For Runners and Walkers

cafe Zimmer at Chatelet
The Café Zimmer in the Théâtre du Châtelet
looks bright on a dull day.

And Poets, Art Lovers, Historians and Oddballs

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 17. November 1997:- In this week's 'Au Bistro' column you will find some numbers relating to the numbers of visitors to some of Paris' big attractions. If I remember correctly, the number of thrillseekers visiting the Tour Eiffel have dropped by about a million a year during the past decade.

This has started me wondering. Either it is no longer thrilling or everybody in the world has already been up it five times. Or maybe all the world's brave people have done it and the supply has run out. Or maybe it's my fault - I think it was fifteen years between the last time and the time before that.

The countdown-display does not even require going up; you can see it clearly from Trocadéro and probably from jets headed for Madrid. What can be done to jazz the old lady up?

As I was walking along the rue de Rivoli last Wednesday, these thoughts were occupying about one-seventh of my brain. The rest of it was preventing me from getting killed by automobiles - er hem - why are they called 'auto'-mobiles? There is nothing 'auto' about them; they are driven by pure lunatics.

The noise of it all was deafening too, so when the Saint-Jacques tower came along, I decided to see what it is about and this got me off Rivoli and into something new.

Right here, on the right bank, in the centre of one of the world's mega-cities, there is this area that is sort of - empty, deserted; a kind of village.

It has shops and bars and cafés and workshops and people live upstairs - stairs that are hundreds of years old - and all this insane traffic is racing right by it on either side; and here it is, sitting around and not doing much.

At one time - and not so long ago either - it was the centre of town; and a bit further back it was the centre of all the town's essential activity. This was so concentrated and frenzied that the town exploded away from the centre and forgot to take it with it.

So there is this area, about 200 metres wide and 700 long that is an oasis in the middle of modern chaos. Even though I would rather not do it - suggest this - but I may as well do it because Paris is really an unorganized amusement park anyway - I think the two theatres at Châtelet should be torn down and replaced with the old 'Le Grand-Châtelet.'

I mean, if you go to the place today, you'll yawn. If you have been in front of the Hôtel de Ville, you'll know what I mean. Another big yawn.

So who will go for this? Jails and courts, merchants and markets, torture and executions, slaughterhouses and wicker-chair weavers, goldsmiths and salt cellars - and lots of (fake) blood running in the gutters - add a couple of noisy windmills and a bunch of grogshops; all right smack-dab in the middle of the city! Sort of like the opposite of New York's cleanup of Times Square at Broadway.

As I said, my brain must of had a lot of empty free space in it, to think this up.

Sign Up for the Paris Marathon

The Marathon International de Paris - to be run on Sunday, 5. April 1998 - is now signing up fast runners. Inscriptions made before 6. January 1998 cost 160 francs for residents and 220 francs or US$45 or 70 DM for visitors.

After this date the rates rise to 250 francs for residents Paris Marathon and to 370 francs or US$75 or 115 DM for visitors, until 20. March 1998. The rates for inscribing on the day are 400 francs for residents and 450 francs or US$95 or 135 DM for visitors. Entries are limited to 22,000, so if the quota is full on race day you'll be out of luck.

Registration can not be made by fax. Interested fast people can get information or request an official entry form, by fax, to (33-1) 53 17 03 13 from outside France. In France the fax number is 01 53 17 03 13. Otherwise write to: Inscriptions A.M.S.P., 8. Rue Crozatier, 75012 Paris

Payment must accompany the inscription. Elite or Preferential runners - the fastest people - must provide some sort of proof of a win less than two years old.

Changing rooms are located between the avenue Foch and the Etoile - the place Charles De Gaulle.

Starting time is 9:00 someplace on the avenue des Champs Elysées, probably near the métro exit at Etoile.

The race is the regulation 42.195 km, and the 'Elite'-class of runner must be able to do this in less than two hours, 25 minutes. Whew!

The organizers have a pasta party planned for Saturday, 4. April, which is free to all registered runners. Marathoners resident in France are not supposed to attend this heavyweight feast if they are French. Registered French runners can participate in a draw for a starting place at the Montréal Marathon, and this includes tranport for two to Montréal.

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