Report From the 'Wounded-Knee'
Street Rallye in Paris

The Japanese at the Salon
Contestants pick up their Pol Roger here before setting out.

eMail From My Server Driver, Linda Thalman

Dear Ric,

Paris:- Sunday, 16. March 1997:- You really missed out on an incredible day by not joining us for the '44ème Rallye Pédestre et Culturel de Paris' today along with 128 other teams. You missed out on blisters and swollen knees.

You missed out on what turned out to be a sunny Sunday romp around the 11th and 12th arrondissements and Saint Mandé - from 8:30 am to 19:15 - 10 hours and 45 minutes worth.

You missed helping us out or at least cheering us on, as our team of seven - including one American, one French-American, one French-Brit, one French-Italian, two 100% French and one Canadian; totalling four women, three men and four nationalities including split-ones - who earned 223 points out of 291 to come in fifth. Whew!

You missed the T-shirts, the goodies and the joy of discovering wonderful hidden corners of Paris.

You missed revisiting and looking with a different eye at the Gare de Lyon, La Bastille, rue de Lappe, the beautifully refurbished arcades on the avenue Daumensil, and the fully-in-spring-flowered Promenade Plantée above the arcades, among others.

This 'on-foot' rally - which became a 'wounded-knee rally' on Sunday night - is an event organized by the winner of the previous year's event.

Our team actually won one year, but because we are 'independents' and not a 'club sportive,' it was the second place winners who got the honor of organizing the following years' rally. It is only members of a 'club sportive' who can make rules. 'Independents' merely follow them, and no pun intended.

The rallye usually has three basic components: the 'intellectual' team deals with questions like "Quel terme architectural définit les sculptures en couronnement de l'immeuble que vous apercevez sur la droite?" Or even more cryptically, "Combien de demi-tons y-a-t-il entre le la dièse et le si bémol?"

Component two goes as follows - the photo team gets some 20-odd black and white photocopied images of shop signs, sculptures, roof tops, an unusual window,The Japanese at the Salon an obscure graffiti, a shutter, a staircase - for each one of the three stages of the rallye, to identify. To score points it means noting as closely as possible the address of where the obscure photo was taken. I suppose you know how many shops, buildings, parks, places don't have any address numbers in Paris. Do not have street names either.

The renovated arches along the avenue Daumesnil.

To keep us amused between parts one, two and three, there are 'games,' along the line of: identify the region of France that goes with the wine name; or which region of France goes with the 'blazons' on the Gare de Lyon; or match a leaf shape with the name of the tree. Did you know some of the trees in Paris are not even French? And hardly any of them have any leaves right now?

Before the annual rallye even begins there is a killer questionnaire that really does need several well-qualified Ph.D.s to answer it in full and correctly. Not all teams even have one Ph.D. This missive arrives four or five weeks before the years' event and every right or wrong answer counts towards the final score.

For the questionnaire anything goes and the teams scour every book and reference source, friends and even the Internet to try and answer totally obscure, but usually wonderful tidbits of Parisian or French history, architecture, music, and so on. (I don't have this year's questionnaire at hand - need an example?)

I'm writing all this to say that your Metropole readers just might love to take part in the 45th Rallye in 1998 - knobbled knees, blisters and extreme fatigue guaranteed: but also the chance of a lifetime to discover Paris in a way you have never discovered it before.

Cheers, Linda

Your 'Rallye' Sounds Like My Job

Dear Linda,

Paris:- Friday, 21. March 1997:- You are right, I missed it all. I tried to set my week to have Sunday free, but when it looked like the weather was headed for Greenland I thought I'd just as soon stay home and write an extra 2,000 words for Metropole. I also remember looking out the window as leaf-buds popped open in the pleasant sunshine and cursing myself for not being with you, kicking up my heels.

But now that I have your account of it - I'll print it here for the more 'sportive' of Metropole readers, since it is sort of an invitation - but now that I know that it is more or less what I do during the week, every week, every month; and for the research, every night and weekend - I say, no thanks.

I know about these addresses that aren't, about the places with no names. Catherine's Château in the Tuleries is a good and big place that isn't - that I've looked for - for hours.

And the 12th arrondissement! At least half of it has disappeared, to make way for the ministry of finance, the Bercy omnisport pyramid, the renovation of the old wine depot and all of the other part along the Seine that has been wiped out for speculators and offices - and my map has things on it like 'Bercy-Expo,' 'Porte de Bercy' and even 'Centre Commercial Bercy II.'

If you get up in the low numbers on the rue de Charenton, above the SNCF yards, there are a whole string of neat little bistros under the plane trees, although there's not much else there. But there might be an interesting area behind - the map shows curvy streets, always a good sign.

Between the Gare de Lyon and the rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, there's the renovated under-the-railway arches of the avenue Daumesnil that you mention. They are supposed to be for artists and artisans but The Japanese at the Salon they haven't moved in yet, and all of the spaces are not finished off. If they are in fact reserved for artists and artisans, it will be interesting to see how they pep up the quarter.

Boys playing football in the bandstand in the Square Trousseau.

Beyond, through the arches, it is sort of the poor back-end of the Saint Antoine, and it is not much renovated around the marché Beauveau Saint Antoine. The Square Trousseau a few blocks away is pleasant too. There are lots of little boutiques for odds and ends and some interesting-looking bistros.

This is all in a little corner that touches the faubourg Saint Antoine, but does not seem to be part of it - just as it is not part of the Zip Band area around the Bastille or the 'in' bars around Roquette, Lappe, and Charonne, or in any of the numerous courtyards that residents are trying to save from city planners and their new-brick schemes.

Because I won't get any points towards your competition, I won't go into the history of the area now; there might not even be any.

All the trees look like plane trees to me. It only took me 15 years to learn that's what kind of tree they are. All 'my' Ph.D's are back in Germany at the moment, and they wouldn't be much good for anything other than the naval history of Malta or the economic situation in Tunisia.

If you invite me again next year, I'll come - if you tell me where the finish line is and if I can skip parts one, two and three. Do not send the questionnaire. This will guarantee me not winning and thereby not having to think up the next years' mind-numbing silly questions, thus avoiding a sort of a busdriver's holiday.

Regards, Ric

When Linda Thalman isn't being an 'independent sportive' she runs WebFrance International and Metropole's server - except on one Monday a year - the day after the rallye.

I do not care for the term 'Webmaster' but that is exactly what Linda is and does well - except for wanting to put all the text in bold so she can see it. I think she 'smells' the typos in Metropole, and she fixes them without bragging about it too much, just as I make them without shame, but with guilt.

Linda has lived in or near Paris for a long long time, and on summer Sundays when she doesn't feel 'sportive' she lies on her back in her backyard garden - which she does with her typing fingers just for a change-up - in the late afternoon sun watching the undersides of Nouvelles Frontières charter jets sliding down to land at Orly.

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