French for heatwave, the canicule meant that week four was largely spent trying to stay as still as possible in fruitless efforts to keep cool, before inevitably taking a dip in the kids paddling pool.
Unlike the majority of Monday’s I have been here, I was oddly motivated to get up and go straight away. With the temperatures climbing towards the 30’s, there is significant benefits to hopping on the bus straight after dropping the children at their activities to avoid climbing the mini mountain on which my house was built. I decided to pop up at the Moulin Rouge and have a wander, and palpitations at the ticket prices for an evening under the red windmill, before heading to Montmarte, a great decision if I say so myself. The cloudless sky ensure the views over the Paris were as stunning as I had hoped. The inside of the Sacre Coeur provided some much needed canicule shelter and, although I had already cheated and taken the funicular instead of the stairs, I decided to give climbing the basilica’s tower a miss for today.
Exploring Montmartre was next on the agenda. With an incredibly nutritious lunch of pistachio ice cream under my belt, I walked the cobbled streets of one of the most beautiful areas of Paris, avoiding getting conned into an awful caricature of my face. I think one of the things I will miss most about France is a decent pistachio ice cream.
Knowing Tuesday was going to be even hotter than the previous day, I opted to only leave the house when absolutely necessary. This was only to ferry the kids to and from activities; so luckily first thing in the morning, and last thing in the evening when I knew we were heading home straight to jump into the paddling pool. On which note, I should add I did spend a significant amount of my morning huddled over said pool searching for the puncture, beginning to wonder if it was actually some form of fools errand such as finding a left handed screwdriver.
Wednesday I was adamant that I would not let another day go to waste at the hands of the canicule! So I battled the weather and headed into Paris for a day at the beach. Quiche Lorraine and new friend in tow, we meandered to the Paris plage on the bank of the Seine below the Louvre. Wednesday night saw the return of the Great British Bake Off. After having explained the show and it’s cult following in great detail to my host parents, I ended up making the ultimate sacrifice and missed the highlight of summer TV in favour of having a social life. I’d like to say the few drinks in front of the Chateau de Versailles was worth it, but it’s a tall statement.
I soldiered on through the canicule for a Thursday picnic in the parc du Versailles. This was the closest I have been to the Chateau thus far, and the beauty, splendor, and sheer attention to detail of the whole area is overwhelming. We sheltered in the shade next to the canal and sought enjoyment in observing people’s cliche instagram-esque poses; especially those intent on getting as close to young swans as possible, which came close to loss of fingers when the swans rightly decided enough was enough. I’m now becoming quite well adapted to picnics in France, and after watching someone cut a camembert with a bank card for lack of a knife, I can confirm the garlic and herb cream cheese is the ultimate baguette accompaniment when you’re on the go.
Having excelled myself in the face of the extreme heat, I was reassured that I would survive living in Orlando where I will worship the almighty AC. However, Friday I opted to avoid getting so hot that even my eyelids began to stick together and thus rested sheltering from the canicule before taking on Paris by night once more. So sat outside the Pantheon we enjoyed warm wine, BN’s, and our own High School Musical sing-song.
Saturday was another Seine side picnic, complete with more BN’s. It seemed very un-French for the Mairie de Paris to discourage people from consuming alcohol during the canicule when a chilled glass of white was just so inviting. So against this advice, the Brits (true to form) soldiered on and headed for a bar. From henceforth I pledge to avoid irish bars like the plague*, they are just not the Parisian atmosphere I was hoping to find after dark. Yet the evening was far from wasted due to the beginning of some great Parisian friendships.
There was no time to wallow in self-pity on Sunday, for I was off on a boat trip with my host family. Thankfully it was finally a little cooler after the peak of the heatwave, and a cruise along the river was bliss. It was lovely to spend time with the family, see Paris from a new angle, and wave to those picnicking along the banks as we had been doing the night before.
Week 4 in numbers:
- 1 heatwave survived.
- 3.5 seconds spent not feeling sweaty and disgusting.
- 6 dips in the paddling pool.
- 1 inner city beach day.
- 0 initial paddling pool punctures found.
- 3 punctures found after having inflating and filling.
- Moulin Rouge tickets 90% more expensive than I can afford.
- 1 episode of Bake Off (watched late).
- 58 BN’s consumed (approximation).
- 1 cultural and highbrow activity achieved.
- 0 trips on public transport where the scent was almost bearable.
*writing this blog in retrospect means I can confirm that this has not happened.