Sunday, January 16, 2011

Paris sous la neige... Paris in the snow...

2010 will be remembered as one of the coldest winters to hit France and Europe in recent memory. In fact, Alsace and the Eastern regions recorded their lowest temperatures since the 1970s. It snowed there. It snowed in Paris. It snowed even in Provence and Southern France. It snowed partout! (everywhere).

While my family stayed in Paris during the Holidays, the Seine river reached record levels due to the heavy snowfalls in the region (and in the rest of Europe). It got so bad that the famous river boat tours ("Bateaux-Mouches") had to stop for a few days, to the tourists' dismay. If they had not, their boats might have hit some of the bridges! The city expressways on both sides of the river had to be shut down temporarily-- and all the swearing from Parisian drivers did not change anything. Le Zouave's feet were in the water, you see, and when that happens in Paris, everyone knows there is a very serious risk of flooding. Le Zouave?, you ask. Voilà Le Zouave:

Le Zouave by the Alma Bridge
This statue of a soldier that belonged to the French light infantry in the North African colonies was inaugurated (with the Alma Bridge it stands under) by Napoleon III in the mid-19th century. For more than 155 years, the venerable Zouave has warned Parisians about potential flooding of the Seine River. When his feet get wet, the French capital takes notice. Everyone still remembers the terrible inondations of 1910. That year, the Seine reached the Zouave's shoulders. Quelle histoire!

"Que d'eau, que d'eau"-- So much water!

Reluctant boaters
An interesting fact about Le Zouave, is that it is not really a compliment to be named after him. My French students will want to jot down this expression: "Arrête de faire le zouave", which roughly translates into: "Stop clowning around!". Many French children have heard it from their parents or grand-parents and have immediately sat down. Nobody likes being called a buffoon after all. 

But I digress. Back to the cold winter of 2010. My father loves emailing me slideshows about France that pop up in cyberspace and somehow end up in his Inbox, and ultimately, in mine. Merci papa! This week, I sorted through 7 or 8 of them and was happy to find this little gem.

The slideshow is aptly titled: "Paris sous la neige: Pagaille et romantisme" (Paris in the snow: Mess and romance). These amazing pictures of Paris were taken during the first big snowfall in early December 2010. This was just a week before we arrived, and I am so glad most of it had melted by then! French speakers will enjoy the original captions. For the others, don't they say a picture is worth a thousand words?

Click below to see pics -- I am using for the first time, so bear with me here.

-- A bientôt!

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