Les Couleurs de Novembre

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I’m going to be honest and admit I’m not so sure I can survive winter in the northern hemisphere. It has been a cold start to November, and despite having Welsh made-for-arctic-temperatures blood, it has sent a jolt through my weak Australian-raised body.

 

But, I have to say, if I am going to endure a relentless winter, there’s no better place to be than Paris. After two months of seeing the yellow leaves gather at the base of trees lining the picturesque boulevards, I almost don’t mind that they will be bare for the next three months. Perhaps it’s the novelty, but there’s something romantic about being in a big city like Paris during the winter. Drawing the curtains in the morning to see locals out on the street as they come back from their morning trip to the boulangerie, fresh baguettes under their arms and faces protected from the frosty air by scarves. By night, people gather at the brasserie on the corner, laughing over a meal inside or rugged up on the heated terrace, drinking red wine and, of course, smoking cigarettes. It’s a time to explore museums, read a book in a hidden café, or shop for Christmas presents in the extravagantly decorated department stores.

 

OK, it’s almost definitely a fantasy conjured up by the part of me that takes Christmas movies too seriously and is a sucker for a Parisian cliché.

Place des Vosges

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It’s crazy to think that two weeks have passed since I took these photos on October 31. It was the evening before a public holiday in Paris, and despite knowing this adorable little square would be full with du monde, I decided to take a stroll in the Marais during the last hours of the day. Thankfully, Boot Café was open so it was only natural to grab a café au lait to take with me and sip while peering into shop windows and people-watching. These are the moments to relish in Paris — it’s one of the perks of being a tourist in one’s own city.

De Lumière et d’Ombre

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I think Paris is most beautiful during “golden hour”—that time of day when the sun is setting and the light filters through the trees, bounces off water and casts a warm glow over the entire city.

 

Only now as we go further in November, this time of day is becoming earlier and earlier, and the sun is seen less and less as grey clouds start to monopolise the sky. And we can’t have light without shadow.

 

Paris is a beautiful city but when it comes to setting up a life here it’s not always a walk in Le Jardin des Tuileries. It’s very easy to develop an inexplicable resentment for the sheer bureaucracy that makes the smallest tasks such as changing my address with the bank a lengthy and document-heavy process. And yes, there are people in this city who will show others no compassion and will not be open to letting new people into their friendship circle. It’s understandable—Parisians constantly have people asking them for something, whether it’s money or a cigarette. Parisians are almost desensitised to seeing that homeless couple on the street and the worse-for-wear looking man on the métro who  walks up and down the carriage telling his story for the fifteenth time today.

 

I know I’m lucky. Sometimes it takes a sunset walk through the park to realise it, and sometimes it takes something else.