Paris, Ella Fitzgerald and me

our apartment

Our apartment from the loft

I should tell you that I’m writing this blog post because it’s been a while; I’ve missed you; I wanted to catch up.

But those would be lies.

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve run out of things to do.

It’s been hot in Paris. Sizzling hot.

Let me remind you about our apartment: 270 square feet. An entry hall. Bathroom. Kitchen that opens into a living space. High ceilings, maybe 14 feet at their peak. A sleep loft. Below, two cots that double as sofas–and at times like this, beds. A space tucked up under the eaves. Under the blazing hot roof.

But there’s a blessing: An air conditioner.

A hidden wall can be pulled closed between the kitchen and the living area. Chugging at full capacity, our little air conditioner cools this diminished living space to five feet in height. It’s the little engine that couldn’t quite.

On those days that peak above ninety degrees, we walk in the morning, return home for lunch, close the wall, turn on the air conditioner, pull the drapes and sit. I call this version of our apartment,  “the cave.” We eat ice cream and hibernate like lazy beasts.

When we stand, our heads pop through the cooled zone and into Death Valley. Hence, we minimize standing. Eating. Even peeing. I lay on the couch, read, listen to music and plot our next moves.

A few weeks ago, I turned Pat onto Ella Fitzgerald singing I Love Paris. Her sultry voice lumbers through a treatise on unconditional love for a city that I unconditionally love.

Or maybe not.

“I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles. I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.”

Pat plays this song often. My disposition has been ill. “That Ella Fitzgerald is so full of crap,” I say every time the song ends.

I recant a winter so drizzly that mold mushroomed in the crevices near our windows. The mandatory implementation of “dry air practices”: No boiling of food (neither soup nor beef bourguignon). No air-drying laundry. No lengthy showers.

But Paris is like childbirth. By the first blush of spring, I had forgotten the pain.

Until it sizzled.

This post comes to you from the cave. I’m between books. The Paris Project has progressed through the guillotine. Napoleon is nigh.

It seemed a good time to take a break. Write a blog post. Vent. Peruse Airbnb.

Before Henry IV could enter Paris as the newly crowned king of France, he had to convert to Catholicism. I love his words when he finally–and famously–consented, “Paris is worth a mass.”


Tonight, storms will move in. The dog days of summer will slouch off until next year. In January, we will follow them.

Our first stop will be Italy for a few months. Then Charlottesville. Philadelphia. Traverse City. The Finger Lakes. A road trip to Denver. A stop in North Dakota. Our family is strewn, and we have the good fortune to be able to live near each of them for a time.

Come fall, we will return to Paris. A few months will suffice. The pain will be forgotten.

Categories: Life in Paris

5 replies

  1. Ah, yes, Julie, the kind of Paris summer that produces what a niece called “butt crack sweat” when we were there in a similar season. Was recently whining that it has been too long since our last visit to Paris; now I’ll be content to wait for Autumn or Spring!

  2. Sorry to hear about your hot spell. I’ll be in Amsterdam for a week starting August 23rd. I heard it’s cooler up there. Come visit if you get a chance!


  1. Lies, more lies, and Paris – The World In Between

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