I arrive in Paris to a winter wonderland. The white hills I spotted flying in over England this morning tipped me off. Big white flakes still swirled as we landed.
Paris this time of year smells like roasting chestnuts -- vendors are on just about every corner. It sounds like church bells and accordion music. Even in the sub-freezing temperatures, the musicians are taking advantage of the weekend crowds. "Jingle Bells" seems to be a favorite.
The neighborhood cafes have set up stands on the sidewalks to sell takeaway cups of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and vin chaud (hot spiced red wine) to keep passers-by warm in the sub-freezing temps. It's all just very festive, and you get a real sense of the holidays (or fetes as they call them here) without feeling overwhelmed by all the commercialism in the states.
The city is draped in lights, and shopkeepers festoon their windows with garlands. There are evergreens draped in red and gold (typical Parisian Christmas colors) and some flocked bright red, orange and even hot pink. I pass a huge decorated tree in the square in front of Notre Dame.
The apartment is even lovelier -- and larger-- than the web photos promised. No elevator though. And a third floor walk-up here is really on the fourth floor. Oh well, an excuse to eat an extra croissant tomorrow morning.
I won't have to go far. Everything I need -- patisseries, fromageries, charcouteries, boutiques, restaurants, librairies are right here on the island. I feel so lucky to be staying here.
Dinner tonight at the little Italian restaurant Emmanuelle, the landlady, recommended and early to bed.