As an American, I find it simultaneously uber civilized, astonishing and amusing that Paris basically rolls up the carpet on Sunday. Other than the Marais, most stores are closed. Maybe half the restaurants and bars are open, and some of the major tourist attractions, but that’s it. This in a city whose main business is tourism. This in a city where millions of people come every year and want to shop. There’s money to be made, but the Parisians don’t care. Good for them.
This afternoon, I hose down after my trip to Notre Dame and decide that I’m not going to let the super oppressive heat keep me down. So I head over to Commerce street to look for a couple more lightweight clothing items to get me through the heat wave. But when I get there, in a street of maybe 100 shops, there is only one retail store open, a souvenir shop. Yes, a couple restaurants and a gelato shop are open, but that’s it.
I read online that there’s a major Monoprix on the street, so I figure at least I can still get some toilet paper and look for reading glasses and power bars, neither of which I’ve seen anywhere here. I stroll all the way to the other end, only to find it was closed. Monoprix, France’s version of Target! Closed at 4 pm on a Sunday!
I make my way back to the Metro, peering in all the windows. This street looks promising for chic, affordable casual fashion. Ya know, when they’re actually open. I then decide that the gelato must be pretty good, so I decide to indulge. This was probably a mistake. The line at Amorino was long, and the last 15 minutes of standing was inside the store with no air conditioning. It was ungodly hot and humid. I have no idea how the gelato stays cold. I’m gathering from the signs that the gelato might be organic. At the very least, they’re pushing upscale ingredients. When a small cup/one scoop equivalent costs $6, that’s probably a wise move.
Finally, I order pistache and something like lampone (it was definitely not framboise on the sign, though it was raspberry.) O…M…G…! It is so good. The pistachio is thick, firm, nutty and not too sweet. And the raspberry. Hard to explain. I would call it atomic raspberry. Very intense and not sugary-tasting. Almost painful, it’s so intense. Compared to American ice cream, gelato is made with milk instead of cream, has less fat, air content and supposedly less sugar. So it’s rather like a sherbet on ‘roids.
I really need something cold at this point. I’m not sure how I don’t faint from the heat. I think about sitting down on the little stools outside the gelato place, but I’m embarrassed because I’m so hot and gross. Ugly American, personified. Tomorrow I’m going to see if I can find sunscreen in a lower SPF than 30, because the higher it is, the more it blocks your pores.
Back to the Metro and back home to another shower. I try opening the windows around 10 pm, thinking the air might be cooler outside now. It is not. Without being a voyeur at all, just as I open the windows, I glimpse two guys in the building across from me, windows wide open and lights on, laying on their beds shirtless in their underwear. I feel nothing but solidarity with them. When it’s this hot and there’s no air conditioning, it seems like the only reasonable way to go. It’s supposed to be even hotter tomorrow, ugh. Send me cool thoughts.