This Years' Summer

photo: concorde fountain, tourists, big wheel

Wheels, spray, waders - at the Fontaine des Mers
in the Place de la Concorde.

One Day Is Better Than None

Paris:- Tuesday, 2. August 2000:- I'm not giving August much confidence after July's so-called summer weather. It has been so disgusting - lowest temperatures since 1912 or 1756 - most rain; three times more than normal, or four times.

The TV-weather lady rattles off the bad news. She never mentions that today was worse than last night's forecast. When it is really bad, she says the 'Azores High' is too far south or hiding or something. The way she says it, I think the weather jockeys have lost it.

The result is that North Pole-Greenland weather is dominating the continent above the Mediterranean. Down south, in France at least, it looks like there's a lot of violent storms.

Somehow, when it's been really glum in Paris for some time, the TV manages to show us brief glimpses of happily insane beach crazies wallowing in the Mediterranean's froth. Lying on the lie-lows, idiotically grilling themselves like chipolatas.

Then the camera cuts to the Atlantic's Bay of Biscay coast - some of which is called the Golfe de Gascogne. If the weather is having a freak sunny spell, the beaches are empty because of the low temperatures and the oil spill.

Okay, this has begun to change in late July - the surfers are out in the waves around Biarritz, but they wear fancy suits to keep warm in the water no matter whether there's a summer of not.

All in all, the Côte d'Azur is having the best season in years even if the weather news is constantly mentioning lightning storms and high winds. The water there is five degrees warmer than on the Atlantic side. In theory, globally, you can't beat it.

Meanwhile in Paris I am glued to the glotzbox every evening about 20:36, to see the TV's weather lady do her stand-up act with a bad script. Even if tomorrow's forecast is the pits, there's a three to five-day short-range future forecast.

Last night, this short-range forecast predicted summer weather for today in Paris. The screen showed one dandelion-like sunball for Paris all day, withposter: lounging in tuileries maybe a bit of 'instability' in the late afternoon.

Tuesday is my weekly 'day off' - my 'weekend' - the day when I do some household chores and some current and I hope, temporary, amount of administrative nonsense.

The the Tuileries, few are in any hurry.

When I get up I can't tell if the forecast is true so I stick my nose out into the street. Blue sky blue, east to west, and warm air, like posted from Madrid. Today, at the moment, it is summer in Paris!

I race through some of the administration bumpf and all of the chores that I'd normally spread over the whole day. Then I take a pause to think - if Paris' summer is one day only, how should I 'cover' it?

I should have thought of this before but I never believed it would only be one day. Experience says this may be the case. Normally I'd have several days to choose from - any old day to do any old or new thing.

One thing I've never seen - Le Parisien always beats me with this - is the scene with hordes of visitors and residents playing around in Paris' fountains. 'Oh, it's so hot! Let's jump in the fountain!' Le Parisien always has these photos - they must have a special crew on permanent standby alert.

Paris has about 400 fountains, including 86 of the cast-iron 'Wallace' drinking fountains with their single jet of drinking water. My current favorite is the renovated 'La Fontaine des Mers' at Concorde.

That's it then. Into the métro up to Concorde and see what comes next. In order to have a different view of the big place I leave the métro at Assemblée Nationale, to walk across the Pont de la Concorde.

This is the long way around because I have to go all the way to the big wheel before I can cross to the place's centre island in relative safety. The lights meant to stop the cars are only blinking orange; not red-stop and green-go.

Until recently, the renovated fountain, designed by Jacques-Ignace Hittorf and inaugurated in 1840, looked like a sun-dried turtle - like its twin 'Fontaine des Fleuves' still looks.

It is hard to believe the two fountains are the same. The renovated one has startling colors. On top of the cast iron, flesh colors are 'bronze florentin' or dark brown, which looks black when wet. 'Clothing' is 'bronze vénétien' or green, and accessories are 'doré,' which is very shiny gold.

Water is flying all over and spraying down, and visitors and residents are sitting on the fountain's edges and some are wading in it. The irregular breezes throw sprays playfully and nobody seems to mind surprise soakings.

Away from the fountain, the Place de le Concorde is very bright and warm. The Arc de Triomphe way off at the top of the Champs-Elysées is sharply defined; the air is clear, despite the traffic in it.

The Concorde's big wheel is big. It is out of place. On the other hand, the huge place needs some frivolity and I guess the big wheel is it.

Inside the gates of the Tuileries Gardens, there is a white desert with its octangular pond. Today it is too wide and open to the sky, and not many are sitting around it.

The temperature has really jumped a lot. Large numbers ofposter: terrace of samaritaine people are in the thick shade under the trees; not moving a lot. The few that are, are sticking to the shade, getting blasts of light when there are gaps in the shade. The strollers do not look anxious.

From the terrace of the Samaritaine there's a view of nearly everything.

There are a lot of people under the trees, but there are still many shaded places free at the refreshment cafés, so it is not the time of total thirst.

Along the Rivoli side, where the fun-fair rides have been set up, there is little shade and I don't think many people are taking advantage of the chance to take short acrobatic trips - which also means there are no lines waiting to get on them.

More people, probably the habitual sun lovers, are around the round pond opposite the métro Tuileries entry. I don't spot the model-boat rental operator, but three of the sailboats are making good time batting around the pond.

There's more desert to cross going up to the small Arc du Carrousel. Most people seem to be heading towards the Louvre. There are no lines in its Cour Napoléon. A few people are paddling in the Pyramid's pools, but a lot more are sitting in the shade of the Denon wing.

Trekkers coming in from the Cour Carée collapse on the pools' edges, drained by the long haul over the stones of two courtyards. The fountain in the Cour Carée is waterless and the east entry is closed, so I take the south one that faces the Pont des Arts.

On the Quai, traffic is its usual self; hotly glittering and oxygen-depleting. The bouquinistes across the way have customers trooping by, but I stick to my side and get into the Samaritaine's slight air conditioning as quickly as possible without moving too fast.

Signs by the elevators say taking the central escalators may be quicker, up to the fifth floor. The roof-top terrace is above the ninth floor, so the elevators are simpler.

Half the people riding up are speaking German and most of the rest are talking in Spanish. At the ninth, most go right and I go left and up the stairs.

The terrace is hot, shaded by awnings, breezyposter: roof tops, pont des arts, seine and fairly full of customers. A line has formed along the bar to get drinks and snacks. The terrace has good air and the view to Montmartre in the north is very clear.

Roofs, chimneys pots, the Seine, the Pont des Arts, the Tour Eiffel - Paris.

All of the views from the terrace, which are 360 degrees, are good. There's no need to go up to the circular lookout on top. Below, on the Seine, two barges are ploughing towards the Pont Neuf.

They are going to pass under it nearly side-by-side, under two different arches. I wonder if they are racing. One is halfway through before the other pokes its bow out. Birds scatter around the barges.

To the west, in the midst of a jumble of Paris rooftops and chimney pots, two fellows are having a snack on a minuscule shaded terrace. They have all of the roofs to themselves, in a cool grey tin and brick landscape.

Beyond them the Pont des Arts stands out clearly with the less distinct Tour Eiffel off in the distance. On the Seine more barges are headed downstream and big bateaux-mouches are coming the other way where the water is sparkling.

On what might be Paris' only day of summer in this particular season, I could go to another 50 spots to take in their essence. But if I do, I won't be able to sort them all out from what's here.

This then has been a summer day in Paris in this year 2000. It has qualified. If it turns out to have been the only one and you weren't here, then you will get something else. Just don't say there was no summer at all here this year. It is today.

In Metropole Paris
Latest Issue
2008 Issues
2007 | 2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003 | 2002
2001 | 2000 | 1999
1998 | 1997 | 1996
In Metropole Paris
About Metropole
About the Café Club
Links | Search Site
The Lodging Page
Paris Museums List
Metropole's 1996 Tours
Metropole's 2003 Tours
Support Metropole
Metropole's Books
Shop with Metropole
Metropole's Wine
metropole paris goodblogweek button
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini