The first thing I did when I woke up this morning, was to pull back the curtains.
Peering out the window, I found my wish had come true, a thick blanket of snow, settled over Paris. A white wonderland.
Perhaps walking in the snow sans, sexy lime green umbrella last night, was not one of the smartest choices I have made. Once again, I felt feverish, sneezing all the while, either I had developed a new cold, or the old one had returned.
I wasn’t feeling as crisp as the white snow, I walked upon but feeling sick or not, it was beautiful being out in it. All the streets, bridges, cars, rooftops, everything, was covered in thick white snow. Taking steady steps along the way, careful not to fall, I took in a deep breath of the cool, crisp air as I walked towards the front of the Notre Dame to meet The French Historian.
It will be all tourists out today he said, as he kissed each cheek to greet me. Parisians, he continued would be safe and warm at home. Of course, being a Parisian, working and living in Paris, he sees the more practical issues the snow will cause the city.
Despite his practical views, he still came out, to have our last lunch together, on my last full day in Paris.
Slipping on the icy pavements, as we made our way to the restaurant, grabbing one another for support was risky, if one of us fell, probably both of us would fall, ice skates would have been more appropriate footwear. I was beginning to understand what he meant.
Crossing Pont des Arts, was not only adorned in the usual padlocks but today, icy padlocks, as we strolled across the bridge. Being patient in the cold, as I took photos, the French Historian, as always, broadening my knowledge of Paris, offering historical facts and correcting my assumptions along the way.
Pointing out to The French Historian, that the restaurant I wanted to go to was not far from where we were, just opposite the back of the Louvre, I stood corrected, there is no ‘back‘ to the Louvre, who am I to argue with The French Historian, I learn something new, each time we are together.
Maybe succumbing to my romantic view of the picturesque snow covered city, or just sensing my excitement, that finally, I got to see Paris, turning on her charm once again, offering another side to her beauty; he guides me off the slippery pavement, to the thick snow that had built up, beside the Louvre. Let’s go this way, you can walk on the Parisian snow, he said. Feeling giddy, with excitement and probably the impending illness, like a child, a stomped my boots deep into the snow, listening to it crunch under my feet.
We arrived at Le Fumoir to discover the restaurant was packed, with a 20 minute waiting time. This, it seems, is where all the Parisians are hiding today.
In true Parisian style, The French Historian, subtlety, yet stylishly, jumps the queque and we are seated. Not the best seat in the house, near the door, but we got a table, without the 20 minute wait.
In the lovely rustic atmosphere of Le Fumoir, we dined on lentil soup and later a hearty serving of pork, endives and ‘ancient’ mustard sauce, good wholesome French food, simply delicious and perfect for the frosty weather.
Although the restaurant was lovely, I wasn’t feeling well and the draft from sitting by the doorway had made us both chilly, and longing for the warmth of our respective apartments. We both agreed on The French Historian’s advice, when In Paris, do as the Parisians do, stay inside, snuggled up, away from the elements.
Standing in the windtunnel formed by the metro entrance, shivering and kissing one another’s cold cheeks, I realised I will miss The French Historian’s company and his wealth of knowledge
But this was not goodbye, just until next time …. a bientôt.
As the French Historian had intimated, despite my romantic view of the snow covered streets of Paris, the practicality is this; it doesn’t come, without ramifications.
Saturday night, presented itself with a couple options.
Had I opted to meet up with a lady I had met a few nights earlier. It would have seen us in the wonderful bookstore come wine bar of La Belle Hortense, partying away, to the wee hours of the morning. Making my way back, in the cold, to the apartment, I would have collapsed under the weight and warmth of the duvet. I would have awoke with a hangover, but safe with the knowledge, I still had a good part of the day ahead of me, until my flight at 7.30pm that night.
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing, which means I am now grateful I took my other option:
My concerns about not feeling well and having to fly the following night, with a cold or flu, coupled with my satisfaction of my earlier walk through the snow and lunch with The French Historian, had subdued my desire to be galavanting out in the snow.
I took the sensible course of action and his advice; I gave into the warmth of the apartment and started packing and decided to stay in for the night.
But just when the overwhelming feeling of guilt from staying in, on my last night in Paris, and an urge to venture out and take some night time photos of the snow was becoming stronger than sensibility, an email popped up to inform me that my flight out of Paris Orly had been cancelled.
My initial reaction was excitement, the snow was still working it’s magic and now holding me hostage in Paris. I couldn’t believe my luck, however, it only took a few moments for the ramifications to set in. This was not good, and if the weather bureau continued to be as accurate as it had been, snow was forecast for the week ahead.
If I try to put a positive spin on the events that were about to unfold over the next couple of days, the snow did play a positive role, to some extent, in that it kept me indoors and near the computer. Had I gone out, and had a late night, I would have awoken to a very rude shock in the morning and had less time to organise my passage out of Paris but that is where the positive spin began and ended, and the panic set in.
I needed to find a way out of Paris and quickly. My connecting flights were still confirmed to go ahead.
British Airways may need to re-think their communication options when it comes to making contact at these times of need.
A free call to a French speaking automated system, for someone who doesn’t speak French, is not helpful. An alternative email option to an office that is closed over the weekend, is also not helpful and an English speaking number, that can only be used from the UK, is even more unhelpful.
Frustrated, trying to make contact with someone who maybe able to help me, was fruitless, it was Saturday night, Parisians were out enjoying their weekend.
My fever had escalated to a point where I sat, wrapped in a blanket, shivering with my back pressed up against the heater, trying to decide whether I could muster up the strength to board an early morning Eurostar trip into London.
This also had it’s risks, their website was sprinkled with warnings, of cancelled trains and delays, it could worsen by morning. Trying to decide if I could somehow find a way to get two suitcases through the Parisian and London train systems was not instilling confidence. The Paris metro has many stairs and not too many escalators or lifts.
The French Historian’s dampener on my romantic twist on the snow, only hours earlier was now reverberating large bells, the size of the Notre Dame in my pounding head.
What to do, what are my options? I could go around the corner to La Belle Hortense, party to the wee hours and pretend I didn’t see the email, I could book the Eurostar and take my London friends offer of helping me with the London leg to Heathrow, but I still had to manage the Paris underground steps, or, I could talk to British Airways, if I knew how the hell to get in contact with them.
This was getting me nowhere, in the end, I decided a good nights sleep under the warmth of the duvet was the best option, after all, tomorrow is another day.