Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 10, 2009

A very cold Paris

Europe is covered in a cold and chilly blanket of ice and snow and penetrating rawness and Paris was not any different. paris-january-09-028We froze, we persevered, but did not go up the Eifeltower, just looked at it from the frozen pavements and pitied the people standing shivering in a queu. We had another (expensive) cup of hot tea instead and sought refuge in the Notre Dame, admiring the beautiful rose windows, the sun’s casting of the red light through the wonderfully intricate patterns of the leaded stained glass windows onto the wooden panels high up in the nave.  I felt exhilerated when I managed to catch it with my camera.

We visited the bookshop Shakespeare and Company and marvelled at the number of books piled up and stacked together. There are more titles in that one little shop than there are in large mainstreet sellers such as Waterstones, although, with the drop in the pound the prices for a tourist from England are horrendous (well, the same goes for a glass of wine, a cup of coffee and a cup of tea, let’s be honest). Nevertheless, I came away, appropriately I thought, with a copy of Montesquieu’s ‘Persian Letters’. The author, Charles-Louis de Secondat inherited the barony of Montesquieu, hence the publication of the Persian Letters under that name. Apparently, the book was published anonymously in Holland and it ran into ten editions in one year. I am not actually in any great hurry to read it, it is more of a curiosity and it has the stamp of the bookshop on the front page….

Meanwhile, I have worked my way through almost half of Les Miserables, but am not sure whether I can stomach more misery and the activities of horrible characters, Javert (the policeman), never giving up on the poor b…. Valjean, forever on the run from this most horrible creature who is trying to make sure that once in prison, never out of it!  And Valjean is now carrying Cosette (the eight year old daughter of the now dead Fantine) on his back as well, through the backstreets of Paris while for some reason or other I have also read about the idiosynchrasies of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo.

Back home, I  picked up a book of short stories by Ali Smith ‘The Whole Story’ and loved the first one ‘The Universal Story’ – what a wonderful writer she is.


  1. Welcome back. I’ve seen the European cold snap on the news and am very glad I’m not there at the moment. Especially in the Ukraine without gas!

    I can’t say Les Mis is high on my TBR list, but I admire anyone who has the fortitude to finish it.

    I read Other stories and other stories by Ali Smith last year and really enjoyed it, so will look out for her latest collection.

  2. Big big hugs for you! OMG, I couldn’t believe it, seeing your picture in Notre Dame, a place so dear to my heart it escapes desription and it is ALWAYS this time of year when I recall my many afternoons and always Sundays spent there at Christmas (there were free organ recitals) and then, you also included Shakespeare and Company!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you thank you thank you – I’ve been there (oh, it’s been so long) and read everything I can find about Sylvia Beach and her group (and yes, I know it’s not the ORIGINAL one, but) – I love this entry.

  3. Great photo!

    And I mean tackle Les Miserables again in near future.

    You have been tagged for a meme created by me:

    “I have been lazy, hence I make excuses”

    Do check it out!

  4. Sorry, the link is not working:

    I have been lazy, hence I make excuses”

  5. Sarah: not sure that I will finish it…. And I understand your reluctance to even start it. Nevertheless Les Miserables is actually fun to read when on a trip to France..
    Oh: Glad you enjoyed my short notes on Paris – I could of course drop some more photo’s into future blogs, when appropriate!
    Gautami tripathy: me, lazy?! … Don’t worry, I’ll get onto it some time this week 🙂

  6. […] A very cold Paris […]

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