The weather was completely seasonal for October today … which is to say that the weather was excellent. Clear skies, cool temperatures, and a nice breeze, and clean air.
April in Paris is justifiably famous, as spring weather in the city is generally excellent. But what is less known is that fall weather is just as nice. When the city is not being blasted by heat waves, it's wonderful to be outside. And the temperate climate of the city means that spring and fall last for a long time, whereas summer and winter are relatively short. For the same reason, summer traditionally isn't very hot, and winter isn't very cold, although the past 15 years or so have seen a general and significant increase in temperatures, especially in summer.
For the moment, however, the weather is seasonal, which is the kind of weather I like, and the kind I encountered when I first moved to Paris.
Tomorrow is supposed to be a big strike day, with many major unions scheduling yet another round of useless strikes in various domains. Transportation is always affected, because that's what gets the most air time on the news. Sometimes utility companies are affected, or government services. When a standard strike doesn't get enough attention, unions will occasionally resort to sabotage, such as greasing rails to prevent trains from safely passing over them, or deliberately turning off electricity to neighborhoods to emphasize a utility strike. This all seems exceedingly puerile to me, but what can you do?
The unions and their constituents are still protesting retirement reforms. They might as well protest cloudy days, since there is simply no alternative to reform for the future.
Anyway, I'm unaffected by most strikes, since strikes usually affect transportation, and I walk to and from school each day. It's 45 minutes each way, but it's my only exercise, and I can't really afford to take the Métro or bus, anyway (my income is so low that even Métro tickets are a bit of a luxury, which I ration carefully). I think I've mentioned this before, but since money matters preoccupy me, I'm mentioning it again.
I noticed that Christmas lights on the Champs were being put up in mid-September this year. It seems to get earlier every year. Eventually I suppose they'll be on year-round. I cynically suspect that the reason for this is to encourage consumers to spend money, rather than to encourage spiritual reflection in visitors to the avenue. Given that side streets along the Champs are increasingly populated by seedy entraineuse bars, and that the avenue is afflicted during the night with scum from the suburbs looking for trouble, the general trend seems to be very much away from spiritual enlightenment.
Halloween is just three weeks away, but since the death several years ago of the person who single-handedly promoted the event in France (and whom I've talked about in previous posts), there is no significant interest in it that I can see. Cultures are not easily changed.
The day after Halloween is a holiday in France, on which families traditionally visit their dead relatives in cemeteries, but there isn't any celebration or commercial activity associated with that—even though you'd think that a cemetery would be a great place to dress up as a vampire or ghost. Actually, cemeteries in Paris are spooky enough even without costumes, with Père Lachaise being at the top of the spooky and interesting lists.
In other news … I am amused by the lines I see waiting outside Louis Vuitton on the Champs these days. I can't imagine why anyone would wait in line for the dubious privilege of spending too much money on things of too little value, but people do it. Asian tourists are especially enchanted by Louis Vuitton—my experience is that tourists from the Far East in general have extremely gauzy dreams about Paris that are only very tenuously connected to reality. It makes me wonder how media portray the city in that part of the world. Anyway, I guess most of the people waiting in line don't realize that there's another Louis Vuitton store on the avenue Montaigne, just off the Champs, and there's no line and no waiting there.
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