Well, after going for several days with no building heat and watching the temperature drop steadily in my apartment, I finally went out looking for a little space heater that I could use to compensate.
I started at Darty, where I usually buy all my household appliances. Unfortunately, they were sold out of space heaters, despite claims to their contrary on their woefully out-of-date Web site. I then went to Leroy-Merlin, a DIY home-improvement store near the Pompidou Center. They were sold out, too, although they had some cool little fans, and I bought one of those, along with some cheap thermometers. Then I went to the excellent home-improvement basement at the BHV, which is close by. They had both ultra-cheap and more expensive space heaters still in stock. The ultra-cheap ones looked like they’d catch fire in no time, so I opted for one of the more expensive ones.
In the old days, I would have tried La Samaritaine, too, since they had a fabulous DIY basement. But then LVMH bought it and tried unsuccessfully to turn it into an overpriced, chichi tourist trap. When their conversion failed, they abruptly and fortuitously found building-code violations that required closing the entire store and firing all the staff. The store still hasn’t reopened. I guess LVMH still hasn’t found a way to make a fast buck with the property.
At least BHV still has their basement, but the rumor is that they are itching to make the same expensive mistake that LVMH made with La Samaritaine. If that’s the road they choose to follow, I hope they lose their shirt on it, just as LVMH did. Does every store in Paris have to cater to clueless, nouveau riche tourists from the Third World?
Leroy-Merlin doesn’t appear to be planning any changes, though. It might be the last home-improvement store in Paris left standing. There aren’t many inside the city itself, since people tend to live in small rented apartments that don’t lend themselves to tenant improvements. But you do see a lot more stores like this out in the suburbs, for obvious reasons.
Anyway, after having paid far more than I intended to, I arrived home with my little space heater and turned it on. To my delight, the little heater worked perfectly, and in a few hours my apartment was again comfortable, with a temperature of 21° C instead of barely 17° C.
A few days later, the heat was finally turned back on in the building. So now I’m running the A/C periodically to remove the excess heat from the building heating. I actually think it’s cheaper if they leave the heat off and I use the space heater. That way I’m not paying for both heating and cooling at the same time.