This is a guest post from Lis Sowerbutts
Are you mad? Why are you going to Europe in December? Friends thought that we were crazy, and to be honest Paris wasn’t the main point of the trip, the point was to spend Christmas with relatives in Ireland. But we got lucky. It snowed. You have may remember the headlines when European (actually Heathrow mainly) airports ground to a halt because of big snow dumps. Well we were in Paris when it started.
The snow started when we were touring the Louvre – it was gray and snowing heavily, I was distracted and shot some pictures out the window. Where I come from snow stays discreetly on the ski fields, snow on 17th century architecture – cool! The thing with Paris is that a lot of the attractions are indoors – the weather is irrelevant if you are museum hopping. Also you can still sit outside on the footpath, sip a wine or coffee and watch the world go by, the Parisians do!
It snowed all that day, but the next day the snow had stopped and the sun was out! We headed out to Versailles by train, and crunched through already cleared streets on the way to the palace. The downside was that the palace grounds were closed, the upside was that the odd modern art looked rather good covered in snow.
I was last in Paris a very, very long time ago. At the time I couldn’t afford to go up the Eiffel Tower, this time I was determined. We had to queue for hours – it had been closed the previous day – and they didn’t open it for quite a while. Its made of iron so they can’t use salt to clear the snow (see Chem101). The view though was most definitly worth the wait.
So if you are planning on being in Europe in the winter here are some tips:
– Don’t book too far in advance, weather may disrupt plans, but you can minimize the risk by taking trains rather than planes or buses.
– Hotels are a bargain, and we didn’t bother booking more than a day before, in Paris we just arrived at the Gare du Nord, turned left and found a place E50/night double, ensuite, TV, warm, free WIFI.
– To stay warm, layer your clothing, and make sure you have good soles on your shoes – both for warmth and for the ice, it was pretty slipperly in places.
– The main downside with winter travel are the short days – we only had daylight from 8am-4pm – you need to take advantage of it. On the other hand you get some great sunset shots!
We actually had great weather in Europe in early December, sure it snowed, quite a lot, but it was mainly fine otherwise, much easer for travelling than continual rain and drizzle.