, I got to thinking about springtime in Paris.  Winters are so depressing here in Paris, that when spring does finally get here, it is such a great reward.  Dreary gray skies that spit out rain all throughout the winter months finally give way to sun.  It never really snows here in Paris, so you never really have the satisfaction of the white stuff to at least justify the frigid temperatures.


Bref, I am really freakin' excited that it is spring.

I started thinking about what I really enjoy in the springtime in Paris.  How about you ?  What do you love when Paris starts to turn warmer ?

1) Terrasses :  apéro en terrasse, dîner en terrasse, brunch en terrasse.  The once plastic covered terraces and artificially heated terraces shed their winter cover and become open-air (but jam packed) delights.  Nothing beats a lovely brunch among friends on a Sunday spring afternoon with the sun warming your skin.  Chez Prune in the 10th, along the Canal Saint-Martin, is my favorite terrace.

2) Color : The metro becomes a brighter place when spring rolls around.  We womenfolk exchange our black, grey, and brown for green, yellow, pink, and blue.  Open toed shoes and lovely nailpolish abounds.  To me, spring changes the mood momentarily in the metro and makes it a lighter place...until summer rolls around and we are all baking.  Then there are all the flowers in the various gardens in Paris.  My favorite gardens are the Parc Montsouris and the Parc Floral.  Plenty of space to do my next favorite thing...

3) Picnics ! : Nothing gets this American girl's heart racing more (with the exception of Fab) than a good picnic.  Everyone shows up after work, blanket and shopping bag in hand, and contributes to the pile of food.  Sausages and cold cuts, baguettes by the dozen, bottles of rosé wine, bottles of white wine, bottles of beer, cheese, and snacks made by friends all get laid out.  We sit, we sing, we talk, and sometimes you make new friends that come and join your friends.  I honestly love to stake out a spot on the Champs de Mars, just before you cross the street to get to the Eiffel Tower.  There are loads of trees and flowers, making it seem like you are not in a city at all.  As the sun goes down, you can watch the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle.  It never really gets old.
Chocolate bunnies, John-Charles Ronchoux
4) Easter : Easter in France means two things.  Lots of lamb recipes come out for consideration for one's Easter Sunday lunch.  Even Picard, the frozen food chain of stores in France, gets in on the action by offering a variety of lamb-themed dishes for your Easter feasting.  Next, there is a veritable array of food porn lingering in chocolate shops.  Every year, the chocolate makers of Paris attempt to outdo each other and themselves with delightful chocolate Easter décor than can be polished off in an afternoon of gourmand gluttony.  I buy these Easter goodies, admire them, and then NOM, they are gone.

5) Vacation planning : In the dark metro tunnels, tempting posters are being put up more and more advertising hedonistic vacation spots to be considered for the summer.  It becomes the talk of the water cooler in the morning.  "Où vas-tu en vacances cette année ?"  I love talking about travel plans with my French colleagues, because they always go some place exotic and interesting.  Fab and I are going to take a delayed honeymoon to avoid the vacation rush, so this year, we won't be doing the August exodus from Paris.  Sometimes it is better to enjoy the city when it is empty of its habitual residents...

6) Cooking with the windows open : ...and not because the food is on fire.  I adore letting the spring breezes flow through my apartment and allowing Paris to enter my kitchen.

7) Long Walks : Paris is a walkable city.  It is easily crossed in a couple of hours.  It is by walking in Paris that you happen upon cute little wine bars and interesting, delicious restaurants.  In the winter, I am less likely to walk, even though I detest the metro, because it is cold and rainy.  But in the spring, I find excuses to go walk.  "Oh, there's a birthday party in the 11th and I live in the 7th?  Hell, let's walk it!"  Paris is so much more alive and brilliant in the spring, and you really sense this when you stroll through its boulevards and along its quais.

8) Foire de Paris : a huge fair that offers food, wine, and design?  Sign me up!  This year, the theme is "Slow Time" which encourages people to adopt more down time in their lives to discover their friends and family again, disconnect from the fast-paced, electronic world, and feel better overall.

9) Foire du Trône : Every April and May, Paris throws a big carnival in the 12th, called the Foire du Trône.  300 attractions bring Parisians and Francilians out en masse to have fun on rides and play various games.  This year it runs from 9 April to 5 June.

10) Transports en Vélib : I adore the Vélib system in Paris, because it is cheap transportation, it is a great way to see the city, and it gives you a way to lose pastry pounds that doesn't involve awkwardly jogging in a park in your less than fashionable sweatpants.  I don't really know how I got around Paris after the metro shut before the Vélib system.  You simply buy a ticket at the Vélib stand (using a credit card with a little chip...Americans, this could be tricky for you!), pick your bike, ride to your intended destination, and then drop the bike off where you end up!  You can even buy day-long, week-long, or year-long subscriptions.  The only downside is that sometimes you have to share the bike lane with buses...but God doesn't give with both hands.

Happy Spring everyone!

1 comment:

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