Paris in the snow
Those of you with an internet connection will likely have an inkling that this week Paris was gripped by a meteorological phenomenon: it snowed.
You may have thought that snow was a natural occurrence which can be dealt with relatively easily. You may have heard of countries which seem to function quite normally, despite yearly snowfall: I’m thinking Canada, Russia, Germany. You may have even thought that snow is something that can be enjoyed, something that can be delighted in.
Think again! Snow is actually a life-threatening, apocalyptic situation where everything ceases to function until the white spawn of satan disappears. Just ask the Parisians...
People slip over
In Germany, all winter shoes are fitted out with thick rubber soles which are designed to grip to snowed-in and slippery pavements. German footwear is notoriously ugly, yet it has the advantage of keeping the wearer upright in times of snow. This is not the case for French footwear.
Over the past week I have seen people wearing stilettos, kitten-heels - even trainers and Ugg boots - nothing which was preventing the Parisians from falling ass over tit in the snow.
The Mairie doesn’t give a sh*t
In Munich (if you will indulge a second reference to my erstwhile city) the first flake of snow had barely touched the ground before task forces of council workers had been dispatched across the city. They would come in their buggies to administer sand (the traditional salt was apparently found to be bad for the environment) and shovel excess snow. All of this was conducted with the sort of efficiency and precision that can only be mustered by our Germanic brethren.
Over the past week in Paris I saw one lone team of Mairie workers lingering around Place St George. They seemed more interested in watching passers-by and gallantly moving aside for young ladies rather than shovelling snow. I also heard stories from my friends of Mairie workers SPRINKLING salt on the pavement. We had visions of the workers heading to the nearest Franprix and filling their shopping trolley with table salt (or maybe Camargue sea salt, and a little dash of garlic).
There are monumental traffic jams
On Tuesday, 739 kilometres of traffic jams were recorded in Paris, which was even greater than the 562 kilometres recorded on Christmas Day. Stories began to circulate of people being forced to abandon their cars and come back to claim them the next day.
The metro stops working
The dire traffic situation was hardly helped by the fact that the entire Parisian bus network had ground to a halt. You could kind of understand why the Parisians were wary to run heavy buses across slippery roads. What I found more difficult to understand, however, was why the metro lines were heavily delayed, or in some cases suspended altogether. For the most part these lines are underground - how can they be affected by snow?
No-one goes to work
By the end of the week, the metro seemed to have recovered, although it was completely deserted. Why? Because the Parisians decided that it was too dangerous to leave their homes. I didn’t entertain such an idea for a second, although to be fair I do own a pair of thick-soled German boots.
When I arrived at work on Day 2 of #ParisSousLaNeige I was asked by several colleagues if it hadn’t been too difficult to arrive at work, as if my daily commute had been some sort of treacherous voyage.
But hey, for those who can see past the doom and gloom, Paris in the snow was pretty bloody beautiful! I’m going to leave you with a selection of my favourite photos from Instagram, and a reassurance that the city seems to have survived the onslaught...