VOL. 15 NO. 3
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter|
|2011 ~ An Extraordinary Weather Year in France . . . and the world!|
An Extraordinary Weather Year in France
Ici et Là
Select Paris Suburb Treasures:
by Invitation Only
the reality has more to do with losing your luggage."
Severe weather, such as floods and dangerous tornadoes in the US midwest and the subsequent prolonged heat wave, has gripped many countries. France is experiencing its own weather problems this year, but at this writing temperatures seem to be easing somewhat.
Most important and serious is the problem of drought in many areas of the country and northern Europe. France had its hottest spring since 1900 with farmers struggling to keep their livestock fed and alive; many were forced to slaughter animals early and send them to market. Between January and June little rain fell, so ground water and river levels were extremely low. The French government imposed water limits in 70 of its 96 mainland départements, and many regions and municipalities are asking tourists and natives alike to conserve water and inquire at tourist offices about any local restrictions on water use. The natural progression of this problem will lead to higher food prices in France and elsewhere in Europe.
But, in recent weeks everyone we heard from in France had been telling us about the rain, rain, rain! However, it seems to have come too late for most farmers, so the French government has pledged one billion euros (nearly $1.5 million) for farm aid. Rain continued from June through July and now into August, hampering the harvest of about half of French crops. In fact, Météo France, the weather service, said July was the coldest in 30 years!
In June, farmers in the south of France had one weekend of heavy rain and hail, the latter damaging fruit crops, while they still had losses in the sale of produce due to Europe's EColi food poisoning scare. Areas of Provence were hit by flash floods and storms as well.
The Var département of Provence experienced violent 200kph winds in July on the border with the neighboring Bouches-du-Rhône when a mini-tornado tore through properties in the village of Rians near Aix-en-Provence. Twenty homes and many cars were damaged.
On the brighter side of the weather story, the heat and wet summer has benefited wine producers. The harvest will begin several weeks earlier than normal with picking beginning in mid-August; hopefully, some 10,000 job openings for grape-pickers are being quickly filled. Higher yields are anticipated, and wine producers are expecting a good vintage, although not quite as good as 2009 - a banner year for French wines.
For those of us planning a visit to France very soon, we are hoping and quite confident that the worst is over. We will be happy to conserve water while in France, and even if it should rain a bit now and then, we will nevertheless enjoy every minute we are there! If you are visiting France this year, just be sure to pack that umbrella!
> to learn more about the edges of Paris through Arthur Gillette's Discover Select Paris Suburb Treasures: Meudon
> to see how you can enjoy a week of luxurious château life in France's Loir and Loire valleys through Châteaux by Invitation Only
> to travel with us and complete our exploration of one of France's most loved regions in Part Two of Beautiful Burgundy Revisited.
> for wine lovers: a last-minute opportunity to have an expert guide you through Bordeaux wine country on the 2011 Bordeaux Harvest Tour.
> for The Bookshelf where we interview author Thirza Vallois upon the re-release of volume one of her Around and About Paris guide in eBook format.
> as Marlane O'Neill takes us on a visit of her city once again from the perspective of its history, art, fêtes and festivals in Notes from Narbonne.
ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your
Knowledge of Historic Paris
by Arthur Gillette
Question from the last issue: Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875) was a sculptor who specialized in wild animal subjects, popular in both France and the USA, where private collectors acquired a number of his works. Quite a few are still displayed in US museums. After his death, a square at the eastern end of the Ile St. Louis was named for him. American admirers - creating a Barye Monument Association and Fund - helped finance this memorial to him boasting, atop a plinth, a statue of Theseus battling a centaur. When you visit the square today, what's missing?
Answer: Theseus and the centaur, which were 'dethroned' and melted down to make ammunition during the World War II occupation of Paris. All that remains is a lonely plinth.
Our new question: Commemorating Colonel Denfert Rochereau's 103-day defense of the town of Belfort, besieged during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, at the Parisian place named for him is a lion designed by the Statue of Liberty architect, Bartholdi. But the lion has no tongue and Bartholdi was severely criticized for this oversight. Was it really an oversight?
Gillette to take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
[See the answer
to this edition's question revealed in our Autumn 2011 issue.]
SPONSORING THIS ISSUE
Clemente, author of the Riches of France and the Riches of
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Recommendations are not a guarantee of satisfaction and are made only
to assist travelers with suggestions and web sites that we have found very useful.