petite anglaise

June 23, 2005


Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:18 pm

I abhor Paris in the summertime.

As soon as the temperatures begin to rise, my spirits correspondingly sink into my flip flops. An oppressive mantle of velvety, pollution-filled air descends on the city of light, consenting to recede, for a couple of hours only, shortly before dawn. There is only one thing worse than Paris on heat, and that is Paris on heat experienced from the unique vantage point of chez petite. My apartment, although it is packed full of original features (warped floorboards, fireplaces, a stove, bucolic scenes painted on panels and doors), is located on the fifth floor, beyond the reach of the shade giving trees which line our avenue, and has only south-facing windows.

The highest temperature ever recorded inside the flat was 40°C. This was in Tadpole’s bedroom, when she was a mere three months old, and the time was 11.30 pm. I did not enjoy her first summer one little bit. My not-so-fond memories of the 2003 canicule involve a scantily clad, half-crazed-with-cabin-fever petite sitting in semi-darkness, shutters firmly closed, windows only opened between the hours of 4 am and 9 am, engaged in one of two activities: DVD watching, or breastfeeding.

This week, with temperatures soaring into the lower 30’s, it has been increasingly difficult to get a decent night’s sleep. The conundrum is this: sleep with the windows open, and resign self to being woken up periodically by the clamour of traffic on the busy thoroughfare below (because not only do the windows face south, but also onto the street), or opt for double-glazed peace and quiet, and resign self to slow death by poaching. Possibly with a whirring fan for company, which manages to do little other than stir the sultry air round and round. Noisily.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, try adding the high pitched whine of an elusive mosquito with a voracious appetite into the mix. I can’t find a plug in mosquito repellent device for love nor money – the local shops helpfully stock only refills for people who didn’t leave their plug in apparatus in a hotel room in Mauritius or a gîte in Morbihan. Petite, nul points, Vampiric invisible mosquito, six points.

And quite how I managed to get bitten there, I will never know.


  1. Windows open and strong chemical sprays for bugs! Our parents survived pesticides, I think the risk is worth the peace of mind.

    Comment by Sarah — June 23, 2005 @ 2:26 pm

  2. I feel your pain, petite. It’s hotter than hades here in Montelimar, turning me into a big, sweaty pool of blah.

    Comment by sammy — June 23, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

  3. Here’s to blissful sleep!
    I hadn’t realised until I moved back to UK just how noisy Paris is!
    Now, whenever I’m over there I find sleeping difficult- our appartment seems to be just as noisy with windows closed (single glazed, enormous air vents). Luckily not too hot, as it only gets sun for a couple of hours around midday.
    I have lain in bed listening to emergency sirens, people chatting, crying babies, yapping dogs, lost Scotsmen trying to find their F***ing hotels (after rugby internationals) all at 4 in the morning. Of course, as soon as you get to sleep then, they start to clean the streets (5.30) or empty the bins!
    Even though I live in Birmingham (not exactly the suburbs!) when I sleep with the window open it is blissfully quiet, with only the occasional police helicopter to break the peace.
    Though I love the sun, it does feel a little too hot at the moment- though its usually much more humid here than in Paris. A good Thunder storm should do it!
    Sleep well Petite…

    Comment by Joy — June 23, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

  4. The Scotsman thing was hilarious actually.

    He spent 3 hours, completely drunk, wandering around Montmartre shouting “Where’s ma F***ing Hotel?”.

    I think he came down our street 4 times.

    Comment by Joy — June 23, 2005 @ 3:14 pm

  5. How about this solution?

    Handy, portable, batteries available everywhere… You and Tadpole could have one each, and trawl unbitten around Paris, emitting ultrasound with gay abandon.

    Comment by Rachie — June 23, 2005 @ 3:21 pm

  6. Ugh. Mosquitos are the death of me. Although I think you have less of them than there are here.

    But we have less traffic. The only times we are really awoken are those rare evenings when people come to play petanque in the court right next to our building at 2am. I assume they are drunk, because what sober person plays petanque at 2am?!

    Hasn’t happened yet this year, but I am sure it will.

    Comment by kim — June 23, 2005 @ 3:57 pm

  7. noise when sleeping is a funny thing. For several years now, I’ve slept with my computer on every night, and now I can sleep through almost any noise – be it noisy, sultry-air pushing fans, or police sirens in the (very) busy walworth road (near E&C, London), or one of the other people in the house who work weird and wonderful hours getting in/going out.

    But now, the one thing I find that disturbs me from getting a good night’s sleep.. is silence.

    I need my whirrs, my LED flashes, my general hubbub, and I fear poor sleep patterns whenever I go to the country-side.

    Comment by jango — June 23, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

  8. ………..if you were to move over the road with Mr Frog…………….?

    Silly idea. Sorry. Forget it.

    Ear plugs and aircon.

    Comment by Germain — June 23, 2005 @ 4:20 pm

  9. Even if you manage to not leave the plug-in repellent device in a hotel room somewhere, you still have to find the right recharges – those cunning manufacturers tend to change the design every six months just to keep you buying the new models!

    Comment by Iain — June 23, 2005 @ 4:31 pm

  10. ahem. oh dear.

    I appear to have jinxed the weather. The sky I can see from my office window is a rather deep shade of grey.

    I do hope I put my waterproofs in the pushchair…

    Comment by petite — June 23, 2005 @ 4:50 pm

  11. Don’t think its you.
    Sizzling Britain is about to become engulfed in flash floods, torrential rain, tornadoes, thunderstorms and hail the size of golf balls.

    According to forecasters, the heatwave enjoyed by most of the country for almost a week is about to come to an abrupt halt.

    Comment by pww — June 23, 2005 @ 5:08 pm

  12. It’s coming in from the west of Paris, and I can confirm that it’s good, old-fashioned, summer-storm, soak-you-to-the-bone rain.

    Fingers crossed for the waterproofs…

    Comment by Iain — June 23, 2005 @ 5:12 pm

  13. I love good old fashioned summer storms. I can’t wait to go out after work and dance in the rain!!!

    Thanks for jinxing the weather petite. I much prefer this.

    Comment by cheria — June 23, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

  14. In Paris at least. On the beach I would be pretty pished off

    Comment by cheria — June 23, 2005 @ 5:21 pm

  15. Windows open and buy ear plugs, that’s what we had to do the summer of 2003 when we lived on Ave de Clichy.


    Comment by Flare — June 23, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

  16. Ugh, please send the rain over to London, it’s unbearably hot here (dripping sweat on keyboard). I can’t even bear to go inside my flat until after the sun goes down. Thankful in this instance not to have a small kid to put to bed, I guess. I was in Paris Summer 2003 and it was even hotter than London, dreadful. I could not have previously imagined ever finding Paris dreadful…

    Comment by Jean — June 23, 2005 @ 5:33 pm

  17. My room at home was right under the roof, which had black tiles. Every summer I wished I knew who had built the damn thing so I could have them shot for it. Temperatures in my room normally were at least outside temperatures, but minus any breeze.

    On hot afternoons, I would go through about five litres of water without having to go to the toilet once – it all came out as sweat.

    Comment by Stefan — June 23, 2005 @ 5:40 pm

  18. Hehe. Rennes definitely more pleasant in the heat that Paris.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — June 23, 2005 @ 5:44 pm

  19. Only marginally better where I am – top floor flat under dark, slate-roofed eaves, my office is in the apex of the roof. Luckily I am able to operate a fairly casual dress policy… Mind you, there’s a team re-roofing a building just near me. Those boys must be desperately hot.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — June 23, 2005 @ 6:19 pm

  20. “Casual dress policy” Newly purchased blue shorts?

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — June 23, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

  21. I recorded 40C in the shade on my south facing terrace here near Poitiers yesterday, and the river has stopped flowing for the first time in the 5 years I have been here. Mosquitoes breeding like mad and feeding on me!

    Storm brewing so it may cool down.

    A cheap portable air condidtioner is a great help, cool the bedroom in the evening & turn it off at bedtime.

    I would hate the Paris heat, hope you sleep well tonight, does Tadpole sleep OK in the heat?

    Comment by Keith — June 23, 2005 @ 6:38 pm

  22. A mosquito managed to bite me there once and I was convinced it was some sort of ghastly STD. Which was ridiculous, as I wasn’t exactly in any situation to be getting one, but it was scary nonetheless.

    I have lived in Kuwait, Phoenix, and Houston all my life, so I have little sympathy for what has in store for you. : )

    Comment by janna — June 23, 2005 @ 6:42 pm

  23. On the way to work this afternoon, I passed by the thermometer fixed to the outside wall of a nearby Monoprix, which was displaying a sweltering 36 degrees.

    It’s days like today that make me miss my Alaskan summers.

    Comment by sammy — June 23, 2005 @ 6:45 pm

  24. Janna, being from Phoenix originally, I can tell you that it is NOT THE SAME!

    Sure, it is hot in Phoenix, but let’s face it, in AZ most outside time is spent moving from one air-conditioned location to another… car, work, home, shopping center, etc. Plus, the humidity… nothing like having that sticky face feeling to make you say, “Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in Arizona anymore.” Ugh.

    Seriously, if I could have the air conditioning, I would accept a jump in temperature whole-heartedly.

    Comment by kim — June 23, 2005 @ 6:56 pm

  25. When I was living in Montevideo for a very short time, there were a day with what was reported as 100% humidity. Really have to find the photos and put them on my blog. Ah, memories…

    Comment by Sierra — June 23, 2005 @ 7:10 pm

  26. make popsicles!
    : )

    Comment by jan — June 23, 2005 @ 11:10 pm

  27. Petite, you know that some people have to suffer for their passions you told us so. But not everyone. Apply for reclassification. Meantime, perhaps some Blues on the CD and you could pretend to be enjoying a holiday in Memphis? Or, Jim seems to have found a cool spot under the tiles in Rennes?

    Comment by Fella — June 23, 2005 @ 11:57 pm

  28. That storm was AWESOME tonight, wasn’t it? I got stuck in it carrying coffees down the street to my co-workers, and was soaked by the time I made it back inside. Storms are on tap for tomorrow, too, so I think things should be cooling down considerably.

    PS I can’t believe you had just had Tadpole at the time of the canicule. That was pure hell. I can’t imagine how bad it must have been with that whole “new baby” thing thrown in the mix.

    Comment by L — June 24, 2005 @ 12:33 am

  29. Just imagine having 20 family members over in 40degree heat – for christmas! Good ol’ aussie christmas. I can’t remember a christmas without someone attempting to put ice down my undies… And mosquitos! They’re pure evil i’m sure… little spawns of satan…

    Comment by Looren — June 24, 2005 @ 7:13 am

  30. if the heat doesn’t break (or for next time), a good stopgap is a wet towel in front of the fan. Hang it on a clothes drying rack. Having spent 16 years in Perth, where it’s not officially hot until it gets to 40C, I know all the tricks to surviving the heat. Now I live in Canberra, where it nearly snowed yesterday.

    Comment by /anne... — June 24, 2005 @ 8:39 am

  31. I accepted an invitation to the flicks last night, partly on the basis that a couple of hours in an air conditioned cinema had to be better than breathing the thick air at home (I can’t agree with you Lucy-Jane, Rennes is horrid enough for me in the heat). I drove home through flashes of lightning, but no storm was forthcoming here. So my bedroom under the eaves was again torrid (in the worst possible way) last night.

    The film was quite good though.

    Comment by Susan, also in Rennes — June 24, 2005 @ 9:34 am

  32. Next door in Waffleland the night affords no relief either. Permanently muggy, duvet wrapped up and deposited by the side of the mattress-style. As for mosquitoes I remember my Mother’s finely tuned ears rousing me from slumber towards the end of summer when we first moved into the house, having detected the sobs of misery from upstairs, the evil insects plaguing my son with their bloodlust. The Hungarian, not a mornings person and certainly resentful of being elbowed out of Snoreland, was dispatched to dispatch the intruders. His method: stand beneath them and fling a hardback with the full force of his muscular arms towards the ceiling. Admittedly, he is over six feet tall and could have stretched with a rolled newspaper, but he finds the book solution far more satisfying. Now the white paint is covered in ex-mosquito splotches like a canopy of stars in reverse. Seldom have I been so glad not to have any neighbours within earshot.

    Comment by Chameleon — June 24, 2005 @ 9:35 am

  33. As a matter of fact I *did* get soaked to the skin last night on the way to the childminder’s, and then pushing Tadpole home. None of that cowering in doorways and waiting for the deluge to stop for us, it’s too much fun splashing in the puddles…

    Tadpole borrowed some waterproofs and we made our way home to a backdrop of sheet lightning and booming thunder, Tadpole giggling all the way, and then we stripped off and had a bath together.

    A perfect evening.

    Comment by petite — June 24, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  34. Yep, L, me too. My Pollywog was born on 12 June 2003, and was only a few weeks old when the heat wave started rolling in. Every morning, I got up and ran a cold bath and left it standing for the entire day – and every 45 minutes or so I stripped his pamper off (I stayed naked most of the time!) and submerged us in the cool water so that we could avoid our OWN deaths by poaching. I kept thinking about all the other Parisians who don’t have a tub! The heat was so bad, it left me nauseated and bumping into walls; there’s nothing like giving birth to weaken a body….any sign of a canicule this year, and I’m heading to Iceland.

    Comment by Francaise de coeur — June 24, 2005 @ 10:26 am

  35. I got bitten once on the boob while I was fully clothed. I have no idea how it got down my shirt.

    Comment by juliana — June 24, 2005 @ 2:46 pm

  36. likewise, I have no idea how the pesky thing got inside my knickers…

    Comment by petite — June 24, 2005 @ 2:48 pm

  37. Just wondering…is there some reason not to buy a cheap, efficient air conditioner? I have refused to buy one my whole life, but last week finally caved after several 90-degree Fahrenheit days. When I nursed my son, he seemed in danger of slithering off due to our combined sweat! (But he wasn’t really. In danger.) Anyway, we bought an ac Monday evening, and by Wednesday the weather had cooled off. Guess we jinxed it, too! Hooray!

    Comment by Karen — June 24, 2005 @ 3:03 pm

  38. I lived for 2 years on Ave Daumesnil and slept with my window open all year round. The only real problem was the police sirens….. can anyone please tell me why at 03.45, on an empty street, they still have to use their sirens full blast? I then escaped to Bangkok (now we’re talking hot)and ended up under the flight path of BKK aiport with many middle of the night departures. NO escape it seems. Try Monoprix for the mozzie machines or try the mozzie coils available from shops in the Indian area behind Gare du Nord.

    Comment by Tolsti — June 24, 2005 @ 3:08 pm

  39. I was quite disapointed when I read your post, the title was so promising…

    Comment by schuey — June 24, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

  40. schuey – much as I would love to regale everyone with steamy between the sheets with petite stories, I’m afraid I do have at the back of my mind the fact that my mum and dad read this blog occasionally.

    Comment by petite — June 24, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

  41. What I want to know is how my 2 kids have managed to catch colds in this weather. A sleepless, hot, damp, slithery toddler with a blocked up nose is not condusive to a good night’s sleep.

    But I’ve solved the noise problem. Earplugs have saved me. If the baby monitor volume is turned up, I can hear any cries for mummy, but drunks in the street and snoring husbands cease to exist.

    Comment by Smartie — June 24, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

  42. so, basically, if someone could invent mosquito repellent earplugs, my problems would disappear…

    Comment by petite — June 24, 2005 @ 4:58 pm

  43. Go to BHV and buy one of those room air conditioners. You still have to leave the window open a little (sorry) but it makes life bearable.

    Comment by Sherry — June 24, 2005 @ 6:00 pm

  44. I think a chastity belt may be more suitable for you considering where you were bitten.

    Comment by Lee Morris — June 24, 2005 @ 6:26 pm

  45. So do I! This is one of the reasons because I’m living in Portugal now!…

    Comment by Elvira — June 24, 2005 @ 6:31 pm

  46. And what IS it about Rennes….??

    Comment by fella — June 24, 2005 @ 6:36 pm

  47. I’ve lost count of the number of Parisians I’ve seen totally lose the plot over the past few days- there’s sleep deprivation and then there’s just pure psychosis….

    Not the most stable of nationalities at the best of times, the heat is acting like a red rag to a bull: it’s an excuse for people to treat each other with more disregard than usual. I shall be looking forward to the day when I can come off ligne 13 without needing a hose-down and counselling after having people’s groins and armpits pressed against me for a good half hour…

    Comment by Stephanie — June 24, 2005 @ 8:32 pm

  48. I live in the southern US and it is hot here as well! Today, it was 90 degrees Farenheit by about 11:00am. The humidity is horrid. If I go anywhere during the day, to the grocery store or to the cafe, when I get back in my car, the steering wheel is so hot that I can’t touch it. I have to figure out which fingers are the least sensitive to scalding and drive with those. I feel for you Petite. If I were you, I think I would get a window air conditioner.

    Comment by Taarna — June 25, 2005 @ 4:07 am

  49. Heat does strange things to people and I can understand Stephanie’s point. I still don’t understand the A/C thing in Paris, at least in offices. I have seen those around me become stranger and stranger the last couple of weeks, and I’m sure I am one of them.

    Comment by Michael — June 25, 2005 @ 8:57 am

  50. Oh Stephanie,
    Paris is bad in the heat.
    The Metro is truly the inferno.
    And, in this subterranean hell-hole – line 13 is as bad as it gets.
    All my worst Parisian memories of sweat and groping have resurfaced, I think I’ll go and lie down…

    Comment by Flighty — June 25, 2005 @ 7:16 pm

  51. Does not the City of Light have little openings in the walls of its dwellings into which the prongs which grace the cord ends of portable air coolers might be slotted?

    To say nothing of air conditioners which have those same little prongs in some sizes. True, there are larger prongs in larger sized units. At least this is true here where I dwell in another, newer city across a mighty body of water. We can grow palm trees, endure hurricanes, and suffer three months of “dog days.”

    Comment by Ranger — June 25, 2005 @ 10:16 pm

  52. At last count I see 51 comments! One thing truly international to talk about is the weather. Go figure!

    P.S. A little cooler today with bits of rain. Amen!

    Comment by Michael — June 26, 2005 @ 11:49 am

  53. OK how many commentators are from Rennes now? C’est louche…

    I’m sending you icy vibes from Auckland – was 2 degrees this morning, and I live in a normal New house which means 1- no insulation whatsoever 2- no heating system. My poor little oil heater is about to die from exhaustion and even running it at max levels, when I woke up this morning I could see my breath forming a little cloud in the bedroom, must have been under 12…

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — June 27, 2005 @ 2:13 am

  54. I need to find an I love Rennes t-shirt.
    Spent the weekend in Paris…
    *How can you live there???* Pollution clings to lungs and skin, cars whizz across the peddie crossings at 100 km/h even when the petit bonhomme est VERT (what kind of place IS this??) rain is BROWN, kids get their arms caught in the metro doors (not mine, we were en amoureux:) ).
    Champs Elysees is pretty damn cool though; shops open at midnight is very exciting after 7 years in the Breton back of beyonds, and eating Japanese next to Montmartre was just amazing. But glad to be back in Bretagne, quoi!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — June 27, 2005 @ 9:28 am

  55. I was in Paris at the time of the blog-meet and missed it completely – didn’t see even a twinkle of a single pic-knickee…
    Tell all!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — June 27, 2005 @ 10:36 am

  56. Numerous though we may seem, there are only 3 of us from Rennes skulking about. One of them was put on to this humungously (sp?) entertaining blog by me, the other, well that’s just a coincidence. What a buzzing anglophile city this is. We love Rennes! Especially in the summer, when it’s hot, muggy and polluted (Rennes, c’est dans une cuvette, don’t you know), but not as bad as Paris, it would seem.

    Comment by l'autre (Susan), also in Rennes — June 27, 2005 @ 11:16 am

  57. Funny, Lucy-Jane, I didn’t see you in Paris this weekend. And I, too, missed the blog-nic.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — June 27, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  58. Jim,

    How do you know you didn’t see me????? We may have passed in the street…I BET you were the weirdo grazing sheep near the periph at Porte de la Chapelle!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — June 27, 2005 @ 11:48 am

  59. Only joking… that was in there’s a bizarre story (won’t bore you all with it though – besides, I’d probably get put away!)

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — June 27, 2005 @ 11:50 am

  60. well, you all seem to be having fun talking amongst yourselves, so maybe my services are no longer required here?

    Comment by petite — June 27, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

  61. One Parisian mosquito to the other: “Elle execre Paris
    l’été”- the other:”ça n’altère pas son sang,delicieux”

    Comment by GPV — June 27, 2005 @ 3:12 pm

  62. Your kindness in exporting your unwanted heat this way is much appreciated. n accustomed as weare, we Tykes know how to respond to a touch of the torrid. Funny how all these blighters living in Rennnes end up not meeting up with each other in Paris!

    Comment by Fella — June 27, 2005 @ 9:28 pm

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