The conclusion of my snow series as promised, with a glimpse of what the transformation looked like in other parts of the city. But first! —
I’d like to say how grateful I am to have been Freshly Pressed again, allowing this blog to experience its own wintry blizzard last week of 3,500 views from 80 different countries. I’d like to send out a sincere thank you to everyone who stopped by to take a look, press a Like button, or leave a comment. Thanks also to those who shared The City of White through re-blogging, tweeting, or perhaps even the old school method of word of mouth. And finally, to the 2oo or so newcomers who just subscribed — hello, and welcome!
Alors, onto the snow…
I was already camera in hand as I approached the street bordering the western edge of the Jardin du Luxembourg (seen above) and my imagination warmed with anticipation of a winter’s promenade: I would stroll through its broad tree-lined alleys, past the frozen fountains and pétanque courts, and finally to the heart of the park with its picturesque sailboat basin and Italian-inspired royal palace.
What I found instead was 12 vertical feet of wrought-iron discouragement, as apparently the snowfall was enough to warrant the closing of the public access gates. But for those willing to risk the cold bite of an exposed shutter button finger and the sidewalk stampede of perturbed joggers displaced by the park’s closure, there were still a number of charming views to be captured through the fence’s bars. And in hindsight the purity of inaccessible snow was a rarity in its own right, so no harm done.
In case you didn’t catch it in the center of the last photo above, here’s a closer look at an oft-unnoticed piece of sculpture in the Luxembourg Gardens — a bronze copy of a statue which its creator Bartholdi named “Liberty Enlightening the World”, and what would become known in 1886 as the Statue of Liberty, here in 1/16th scale:
The walk northward from the park was dotted with signs of Saturday life in this quiet residential neighborhood…
…until I reached the Place Saint-Sulpice, one of my favorite spots for sitting and steeping in the juices of a Holy-Crap-I’m-In-Paris moment. The fountain, by the architect who designed Napoleon’s princely tomb at Les Invalides, gives the public square an air of confident grandeur and urban order that to this foreigner feels quintessentially European.
On this day the ferocious fang-flashing lions of Visconti’s fountain seemed to trade their usual bloodthirsty expression for one of annoyance at the new fluffy stuff they couldn’t quite shake off:
Thoughts of fur turned to feathers in front of Notre Dame, as a man attracted a small crowd with his uncanny knack for reminding Parisian sparrows how much they love birdseed.
And rounding the corner of the cathedral toward its less animated southern facade I found a strong nomination for Best Set Design in the “Snowmen & Winter Sculpture” category:
Behind the church the usually tourist-heavy Square Jean XXIII had an uncharacteristic calm that almost seemed to harken back to the area’s medieval past as a monastic residence, and as the snow slightly muffled the city’s noises it wasn’t hard to hypnotize yourself with the existential contemplations of 21st-century snow on 12th-century stone.
A few hours later the street lamps sparked to life to offer a final take on things, and Paris, ever chic and fashionable, seemed eager to show how effortlessly she could transform the snow into evening wear.
Even King Louis XIV, positioned here to align perfectly with the axis toward the Champs-Elysées and Arc de Triomphe, was deftly rocking a drafty Roman Emperor ensemble in sub-zero temps:
Before heading home I made my way to the Hotel de Ville, back to Notre Dame, and down a few streets of the Latin Quarter for good measure.
Unfortunately these views weren’t built to last; Paris has since warmed and melted, donning her more quotidian trappings of cobblestone and concrete, gravel and grass. But I’m happy to have experienced my favorite city in so rare a fashion while it lasted, and to have had a chance to share it with my readers, old and new alike.