Winter Paris (Pauldc); Chocolat Chaud (yuichi.sakuraba)

I’m beginning to understand that I’m a bit of a masochist. I’m bored by things / people / places that make life too easy, which is probably why I like ornery cats, most fictional villains, winter and (if I’m being honest) the French.

To clarify, I have nothing against Golden Retrievers, damsels in distress, summer or … who’s fun and non-controversial?… the Swedish. It’s just that I also like a challenge. I like to be initially offended but ultimately won over. I like things that don’t care if I like them or not.

Paris under the snow (Christophe Verdier)

And thus, I love winter in Paris. It provides a dark, dismal, unapologetic, multi-month challenge that pushes you to your breaking point, but offers various olive branches along the way—pretty hanging lights, vin chaud, chocolat a l’ancienne, and a great excuse to drink serious red wines and then crawl into bed.

Philosophically speaking, Epicurus saw pleasure as the absence of pain, and Descartes considered the two to be linked on a continuous spectrum. I have to agree. Getting caught in a freak hail storm a few weeks ago (while wearing ballet flats) made arriving home to our cozy apartment on the Ile St. Louis that much more of a triumph. And going days (weeks?) without seeing the sun makes me feel totally justified in my decision to devote entire afternoons to the following “indulgent” activities:

Because making pleasure out of pain is the best way to beat winter at its own game… especially in Paris.

I Love Paris! (John Aives)

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Written by Tory Hoen for A Moveable Beast. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven In.

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Tory Hoen

Tory Henwood Hoen has been published by New York Magazine, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Fortune, and others. She was Creative Director of Brand at M.M.LaFleur, where she founded the brand’s digital magazine, The M Dash. Her debut novel, The Arc, is available in bookshops near you and online.


  1. I agree, I love Paris in the winter. Although I don’t find it that much of a hardship (as long as you wrap up warm, and wear appropriate footwear) – I find the snow really good fun!

  2. To me snow in Paris is nice during the 10 first minutes!!!then it turn quickly into this other thing you have to struggle with to get to your job or to get back home.
    My secrets to “beat” the snow in Paris :
    – go and see a movie in the Champo
    – have the best hot chocolate of the city at Angelina’s

    then I feel brave enought to walk in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

  3. Oh how true! If it weren’t for having to haul my harp through icy, snowy, below-freezing weather I wouldn’t really appreciate those perfect days of summer outdoor weddings, would I? (Oh, who am I kidding…)

    A vin chaud or a chocolat chaud…or one of each…would make winter better anywhere. But it would be especially treaty to be in Paris for it.

  4. I love winter, because I can go ice skating. Have you thought about doing that? I also visit museums, go to movies and bundle up warm, eat lots of veggies and fruit, (cold season) and hang out with friends. I imagine if I was in Paris I’d be doing all those things.

  5. Had my first winter in Paris experience last week and loved it. Yes I was cold no matter how much I bundled up, but the snow was beautiful and the cafés were always warm and welcoming. I loved watching the kids make snowballs and thought the city was gorgeous all decked out in her holiday shimmer and lights.
    Coming home to rural south of France meant that the cold was almost as bad (though it is better today) and that most of the restaurants and businesses are closed until spring. All our neighbor’s shutters are closed against the cold and the village is like a ghost town.

    Paris in the winter is a wonderful place to be!

  6. Sigh. I really want to embrace this same attitude, Tory! Because I totally get it: I was happy to have a hot cup of coffee warming my hands as I watched the pretty flakes fall from my sixth floor walkup window on Sunday morning. But then I knew I had to go outside. I needed cheese and chocolate. And despite my best ‘bundling up’ efforts, my fingers and feet got soaked. My nose was running. I came home and couldn’t shake the chill. My apartment doesn’t like to retain heat. And I haven’t been able to walk or bike to counterbalance the copious amounts of cheese and chocolate that I eat to get me through these dark days which makes me want to just hibernate for two months and… well, I could go on ad naseum… I’d rather just pop outside in the warm, summer night, wearing just a t-shirt for a ride on a Velib or a visit to a terrace. Now *that* sounds like a little piece of Parisian heaven.

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