Snow seems to fall on Paris only about one year in three, and in this moist basin of the Seine it hardly ever sticks for more than an hour. With the climatological trend pointing toward rain-only from now on (not to mention that the Alps are sliding into the Mediterranean) the past few days’ light but steady snowfall felt like a reminder that anything good can happen. The white stuff was an evenement majeur, rousting such rivals for public attention as the declared war in Mali, the 300,000 or 900,000 strong (depends on who’s counting) demo against a complicated gay-marriage law, the terrorist raid and carnage at a gas facility in Algeria, and even les soldes, the marvelously orchestrated January sales that unleash a year’s worth of pent-up consumer lust.
In Paris in snowtime there’s even more passionate public kissing than usual, whether under romantic streetlamps or on slushy, busy corner crossings. Dogs bark at flying snowballs, pigeons fluff their feathers, and intrepid fashionistas, teetering on high-heeled boots, show off their new fur-lined designer parkas (see soldes, above). Kids who have never seen snow before run around in circles with their mouths open. Middle-aged couples trot and skid down the snow and ice crusted sidewalks, hand in hand, laughing like kindergarteners. Beggars kneeling on their sheets of cardboard turn their faces up to the flakes, while their cups fill with yellow coins. There is more solidarity in snowtime. Strangers catch each others’ eyes and smile: ‘Les voila, les neiges d’antan!’
Today we’re back to rain.