Let the Sun Shine In
I arrived in Nice in the rain last weekend and left yesterday in the rain, but the days in between were gloriously sunny, leaving me sad to head back to “Gray Paree.” The truth is that I give Paris a “bad rep” for being incessantly gray while Nice is incessantly sunny…that’s not exactly the truth. In fact, I arrived in Paris yesterday in bright sun and warm air, as warm as Nice’s.
According to the “Current Results” website, while the Nice Office de Tourisme promotes 300 days of sunshine a year, there are really 147 days of strong sun, 64 days of weak sun, but 2,724 total hours of sun. They stretch the truth a bit. Still, Nice shames Paris as Paris can boast of only 51 days of strong sun and 152 days of weak sun, and only 1,662 hours total of sun. The sunniest spot in France happens to be Marseille, not Nice, with 2,801 hours and 264 days of sunshine a year.
Weather DOES affect mood. In fact, it’s a disease called SAD — “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” (Isn’t that just perfect?) Sunlight laden with vitamin D affects hormone levels and therefore moods. Warmer temperatures and sunshine lower anxiety and skepticism and increase positive thinking. Humidity makes it harder to concentrate and therefore creates fatigue. Depression can set in and can often lead to excessive eating and sleeping, leading to weight gain. Women seem to be affected more than men. Are we women more emotional and is that why?
I have a few friends who fear sunlight — a phobia known as “heliophobia.” A traumatic experience normally leads to such a phobia, but my friends who have it acquired it because of their fear of skin cancer and worse than that…fear of wrinkles! (I have a remedy for that: “Biafine,” remember?
Technically, that’s not heliophobia, but just what I would call a “mishegaas” — a Yiddish word for a kind of foolishness, insanity or craziness. When with these heliophobiacs, we can’t sit at a sunny table in a café or walk on the sunny side of the street. They are never without lots of sun block on her faces, never expose their arms or legs and usually wear hats to shield their faces from the dreadful sun. Yes, they are vitamin D deficient and often low-grade depressed. No matter how much I beg them to “let the sun shine in,” they refuse and never experience the empowerment of the rays of the sun. “Tant pis.” (Too bad.)
Not me. Nothing feels better than the sun on my face and skin. Having lots of light at home is what makes spending time “indoors” so pleasant. Both my Paris and Nice apartments are south-facing. The sun pours in all day long as it moves from right to left until sundown. With white walls and lots of mirrors, the light bounces all over the rooms, making them both virtually glow. The cacti, orchids, geraniums and indoor house plants love it even more than I do. I joke that in Nice, where there are three floor-to-ceiling windows, one must wear sunglasses inside during the day…but it’s almost not a joke.
Because of the beautiful rays, rather than ride the public transportation in Nice last week, we walked and walked and walked and walked from one apartment visit to another. It was energizing and healthy, both for our bodies and our spirits. Nice is so full of a sunny mood that the clothing in the shop windows are awash with bright colors — orange, pink, red, yellow, etc., for men as well as women, while Paris windows are normally filled with dark blues, grays, beiges, browns and blacks. As a result, I almost exclusively now shop in Nice.
But we have to face it. No one comes to Paris for the weather. If the weather were better, tourism would be even higher and it’s still breaking all the records. Paris is not Nice and Nice is not Paris. We can and do have them both. That’s what’s so perfect about it all.
Why are we just talking about the weather? Aren’t there more important things to discuss? Like politics? No! Let’s not ruin our sunny disposition…
Special Note: Thanks to Weather Guide for the useful charts!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(enjoying the sun in the South)
P.S. Don’t miss this month’s Après Midi April 11, when April Pett, tour guide and owner of April in Paris Tours will be speaking. Hear how a small town girl is making hundreds from around the world fall in love with the City of Light. Join us!