So. An "épisode cévenol" happened. Or is happening, I guess. If you don't understand French (or can't be bothered to read the entire entry), an "épisode cévenol" can be succinctly explained as a metric shit-ton of rain, over a long period of time.
It's nothing unusual - it happens just about every year at this time - but, in a region where rain in general is rare, it always makes Montpellier feel rather apocalyptic. I swear, it's been raining - and raining heavily - for a week now. The mild temperatures make it feel tropical, but apocalyptic all the same.
Montpellier is a non-Roman city in a predominantly Roman-ruin-filled region (Narbonne, Béziers, Nïmes, Arles, Marseille, Orange...). As a result, and despite the mostly ignored, yet fascinating, Mediaeval history of the city, much enthusiasm is put into pulling things down and building lots of new stuff. The "best" example of Montpellier's folly is the "Antigone" district, a fake Roman district designed by a famous Catalan architect, Ricardo Bofill. The hideous (fake) Roman-style architecture and street plan is enhanced (or exacerbated) by streets with names such as "rue de Thèbes" and "place de Zeus". An American friend of mine who visited here this summer described this district as "Las Vegas without the casinos" and, while I've never been to Las Vegas, I've seen enough of it on film and TV (mmmm, CSI's Warrick Brown...) to find the description perfect.
Now, this enthusiasm for building could be good. With building work probably the n°1 employer, it certainly provides jobs in a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in France (the endless tramway construction work alone must employ about a billion workers). But the sad truth of the matter is that while the Mediaeval guys actually knew how to build things, the guys today clearly don't. So everywhere not Mediaeval (read: about 95% of the city) floods, every year. Whether it's because of incompetence or corruption, I don't know. But the fact remains: flooding, every year.
I tried to take the tramway out to Ikea yesterday (yes, I lead a wild and thrilling existence) and ended up waiting for over 40 minutes because roads were flooded and cars were stuck and said cars were moved "out of the way" on to the tramway tracks, blocking the trams. There are puddles about 6 feet wide (and 6 inches deep) on every street corner, the main square (Place de la Comédie) is certainly pretty with its (fake) marble slabs but is now a mildly flooded skating rink... Post isn't delivered, rubbish isn't collected, schools are closed (well, some of them - in an act of spectacular irrationality, the middle school attached to my daughters' primary school was closed by midday on Friday because of the "severe weather warning", but not the primary school (the two are on the same site). Go figure). 'Tis the apocalypse, spake the Lord. Or so it seems, anyway.
Now, as I've said, there's absolutely nothing unusual about this weather. It does indeed happen every year (often a little earlier than this, to be fair, more October than November). But this is a city that claims (in its tourist brochures) to get 300 days of sun a year, and I suspect that's a conservative estimate (the sun shines here a lot). A week of solid rain is soul-destroying, and impractical.
My laundry is draped all over the inside of the house in a desperate attempt to get it dry. Tom is miserable because he can't got out on to the balcony because he gets his paws wet if he does and he doesn't like that (I know, I know. But he's a delicate, refined little snowflake and he doesn't like wet paws). My rubbish chute is blocked up, possibly as far as the floor above me, because the guy who comes and takes the bins out hasn't been since Friday. My feet hurt from wearing rubber boots every time I go out.
There's only one possible solution: an Ark. But of course, I know bugger all about carpentry (unless there's an Ark in Ikea-kit form, I'm pretty good at Ikea stuff). So, if you happen to know a decent (preferably sexy) carpenter willing to build me an Ark, I'd be grateful if you could send him my way... (I'm having second thoughts about the zoologist: do I really want 2 of every animal on my Ark? How big would the damn thing have to be?! Tom, the girls, my sexy carpenter and I will be just fine on our own...).