I love Paris in the winter…

In his famous song, Cole Porter  writes: “I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles.” Well, it wasn’t drizzling a couple of weekends ago (Feb. 23-26), when my wife Jan and I were in that wonderful city: it was absolutely freezing cold.

On the plus side, we had bright sunshine every day of our four-day get-away (to celebrate my birthday); we were accompanied by Jan’s witty and warm cousin David and his lovely and lively wife Christine; and our stay was, well, swell!

If you haven’t been to Paris, maybe a few of the following thoughts will inspire you to go. (You really should, you know.) If you’ve been, maybe you’ll recognize at least some of the reasons I love it so much, and perhaps even agree with them.

So here goes.

I love the views. Just about everywhere you look in the heart of Paris, there are wonderful views — gracious apartment buildings, lovely trees and lawns and parks, monuments and more. Because the city is laid out so well and organized so sensibly and beautifully, you are often looking at vistas along wide boulevards. Here is a view you’ll probably recognize — it’s a relatively famous tower — taken from the street-level café in our hotel, as night began to fall.

Recognize the tall structure in the centre?

I love arriving by train. On the Friday of our four-day journey, we left Daglan and travelled by train from Gourdon, as usual, and the train was (a) on time and (b) clean. As a bonus, the young couple across the aisle from us (I suspect they were university students) were well-dressed, with no visible tattoos, pleasant, and quiet spoken. So Jan and I were quite happy for several stops. Unfortunately, a young woman came aboard at a later station and sat next to Jan; the unfortunate part is that she brought a somewhat strange scent to our area — I’d say a mix of body odour and boiled turnips. But one adjusts, and in any case, we still had a pleasant trip; we drank wine and ate our picnic lunches; read our books; enjoyed the French scenery for five hours; and arrived at the increasingly bustling Gare d’Austerlitz more or less on time.

I love the intersections. This may sound goofy to anyone who has complained about traffic chaos in Paris, but I actually find the complicated intersections, with vehicles coming and going and stopping and turning and sliding past each other with bare centimetres to spare, rather amazing. Typically, we are in a taxi, so I don’t have to worry much, but traffic does make a certain amount of sense. So does the parking. (And if you’ve ever been to Rome, you’ll think that traffic in Paris is like a quiet day in a country village.)

I love the Seine. One of my favourite travel events is leaving our Paris hotel early on a Sunday morning by taxi, and heading either for the airport or the train station by starting with a drive along the Seine. I can’t think of another city that takes such glorious advantage of a river running through it.

I love the people-watching. We like staying in the 7th — the arrondissement that contains, among other things, the Tour Eiffel, the Musée Rodin, and the Musée d’Orsay — and in the evenings we will sit for hours sipping wine and munching nibblies at a café right on la place de l’École-Militaire. On cold winter evenings the terrace of the café is heated, the service is efficient, and the people-watching is just about perfect. Lots of passers-by, but not crowded up against you.

I love the food. This probably goes without saying, but the food in Paris is a major draw. At a simple level, I’ve never had better croissants than in Paris hotels and cafés. At a Michelin-starred level, well — it’s hard to beat. On this latest trip, we had a wonderful Saturday lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, but I’ll save that for a later blog posting. I’ll just highlight our Sunday lunch at one of the largest and most famous of Paris brasseries, Bofinger. Here’s a look inside:

Cosy, traditional and bustling.

Bofinger is known for both seafood and Alsatian cuisine. I’m one of those people who loves choucroute garnie — sauerkraut and boiled potatoes with a variety of sausages and other pork products — so I had to order the restaurant’s own Choucroute Bofinger. The sauerkraut was probably the best I’ve ever had — perfect texture, and pleasantly mild. Here’s my plate (but showing only a few of the meats):

Not elegant, but yummy.

This may not be fine dining, but it’s certainly dining well. We’ll save the fine dining for my next posting.


This entry was posted in Cafés in France, Food, French food, Holidays in France, Paris restaurants, Restaurants in France, Tourist attractions, Travels in and out of France and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to I love Paris in the winter…

  1. Andrea Mahalek says:

    What hotel do you like to stay in in Paris?

    • loren24250 says:

      We’ve stayed at several, over the years, in the 7th. Probably most often at the Tourville. This time we were more-or-less right across the street from the Tourville, at a new (or newly renovated) hotel called La Comtesse. Would certainly recommend it for location, quality of the room, quality of the café, and so on. Only minor hitch in our room was a complete lack of shelves in the bathroom, so lots of toiletry items (toothbrushes, etc) had to be kept in the bedroom. Otherwise, really good experience!

  2. Jennifer Charabin says:

    I really enjoy reading about the adventures of Loren and Jan. I especially love the ones that take you to France and involve food. 🙂 I cannot tell a lie, I do miss the days of live lunch updates at Globe Bistro or Allen’s, but alas am super grateful for Radio Free Daglan. Cheers.

  3. Christine Marianne Provan says:

    What a beautiful description of Paris, it is a truly beautiful City and our trip with you guys was brilliant.

  4. loren24250 says:

    Thanks so much, Jennifer! It’s great to stay in touch and share memories, even if it’s all long-distance. All the best from Jan and me.

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