Naturally Undisastrous Paris
I’m dressed in black and orange in honor of the holiday, with a pointed skirt and witchy shoes. It’s as “déguisé” (disguised) as I’m willing to get. Still, we are sure to see goblins and ghosts on the streets of Paris to a minimal degree, as Halloween is more “passé” (out of style) in Paris than “branché” (hip) these days. Why it doesn’t catch on is hard to tell.
Meanwhile, we are more glued to our TV’s and Internet sites reporting on the devastation on the east coast, than considering what costume to don, as we worry about our families who have suffered the winds and rains of Hurricane Sandy. As a New Orleanian who has experienced more than one’s fair share of storms and flooding, I know it’s not a pretty sight and can scare the living pants off anyone…when the debris is flying, some of which is as large and menacing as a 50-story crane now dangling from a luxury residential high-rise under construction. (photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo “A FDNY firefighter and a New York police officer look up at a construction crane atop a luxury high-rise dangling precariously over the streets after collapsing in high winds from Hurricane Sandy on Monday in New York.”)
Paris doesn’t seem to suffer such woes, or at least rarely. The last great flood took place in January of 1910 when the Seine carrying winter rains flooded the city and a few nearby communities. The water did not rise over the banks of the river, but rose via the sewers and tunnels. On January 28th, it reached a maximum height of 8.62 meters (28.28 feet), some 20 feet above its normal level. (photo: “A detail from a Albert Chevojon photograph of the 1910 flood of Paris.” Galerie des Bibliothèques)
However, more than 100 years later, in August of 2011, the staircase above the Lamarck-Caulaincourt Métro Station was transformed into a water cascade after a heavy rainfall…crazy as it may seem!
I can remember the great storm on December 26th,1999 when Paris lost over 150,000 trees. From my window I could see signage coming down and flying down the streets. It was pretty frightening. I’ve never seen anything like it since in the City of Light.
And anyone who was here in August of 2003 will not forget the heat wave that was the hottest summer on record in Europe since 1540. I was here sleeping on the kitchen floor with the refrigerator door open to cool off. The death toll in Europe was more than 70,000 and about 15,000 in Paris alone. Among the tragedies was Marie-Antoinette’s favorite oak tree in the gardens of the Versailles Palace, whose 322 year-old 66 foot-tall stature was uprooted and pulled down after it died during the heat wave. (photo: Michel Euler/AP “The tree, known as Marie-Antoinette’s oak, was planted in 1681 and died during the heat wave in August 2003.”)
Amazingly, the last earthquake in France was a 4.4 magnitude on the Riviera in March 2012…but Paris, earthquakes are “presque jamais!” (almost never). I had the misfortune of experiencing the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles on January 17th, 1994 — with a magnitude of 6.7 and ground acceleration that was one of the highest ever recorded in an urban area in North America. Scared? “Mais oui!!” Nothing, nothing, nothing on the upper level of our two-story home was left standing as we were hurled out of our beds like missiles. Yikes!
Fortunately, we Parisians live in relative peace without much worry of natural disasters. But, we do worry about our friends and relatives who don’t have the luxury of living in Paris. 😉
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Another House Hunters International!…The producers of House Hunters International are looking for apartments in the 6th and/or 14th arrondissement on the RER B line or #4 Métro line that can be filmed the weekend of November 16th, 17th and 18th that fit the following description: 30-40 square meters, studio or one bedroom, not higher than 2nd floor without a lift. If this sounds like yours, and you will allow a film crew of four plus the three “contributors” to spend about three hours in your apartment filming, please contact us immediately at [email protected]. Thank you!