A Snowy Parisian Run (and Sledding Into The Water)

It snowed!

Well, obviously – otherwise I would have titled it “A not-at-all-snowy Parisian Run”

It started snowing Friday  afternoon, and stuck pretty much  immediately.  By mid-day Saturday it took a bit of a break.  So I decided to head out and get my run in.  I had about an hours worth of running to do, at varied paces.  It was a bit of a cross between a tempo run and an interval run.  Started off with a standard 15 minute warm-up and build.  Then from there I’d do two 15-minute sets at a semi-high intensity.  Roughly 5K race-intensity.  Each with two minutes in between.

Off I went!

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I stayed up high, figuring that down low along the river would be a bit of a mess.  And looking down along the river from up on a bridge that definitely held true.

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At first, things weren’t too bad on the island.  While the cobbles were a bit messy, for the most part they were clear.

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My hope was that the road you see below would have been closed.  In theory it’s supposed to be closed for runners and cyclists.  But I’ve noticed the last two weeks they haven’t done that (on either Saturday or Sunday).  Perhaps some locals can explain the rules, as I thought I was good.  My thinking was that since they typically close it at 9AM, it would have been relatively free of snow and perfect for running intervals when I ran around 1PM.

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With the road open to cars, I stayed up above on the sidewalk.  As you can see below, that was a bit of a mess.  Compact snow and ice…with a dash of pedestrians.

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As I approached the Louvre, I figured that perhaps inside the grounds and then in the giant park in front of it, it would be semi-clear.  So I followed the path through the snow and cut through the building.

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And while there was a cut-through in the snow – it wasn’t because anyone had shoveled, instead, it was just where the masses had wandered.  On the whole, it doesn’t appear that there’s any requirement that any establishment (private, public, or residential) shovel or plow.  Coming from the US, where most cities have laws that buildings/homes shovel the public sidewalks in front of their plot, it’s a bit of a different twist.  Even places as big as the Louvre or Notre Dame – no attempt at snow clearing made (all weekend).  Kinda surprising.

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As I left the Louvre and headed into the park the conditions for running at pace really got worse.  I had (for reasons unclear to me) skipped on wearing the Yaktrax.  I think I just figured that they would have plowed/shoveled main routes (either on sidewalks or the sort).  In reality, the park was a mixture of snow/ice and just semi-deep snow.  None of it ideal for hard running.

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It was at least pretty however.  So, it was still enjoyable in the sense that it was relatively quiet and peaceful.

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As I popped back out of the park, I figured I’d try the other side of the river bank for better conditions on my way back towards home.

The sidewalks were no better (actually, probably worse).  But, I did find something magical: Bus lanes!  These separated lanes meant that I could easily see the buses coming (towards me) from far away. Given the median they couldn’t sneak in.  Additionally, with no taxi’s in this particular section – it meant that it was largely uninterrupted running on clean pavement.

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When the busses did come in, I simply just jumped up onto the curb.  Easy!

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As I made my way down into the final mile of the run, I got back on the island at the far Western side of it.  Ironically, this side of the island had perfectly clean roads.  Sweet for running!  With cars rarely using this road (and another road going the other direction), I probably should have just done my run here.  Lesson learned for next time.

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Here’s a bit of a look at my route from a mapping perspective.

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I finished up next to Notre Dame and went and and decided that a Banana-Nutella Crepe was a perfect way to get some post-run fuel immediately in.  Luckily I had stuck a 10-spot in my running top before heading out!

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Then I walked the short distance back home.  Along the way I found a small band playing along the river:

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They’d play for a surprisingly long time (I’d hear them from the house for a number of hours).  Not really your typical French music however.  It was mostly pep-rally songs like you’d hear at a high school basketball game.

As I made the short distance up to the house, I noticed that the cobbles got quite a bit nastier with a layer of compact snow on.

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Saturday night it snowed some more.  Mostly all night and then again into the morning.  In fact, it pretty much snowed the vast majority of the day.  I had a trainer ride, which I did later on – but before that I decided to go out and wander around a bit.

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Despite the snow, the tour boats were out in force as usual.

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As I headed across the second bridge on the opposite side of the island I noticed some cars attempting to go up a slightly steep exit ramp.  This entertained me for a good 10 minutes.  Over and over again.  No, they didn’t make it.  But they sure tried.  Many of them.  A lot.

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While that was happening, the ramp leading up to it was getting clogged up.  So some kids decided to take advantage of it.  They were throwing (powdery) snowballs at the stopped cars (left lane).  Eventually they realized that it was far more effective to just push the snow off the overhang onto the car below.  The jeep guy kept honking, and tried  to slide forward a bit out of their range.  But that only served to give the kids even more snow to push onto his car.  Everyone on the bridge was cracking up laughing.

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On the other side of the bridge is the skating rink.  For once, it wasn’t a slushy-rink.  Usually it’s about half water and half ice.  This time, it was more half-ice and half snow.  But that’s an improvement.

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Next to it, the Merry-Go-Round.

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As I headed back, I came across the below.  It was shot on my phone using a fair bit of zoom – so not quite great quality.  But I think it still captures what I was looking for.  Which, was to show a bunch of totally crazy kids sledding down a hill towards the water.  They’d pull up and manage to stop just before the edge each time.

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As I started to make my way back, I found one of our favorite couples.  They’re always out there, almost every day, getting their photo taken.  We’re not entirely sure what their deal is – but we see them year around.  There’s actually about 2-3 different couples.  One day I’ll write-up a big expose post on them.  ‘Seasons of daily wedding photos’.  Or the like.

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Changing gears completely – were these guys.  They went flying down the street – probably doing close to 50MPH.  Of course, on the top of his helmet was a GoPro.  $5 says a YouTube video is in the making…

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And finally, back to our street.  Well, the street on the side of it.  It always looks pretty.

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With that, it’s nightfall again.  And soon it’ll be snowing again.  It’s supposed to snow off and on all week.  From what I understand – this isn’t exactly normal.  Or even frequent.  In fact, it sounds rather rare.

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Tomorrow, a two plus hour run in the snow…this time with Yaktrax.

Thanks for reading!

31 Comments

  1. I used to live some time in Paris, and now i'm just a regular visitor (every two weeks).

    Regarding closed roas by the Seine. I believe its a sunday-only deal. They open the roads early in the morning and they open them at 17h. However, i also noticed they don't open them in January and February. It happened like that in the last two years. Dont know the reason.

    Regarding snow. I believe it snows in Paris every year (a few snowflakes), though snow stays more than a couple of hours only occasionaly. In the last two winters i havent experienced situation like last weekend. And i dont think hey have shovels to clear the paths and roads. Probably they dont even have snow ploughs. And you now what? Not many cars have winter tires on!! Its good you didnt have to travel by air. Yesterday they cancelled 40% of flights. I dont really know why, but that few cm of snow really make havoc in Paris.

    Lastly, weddings. I believe you cannot get married in Paris as a foreigner, unless you are a resident in Paris (or France). A lot of couples just come to Paris for a photo shoot. (especially from far east)

    Reply
  2. Sean

    What's with all the locks on the wall in the "wedding" picture?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There's a few bridges that people buy locks and put them on the bridge walls. The Lock Bridges. Meant to show ones love for another.

      More detail: link to nytimes.com

      Reply
  3. Hi Ray, un Paris as in any city public/private have to clean sidewalks in front of house/building otherwise can be considered responsible for injuries/falls...
    Spent 2hrs yesterday doing so with a neighbor but saw others ones in my small street didn't do so... But no policeman will fine S.O for that, so people don't take this too seriously - French way of life ;-)

    Reply
  4. Mathieu

    Definitively would have hated the cobbled section with the snow. Otherwise great pictures, I'm quite interested in reading about your itineraries since I work near where you live and often run on lunchtime. How many kilometers did you do ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It was about 12KM, so not too long.

      If it hadn't been snowy, I would have actually done this workout down near the Zoo in loops there. In fact, that area is awesome for repeating workouts. Across the river from the zoo is a long skinny canal, that's nearly a perfect 1-mile loop if you stay on the sidewalk - car free! (Leading up to Bastille)

      And with the Zoo being about a mile from Notre Dame, it's just about right for a warm-up if you tack on a touch bit more.

      Reply
  5. Monica

    So very pretty! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Luc Simoneau

    Hi Ray, great posts and pics as always ....

    Do you stop to take every picture? How do you tie it in with your training?
    Bonne journée!

    Reply
    • Mathieu replied

      Just wondered about that too !

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nope, not stopping. Just shoot and run! Like Dory...'Just keep running, just keep running'.

      Eventually, over the years if you take thousands upon thousands of photos, you kinda get the hang of it. :)

      Of course, at the Crepe stand, I was most definitely stopped :)

      Reply
  7. Mathieu

    What camera do you use ? not too bulky I suppose yet good pic quality, not your iPhone ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I use the waterproof/snowproof/drop-resistant Lumix TS3 (TS4 is the current model). Love it! Color red: link to amazon.com ;)

      I take it on all my runs and rides. For running, I just stick it in a Spitbelt, and for cycling, my bag jersey pocket. It has a typical little wrist strap as well, so I don't generally drop it (too much).

      Reply
  8. Jonas

    That looks incredible. I used to live in Paris, and it's really quite pretty under the snow (as the french say!).

    So... this unseasonably seasonal weather... is it holding back the P2M review? ;-)

    Reply
  9. I liked your beach photos better.

    Reply
  10. Diana

    Can you get Yaktrak in Europe? I have friend who lives in Austria who needs a pair (or something like them). She mentioned that she struggling a bit with long runs in winter due to snow. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Alice

    lovely colours in the last pic of the church, thanks for sharing, as always!

    Reply
  12. Loved the pics in this post, thanks for sharing. I actually loved it so much I will feature it tomorrow in my daily buzz blog.

    Is the wedding couple doing this to "accept donations"? What is the story behind them, very intriguing!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks!

      We're not 100% sure what their story is. We see them almost daily during the warmer months, and on weekends year round. It's always the same 2-3 couples, and 2-3 photographers. But we see them all around Paris at popular sites. We suspect that the photographer uses them to reel in business, but we're not 100% certain. Some day, I might just go and ask. :)

      Reply
  13. Steve Fines

    Hey,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. Great stuff.

    You are enough of a tech geek to know to dial in +1 or +1 1/2 stops of exposure on the snow photos. Watch those histograms!!

    best, from central MN with lots of snow......

    Steve

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks!

      Yeah, on my little camera while running, it's just in auto. For the later on DSLR shots most were fairly close to +1 or so.

      I hadn't thought of playing around with it in manual on my P&S for running, may try that later in the week...since snow seems like it's going to keep on coming!

      Reply
  14. The weather has been pretty similar over in London, while the main roads are cleared of snow many of the pavements and side roads aren't. It sounds (and looks) pretty similar to Paris.

    We had some snow during the day on Friday and I ran early on Saturday morning. It wasn't too slippy as the snow was still quite fresh and you could easily grip into the light snow or run on the roads which had been cleared.

    I did my long run early on Sunday with friends and we timed the weather perfectly. There was light snow while we were running (again great for gripping into). By the time we finished on Sunday it was snowing hard and around two inches / 5cm of snow fell during the rest of the day.

    I went for another run last night and it was horrible. The snow had been compacted into ice on all the pavements and uncleared roads and it was pretty slippy. I fell once, but luckily nothing too serious. We don't have any more snow predicted, only more cold weather which means the ice will probably get worse!

    I don't have any Yaktrax, but do have some cross country spikes. Have you ever run in ice with spikes? I was thinking of putting my 6mm spikes in and trying a run. The only problem is I'll hit sections of ice and ok pavement during the run which won't be ideal.

    Cheers,
    Richard

    Reply
    • Richard Elliot replied

      After leaving my comment I picked up some Yaktraz today from the shop next to work, just in time for the big thaw in London. At least I've got them for next time....

      Reply
  15. Micke

    Fantastic blog, fun to read. But the weather is not to bad, here i sweden we today -19c, but i need to make my run anyway

    Reply
  16. Micke

    Fantastic blog, fun to read. But the weather is not to bad, here i sweden we today -19c, but i need to make my run anyway

    Reply
  17. Ken P

    We seem to have gotten a bit more snow in Wiesbaden, GE than you did in Paris. Then agian, driving home from Garmisch, GE on Thursday of last week, we got hit by a storm.

    Reply
  18. Steven Allran

    I work for Garmin as a Product Support Specialist in the Fitness dept. and I show customers your site all the time because your reviews are really great and showcase the products with an honest users opinion. Keep up the good work!!

    Reply
  19. Magic Sean

    The couple getting their pictures might be with a event clothing rental company. Like for weddings, funerals, festivals, and any other event. Here in Japan, they are always out in full garb taking photos at all times of the year. It can be a bit distracting doing a park run with you see a gorgeous women in a full kimono out of no where!

    Reply

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