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January 21, 2013


La Neige est Arrivée

by soundlandscapes

SOME PARTS OF FRANCE get quite a lot of snow at this time of year but here in Paris we usually miss the worst of it. Some years we don’t see snow at all in the city but occasionally it visits us and when it does the city takes on a completely different atmosphere.


This was the view from my balcony on Sunday morning and I discovered that I even had my very own icicle clinging to an overflow pipe from the floor above.


The snow arrived on Friday evening and there were gentle snowfalls again on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon I went for a walk in my neighbourhood and found men at work clearing the snow from the pavements.


I spend the greater part of my time actively listening to the sounds of Paris so I welcome the snow because the sounds around me take on a completely different texture and I get to record sounds that are not there for the greater part of the year, like the sounds of the men clearing the snow.

Sounds of snow clearing:


Often considered to be the enemy of the field recordist, the cacophony of traffic surrounds all city dwellers but when it snows the cacophony of sound melts into something much softer and more delicate, something that seems much more in tune with the human condition.

Sounds of traffic in the snow:


At my local Hôtel de Ville, where just a few weeks ago stood a colourful carousel, a busy Christmas market and hoards of excited children, there was just snow with a tiny snowman standing guard over this municipal edifice. It was starting from here that I recorded my short walk home.

Walking home in the snow:

Although I spend a lot of my time walking far and wide capturing the sound tapestry of the city, on Sunday I only had to walk a few steps from my home to capture the characteristic sounds of Paris in the snow.


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. hmunro
    Jan 21 2013

    One of my favorite things when it snows is to go outside and experience the *absence* of my city’s familiar sounds. Sometimes it’s even a bit eerie to realize how quiet the world is without our machines. Thank you for giving me a little taste of Paris as I’ve never seen/heard her before.

    • Jan 21 2013

      Thank you Heather. The sound tapestry of the city surrounds us all, we hear it but we seldom stop to listen to it. You’re quite right, it’s only when it’s not there that we really become aware of it. That’s why Paris in the snow is extra special. I’m so pleased that this piece gives you a glimpse of Paris that you’ve not experienced before. Maybe on your next visit it will still be snowing!


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