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Sleepless in Paris

This post is dedicated to all the visitors and Parisians stuck in Paris during the heat wave two weeks ago. Many years ago a well loved bartender at PJ Clarks in Manhattan was often chided for never having visited Paris. He decided to hop on a plane one Friday and returned the following Monday. “So how did you like Paris?” his clients asked.
‘I don’t know,” he answered. I never left the hotel. That may have seemed absurd to most of his clients but anyone who has been sleepless in Paris, the thought of a nice, possibly air conditioned hotel room with double glazed windows that shut out street traffic might seem like the best possible way to spend a weekend in Paris.
Perhaps the reason Paris is called the ‘city that never sleeps’ is because the half of Paris that doesn’t sleep at night manages to keep the other half – that’s trying to sleep – awake. If your windows face the street, you’ll have the cars, the trucks, the ambulances, the rollerbladers. If your windows face the courtyard you have the baby squalling, the domestic argument, the trash cans rattling in the courtyard. From below you have the vibration of the Metro rolling into the station just 300 meters from your apartment. From above, you have your upstairs neighbor (who thanks to the 19th century wood floors – even with slippers- can’t walk quietly even though he tries).
Many Parisians cannot afford air conditioning units. For a one week heat wave, it doesn’t make financial good sense. Some of our friends have splurged big time and put an air conditioning unit in their bedroom (where they’ve also decided to have their evening meal). Recently, I’ve discovered another good reason Parisians aren’t sleeping very well.
The cost of matresses. After finally admiitting (after living in a state of denial for about a year), the futon (if you don’t grow up sleeping on a futon) is simply not comfortable. Which has led us to the quest for a mattress. It is no wonder that few people in this city get a good night’s sleep when you consider the cost of a mattress. A trip to our local outdoor market (where I thought foolishly that a mattress could be had for a couple of hundred Euros – turned out to be more in the range of 500 Euros. If you’re looking for a top of the line – Epeda, Sealy (which hails from Texas), or Simmons start thinking in the 600 to 700 Euros range for starters. Sometimes I think I’ve been sleeping under a rock, not on a futon.
If you are wondering about the bartender from PJ Clarks, I don’t think he ever came back to Paris, but I often wonder in which hotel he had such a good sleep.