The tear-shaped Square du Vert-Galant
on the Ile
de la Cité.
Images from the
Café Metropole website
- a great place to visit & read all about what's going on, edited by
Each issue Café Metropole features
2 posters doing the rounds
of the city.
notes from a paris garret
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
notes from a paris garret :
from nessa o'mahony
: August 2003
Dog day afternoons, evenings, nights, early
Heat. Le chaleur. Le canicule. Heat so intense that the very stones
seem to be sweating in the blank gaze of a Paris sun. Heat so great
that even at 4am,
the air currents buffet you with an oven-like blast as you twist and turn in
a fruitless effort at sleep. Heat so pervasive that you haven't had a
dry back for weeks, that you dream of a typical Irish August bank holiday of
Atlantic gales and blustery showers and salivate.
Well, perhaps that prose is overheated, but given that the daily temperature
in Paris over the past fortnight has been nudging 40C (that's 108F to
all you imperial measurers out there) you can hardly blame me. This heat wave
is simply unfathomable, and nobody in Paris can think of anything else to talk
about. Well, nobody in Paris can actually think – their brain cells have
been grilled to the consistency of baked chowder.
There hasn't been an electric fan for sale in Paris for weeks now. Those
brave souls gifted with foresight and an uncannily accurate weather forecaster
went out and bought them all up at the end of July. When asked when the next
consignment of fans were due in at BHV, the Clery's of Paris, the sales
assistant simply flicked a bead of perspiration from his eye and shrugged – "next
April, perhaps". So the tens of thousands of us continuing living in our
bijou chambre a bonnes, nestle under the cosy eaves of zinc rooves and fantasise
about air-conditioning as we bring a new meaning to the phrase drip-dry.
Not that there aren't opportunities for entrepreneurs (it is a French
word, after all). Walking alone the Avenue d'Italie this morning (early,
before the sun rose too high in the sky), I came across two separate merchants
setting up temporary stalls on street corners, offering job lots of electric
fans at a knock-down price of €60 each. Disorderly queues were already
forming. I hesitated, but guessed that I'd need a degree in nuclear physics
to be able to assemble the fan once I'd got it home. So I walked regretfully
onwards. Little old ladies looked less daunted by the prospect of dragging
these monsters home, but little daunts a Parisian old lady, I've discovered.
Each day I scout the newspapers, looking for tales of heat-inspired murders
and am surprised there aren't more of them. In the wee small hours, as
I sit at my laptop, tapping the tepid keys, I watch the dimly lit rooms of
the apartments facing me and imagine other insomniacs who might be driven to
desperate deeds – I keep expecting to hear shrieks from across the courtyard
but so far, none have come. Projecting again, Nessa. And the big old moon just
stares down, unblinkingly.
So, the sejourn that started with such a bang looks like it's going to
go out with a soggy whimper. Still, there are a couple of weeks left in which
to re-energise. All I need is the weather God to take pity on me, and force
the mercury down 20 notches or so.
Not too much to ask, surely.