Snowy Trocadero 2013. Photo by Geoffroy65
     Almost everyone has seen beautiful photo's or paintings of Paris in the spring and summer.  Winter, however, does come to Paris and it can be bitterly cold because of the damp air.  The worst and coldest weather doesn't usually arrive until January or February.  This year, Paris got hit the second week of January with snow and frigid temperatures. 
     Paris always has a special color about it; her light is unusual.  Painters love the light in France, but it's not the same everywhere.  Paris can sometimes seem grey, but in summer it's a calm and seductive grey which adds to the romantic feeling and historic look of the city.  On a grey, wintery day however, it can make the weather feel even colder and has a very melancholy atmosphere about it.  There are only so many days I can stay inside and avoid the cold.  Sooner or later, cabin fever kicks in and even the most cold natured person will get antsy and want to go outside for a while.  Regardless of great bus and metro systems, it requires trodding through the cold, damp snow to get to and from your bus stops or metro stations. 
     There are plenty of museums, restaurants, theaters, stores or events to take advantage of in Paris, but that would still be escaping the inside, just to go back inside again.   Of course, those are all fun things to do, but I sometimes want to go to a special place which will remind me that spring will soon come back to Paris.
     I take the metro to the Cite' metro station and come out near the entrance to the large flower market (Marche aux Fleurs)  along the Seine and not far from the cathedral Notre Dame.  This is one place in Paris where you can escape from winter and enjoy exotic flowers as well as the usual annuals, perennials, hanging baskets and potted plants.  It's more than just a simple, commercial green house.  There are several beautiful conservatory style green houses built of iron and glass.  Selling more than just flowers, the Marche aux Fleurs is a good place to find a souvenir or gift.  
Paris flower market. Photo by Jaclyst
There are a few shops inside the market which sell bird houses and reproduction antiques.  Many vendors will have sachets of lavender, colorful provençal linens, pottery and decorative ironwork to sell.  The setting is lush and the plants are beautiful.  It's funny how the decorative items seem to be quite at home among the plants.  Some of the plants are huge and very old. Giant, gnarled and ancient looking olive trees in massive pots are waiting to be sold for someone's veranda or courtyard.  Bamboo plants, an odd favorite in old european cities, are grouped like groves in black nursery pots and will sell briskly to stand duty as privacy screens between the close Parisian balconies. 
Citrus plants, some in bloom and some fully fruited are always available at the Marche aux Fleurs.  The colors of the blooming mums, hydrangeas, geraniums and tropical flowers, along with the intoxicating smell of the citrus blossoms, at least for a few minutes, make the snow seem like a thing of the past. I love the market. I've probably visited it more than any other place in Paris. It's hard to leave without buying something, but I know I'll be back again very soon.
     Eventually, I brave the cold and go out in search of a restaurant with a double espresso and a view of Paris in the snow.  Snow or not, there just isn't a bad time to see Paris. 



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