Official Summer in Paris Starts

Cafe de Cluny - the bar
The bar in the Café de Cluny is a serious one.

Summer Sales, Warm Clothes, and the Bike Scene

by Ric Erickson

Issue 2.26:- Metropole Paris - Monday, 30. June 1997:- Here we are, running around like rats in somebody's dubious societal experiment and all of a sudden - poof! - school is finished, the car pool is dissolved and time hangs heavily on the freewheeling minds of our smaller citizens.

Smart people left town on Friday night, only hours after the schools locked up their doors for slightly more than the next two months. By 'smart' people I mean those who have some scheme for keeping the midgets out of town for the whole time - with their grandparents, for example.

The rest of us - more than two! - have no grandparents, aunts, uncles, even vague acquaintances - out in the 'country' - ready and willing to take on these charges - so we did not leave town on Friday night. We are counting the days until August.

While we do this, and, at the moment, watch the rain fall more or less steadily - we should be thinking that there are really a lot of things to do right here, find out what they are and do them.

Although the heating is off for the 'summer,' we still have dry places to come back to, and if we put on enough of our winter clothes, we can even be warm at home in Paris. Aren't we clever?

Cold and Wet? You Can Do Something About It

In the past, I have lovingly packed all my 'Miami' shirts and headed off to some place where I imagined 'summer' was happening, only to find out it wasn't. When this happens, there are only three thing to do: freeze to death, immediately return home and try to get a refund, or go out and buy some warm clothes on the spot.

Doing the last in Paris may seem like a way to bust your budget, but it doesn't have to be. Parisians who live here all year around aren't all rich, although you may think we have to be. Oh no, we have places to get inexpensive clothes; and there Mareil-Marly is no reason why visitors can't shop at these places too.

This is what it was like long before 'summer' started.

There was a really pleasant spell of weather in the spring of 1996 and I had been happily putting all these sunshine photos in Metropole for weeks, when, bam! It turned glacial. Since I was cold it occurred to me that visitors I might have mis-lead into believing that Paris is a mild if not tropical paradise would be cold too - so I went looking for emergency clothes.

What I found is described in the feature, 'As Damart Used to Say: Me Cold? Never! - Pull, Mac and Brolly to Go' which appeared in Issue 1.13 on 20. May 1996.

The advice given then is still good. If you are an optimist and believe the sun will be shining brightly when you arrive - or you just do not feel like bringing a raincoat - then this will tell you about getting an inexpensive one here.

Paris 'On Sale'

Paris' official summer sales started last Friday, and continue through to the first week of August. Clever Parisians were in the shops at opening time on Friday and they were back again at the Saturday openings to buy their 'finds.'

Domestic consumption has not picked up one whit in the last six months, so some articles are up to 60 percent off their regular ticket prices. The 'sales' are regulated, so these are real discounts; and not just cheapo junk brought in for the occasion.

But it's strictly 'first come, first served' and the usual 'no refunds' rule applies. The 'sales' have been featured in Metropole before and here are the hyperlinks to the articles:

Last year's summer sales were headlined 'Half-Price Wooden 'Garage' Shirt - Paris On Sale' - Bring Money or Plastic. This appeared a year ago in Issue 1.19 on 1. July 1996.

For the most recent winter sales, Metropole featured 'On Sale' in Paris May Be Better than 'Wholesale' Elsewhere in this year's first issue, numbered 2.01/2.02, which went online on 6. January 1997.

High-end threads can be found year-round in Paris, at sizeable discounts. 'Deluxe Cheapo Shopping: Less than Wholesale, Less Than On Sale' was featured in Metropole Issue 1.29 on 9. September 1996. What sort of things are available and what you can expect to pay, plus a couple of locations, were treated in the feature.

While I write this I am wearing my usual 'at home' winter costume, and I see I have a hole in the elbow of the sweater. This week I think I'll try to get a replacement, but I will remember that the current sales are for - summer goods - and yet another 'Miami' shirt will be redundant. I can't resist them though.

Paris Bike Days Last All Summer

It is only two short years since Paris started to become 'bike friendly.' Since Paris is only intermittently 'friendly' to pedestrians, the 50-odd kilometres of existing bike lanes on city streets are an amazing feat.

We have our traffic jams and they can be lulus, so it is hard to imagine taking a major thoroughfare and 'stealing' half a traffic lane from it and reserving it exclusively for cyclists. Yet this is what Paris has done.

The new lanes are clearly marked, and in many if not most places they are set off from the traffic lanes by pylons - which prevent chronic swifty-parkers from jamming them up. Where, for technical reasons, a bike-lane has to give up its right-of-way, cyclists are warned by signs.

One word of warning however: pedestrians are not too bike-lane-aware and may overlook the fact of their existence and step into them at any time.

The summer weekly pro-bike and pro-pedestrian demonstrations on Sundays are now officially sanctioned by the Hôtel de Ville. Anybody can take part in these, and they take place on the Seine quais in the centre of the city.

The existing bike-lanes, grosso-modo, are in place on an east-west axis and a north-south axis, and run from the city boundaries through the centre. There are also lanes reserved for cyclists in the Bois de Boulogne and the Bos de Vincennes.

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