Ah, April in Paris

By Robyn Yousef

Blossom befits the splendour of Paris. Photo / Supplied
Blossom befits the splendour of Paris. Photo / Supplied

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed an embrace
'Til April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees ...

- Lyrics from April in Paris, composed by Vernon Duke in 1932.

"En Avril, ne te decouvre pas d'un fil" is an old French saying, which, literally translated means: "In April, do not discard even one thread." Liberally interpreted it's: "In April the weather can be fickle - just like spring in New Zealand - so keep your layers on."

So what's all this we hear about April in Paris? Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald sang about it and many great writers have written about it. Is all this rhetoric warranted?

Those charming Parisians would say: "Oui, absoluement." There is always a marvellous energy about the French capital which is why it is one of the most romantic and best-loved of all the European cities and possibly probably why France has more international tourists than any other country in the world.

But April is special with the heady perfume of lilac and apple and cherry blossom everywhere.

Another plus is that daytime temperatures are generally pleasant and conducive to the many kilometres of walking even the least energetic among us feel compelled to do in Paris.

As well, tourists are fewer, queues not as long, and you can get a better view of the Mona Lisa.

It's July and August which really draw the throngs of tourists into France, and summer temperatures can really soar, making serious sightseeing sometimes hard toil.

Many chic Parisians abandon their city for beach holidays during August so the sport of "people watching" is not so productive.

The day I arrived in Paris the Parisians were still in their winter colours and coats. But the next day there were clear blue skies and it reached a balmy 25C.

Suddenly arms and legs were appearing and at 5pm the usual gathering of mature men playing boules in the local park even included a topless monsieur.

Although it can rain a lot during April in Paris, parts of Europe have experienced some very mild weather in recent years.

I stayed for a week over the middle days of April this year and last year and the weather was consistently good and most evenings dinner was al fresco.

Yes, like the song, it really was "holiday tables under the trees".

The Paris Marathon is held in April every year and the first of the free garden concerts start in picturesque settings such as the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The two-month-long annual Foire du Trone carnival also begins in April.

Another April event is the Banlieue Bleues Paris Jazz Festival, with concerts held throughout the northern suburbs of Paris.

And Easter in Paris is always memorable - even if it's just spent gazing into the beautifully decorated windows of the pastisseries and chocolatiers with their array of Easter goodies so well displayed.

But, then again, you could always make your way to Paris in May when the same saying continues: "You can do as you please." Or, as they say: "En Mai, tu feras ce qu'il te plait."

Robyn Yousef travelled to Paris with the assistance of Singapore Airlines.

- Herald on Sunday

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