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Legal Flowers Under the Paris Rain

Even though yesterday was the last day of the one-month long beach along the Seine, it’s been too cool and rainy to bare breasts or buttocks at Paris Plage. Our air-conditioners and high-powered fans have remained idle this Summer while we drag out our sweaters and raincoats.

I never ventured down to the Plage to stick my toes in the sand — not once this year. (It was a strange sight to see those die-hards who did go relaxing on the yellow chaise lounges under the big blue umbrellas in full clothing and even wearing jackets.)

Instead on the last day of Paris Plage, I went flower shopping…at obviously the wrong time of year. It was virtually the last thing to do to dress up “Le Provençal,” my new little rental apartment — put pretty flowers in the window boxes.

The nurseries along the quai de la Megisserie were not all open and their pickings were a bit sparse. So late in the season, I settled on small yellow flowers on tall stems with long thin leaves that the nice salesperson said would not die over the winter then added rosemary to fill in between each. At least the plants would be green all winter long and the fresh rosemary is there for the picking with which to cook or bringing inside just for their great aroma.

Pascal Fonquernie, of, who lives in the same building but on the other side of the courtyard, has been watching over the project since the very beginning. When we installed the window shades in three different colors (one red, one yellow and one green), he was aghast at what he considered a “lack of taste.” He was quick to inform me that not only were the other residents in the building very upset by my tri-color display, but that these particular colors were illegal in Paris to expose to the exterior world!

Whoa, this is one for the Cultural Crossings journal! Every American who has seen the happy hues has smiled…and now I’m discovering the joyful decor is against the law! Can it be true? I tried everything to find the law that prevents me from draping my windows in Provençal colors that only the residents of the building can see. The only official colors I could find were those of the French flag: PANTONE Reflex Blue and PANTONE Red 032.

But who am I to argue with my French neighbors? Would I really want them thinking I’m an uncivilized American who doesn’t respect French law or color culture?

Adamant about fixing the problem, Pascal took it upon himself to purchase white shades with which to line the colored ones, so he wouldn’t have to be subjected to what he considers garish from the outside, leaving the inside still full of color!

After he helped me pot the flowers while the rain came down on our heads, we carried them up and set just one of them in the window with the newly-painted balcony and the new white window shade liner. Then, from his apartment window across the courtyard we admired them both.

Funny thing…the bright yellow flowers with their green leaves is absolutely perfectly within the law, even encouraged, but the window shades don’t comply (or so I am told). For me, the white shades in the windows simply don’t have the same happy look.

Thank goodness for legal flowers and herbs to brighten our rainy day!

A la prochaine…

Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. Anyone who can confirm or deny the color law, I urge you to write me!


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