Springtime in Paris has a magical connotation to it: cherry blossoms blooming against rows of Haussmann apartments, afternoon strolls through the perfectly manicured Jardin des Tuileries, balmy bike rides along the Seine. All of these images fed my desire to study abroad here, especially when I compared them to the ever-lastingly dreary weather (I mean, winter wonderland…) of Saratoga this time of year. But I was informed early on that these romantic visions would go unrealized until early April, when Paris typically begins to bloom into something that more closely resembles a fairytale than a mere season. I packed accordingly, and the indistinguishable mass of noir that inhabited my suitcase served me well right up until two weekends ago.
Overnight, the Paris of oversized-scarves and layers that I’d come to know and love transformed into a leafy, green, temperate, practically unrecognizable city. Green buds peeked out from balcony gardens, trees made themselves known above the rues and boulevards, and the sun warmed the smiles on all of our disbelieving faces. Waking up to springtime in Paris is exactly as I would’ve pictured: each morning, I “take a coffee” (as my host brother says) on our balcony, looking out over a view of our apartment parking lot (and some slightly more appealing Parisian rooftops). The first few days of this seventy degree weather have left their mark on me in the form of freckles and a mild sunburn, which my vitamin-D deprived skin eagerly welcomed.
But it hasn’t all been sunshine and daisies—accompanying the sunshine was smog, which settled in a thick haze over the city. While pollution levels have long been on the rise in Paris, this choking and visible reminder of it prompted the city to offer free public transportation via the metro and Velib bikes for a full week in March. After a rainstorm finally broke the heat wave last week, we can all breathe a bit easier now.
With newly rosy skin and happy eyes, I’ve spent these lovely days wandering through parks and gardens and indulging in innumerable picnics and outdoor cafe-sessions. I’ve mostly found myself jogging (…or eating ice cream) in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont—which is just down the street from my apartment—or ambling along the Canal Saint Martin with a baguette, bottle of rosé, and good company. Wherever I am, I am pinching myself, because it is Springtime in Paris and life is pretty sweet.