Hooray, Spring really has sprung the shackles of winter. Since Sunday Parisians have been able to shrug off their cranky coats and bask in the warm sunshine. We have had such a jump in temperature, as for tip-toeing through the tulips – no, Mother Nature has catapulted us right into Summer. Yesterday I walked through my favourite local parks and what a difference from ten days ago. The daffodils are out en mass, trees are in blossom and being Wednesday (no school for younger kids and half-day only for the bigger ones) there were people and kids everywhere lapping up the sunshine. Park benches were full, sidewalk tables at cafes jam-packed and, oh yes the spring and summer creations in the boutique windows looked all the more tempting.
We celebrated the real arrival of spring with another hiking expedition at the weekend. This time ten of us departed Gare de l’Est on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning heading for the station at Changis St Jean to the north east of Paris in the vicinity of Meaux.
It felt wonderful to be out in the fresh air; our trail took us through open countryside, past creeks, alongside the Marne river, and through pretty villages. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the sunshine after a long winter. As I walked past some long grass and bracken I heard a rustling sound and glanced down to see a black and silvery serpentine shape slithering away at pace. Seems this might have been a grass snake, thankfully harmless, they hibernate over winter and come out in April/May. How exciting* – I hadn’t thought about there being snakes in France!
We enjoyed lunch picnic-style (déjeuner sur l’herbe) at Montceaux-les-Meaux near the ruins of Chateau de Montceaux which was built in the 16th century, then acquired by Catherine de Medici. We needed a stop for a cold beer, coca-cola or menthe à l’eau late in the afternoon at another village before finishing our 19.7km walk in the town centre of Meaux.
It was right on 6pm as we were taking a quick look inside Meaux Cathedral – blissfully cool with its soaring 48 metre ceiling vaults – when the bells rang out the hour. Even by time we had journeyed back to Paris and dragged our tired legs home it was still balmy. And so it has continued this week, although there is nothing more changeable than the weather so I won’t stow away the jackets just yet.
* Exciting because in NZ we don’t have snakes, and it was moving away from me, had it been coming toward me exciting might not have been how I described the experience.