Sea + food

Lunch on the beach today in the fishing village of Cros de Cagnes. 

The view

Fritto misto

The food was good, if not locally caught. The Michelin starred place I was originally going to was closed on account of the heat. Below a short disquisition for anyone interested in cultural differences on French attitudes towards air conditioning. 

There was a discussion on one of the Facebook groups concerning an American couple from Florida who arrived at their exchange apartment in a Haussmann building in Paris and were outraged that there was no AC. Demanded that the host family (enjoying the air conditioning of their home in Florida) pay 8000€ to put them up at a hotel for 2 weeks. No doubt the only hotel with AC was the Ritz. 

The ensuing discussion pretty neatly summarized the difference between French and American ideas about air conditioning. For the French, it was a no-brainer. Naturellement, a 19th century building would not have air conditioning and no one in Paris does. Just close the blinds during the day and open them at night. And leave the apartment during the hottest part of the day. 

Americans, of course, regard air conditioning on a par with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One French respondent complained about the blast of cold air whenever one enters a store in the US and how Americans get sick from going from heat into arctic cold. Another advised always bringing a sweater for going anywhere indoors in the US in summer. 

As a transatlantic citizen I can offer some insight. First, it is hot. Temperatures throughout France have been hovering in the 90s for nearly a month. Fans are sold out. The woman who owns my vacation rental in St. Paul de Vence has lived here for 15 years without AC. Today she is having an installer come by for a quote. (Too bad he can’t install on the spot). 

Second, the French don’t like cold air blowing on them. They think it is unhealthy. In a bus in Nice the other day, the AC was actually functioning (a rarity) and the woman next to me put a scarf around her neck. Yesterday I went to a mall to escape the mid afternoon furnace. You know that wonderful shivery sensation when you walk in out of the heat to a cold blast of air. There was none of that. Yes, the AC was on, but so low that I was sweating all over the shelves at FNAC and over the merchandise at H&M. It was like going from a furnace into a warming oven. Better, but not much. 

Many restaurants here have no AC. You sit in the shade on the terrace, sweating into your meal. An Italian friend maintains that sweat purifies your body. If so, I am as pure as the day I was born. 

St. Paul de Vence

My last vacation of the summer has taken me about 20 miles from Nice into the foothills of the Alps. It is still unconscionably hot–the third hottest summer on record–so I played lizard today and moved as little as possible, except in the pool. Yes, I have rented a charming apartment in a grand villa where I share the pool only with another couple. No air conditioning but it is paradise nonetheless.  For Ellie as well.