a California girl's guide to staying warm

Julia Carrington Ehler
November 10, 2016
I guess I should be more specific and say a southern California girl because it’s such a large state and the weather down where I’m from is probably different from what my NorCal friends are used to. 
let me start off with some statistics. Where I am from, the average coldest daytime temperature we get is 64ºF and that doesn't come until January. October and November are still in the 70ºF range. Nights, of course, are colder but it is still in the Low 50s and high 40s. The average rainfall is about 2 or 3 days in October and November and then the highest average of 6 in December. Sunny southern California still gets about 9 hours of sun a day in these “cold” months. Now for Paris. The coldest it gets is 45ºF in December. October and November are already in the 50ºF range. Nights get down to the low 40s and high 30s. The average rainfall is about 14 days a month until summer time and even then the averages are still ridiculous, the lowest being 10 days in the month of august. Paris gets a whopping 3 hours of sun in a day during these fall and winter months. So hopefully this helps give a little background that real cold weather is not something I am used to by any means.
If you ask any SoCal girl what their favorite season or weather is I can almost guarantee the answer will be a cold, autumn, rainy day type answer. We all dream of being cozy, dressed in layers, giant sweaters, and sitting by a fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. It’s so idealized and dreamy to think of. Now I understand that we only think we love that cause it’s not something we have ever fully experienced for more than a week out of a year. 
Now it’s flipping cold. Like all the time. I don’t want to go out into the world because I just don’t want to feel wet and cold anymore. But I’m in Paris and only have a little over a month left so I have to force myself to face the cold and get out there. If the rest of the city can go on, this Cali girl can learn to go on as well. 
So first of all layers aren't as dreamy as they are made out to seem on Pinterest. They are so constricting. Put on any more than two layers of clothing and you are nice and warm but it’s impossible to move. I am used to loose fit clothing even in the winter. Our sweaters are baggy because we wear them when it's till 70º outside. I find it so frustrating when I don't have full control over the movement of my arms. It’s the price we must pay to avoid freezing like a little ice cube. Lots of layers and jackets and scarves are a must, but don’t buy them in California because you need something made for the cold so buy it here if you must. 
Speaking of layers, scarves are finally a functional item of clothing rather than just an accessory. I remember in high school a few friends of mine got really into wearing scarves and I didn’t really get it. I wasn’t a fan of the look. I wear a scarf every day here. They make a difference. I was honestly so surprised at first. They keep you warm, it's like magic. It’s a socially acceptable way to carry around a blanket all day. I’m going to come home with this little scarf collection that I will probably never wear again at home. 
If I am forcing myself to stay out in the cold I also like to treat myself for being so strong a few times by stopping by a café for a chocolat chaud or a vin chaud. Drinking something to warm up your insides just makes you feel warm and cozy all over. Plus most cafés in the city have little space heaters on their patio space so you can still sit at one of the little tables and enjoy a warm drink outside and people watch for a little bit. It feels extremely Parisian to do and no matter where I am or what I order I know it’s going to be delicious. 
Oh! Another big thing with surviving in the weather is to carry around an umbrella at all times. With the 15 days of rain a month you just never know when it’s going to start pouring down on you and you don’t want to be stuck in that situation soaking wet. I bought a little umbrella that fits in any purse early on in my time here so I could always be prepared. 
I have not frozen into a solid brick yet so I think I'm doing pretty well so far. I do daydream of being on the beach in the sun more than anything now. No help from my lovely mother who thinks it’s nice to send me snapchats of her just walking on the sand in perfect 80-degree weather, but it is something to look forward to when I get home soon. I am no Elsa, the cold does bother me a little bit, but I am not letting that get in my way of having a fabulous last month in Paris.


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Julia Carrington Ehler

<p>Bonjour! My name is Julia Carrington and I am so beyond excited to be sharing this little part of my life story with you. This is going to be my first time out of the country and on my own and I can&#39;t wait to see what happens. I hope you join me on this adventure and enjoy reading my little online travel journal.</p>

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