Bring on the Bubbles/Sunshiney Happy People

Birthday girl blowing bubbles in Buttes Chaumont

In the depths of a Paris winter, it’s easy to forget the existence of any color aside from gray. Beautiful city, yes, but sometimes the sorry sky seems dressed up in gloom alone.

This is why at the first sight of sun Parisians fill up outdoor terraces, grab their picnic ware and head for the park in hordes.

I am one of these people who follow the light’s lead. I’ve noticed, however, that the warmth of the sun doesn’t much matter to people here. No matter what time of year, if the clouds have parted, an outdoor apero is called for gosh darn it. Freezing? Temperatures be damned we’re sitting out here anyway.

On Saturday I went to Buttes Chaumont for my friend Dani‘s birthday. The sun shined on us (and look at those puffy clouds!), but it was chilly. Brr!

We did our part in pretending it was a perfect day for outdoor frolicking. It’s mid-May and there’s sun. We will picnic in the park!

Five hours on the deeply slanted slopes with a lovely mix of people – all talented, creative folk – did me good. (I’m pretty sure we were the loudest group on the grass – always a danger of an overwhelmingly expat crowd.)

By the time dinner time rolled around, though, I was looking forward to seeking warmth inside. I met up with several former colleagues from Expedia. They had traveled from Canada! Germany! London! just for our little reunion.

Presented with even more incontrovertible evidence that it was cold (sun’s gone! goosebumps on the arm!) we still ended up on the outdoor terrace. A bit hard to enjoy the meal to the fullest as I was in full-on shiver mode.

Bubble Machine at Cafe Titon

In perhaps an unrelated note, I’m also noticing bubbles! Yes! I passed by a local cafe that had a bubble machine! (And a white picket fence, too. Both fence and bubble machine seemed set up for a special occasion as I’ve passed Cafe Titon tons and never seen either).

Bubbles in the air, whimsy's alive

All this faux warmth and bubbliness. City-wide delusion? Wishful thinking? Whimsy?

Well, we often see what we want to and Paris especially caters to the dreamers.

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12 Responses to “Bring on the Bubbles/Sunshiney Happy People”


  1. 1 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) May 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

    BUBBLES! Love it! The closest I have come to seeing bubbles like that was this little ten-year-old or so kid who was hanging out of his apartment window on the rue de Meaux one afternoon and was blowing bubbles down onto pedestrians below. It was fun.

    It did get really chilly this weekend, didn’t it. I’m headed to the park today to show some visitors around & then have a picnic, but inside my apartment, kind of like we did. It’s still too chilly today, IMO, for grass-sitting! Yeah, it looks like warmer grass-and-terrace-sitting will be better at the end of the week. At least it has not rained! *knock on wood*

    I’m so glad you got to spend some time with creative and loud folk. BTW, I say go with “whimsy.” It’s such a great word!!

  2. 3 Lupinssupins May 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Ah, oui, Sion, je m’en souviens! D’en avoir marre des cieux tellement gris et d’etre toujours à la recherche du soleil perdu… George Harrison’s masterpiece, Here Comes the Sun, comes to mind. My year à Paris, mumblety-some years ago, it was a long, cold, lonely winter; we had snow on May Day, no lie! It was a mere dusting, but très décourageant, much like the forecast of frost tomorrow night here in St. Louis, just a week after record high, 90 F. days! Superstition would have me blame myself– I’d finally moved out the long-sleeves and in the sleeveless; my tiny closet has no room for all this meteorological indecision!

    I remember, just as you say, the rush to picque-niquer sur l’herbe at the first sign of week-end sun. And how we knew to schlep to one of those larger, outlying parks where grass was not hyper-manicured & off limits. We had not discovered Buttes Chaumont, tho, more’s the pity. That only came years later. What route do you use? I must have badly miscalculated nearest stations de Métro, b/c when I finally visited les Buttes a decade ago, I ended up taking an endless hike up an almost 90 degree (in steepness, and maybe in Fahrenheit, too) hill in quartier Belleville.

    Bon été!

    • 4 paris (im)perfect May 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Hi Mary. Yeah, that’s a great song to think of. Now I only want to add, Here comes a WARM sun :) But no complaints. After so much gray, I’m always happy to see the sun however she wants to appear!

      That’s funny about your route. I’m assuming you got off at Laumiere, maybe? I used to live at that metro station, so I’m used to the hike up. If you want to skip that, though, you can take line 7bis directly to stop Buttes Chaumont. That puts you at the top of the hill – the train does the climbing for you :)

  3. 5 Oneika May 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    And this is why I need to move to Paris. Gah!!

    • 6 paris (im)perfect May 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      So when *are* you moving to Paris? I want you to!

      • 7 Oneika May 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

        Moving to London in October but think I will be doing a three-month “I’m trying to find myself in Paris/ sit around and eat cheese from Monoprix in the park” stint from May to July!!! I’ll definitely be coming to Paris before then to try to scout out lodging! So you can take me out dancing… (preferably not in a bathrobe or boots..LOL)! ;-)

  4. 8 SAS Fiction Girl May 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    That’s a great picture of your friend – the composition is stellar. What a happy picture!

  5. 10 Lee Isbell June 1, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Was just in Paris, remembered people (you?) saying nice things about Buttes-Chaumont, but hesitated trekking out there on my own for a first visit. No one else in my group seemed to have heard of it.

    • 11 paris (im)perfect June 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Ah, but that’s why the park is so great! (And yes, it probably was me :) ) Tourists usually don’t know about it, but Parisians love it. Understandable you didn’t want to make the trek on your own – maybe next time! My first neighborhood in Paris was the 19th so I quickly learned all of the areas gems :)

      • 12 Lupinssupins June 1, 2011 at 9:59 am

        The Paris Daily Photo guy, Eric Tenin, is also keen on Buttes-Chaumont. Actually, the first time I remember coming across the name was not even when I lived in Paris for a year, but from the art deco poster in the “Friends” apartment! My age, let me show you it.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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