In The Express of February 17, 1994

Scandal in France it is colder in the winter than in the summer. Not to mention the rain and flooding. But that is the weather ?

France is not America. Thus, the vagaries of nature. There, as the people, she did too. The earth quakes, the California stands out ; the snow storm and the heat wave are familiar to school children. The people of the Bible rule of accounts with heaven. Accustomed to the gentle gospel of her climate, the French, in contrast, is appalled by its deviations. “That water ! Water !” repeated the citizen, aghast, during the flood. Météorologiquement speaking, he lives on a cloud. The flood is in the other. In normal times, in the countries studied for. In Bangladesh. In fact, in the south of France. It is petrified as he sees the water rising also in the North. Flood the floors of the country.

In the popular beliefs, it is with the punctuality of a round-of-leather that the time change “after the 14 July”. Turns “after the 15 of August”. It takes advantage of the days off to do the housework. Nothing in common with the cloud the united states, where confronting the armies of Good and Evil. “One is surprised to see that, in a country like ours, the items can rebel also suddenly”, said a minister of humanitarian Action, the previous, the aftermath of a disaster, the previous (1). Hey yes, the ways are lost. We recall that the Chernobyl cloud had had the courtesy to go along our borders. The whole of Europe washed ten times its vegetables that France continued to rinse. Without wanting to worry about the drive, I’m not sure that this country is ready for the end of the world. The danger in the air is against the morals of the city. And that is dweller of our days ? The peasants, to the rigour.

The French urban wants to forget that nothing is as changeable as a sky mild. When it comes to the weather, the specialists talk of “cyclical changes”. He sees only disaster. The custom is, then, that it reminds him of the previous. Because the use command to forget them. Transfigured, droughts and blizzards of yesteryear become the “real summers of the past”, “christmas Carols in the snow”.

“The French believe that we order to” complain about meteorologists. A good “risk management” by the State, which protects, a kind of social Security, therefore, should remove the flooding, avalanches, fires, landslides, storms, and the famous hail, “as the eggs of a pigeon”, which allow you to finally know what it would look like a pigeon’s egg. Arrange the time and return the rivers to bed is the case of public authorities, as, yesterday, of the parish priests. Where the carelessness of the French in calm weather, and the violence of the polemics on overcast days.

The need to enter the contest includes a violent eruption of Haroun Tazieff, a frown Claude Allègre, who made the night fall in the middle of the day, a development on the unpreparedness of the authorities, those criminalizing the dispersion of decision centres, the latter pointing out the lack of foresight of the elders and the casualness of the citizens. And this is why your grandmother made the canoe among the cows crevées, while he regrets the victims, and that the suburban and the insurance agent grapple already in boots égoutier.

The disaster to the French obeys the rituals. We distinguish :

1. The phenomenon is episodic. In the winter of 1987, Paris is stuck in the snow. Quarrel brought on the slow pace of relief. Do not make the capital a city of kind canadian to a plague that occurs every twenty years, to meet the authorities. Considerations on the increasing fragility of the technical societies.

2. The phenomenon announced, but in vain. The entries are so numerous that Météo-France does not know how to educate the elected. Considerations about the information overload that is the misinformation.

3. The phenomenon exotic. It’s simple, the French do not believe in him. When the earth will tremble, the France will wake up with a start. In the eyes of the city dweller, the major curse is still very far away, preferably in warm seas, or very high, such as the greenhouse effect or the hole in the ozone. With this, he believes the natural disaster that is reserved to nature. Everyone remembers – rather, many have forgotten – the storm of February 1990. Announced by Météo-France, it does not move the Parisians. With the exception of those who fly. “It’s simple, they have not raw,” said a meteorologist. In the eyes of an urban dweller, a storm is on the coasts of the English Channel. At home, in a pinch, but the night. Not to interfere with the circulation. It is something that affects the proper alarm systems.

The bad weather is experienced as a intemperance

France urbanised went to good old “normal” to the normalization of the seasons. The bad weather is experienced as a intemperance. Is it not said that the time “goes haywire”, such as an air conditioner ? Of which, the rest, of abuse, to copy America. The cinemas are frozen, overheated the housing. Has want to protect themselves from the time, the French takes us from evil. It is someone who is always cold.

This way of abstracting is because of a paradox : never in this country was also crazy about the weather ; never the vagaries of the climate does not have as much surprised. Because the weather has become an element of comfort. It was placed at the service of the consumer. Regardless of the drought in rural areas, the pollution in the cities ? A “good weather”, it is for him a blue sky. In a way, it belongs to him : “Your weather for the weekend”, said the presenter. It is an attendant to the return of Sunday night. He manages by the father of a family of atmospheric phenomena distributed in tranches. With a sun that is “more efficient” in the South, where we take a nap, than in the North, where the digestion.

The ideal weather is that of the middle classes. The endless “morning mist” is passing away with the dreams. The “disturbance” is familiar to when she “comes of the Atlantic.” It is a cousin to the mode of Britain but, be careful, techno : the color modernist is given by the dreaded “animation satellite”, which moves in jolts and scares children.

This scene, the meals is set by a “Mr. Weather.” Or, more often, in the past, a lady right kind, a young gay girl. This star housewife embodies both an academic discipline and as an atmospheric phenomenon. We don’t say “the weather deteriorates”, but “the weather isn’t getting any better”. “We are scientists judged daily by the man in the street as others by their peers”, says a meteorologist. If the weather is stormy, the amateur of the “new heaven” does not mean that there will be disruptions here and there. He wants the rain on her head, or ‘the weather is wrong”.

besides which, there are no more seasons. Heated, lighted, drained, paved, concrete, cleaned to the extent of its fallen leaves, tree essences, persistent, underground or air-conditioned, the town is rid of the poor old. Without the shelters, Decaux, it could not be nothing of the wind grout on the calves. Neither the cold deadly without the slabs at the name funeral. The excess of the “weather” are more weird than ever in the eyes of the city dweller. One hot and dry season, this is what it tends. Disappear the heavy coats, thick gloves. Come the cockroaches, house dust mites.

The change of the hour mark another two seasons, as among the Eskimos. This is already too much for the ready-to-wear. He dreams of a half-season in the year. Avoid the blows, a bargain. The small series is the nightmare of the manufacturer. The spectrum of the remnant haunts the shop. Do two collections per year is outdated, say the professionals. The trend is “basic”, year-round. Kind tee-shirt, underpants. Too seasonal, sticky lighter. We want it to be spring. In the summer, why not ? The industry is already offering wools for summer, cotton in winter. Best of all, the “mixed” : a fabric that protects or breathes, warms or cools, it is a matter of percentage. In the event of a hazard climate, “play overlays”. Starting from the “basic”. The season becomes an accessory of the half-season.

In the city attiédie, the natural phenomenon is replaced by the phenomenon of society. We will recognize the winter to the sudden interest in the homeless. The wrath of the abbé Pierre has many impacts on the opinion. The policies are withering the back under the storm. This will be more than a bad memory in the spring. Recognizable, the latter, to his allergies, since the honey comes in reinforcement of the pollen. While in the summer, at a glance, reference to his work in the city centre. Then comes the autumn, signalled by the back to school social : the return of the employee migrator creates a warm autumn. The power gives crumbs to this bird curlew. This is called a round-table discussion. Square, the more often, it brings together the social partners. It announces the first cold and the moult of the squat for the sinister in friendly the SDF.

are you Going to demonstrate for the return of the seasons ? The city claims it. The exhibitions floral are run as museums. Camellias, azaleas, irises and roses show, the man of a half-season, that it is in the spring and we’re going into summer. The mode is the wild gardens, the fruit trees in the city. The grape harvest, municipal, rivers resorts. Why not exhibitions of snow, weeks of fog ? Projections of stars in the sky of Paris ?

(1) Bernard Kouchner, about Vaison-la-Romaine.

Coverage of The Express # 2224 of the February 17, 1994.


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