Expat Magazine

Siberia in Paris

By Sedulia @Sedulia

It is cold right now in Europe-- there is a vague de froid from the east, an unusual direction, that has killed hundreds of people in Russia and Ukraine. The cold is hardly glacial in Paris although everyone has been moaning about it. Today on the radio I heard a government-issued warning in a soft feminine voice: "Don't go outside in the cold if you can help it. Don't heat your home too hot. Be sure to cover your extremities well. Don't exercise strenuously outdoors." Anyone would think we were north of the Arctic Circle, but in fact, it's only 28º F/-2º C, quite a bit warmer than most winter days in Colorado or not especially cold even for New York City.

But it is a miserable time for the SDF*. Today I accidentally went down to the bottom floor of a parking garage in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, taking the elevator to the wrong floor. Just inside the door, where he would bother no one, and considerably warmer than he would have been on the street, was a homeless man, his head covered up, trying to hibernate in his sleeping bag.


*sans domicile fixe, or homeless. The right to housing is legally an enforceable right in France, an admirable law shared by only a few countries, but one that is not in fact enforced.

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