I arrived in Paris at the onset of the great heatwave. According to my app, it hit 101 F yesterday, though maybe that was wrong since it backed off number-wise to 99 F a couple hours later, when recounting the high of the day. Whether 101 or 99, that registers as inferno in a land without air conditioning. And yet, I have been—and am—happy.
I have not seen much of Paris since landing on Monday. I stick to the Marais, walking a few streets in any direction to pick up food and sundries. I haven’t seen the Seine yet. I haven’t taken pastry in my favorite patisserie yet (and it’s in the Marais). I largely stay inside a perfectly-situated apartment (perfectly), protected from the heat by nineteenth-century stone walls and red-and-white drapes shading enormous nineteenth-century wood-framed windows. I drink liters of ice water as I work quietly, a fan oscillating, snacking on 100% pure chocolate pastilles from G. Detou. Despite the constraints, my pleasure and my happiness grow every minute. I fit here: in this apartment, in this quartier, in Paris. This summer will be beautiful.
At the end of the hottest day on this hottest week, I did leave the precious apartment to join the revelers for la fête de la musique. That’s how I came to discover three clubs are on my teeny, tiny block. The street was packed shoulder to shoulder with happy, laughing, singing, dancing, and loving-each-other Frenchies and others. My heart swelled. Yes, the Marais becomes ever more bobo—and when did the Chanel boutique suddenly pop up over here? My limited wanderings reveal many chic shops new to area just since February, and it’s clear the Marais and Temple quarters are developing into one big shopping and eating area for tourists and revelers every day of the year. It’s strange, since I lived here when it was sleepy and my friends wouldn’t visit because the area was dull. And yet, I love it, and all the more passionately after last night. The level of joy, the affection of lovers, the way the French sang songs together or danced Irish jigs with strangers…I re-entered my apartment last night, dripping with sweat, fantastically energized to have returned home. If I stay inside the little triangle of the Marais for the whole summer, it will be amazing, perfect, and everything to write home about.
Still, when the heat breaks at midnight tonight, I’m flinging open those big nineteenth-century windows and packing my camera case to view the Seine at sunrise.