Paris can be freezing cold, scorching hot, and everything in-between. What I have learned is that the weather is never guaranteed. Expect it to feel colder than you think in winter and either hotter or colder than you would imagine in summer. Any season can produce an unexpected cold-spell, or an Indian heat-wave. One thing you can be sure of is that the whistle of the wind is never far away.
I landed in Paris at 19.45 on the 24th of August from Oslo. In Norway summer is hanging on, reluctant to let autumn take its place, but its days are numbered. In Paris we were met by a thumping wall of heat; the kind usually experienced upon disembarking in Dubai, Mumbai or Morocco: the kind of heat that melts the tarmac, sends ripples through the air and renders wine coolers useless – 36 degrees, according to the pilot.
On the day we set the wheels in motion to buy an apartment in Paris, it snowed. It had to; it was so cold and humid. I remember I was wearing a woolen coat; not my winter down coat with snuggly hood, which I keep for Oslo’s coldest days (of which there are plenty), but a good-quality, warm, wool coat, which goes to the knee. I was freezing and cursed leaving my less stylish but infinitely warmer duvet coat at home. When we visited again in March, for our first day of property viewings, it was still seriously cold. My clothing choice, (“surely spring must have arrived!”) was woefully inadequate for fending off the blustery chill in the air. Then suddenly, there it was; spring. Three weeks later we were back for more viewings and peeling off the layers to feel the sun on our skin for the first time since September.
Now, the main reason for it feeling so cold in February, and again when we returned in March, and even when we went for a long weekend in May, is the wind. I had never heard Paris described as a windy city — it’s a fair bit from the coast and it doesn’t have the wind-funneling, high-rise buildings of New York or London — but it is. In fact, wind turbines designed in the shape of trees have been installed throughout the city to harness its energy. The wind can make it feel cold on a day in late spring and downright glacial on a January afternoon. That said, it can also be cold and crisp in winter with pale blue skies and watery sunshine, or up to 15 degrees – mild and dry. That’s the thing, you never know. You might wish you had packed boots in June, or want to strip off down to a t-shirt in November. I have experienced 33 degrees in May and 12 degrees on the same date a year later.
I’m looking forward to getting to know the seasonal variances better; to watch as summer fades and makes way for autumn; I want see Christmas illuminate the city with its glittering lights and the first buds appear on the trees in spring. Everywhere is better when the weather is fair, but no matter how grey the skies, however hard the wind bites, Paris is still Paris – beautiful at any time of year.
“Actually, Paris is the most beautiful in the rain.” Midnight in Paris.