It's officially winter now
20.12.2013 - 22.12.2013
It's officially winter now, so we're allowed to bitch about the cold; previously, it just showed weakness of character, but now it is permitted to feel and complain about the cold. Anyway, that's what I think.
Some of our most recent outings have been quite cold; first we went to the Champs Elysees to look at the Christmas Market, and the shops, and the lights. Being night is was cold, so we all rugged up - two pullovers, an over coat, hat and gloves, and still it was cold. The two grown-ups bought a tumbler full of gluwein (or what ever the French call it) to warm our hand and out insides. It worked to a degree.
I'm not sure how long the walk from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomph is (pardon my French, I don't have a reliable spell checker available, and I do rely on them) but on a warm sunny day it is a delightful walk; on a cold winter's night it is a treat to the eyes (and occasionally the ears) but it is freezing on the face and those bits of your legs where the wind blows your trousers against your calf. Perhaps it's just age; but there were not too many people wearing tee-shirts.
The following day, we took the train for an 80 km journey to Chartres (further from the coast and its' thermally ameliorating influence) to visit the Cathedral and the old town - we were much more exposed to the wind, it cut right through us at times. One of the high-lights was standing on a grill in the floor of the cathedral, a breeze at about 30 degrees was wafting through it. A man came and spoke with us with a strong French accent; in one hand he was carrying a bunch of a very prickly plant (I know the plant but can't recall it's name) and he told us where and when to see interesting parts of the building. The Labyrinth can only be seen on Fridays; something else can bee seen at a certain hour when a shaft of light illuminates it. He described the parable told the stained glass window in front of us. By this time, I was getting very hot in all of my clothes standing on the warm grill, and began to feel a little ill as you do, I kept looking for a polite way to move on with out offending our new made friend.
The Cathedral is really great - not large, as far as these things go, but wonderful to experience.
If it was not so cold and windy I would have preferred to spend more time looking at the outside as well as the inside. The spires were built at different periods and are quite different.
Today (Sunday 22nd) we visited La Defense, and at one point exposed ourselves to the icy blasts of the wind that blows from the Great Arch of La Defese up to the Arc de Triomph. There was another Christmas market there, and beneath it an enormous shopping centre full of people doing last minute shopping, or just out for a good time. The Grand Arch I read is high enough and wide enough to contain Notre Dame, Paris; so it has quite a large opening through it. The structure supporting the sails inside the arch is pretty ugly, and I'm sure that a better solution could be found.
I have followed the development of La Defense for about 40 years (on and off) in the Architectural Journals, and it's nice to know that they weren't just making it all up.