un pic de froid" (a cold snap) this week. It was -9 degrees Celsius (about 15 degrees Fahrenheit) here in Versailles last Thursday and the temperatures will stay low until well into next week. I can see the results in my garden - my plants usually overwinter quite well but, as you can see, they were not in great shape this morning. Too late to bring them in, I think.
France is not the only country shivering right now. Les Chroniques Berliniquaises is reporting that Berliners are also complaining about the cold. At least they have snow as compensation. I hope we will be as lucky.
We have a perfectly nice apartment here in Versailles but there are two reasons it's a lot less comfortable in winter than in summer. The first is that there is no insulation in the walls and the windows and doors are original to the building which was constructed in the 1970's (before conserving energy was a priority). We have placed bolsters around the windows in the kitchen and the living room and we are closing the shutters every night. The second is the heating system which is central and controlled by the building management. We have some control over it in the apartment - we can adjust the radiators, for example - but we have no control over the fact that the heat is cut off every night at about 11:00 PM and re-started in the morning around 5 AM. The boiler has been unreliable the past few weeks so some mornings we have no heat at all until around 9 or 10 AM.
stere is about all we can manage at one time. The owner helps us load up the car before turning his attention to a really beautiful 60ish year-old Frenchwoman who is "buying some wood for friends in Paris."
Back at the apartment, we unload the wood and I make us all a cup of hot coffee while we warm our hands over the warm (hurrah!) radiators. I will make a fire after lunch and we'll probably watch movies and read books all afternoon. If we are lucky the younger Frenchling will be inspired to make us a cake for the "goûter" (snack).
Now we are not so deluded as to think that we can stave off the chill and heat our apartment with our little fire in our little fireplace. I'll be the first to admit that it's purely psychological: the hot coffee, the fire crackling away, a good book, the family gathered in the living room and something nice to eat, just feels warm and cosy.
I hope it snows.