Summer in Paris

27 Sep

Sarah Dundas

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat

So I know what you’re thinking already…how romantic…how lovely…how warm! And I suppose summer in Paris can be all those things on occasion, but also overrun in July, deserted in August, and frankly…far too hot!

I like to consider myself to be a true ‘Parisienne’ – pure fiction, as I am no more Parisienne than the RER is ‘confortable’, but having stayed there off and on for a couple of years now, I like to think it gives me certain rights. Like getting incredibly irritated with all the tourists (I, obviously, do not consider myself part of that maddening crowd) who can’t figure out the exceedingly logical system ‘tenez votre droit’. Even without any linguistic ability, it would seem clear that if everyone else is keeping right, it might make sense to do the same – apparently not at all!

The Parisian metro is obviously quite an experience, particularly after years of near hibernation in a certain small town we all know and love. Crossing the road, however, I find to be a remarkably similar experience in both cases. I am, of course, neither endorsing nor suggesting that this is a good idea, but it seems that running (or even walking quite calmly) out in front of cars without a care in the world is the preferred method. But let’s get back on the metro for a moment. French people, or more specifically, Parisians, have an incredible response to the alarm bell signalling that the doors are closing. Instead of calmly waiting for the next train (which, unless – as is a distinct possibility -they are on strike, is likely to be less than 3 minutes away), grown men in business suits and women with small children choose to hurtle themselves, full speed, into a packed carriage (praying, I presume, not to get caught in the doors and spend a painful 2 minute journey to the next stop with one leg hanging out!)

Sad though it is to admit, living in Paris for the summer, life can still become ‘metro, boulot, dodo’ as they like to call it. But I am glad to say that even with such a hectic schedule, I managed to cram in a little time for television. Yes, yes, I know – what is that to be proud of? Well let me tell you – I realise that the stereotype would have French culture relying solely on wine and cheese (and don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of both!), but this summer I found another, most unique expression of French culture – a marvellous series known as ‘l’Amour est dans le Pre’. This truly enlightening, and frighteningly deep dating show (if that is possible…), focuses on France’s most eligible bachelor…farmers (?!?).

The Louvre

And although I don’t see a British equivalent being the same hit (there’s something much more romantic and appealing about a French ‘viticulteur’ from the Ardeche than there is about a Yorkshire crofter – even to the French themselves), the concept works surprisingly well – I would go so far as to recommend it for your viewing pleasure if you ever get the chance!

Having explained both ‘metro’ and ‘dodo’ – well, not ‘dodo’, but I’m not sure how much explaining that really requires, other than to say that at 38 degrees in a non-air conditioned 20m Parisian apartment, sleep doesn’t come too easily – I should probably mention ‘le boulot’, at least in passing. Whilst less entertaining than the rest of my summer (I worked for a charity called the CCEM – Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne – you can see why it would have a tendency to be more harrowing that entertaining), my job provided a welcome insight into the working world, as well as allowing me to meet some truly incredible people who I’m unlikely to forget anytime soon.

And despite my permanent frustration with the Parisian way of life, particularly during the summer months, I would do it again in an instant and recommend for anybody else (language student or otherwise) to do the same.


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