How do you enjoy snow in Paris? You go out in search of hills, of course!
And there’s probably no better place to find them than what used to be a sparse, windmill-dotted countryside outside the city limits: Montmartre.
There was a sense of event in the city this weekend as Paris got hit with the most snow it’s seen in 24 years, and not wanting to miss out on the spectacle I abandoned the promise of a cozy peaceful Sunday at home and schlepped a camera and many layers of clothing into the great white tundra. I expected the picturesque streets; what I didn’t expect was to see so many Parisians, who are normally reserved and measured, giving into pure unadulterated playfulness.
And where there’s no hill, you make do:
The area buzzed with a sense of village community and camaraderie, and the weather only strengthened the feeling of rural and rustic that Montmartre does so well. It made you forget you were in a city at all, and with snow like this being so rare here, around every corner was a reminder that you were witness to a fleeting version of Paris, one to be revered and locked into the memory banks.
And for every charming landscape there were an equal number of quiet details to complete the wintry scene:
One detail I was happy to have at hand were the metal pylons along most streets, which had always seemed to serve a dual purpose – to prevent sidewalk parking and to protect pedestrians – but which now assumed an indispensable third function as an aide to hoist myself up some of the more slippery slants:
The usually bustling Place du Tertre was subdued and still, with only the most dedicated (or broke?) of outdoor painters braving the elements for the occasional commissioned portrait:
The basilica’s gargoyles displayed just how cold it was, regardless of how much hellfire you happen to have been born out of:
And then the winter’s afternoon slipped away from Montmartre, the sun and temperature coasting down the snowy hills into night, and locals and visitors alike admired a view of the city akin to that of a tray of pâtisseries lined up in a bakery window, freshly dusted with powdered sugar for the pleasure of all who pass by.
(A second series of snowy shots from other parts of the city can be seen in my next post)