What it’s like to be in Paris.
It’s the height of summer; walking outside burns your feet and eyes. I woke up last night with a pool of sweat. I felt like Dubai; the artificially created lagoon of sweat in my lower back breaking up a body of baking whiteness. I half expect to wake up tomorrow to luxury flats in my navel, and an Arab playboy combing my snail trail with caviar.
Of course it’s pretty; it’s Paris in summer. It’s the Granddaddy of pretty. And of course it’s romantic. It’s got cherubs in fountains for God’s sake. Every child grows up thinking of Paris as the place to whisper sweet nothings to your partner whilst walking along the river. Because Georgian apartments transform walking from “my knees are burning like JELLYFISH are BREEDING in MY APPENDIX” to “oh, how pleasant it is to stroll beside you.”
And you could do that. But in this heat, the sweetest thing you could say to me is ‘fuck this, let’s go stick our head in the frozen meat section of the supermarket.’ I leave it to you to deduce whether eye sex still works when you’re surrounded by frozen liver.
Not that I’ve got anyone to whisper sweet nothings to over offal off cuts in aisle four. But I did get hit on by a drug dealer whilst I was buying ice cream. And he did smell strongly of urine. So there’s hope yet! Much of my time is spent in unrequited mental lust with anyone passing who happens to look vaguely French. Give a water vole stubble, a cigarette and generally disgruntled expression and I’ll melt in mush.
Of course when you’re in Paris, you’re supposed to talk about the food. There’s lots of it, it’s amazing. I spend most of my time when I’m supposed to be admiring the architecture planning how to eat my macaroons. (Separate the two halves to scoops the creamy innards…or keep it stacked and chew through…?) One thing that is different is that coffee here is just espresso. No flat whites, long blacks or curly foamy things with sprinkles. It’s an espresso. Apparently it sorts the men from the boys, as my Dad said, with the wise authority of someone who has an English accent.
And there’s shopping. Although I haven’t done any as when I’m on holiday with my Dad and Brother, the inevitable “we’re late!” frog marches us past any interesting shop. It’s a shame. After everything I’ve heard about French lingerie, I was looking forward to finding wisps of jewelled silk to floss with. But at least we weren’t late for looking at the hundredth Virgin Mary statue, skewered on the building that looked like the love child of a prison and a harmonica.
On the subject of clothes, I think France is the country whose principle skill is intimidation. I can tell you that every female tourist wakes up and thinks, “I’m in France, I’d better channel my Chanel and look chic, fresh, directional and you know, well, not foreign.” Which, considering your picking from your anorak, sensible sandals and quick dry Katmandu shirt, is like trying to play a symphony with a comb and a beetroot. Plus apparently only tourists where shorts, but all you have is shorts….So you end up going out in anything black you own, and feeling like a dormouse in the peacock pen. Embarassed, envious and very very beige.
But all in all, who gives a shit. You’re in Paris. It’s still par-reeeeee.