When One Opens a Window in Paris
Windows without Screens
Windows are wonderful in Paris. I open the windows to the apartment quite often, especially in the summer during the evenings and night to let the cool breeze pass through. To the amazement of my curious American family and friends, no one has window screens in Paris or in France. At first I thought this was strange myself and then after thinking about it, I wondered why we really need screens after all.
There are very few house flies or mosquitoes in Paris. Paris is a city and one would expect fewer flies. But the streets are not exactly clean, ahem, and there are many opportunities to breed baby flies. Quite possibly the answer is the multitude of martinets or common swifts who patrol the skies of Paris. Arriving in May from Africa, announced by their little 'scree-scree' sounds and they must consume a huge number of flying insects.
I wonder about the larger flying creatures entering through an open window. There are the ground-loving grey pigeons or pigeon biset and the larger pigeons colombin much like what I think of as mourning doves, but they do not seem to mount to any sort of elevation unless they are going somewhere and then again they do not seem to be interested in entering an open window.
There are certainly other birds in Paris such as crows and seagulls but none seem to be tempted by an open window either.
With that to say, open, screenless windows are normal, even the floor to ceiling, walk-out type like I have. I do have a narrow balcony but being on the 7ème étage or the 8th floor as Americans count them, I am not worried by critters entering my apartment.
One warm evening while being a mouse potato at my computer, I saw a brief movement, a shadow over my left shoulder. I turned and looked. There in my the middle of my bedroom on the 8th floor of the building, looking straight at me, was a very large black cat with large yellow eyes.
I rose and called but the cat leapt out the floor-to-ceiling window... (don't worry)... onto the balcony and ran past the rather decorative but ineffective separation between my apartment's balcony and that of my neighbors. Obviously the neighbors had their walk-out window open and being curious creatures, the cat explored.
Two more times I saw the cat in the apartment. One morning I woke early to a small noise and went to investigate. Yes, it was the cat in my office playing with something. We looked at each other and the cat ran out the bedroom window.
The last time I saw the black cat was over one month ago. I had left my bedroom window closed because of a rather strong breeze during the night and when I rose for the day and entered the living room where the window was open, there was the black cat in the middle of the living room. We looked at each other for a second and the cat ran for the bedroom window. He stopped and looked at the closed window. Ooops. After two seconds of panic the black cat dashed back into the living room and desperatelyy sprang out of the open living room window on the 8th floor.... Hopefully he did not slip into the void.... But I have not seen him since.
.... and my windows are open right now.