Some time in mid-June, summer descends upon Paris. Weather during this season is gloriously warm and sunny, and a welcomed change from the under 10-degree-Celsius temperatures just a month earlier. Of course, Parisian summers can be temperamental. So, scorching heat waves would not be out of the ordinary either.
As a native of Colombia, soaring temperatures is nothing new to me. Thankfully at our newly refurbished Citadines Suites Arc de Triomphe Paris, the lobby is a perfect sanctuary from the heat. Located in front of the Japanese garden, you can have afternoon tea with fresh juices and a selection of French pastries in the cool of the shade.
Most recently, we had the honour of hosting Singapore’s President Tony Tan when he came to town to celebrate 50 years of trade relations between Singapore and France. Our luxurious 112-unit serviced residence is the ideal rest stop. Fresh from a S$39-million makeover, Citadines Suites Arc de Triomphe Paris is a perfect marriage of Parisian elegance in 19 th century Haussmannian architecture and the postmodernist style of celebrated architect, Ricardo Bofill, in an adjoining hotel. Its prime location in the city’s 16 th arrondissement within walking distance of the Louvre Museum and Opera Garnier House as well as many other attractions, restaurants, and the business district, makes it convenient for leisure and business visitors alike.
While the President’s visit coincided with the tail end of spring, Paris this month will be very different. Should the sizzling summer heat get too much for you, I recommend some activities in my city that can help you keep cool.
Be Part of the Water Works
Paris has no natural beaches but every summer since 2002, the city transforms a three-kilometre stretch of the banks of the River Seine, the famous river that flows through the heart of the city, into a beach. Dubbed Paris-Plages, some 5,000 tonnes of sand, 50-odd palm trees, 550 deck chairs, and 450 beach umbrellas are brought in to recreate the tropics. While swimming is not allowed in the river for safety reasons, there are temporary pools set up as well as water sprinklers that spray clouds of cool mist every 500 yards. This is my reprieve from the summer heat. Give it a try. After all, the river is just a 10-minute walk from my serviced residence.
Another way to cool off is to take a cruise on the River Seine or the Canal St Martin. It is a wonderful way to take in the city when a walking tour is too much to handle in the heat. Sit back and let the waters of Paris take you past the Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower, Lourve Museum, Tuileries Gardens, and Grand Palais. An evening cruise as the sun sets over Paris is particularly romantic.
Apart from the river that flows through the city, Paris has a network of canals that wind along scenic and historic sites. The most popular of them is Canal St Martin, commissioned by Napoleon in 1802 and opened in 1825. A cruise on this canal is cool. Literally. A part of the 4.5-kilometre long canal is built underground and can only be accessed by boat. Lit by lamps, this subterranean section evokes a feel of Paris in a bygone era. Glide under old-fashioned pedestrian bridges and through a series of locks and swing bridges that fill certain stretches of the canal with water in record time to allow the boats to pass when the water levels are low. Take in the sights of tree-lined walks ways, quirky cafes, and boutiques that speak of the city’s provincial charm.
Enjoy the Highs and Lows
Another way I beat the summer heat to literally, get high. Find a perch above the city and let the breezes keep you cool far from the madding crowd. The Eiffel Tower, the symbol of the capital, is not to be missed especially when it is only 10 minutes away from Citadines Suites Arc de Triomphe Paris by foot. Built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle which celebrated the 100 th anniversary of the French Revolution, the structure was only intended to last 20 years. Because it was involved in scientific experiments, the most notable of which was the first radio transmissions, the tower was allowed to remain.
To get up the tower, there are three lifts which will take you up to the first and second floors 115 metres high. To reach the top (276 metres), you need to take another lift on the second floor. From that vintage point, you get a 360-degree view of the city. Every landmark of the city is visible from that height.
Another landmark you can scale is the Arc de Triomphe. A 10-minute drive from the Eiffel Tower, the tribute to Napoleon’s imperial army, completed in 1836 has been the site of many a patriotic gathering. Since 1921, the body of the unknown soldier has been laid to rest beneath the arc and a flame has been kept burning in his memory.
The only way up is via 280 steps. The grueling exercise is worth it because once at the top, you can spy the geometric layout of the whole city. The Arc de Triomphe sits at the heart of Place de l’Etoile from which the 12 grand avenues, including the renowned pedestrian mall Champs Elysees, radiate to form the star for which Place de l’Etoile gets its name. You can also admire the Eiffel Tower from the arc.
On the other extreme, going underground also keeps you cool in the Parisian summer. For the adventurous, come experience a part of Paris not often visited - the Paris Catacombs. The labyrinth of caves, tunnels, and quarries contain the bones of some six million people. The macabre attraction built in the late 18 th century and opened to the public from 1874 was the result of mass graves in the city overflowing. The bones were exhumed and arranged in the city’s ancient quarry.
Savour Some Café Cool
Feeling cool is one thing, being cool or hip is quite another. When in Paris, you have to experience an afternoon as part of the cool crowd who line the tables at outdoor cafes throughout the city. After all, Paris is famous for its café culture.
If you cannot stomach a warm drink on an even warmer day, then head for Berthillon at Saint-Louis for its luxury ice-creams and sorbets. Its cool desserts have been named ‘best in Paris” by many guide books. It is so yummy, mine never has a chance to melt. There are some 70 flavours to choose from with some rather exotic concoctions like Foie Gras with Orange Gianduja (a chocolate hazelnut spread), Caramel and Ginger, and Coffee and Whiskey. For something refreshing, go for its fruit flavoured sorbets. Try the Roasted Pineapple and Fresh Basil or Strawberry Daiquiri if you want to give your palate an adventure, or have the Peach which comes with chunks of real fruit for something classic.
Another stretch that makes for a lovely and cool café stop is the Tuileries Garden that stretches between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde, a public square. Created by Queen of France, Catherine de Medicis, as a garden for the Tuileries Palace in 1564, the area is now dotted with cafes and café terraces for you to rest your feet. Stop by and enjoy the cool greenery as well as the sculptures on the grounds.
Summer is a popular time to come to Paris. Now that you know where to go to chill out during the summer sizzle, come visit us and let the warmth of the city woo you.
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