Autumn or Summer? Our Assessment on Visiting Paris

Bonsoir mes amis,

And now we are two.  All of our company has departed, and it’s time to say farewell from Paris for 2014.  This is our tenth year which is hard to believe. It has been a fast, furious stay filled with birthday memories, visits from family and friends, a river cruise, a cooking class, a new apartment and the launch of my new book. We’ve had just a little bit on our plates!

We thought it would be fun to devote the final blog to the noticable differences in visting in the autumn versus during the summer.

–I thought there would be far fewer folks on the street but that has not been the case.  Yesterday at Notre Dame, the line was as long as I’ve ever seen it despite the fact that it was a cold November day.  Bernie thinks there have been fewer tourists and older tourists, retired folks like us.  I think there have been more, mostly Asian.  The shopping streets in the Marais have been packed.  Perhaps Christmas shopping has begun.  I’m surprised that Christmas has a much bigger emphsis here than I realized.

–The biggest disappointment for me has been the lack of autumn color in the foliage.  Save for a clinging ivy-like plant growing on certain buildings called vigne vierge (otherwise like our Virginia Creeper), there has been almost no color.  Who knew there were no maple trees here?  Mostly the leaves have turned brown and fallen off.  Even on our river cruise, there was no color.  Laurie, Bernie’s cousin, attributes some of that to a very, very wet summer.

–There have been different things at the market which have been nice:  many, many kinds of apples and pears, also mushrooms, butternut squash, chestnuts, huge bright orange persimmons, figs but alas, no cherries.  That was no surprise but I have certainly missed them!

–The chestnut stands on the street corners have been a disappointment to me.  I fully expected them to be out of a Dickens Christmas Village, I suppose.  Actually, they are homemade from a big tin can containing the fire with a vented top and usually pushed around in a grocery cart.  The only picturesque chestnut stand we saw was in Heidelberg on the cruise.

–The menus for this time of year are heavier with an overload of root veggies and hearty stews.  Not as many light choices and salads.  That was not a plus for me.

–It was great fun to see the Christmas lights going up on major boulevards (though none turn on until late November) and the Christmas storefront windows downtown were a real treat.

–The single most unattractive aspect of visiting during this time was the shorter days. The time change was a week earlier than in America and it’s dark here by 5pm.  I miss going out for coffee after dinner and long warm strolls along the river.  I also miss sitting out at the sidewalk cafes without freezing.

–The wardrobes have been fun to see for the autumn season but much harder to accommodate for packing especially for me as the female.  Heavier shoes have given me a big problem with my feet and legs since we have walked more this year than ever.  Some of that is because of the new apartment and its location.  It’s a super apartment but we hate where it is.  I have walked and watched as others around have done major shopping until yesterday when I splurged big time with a chic new winter coat, mostly Angora, from Gerald Darel.

–There are many more cultural exhibitions during autumn and that’s been a treat.  We’ve seen more than any other year including the Hokusai Japanese exihit and the Baccarat Crystal anniversary extravaganza yesterday.  Also a special exhibit at the Carnavalet on the liberation of Paris.  The Foundation de Louis Vuitton and the new Peninsula Hotel were spectacular.

–Bernie was thrilled as a photographer to learn to take good night shots since that’s never been an option before.  He’s had great fun with that!

–Finally, we both agree that number one on our list of positives has been the weather.  We have been so fortunate! With the exception of yesterday’s cold and gray pall over Paris, we have had spring/summer-like weather.  Rain has been mostly at night.  We remember with horror, the 95 degrees from last August without A/C.

We end our trip this year with one overwhelming emotion:  gratitude.  We are thankful for our health, for our wonderful friends in Alabama and here in Paris and for a cherished family, many of whom took the time to share in Bernie’s wonderful birthday.  It’s an old trite saying but appropriate in closing…”It just doesn’t get much better than this.” Thanks for being a part of our journey, thanks for the great feedback and God-willing, we’ll see you again next year from a summer Paris!

Au revoir,

L&B

P.S.  I just must add that my new book CATCH YOUR BREATH is now available from Balboa Press on all the major on-line sites and possibly by now in bookstores.  The paperback is afforble at $12.95.  If you know a caregiver, this would make a great Christmas present.  If you are currently a caregiver, I hope it will be a life-line for you.  There is more descriptive information about the book on my website.  Help me spread the word and many, many, many thanks to Nona Carson Perdue for being my back-up sanity here in Paris in helping with all the details.  SocialKCommunications, you rock!