Wandering along the Seine wrapped up in a fur coat and mittens munching on a warm pain-au-chocolat should be romantic and beautifully elegant, as portrayed in films, however I find that winter brings runny noses, freezing fingers and horrific windswept hairstyles. Paris is beautiful in the winter but I have come to realise that it is much better to experience this from inside a warm roof-top apartment or huddled in a cafe repeatedly ordering chocolat chaud. I therefore have decided to remember warmer summer days whilst refusing to acknowledged the rain storm and blizzard going on behind me. It's all very well coming to Paris and viewing the Tour Eiffel and the Arch the Triomphe but as far as seeing the real Paris I find that it is by joining in French celebrations and exploring the city's traditions that I begin to feel like Paris has become my home. My first experience of this was La Nuit Blanche 2012, an annual, all-night art festival during which museums, galleries and cinemas open their doors all night and special exhibitions and instillations pop-up all over the city. My friends and I started outside the Hotel de Ville and wandered to the Centre Pompidou where there was an electro-band playing from the roof, turning the square below into a dance floor. Following the course of the Seine we came across street Jazz bands, huge screens projecting films and an outdoor cinema with deck chairs for seats. The most exciting things about La Nuit Blanche is feeling that for one night everywhere is Paris is open, areas that are usually dead become party squares and locked buildings allow you unprecedented access. At about 2am we found ourselves sitting in a basement of a building in the centre of Paris watching an artistic film on a gigantic screen. However, the highlight of my night was finding a tiny little installation under the Pont Alexandre III by following some dubious looking arrows into a cave under the depths of the Seine. Wandering around this beautiful city, without bumping into map-checking tourists and seeing the buildings and streets come alive with music and activity really highlighted Paris at its most exciting and I feel very lucky to have been part of La Nuit Blanche 2012!