Sunday, January 10, 2010


Along the Seine this winter afternoon, the pearl grey sky, the slate-roofed buildings and the gun metal grey river flow together into one seamless landscape. Parisians bundled up in their traditional black brave the exceptional cold. Their dark outfits add a contrast that turns the whole scene into a Manet painting come to life.

We have been back in Paris for one day, but we are already settled into our old habits. It's Sunday morning so it's over to the Bastille outdoor market, where the cries of Bon Dimanche (Happy Sunday) can be heard up and down the aisles of the market stalls. We buy lunch: oysters and white wine; olives from Provence; and a Mont d'Or cheese.

Mont d'Or is made from the winter milk of cows brought down from their pastures in the Jura Mountains of eastern France. Like fine wine, Mont D'Or has an Appellation d'Origine Contr ôlée, which guarantees the region of origin, the type of milk and even the breed of cow from which the milk is taken. The distinct round wooden boxes, in which the cheese continues to ripen, appear in fromageries in September. By March, they are gone. A soft cheese wrapped in a thin band of spruce that gives a distinct flavor to the cheese, Mont d'Or is eaten with a spoon. Its creamy, pungent, melt-in-your mouth, high-fat goodness is an antidote to counteract the cold, damp weather.

At four o'clock there is still time, before the early darkness of the Parisian winter falls, for a walk on the Quai de la Seine, my all-time favorite city walk. The cold has kept the crowds away and we have the glory of Paris in grey almost to ourselves. Closed to traffic on Sundays, the Quai runs for miles past some of the world's most beautiful monuments. We begin at Ile Saint Louis, passing along the way Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Musee D'Orsay, the Place de la Concorde and numerous other landmarks of Paris.

We walk under the famous bridges of Paris, including the elaborate, recently refurbished Pont Neuf (the New Bridge). In spite of its name, the Pont Neuf, completed in 1607, is the oldest bridge in Paris. It's a bridge for lovers with its many balcony-like alcoves jutting out over the Seine, all furnished with rounded benches where couples often sit entwined in each other's arms.

Crossing the Pont Neuf late one summer night, we came upon a couple in the middle alcove of the bridge. They were seated at a small table covered with a white linen cloth and set with fine china for the dinner which waited in a nearby wicker basket. On the table sat a tall candelabra aglow with the soft light of many candles that illuminated their faces as they sipped champagne from crystal flutes and gazed into each other's eyes. You see things like that in Paris.

As a French friend of mine once told me: Tout peut arriver à Paris - Anything can happen in Paris. I'm off tomorrow morning to see what does happen. I'll let you know.

To see more photos of Paris in winter, click here.

A bientôt,

Photos by Geraldine Calisti Kaylor

1 comment:

  1. Ah, Paris--enjoy,Geraldine! I haven't been there in years, but you brought it all back to me. It's such a lovely city. Stay warm!


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