Where’s the shade?

Perpignan is a sleepy city with residents who cherish the moment and the joie de vivre, but when the sun comes out and blasts heat at the defenseless walkers, most of the joy of going outside is sucked dry.

secluded garden

A resident of Perpignan, France keep their garden to themselves.

Temperatures have been hitting the high eighties with humidity consistently above 50 percent, and I would like nothing more than to stretch out on a cool patch of grass underneath a shady tree, but unfortunately my breaking and entering skills are not refined enough to enter the secluded gardens where most of this scenery resides.


ALFMED garden

Inside the garden at ALFMED school

ALFMED, a French language immersion school, is the only place where I’ve been able to access a garden, and only because I’m currently attending classes there. The beautiful trees that line the perimeter of ALFMED shade the picnic tables placed on large pebbles, but grass is still missing. The scenery is pleasant after hours of someone talking at you in French — instead of the language I understand, English — but this garden is only enjoyed during school hours and not when I would like to finish homework near my house or have a picnic with my friends.

On my daily walks to and from class I’ve noticed plenty of terraces with chairs and covered by the shade of a friendly French tree, but these gardens are not accessible to the public. The city itself is lined with trees, and some even shade the many café patios that also offer an escape from the sometimes scorching weather, but coming from San Francisco, where dozens of parks are within a 10-minute walking radius from my apartment, I am at a serious loss in Perpignan. There is always a stretch of land in an open intersection where I viewed some French girls lying out in their bikinis the other day, but I don’t want to be distracted by traffic (and distract traffic).

Eventually I will travel to the only park I know of in Perpignan, which is a little outside the central city area where my apartment is. But when I get there I expect to find the residents without these beautiful patio gardens lounging underneath the shade trees with wine and cheese galore, and hopefully they will be prepared to share.