How Do You Know It’s Summer in Paris?

Summer finally arrived in Paris at the end of June. After freezing for more months than I care to remember and drowning in more months of rain, I emerged to notice the signs that tell me Paris and summer have again met. From arrondissement to arrondissement, from person to person, these signs will differ. I see my Paris as I do. It's not always pretty. It's definitely not perfect. It has to be seen with some amusement and sometimes you just have to think *'C'est la vie'.

imageImmediately, the garden gnome 'beggar' appears.  Near where I live is a plump, neatly dressed chap who looks like a garden gnome.  He sits on the street with a one foot high gnome beside him. The little gnome has a bucket jangling from his arm that a person can put coins in if they choose. The man has been sitting in the same spot for as long as I've lived in the area, although he was absent during the much colder months. Obviously. As an aside, I never actually see anybody give coins to the people asking for money although somebody must be doing so. Or maybe not.

Drinking water Vs Peeing.

Generally, Parisians take their time when eating and drinking. They will go to a park, cafe or restaurant. You will not see them walking around the streets skulling water or gulping coffee. You will definitely not see them walking around eating. The latter makes me happy because when people walk around eating, they inevitably drop food.  More often than not I cannot avoid the mess and it gets on the wheels of my wheelchair. Which is gross.

Usually you never see Parisians carry water with them. Rumour has it this is because there are so few toilets in Paris.  Apparently it's easier not to drink fluid than find a toilet.  However, as the summer heat starts to rise, and the tourists start to sweat (Parisians really don't sweat I might add), you will occasionally see French hands clutching plastic bottles and actually drinking from them. Summer must have arrived for such a horror to occur.

Some Parisians do pee.  Unfortunately.

Which leads me to my next way of knowing it is summer in Paris. There is a little habit that only French men (allow me a sterotype here) have and I hope it's because they have drunk too much water alcohol and not because they really do disrespect their city so intentionally. It appears, when they wander home at night, they often decide that they urgently need to pee - and pee now they do. Yes, more often than I would like to count, one spies a drying stain in a street corner or a noticeable trickle wandering across the pavement into the gutter. Which makes you look ahead to see which man looks guilty. Oddly, none do.

Alas it is not just some Frenchmen who have this undelightful habit. During the soccer world cup that went for several hundred weeks in Paris recently, I had the misfortune of seeing men from non-French countries happily relieving themselves in full view of the public. As someone said to me the other day, they saw more penises in that time than they've ever seen in their life. It never fails to make me wonder that if I can find a disabled toilet, then why the hell can't men find a toilet for themselves? Alas, this 'peeing freely' habit is far more obvious in summer when heat hits the footpath the next day.

The tourists forget their clothes!

The ballroom of the Opera House.

The ballroom of the Opera House.

Much like the Emporer, some tourists 'forget' to wear clothes during summer in Paris. These ones are identifiable from the French (and other tourists) by the lack of clothing they wear. While I personally don't think the French natives dress snappily in winter, they are well ahead in style of some tourists outfitted in their summer 'style'. These tourists tend to think it is appropriate to wear as little clothing as possible in the City of Paris in the summer. It's not as if they don't pack a lot of stuff as I wrote here. As they wander around elegant art galleries and the grand Opera Garnier, their bum-flashing shorts and bra straps are at odds with their surrounds. Even in restaurants.

Ok, I know it gets hot here (above a whopping 26 degree C) for at least 12.3 days each year, and I know many places don't have air conditioning, but putting on less clothes than the average person wears does not actually make you less hot.  After a day out touring Paris wouldn't you rather go home and shower? Please? Slip into something not showing what you had for breakfast?  Paris is a city. Not a beach. Although there is Paris Plages ...

An excellent time to tear up the city? Of course! 

imageThe city bosses decide that summer, in the middle of the tourist season, is the perfect time to dig up as many streets and roads as they can (to be as disruptive and create as much dust as humanly possible it seems). So, when a tourist steps into Paris in summer they are confronted by many, many metres of hideously ugly green and grey fencing which is meant to hide even more metres of hideously ugly holes in the footpath and roads.

I mean it's not as if Paris doesn't have enough dust as it is without creating more - particularly on extremely hot days with no wind at all. The lovely dust then simply sits around and makes life and breathing just that little bit more challenging than it normally is should be. Not to mention that for a wheelchair user, Paris, which has greatly improved its wheelchair access everywhere, suddenly reverts back to 20 years ago, when ramps didn't exist and nor did the care factor. Luckily Parisian car drivers no longer try to kill me when I'm on the road.

Of course, there are many other, um, less realistic indications that summer has arrived in Paris.  You can probably read all about them in the same romantically fluffy books I described in this blog post.  Of course, when you then come here in summer you may wonder where that Paris is. My Paris is way more interesting. Just a little grubbier around the edges at times. Like me.

*'C'est la vie' - That's life or Shit happens.


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About Sandra E Brown

I withdrew from my Masters (Neuropsychology) to write a blog instead, and to teach English as a second language. Life is too short to be doing something you want to retire from at 65! I now live in Paris, France.
This entry was posted in Disability, How to live in Paris, Living in Paris, Motorised wheelchair, Paris, Quadriplegia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How Do You Know It’s Summer in Paris?

  1. Priscilla says:

    SandraI just listened to your very interesting interview, makes me proud to be australian.. Merci . I would be very interested for a list of the restaurants you mentioned as i live in the Charente but come to Paris for 4 days every month , by train . Thanking you and i look forward to your response . Kind regards Priscilla Bond

    • Hi Priscilla – thanks very much for your compliment:) Here are links to restaurants I’ve enjoyed in Paris!

      Passage des Panoramas has many good restaurants selling a mix of cuisines from French, Thai and Indian. Blue cheese burgers, onion soup …

      Here’s two other places I enjoy:

      Cafe de la paix

      Le Louchébem

      The best pizza is Giovanni at 13 Rue de Montholon. Enjoy!

  2. says:

    In fairness, at least they peed in a drain. If you visit New York, some people don’t even do that much. Although, again in fairness, if you’re in New York you’re probably safer peeing out in the street than in a public toilet.

    There’s always been an unfair standard for women. There was a woman at a park nearby, late at night, after the restrooms were closed. It is not a park with a history of danger towards anyone and actually borders a nice neighborhood.

    Because I have “Tourist Booth” written all over me wherever I go, she asked me where the nearest open restroom. She was with her friends, she was obviously very desperate, and I was honest that there were none where we were, this late. I followed up with, “Just go behind a tree. I’m not going to tell anyone.”

    I realize out of context, that could sound creepy. At the moment, I was being sincere (even adding a nonchalant shrug) and I went about my business.

    • Thanks for your comments:) All cities have their quirks that’s for sure and I love that part of Paris. As you know from being a traveller, one has to be very adaptable to life so you don’t get drowned in the negatives and can laugh at the end of the day. We’ve all peed behind a tree or random place I’m sure!

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