From Le Palais Royal to Le Palais Lascaris
The windows are wide open and the fans are at full blast. It’s right about this time I start to wish my Paris apartment was air conditioned or that I would be in Nice where it is “climatisé.” Sunday in Paris reached the high 80s Fahrenheit. There was a lot of skin to be seen as people dressed as barely as they could.
Heat in Paris doesn’t happen often, really. In fact the average temperature in the height of summer (July) is 20°C (68°F). Consequently very few apartments and even public spaces are air conditioned. There are more reasons for this, too, as the laws which protect the historic centers of the cities won’t allow for unsightly air compressors to blemish their beautiful architecture. Instead, they prefer to suffer from the heat for the few days a year it must be endured.
Every year I vow to do something about it and then the summer rolls around. At that point it’s too late, the heat moves in for only a few weeks a year, the sweat pours down, the fans come out and the scenario starts all over again. Meanwhile, as of Thursday I’ll be in Nice for the weekend where it’s hot, but my apartment there is air-conditioned, so it’s a haven of cool air, and the proximity to the sea makes it much more tolerable.
For those who have a Haussmannian-style apartment, and as is the case with many other older buildings, there is often a “garde-manger” under the kitchen window. This is a cupboard built out from the exterior wall of the building with ventilation designed to keep all sorts of fresh foods cool and fresh…when the weather is cool outside, of course, like a natural refrigerator. Because you cannot add a compressor to the exterior of a Paris building without permission of the “copropriété” (homeowner association) and often also the city of Paris, this is the perfect spot in which to hide one…and therefore air-condition your apartment.
On days like this, the parks are particularly attractive; the leaves on their trees shading and cooling the atmosphere. We opted to have lunch Saturday “al fresco” in the Palais Royal gardens. We use the term “al fresco,” meaning “in the cool [air]” in Italian, but the Italians have another phrase for this: all’aperto. That’s because their idea of “al fresco” is spending time in jail, as we might say “in the cooler.” We weren’t in jail, that’s for sure — as the Palais Royal is a particularly beautiful formal French garden and the only garden in Paris classified as “Remarkable Garden” by the French Ministry of Culture.
Created in 1633 by Cardinal Richelieu, it once housed royal families until Versailles was built. It later became quite a haven for debauchery and promiscuity in the 19th-century and today it’s another kind of heaven…for a peaceful, cool repose. In the summer of 2015, “Diner en Blanc” took place there under the 500 lime and red horse chestnut trees. It was a spectacular setting.
Sunday afternoon we took refuge in the cool air-conditioned Théâtre Les Feux de la Rampe just next door to the Folies Bergère to see Hervé Goffings perform his one man show, “Hervé.” The show was nominated for a Fringe First award at the Edinburgh Festival for his first time performing it there in 2012.
A highly unusual and rather poignant performance that opens up issues of racism and belonging, I would call it a memoir in the form of a stand-up routine. Hervé has a particularly interesting story to tell about his own beginnings — having been adopted at birth by a white-skinned Belgian couple who travelled the world and gave him a life he wouldn’t otherwise have had growing up in Mali, only to later return to Mali and discover his roots and how he fit (or didn’t fit) into that world. Here’s a brief look at the show…and if you have an opportunity to see him, try not to miss it next time a performance comes to town.
One of the reasons I’m headed to Nice this week is to Emcee the Meet the Authors event! Be sure to join us in the lovely back room of the Scotch Tea House to meet a group of local authors, discover their books and their stories. They will talk about their recent works, read a bit from them and answer your questions. You will have an opportunity to purchase their books and get signed copies! Participation is free (but we ask that you purchase at least one drink to show the host venue how much we appreciate them). Don’t miss this special event in Nice! For complete information, visit our Conferences and Events page or email Margo Lestz at [email protected]
Saturday, June 3, 2017
3 to 5 p.m.
Scotch Tea House
4 avenue Suède, 06000 Nice
See you there…or here in Paris tomorrow night at the North American Expat Financial Forum!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(at the Palais Royal)
P.S. Friend of Parler Paris, Maxine Schur, came up with an idea for a talking toy mirror for young girls…that instead of saying things the current crop of toy mirrors say to girls like “You’re pretty as a princess!,” this mirror would be programmed with hundreds of poems, riddles, songs stories, sayings, etc. that support a girl’s self-awareness, self-esteem and courage. She developed the idea of “Princess Lily’s Enchanted Mirror” with child psychologists and psychiatrists. The idea is to counter the pervasive overly pretty, impossibly skinny, vapid images of women and girls among toy products and in the media for young girls. She put a short video and description of the toy idea on a site called JazWings. If she gets 100 people to vote on it, then the parent toy company, JazWares, may consider it! Do you wish to cast a vote for the idea? There’s no money involved and there’s no spamming…it’s just to cast a vote. It’s really easy! Here’s the link. You can give it one to five stars. Press the VOTE button. If you do it right, you’ll get a message saying “Thanks for voting.” You can leave a comment or not, and if you do, that would be great. She’s asking everyone she knows who would care about this cause and I’m one of them.