We’d read the reports about the zoos in France have been feeding their tigers with slabs of ice to sustain them in the forty degree temperatures we have been experiencing, and very briefly entertained thoughts of trying to find jobs as zoo exhibits.
Often in times such as these, we seek refuge in the depths of shade under trees, or in air conditioned museums or sometimes ancient cathedrals, but of course its Tuesday and the museums are closed, and the beach was closer than the cathedral, notwithstanding that we are four hundred kilometres from the nearest ocean.
In summer, anywhere in France if there is a tub of water that is vaguely able to fit a human-sized object in it, someone will bring in a truckload of sand and an ice-cream stand and call it a beach. In Meaux with the benefit of a clear running river the result is spectacular. No detail has been overlooked in creating a true seaside environment Even the sand was too hot to walk on with bare feet, although perhaps the shark mesh surrounding the swimming enclosure on the river wasn’t taking things a little too far.
No matter how glamorous and inviting it all looked, our Antipodean sensibilities would have none of this skin exposed to the elements stuff. Instead, we sat all afternoon enjoying the wafting odours of the city in the cool shade of an ancient bridge, and wondering what colour the skin on those basking on the beach would be by bed time.