Summer heat has descended on Paris. The highs have been creeping up from the low to high 80s over the past several days; it's intense in the sun, better but not particularly refreshing in the shade despite a light breeze. After weathering many summers in Washington, DC where hazy, hot and humid is the rule, I've been trying to figure out what makes the Parisian heat feel so much more like a thick oppressive blanket. We're lucky enough to have many windows in our apartment and relatively little direct sunlight (except in the late afternoon), so there's a cross breeze going most of the time and inside, it's really not bad at all. (Although tell that to my house guests!)
But out there on the streets, it's a different story. Most stores aren't air conditioned. Neither is the subway and the climatisation on the buses is rather touch and go. Add to that the French norms about personal space in public spaces (i.e., none) and the wafts of cigarette smoke coming off the cafe terraces, and the belch of diesel from cars, buses, and motorcycles, and you've got a recipe for discomfort. But this too will pass; I wouldn't be surprised if it's gray, wet and 65 degrees next week. Better not put those sweaters too far out of reach.
It's not just me. The city of Paris is using its billboards to warn people about the heat. Here the advice is for the elderly: stay in the shade and drink often.
For kids, the advice is to dress lightly, play in the water or less strenuous games, and stay in the shade.
And what the heck? Get an ice cream.