FROM a pleasantly cool mid-summer temperature of 22°C on Tuesday, it hit 32°C the following day, the highest recorded in Paris this year. To be exact, it was a bright and sunny 6pm when that happened.
The sun only set at 10pm – about 18 hours after daybreak.
The scorching weather may be normal for the Malaysian delegation members who arrived here with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday night but it was a little too hot for the French to handle.
You can’t blame them, as the anniversary of last year’s deadly heat wave is approaching.
About 15,000 people died in France when temperatures soared to more than 45°C.
No one, including the authorities, dared make a definite prediction on the weather pattern for the next four crucial weeks.
Last year, the heat wave started after the temperature rose from 28°C to 42°C within 24 hours, catching most people by surprise.
Many of the deaths were apparently caused by the lack or absence of air-conditioning in homes.
This time, however, many of them are fully prepared, with air-conditioning unit dealers doing a roaring trade.
This reminds me of our very own “heat wave” in the early part of the year, when Malaysian dealers were inundated with orders for air-conditioning units.
This was not the only similarity; the French people are also blaming the government for a host of other environmental problems.
Sounds familiar, right?
Some claimed that the administration’s response to last year’s heat wave was lethargic, “with ministers essentially caught sleeping at the beach while Paris burned!”
The authorities acknowledged that air pollution aggravated the heat wave last summer and the people are wondering why nothing has been done to check that.
However, a recent move to slap a ?3,000 (RM14,500) tax on sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and other similar gas guzzlers to reduce diesel emission was stalled by the automotive industry’s lobbying.
This despite half of France’s air pollution coming from automotive exhaust pipes and the SUVs reportedly spitting out two to four times the exhaust smoke of conventional cars.
According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution claims about 30,000 lives annually in France.
Cardiovascular diseases have doubled and about two-thirds of cancer cases have been linked to air pollution.
While the government is feeling the heat and many people are hot under the collar over these issues, fun-loving Parisians still throng the “sex city” of Pigalle where there are rows and rows of sex shops boldly advertising kinky wares with some offering more for the adventurous types.
Tickets for the famous and sensual French Cancan dance at the Moulin Rouge here is selling like hot cakes even at ?95 (RM440) per person.
Most shows are a sell-out.
Summer is a season to holiday for the French while the country receives a sizeable number of tourists during this time.
About 74 million tourists visit France annually – the highest in the world despite the language barrier and the not very aggressive marketing.