December 4, 2012
Oh, Paris, you fooled me again. When I’m away – whether in Boston, L.A. or San Francisco – la vie en rose beckons, making other cities look shabby by comparison. So much so that I forget real life here: the constant manifestations that block your streets, the crottes de chien that decorate your sidewalks, the surly fonctionnaires that populate your public services.
Montmartre after the rain - Magnus D
And most of all, I forget about your weather.
I’m not alone. Movies, songs and countless works of art have celebrated the romance of Parisian weather. In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the signature appeal of the protagonist’s dream girl seemed to be her love of getting soaked by la pluie. (As I watched that final scene, all I could think was, “She’s freezing. She is walking across the Pont Alexandre III soaked to the bone. This is supposed to be sexy? She just looks cold.”)
Rainy Montmartre rooftop views - Erica Berman
But remember what they say about expectations? If you don’t have any, you can’t be disappointed. It’s a good maxim to keep in mind when it comes to weather in Paris. Expect gray, rainy skies. Then when they come, you’ll be prepared. And if you happen to score a sparkling sunny day, all the better!
Here are some tips to help you manage la metéo.
Rain rules. This one is simple. Don’t venture out in Paris without an umbrella. Even if la meteo.fr predicts sunny skies, even if you wake to a crystal clear, bright morning. Bring. An. Umbrella. It will, in all likelihood, rain at some point during the day. Maybe just for a minute or two but it will rain. Got it?
Layer up. Chic Parisiennes have this down. Paris weather is prone to wild swings throughout the day. Dress in layers you can peel off as the temperature mounts or pile on as the mercury drops. Cashmere cardigans and fine knit foulards are every Parisian’s friend.
Know the season. Paris actually has four real seasons but like all things Parisian, they rarely follow the rules. That can mean a warm-enough-for-a-miniskirt day in November or a down doudoune in August. Parisians cope by following a dress code that they all (mysteriously) seem to just know. In October, think classic trench. By December, it’s high time for that cropped wool pea coat with the fur-trimmed hoodie. Deep winter brings out the cocoon-like parkas or classic wool coats. Knit cashmere caps and soft scarves? Always a “do” in Paris.
Montmartre in the rain - Erica Berman
Outer wear is then shed cautiously as spring makes its approach. Remember this key French phrase: “Au mois d’avril, n’enleve pas un fil. Au mois de mai, fait ce qu’il te plait.” (Loose translation: In April, don’t remove a stitch. In the month of May, dress as you like.)
Of course, no matter the weather, Parisians will grumble about it. It is always either too hot or too cold. Except on those rare, perfect days when the sun shines, Parisians bust out the lunettes de soleil and there’s not a seat to be had on a café terrasse. Those are the days that make us forget it all and we celebrate Paris life as it should be.
This fall, the weather has been especially unpredictable. After what felt like two weeks of nonstop rain, Paris rewarded its weary residents with a run of sunshine. Then by week’s end, we were back to the woolies again. Oh, Paris, you continue to taunt us. But rain or shine, I’ll always be your fool.
Montmartre in the rain - Erica Berman
- Bryan Piroll’s tips on what to do when rain falls in Paris
- Amy Thomas has also fallen in love with Paris in the rain
- How to dress chic in the pouring rain? Tory Hoen and the HiP Paris blog gives you some good suggestions
Written by Paige Bradley Frost
Paige Bradley Frost, a Los Angeles native, moved back to Paris with her young family in 2011 after first living and getting married there in 2000. A lover of French style and cuisine, she spends her days scouting and writing about the city's gems when not chasing after her two young children. Her articles about parenting, culture and lifestyle have appeared on NYTimes.com, the Huffington Post and various other publications. She blogs about her Paris experiences at http://parisdejavu.blogspot.com.
Website: Paris Deja Vu