Metropole Continues While
the Editor Bugs Off

Bar du Chateau in Versailles
This is one of the closer cafés to the château,
and it also has a tree-shaded terrace.

The Town of Versailles, Not the Château

by Ric Erickson

Issue 2.31/2:- Metropole Paris - Monday, 4. August 1997:- Beginning with this first issue in August, Metropole becomes bi-weekly until the beginning of September.

It means that issue number 2.33/4 will appear in two weeks on Monday, 18. August and will be followed by issue 2.35 on Monday, 1. September, two weeks later. The 'double'-issue number reflects that Metropole is numbered after the weeks of the year, and I want to finish off the year with issue number 2.52.

This issue and the following two are 'holiday' issues. I have to 'close' this issue three days earlier than normal, and the next two will not be as 'live' as usual.

All of this is another way of saying that Metropole becomes less, but does not disappear entirely. If I don't break a typing finger in the next day or two, the August columns, features and cartoons will be new. Only the 'live' new posters from Paris will be re-runs and I'll try and find good ones.

As this is the real finish of the year, I want to thank all readers who have been reading Metropole more or less regularly. You are more in number now than at the beginning of this year and I take it as a compliment.

Those who have taken the time or the trouble to write are especially appreciated. Paris is a great subject for wonder and discussion, and this medium - the Internet - makes dialogue possible. Special thanks are due to those who have let me publish their letters over the past year.

The Truth About Versailles

The truth is I live about 15 minutes driving distance from Versailles. This means that I have never toured the 'Château' itself - there's time!

Before I lived this close to it, I lived for ten years in the Hauts-de-Seine village near versailles department, not much further away. In 20-odd years, I have been in Versailles about five times; not counting all the times I have driven through it to get someplace else.

A small village, not far from Versailles.

Versailles today is, as the brochure from its tourist office says, 'a city considered to be a western suburb of Paris.' This may be so. It has about 100,000 inhabitants and it has quiet residential quarters.

Other than the two or three million visitors from all over the world who come to see the château every year, all of Versailles is pretty quiet.

Some of the town was built to house the overflow of 'big hats' from the château, but much of it was the residential area for the servants, suppliers and artisans who worked on its maintenance. A great deal of this part of Versailles is suspended in a time when calendars seem to have stopped; giving it a provincial air varying between being bourgeois and working-class.

When the weather is pleasant, Versailles also seems to be very bright. Many streets are wide and there is nothing really high, so light floods many areas of it. Maybe this is what gives it its 'country' feel.

If you have any strength left after crossing the immense open and cobble-stoned spaces of the place d'Armes, head either left or right to the town itself and keep your eyes open.

'Old' Versailles is not 'fixed-up' like most of Paris. And at least one reader is in agreement that walking around the town is more rewarding than doing the palace tour. It is certainly more peaceful and less bombastic.

The town also has many restaurants, bars and cafés in which to take refreshments; plus a marché in case you need to stock up on fresh food.

The centre of town does not cover a big area, and if you've come from Paris by either the RER line 'C' or the SNCF train from Saint-Lazare, you'll have to walk through it to get back to these stations.

If your schedule is not too tight, you might even consider taking a holiday from your visit to Paris to have a holiday in Versailles. At worst, it might be a topic to get a dinner conversation going.

Starlight Cinéma

An open-air cinema is in operation each evening on the big field called the 'Triangle' out at La Villette. The theme of the films this closed shop in Versailles year is 'the Underside of the City.' You can bring your own folding chair or rent one for 40 francs, but the entry is otherwise free. There is also a guarded bicycle park.

Shop in Versailles, closed for August.

Each night's showing starts at 22:30. The screen is 24 metres wide by 13 high. The show goes on by rain or by moonlight, and when it poured buckets on 24. July there were 250 spectators present. Screenings continue until Sunday, 24. August. Info tel.: 01 40 03 76 92, for robot-info about the program. Métro stations: either Porte-de-Pantin or Porte de la Villette.

Metropole One Year Ago From This Issue

Issue 1.24 - 5. August 1996 featured the column - Metropole Diary and 'Au Bistro' - Views and News for Summer. The article in the issue was 'In Search of Romanticism In Nouvelle-Athénes - Look for La Païva at St. Georges.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

One Year Ago From the Following Week's Issue

Issue 1.25 - 12. August 1996 featured the column - Metropole Diary count-down eiffel and 'Au Bistro' - Views and News for Summer. The article in the issue was 'A Different Beat - Amsterdam in Summer.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 2000:
Only 880 days left to go.

Au Revoir

This is where I sign-off from my annual 48-week holiday in Paris, to go and act laid-back elsewhere. Vive les vacances!

Regards, Ric


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