Don't Ask Me to Look Out the Window

Brasserie Salon de The - rue des Ecoles
Some cafés, if they are in the Latin Quarter, look like this cafeteria.

When It's Wet and Cold Outside, Inside the Louvre Isn't

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 22. December 1997:- Before I tell you how lousy at weather forecasting I am, first the weather report. My 'snow' report a couple of weeks ago has been superseded by a new incident of snow - last Wednesday.

To all the readers I succeeded in convincing that the earlier snowfall was some sort of a one-time freak event, I apologize. I submit here and now my resignation in the weather forecasting business and will strictly stick to basing my notions about the weather on what I can see happening beyond the window, while it is happening.

I did look out the window about two in the morning last Wednesday and was astounded to see snow busily and sneakily falling while the whole world appeared to be asleep.

In the morning this had resulted in causing 262 kilometres of traffic jams at 8:30 in the Ile-de-France - but not a record, let me assure you!

Tuesday evening's TV-weather report showed a prediction of snow falling, to the north and east of Paris. A little more low there, a little less skating rink wind here, and oops - dumped on us. This caught the highway services people off guard - again - by moving from the north - okay in the forecast - to west - not foreseen by the forecast.

I looked at the rink from several angles and all of them were good.

Salting operations are claimed to have begun around 22:00 on Tuesday, but for some reason automobile drivers decided to go to work early on Wednesday, and this prevented the total removal of the white, wet obstacle by snowplows.

This gave everybody with a mobile phone a good excuse to try it out for some purpose other than idle chit-chat and soon the network was saturated, but it didn't fall down.

By Thursday morning, there was no trace of the four centimetres of snow that had been on the ground around here on Wednesday morning. Another 12-hour winter, followed by a 'snap' thaw.

The 'Grand' Louvre Opened on Friday

I've been thinking for some years now that the Louvre is fairly grand but it now appears as if I've been mistaken. The Louvre officially only became the 'Grand Louvre' on Friday when it was inaugurated by the President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac.

The new exhibition rooms - 10,000 square metres in all - lifts the Louvre's total to 55,540 square metres. This brings to a completion a project begun in 1981 by François Mitterrand, when the Louvre only measured a bit over 30,000 square metres.

In fact, the Louvre as a project, started in 1190 when Philippe Auguste wanted a new medieval fortress to guard the approaches from the downstream Seine. This had been the avenue used by various sea-going barbarians, who louvre line were adept at rowing upstream to carry out pillage and barbarie on plump and unwitting, non-seagoing residents.

If these people had come at the weekend, there would have been three times as many of them.

From TV reports and newspaper coverage of the event, I gather that the Egyptian and Greek departments are the main beneficiaries of this latest expansion - which means that all sorts of antique stuff that has been stored out of sight has been dusted off and is waiting for you to come and look at it.

Some of the TV shots were really impressive; showing vast marble halls, with these tiny little figures, which were President Chirac and the inauguration party.

Entry was free on Sunday, and Parisians and visitors who could tear themselves away from Christmas shopping, formed much more impressive lines in the murky weather than the one I saw last Wednesday.

Apparently, working in the Louvre is no picnic; especially not under the big glass pyramid, where there are constant air currents and an incredible amount of noise - made by the 30,000 visitors who troupe through daily.

The workers there are allowed to wear scarves and earplugs and some of them think it is amusing to have florescent balls in the ears in order to hear what visitors may be saying. Others do not find it at all chic.

Real-Time Ile-de-France Traffic Info

This may not help you in an Airbus, flying in over the Pole; this may not help you while listening to traffic reports on radio FIP while stalled in your car in a half-hour 'bouchon' on the Périphérique - but the Paris-area traffic direction now has trees - pl Lepine a web site, which not only tells you where the traffic jams are right now - but also if they are merely average or truly colassal.

Given the amount of real-time statistics being used, this site is really useful for predicting future traffic conditions - by the minute. This is a bit like looking out the window and predicting what the weather will be like two hours from now; because there is no way to factor in a 40-ton highway freighter that is going to go belly-up on the A13 in forty minutes time.

Real pine trees, really in the centre of Paris, on the Ile de la Cité.

'Bison Futé' is a service which supplies suggestions for alternnate routes, but as yet you can only send them email from this site. I imagine that putting their routes up, is a coming feature. Available now, is an area where you can arrange to participate in car-pooling - which will be of more use to residents than visitors, but is a 'good intention' all the same.

This site's maps are clear and easy to read, and the site as a whole works well - and seems to be a product of Club-Internet. Well done.

All of this week's 'Events' are in the Noël Program, Part III, feature.

Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 1.44 - 23. December 1996 featured the columns - Metropole Diary's '"La Dolce Vita" - Fin' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'First, Mostly Good News; Then a Little Bad News.' The articles count-down eiffel in the issue were 'Metropole's Big Contest - Vote for Paris' Best Christmas Window' - 'The Eating Season: The French Christmas Menus' and 'A Very Big Library features an Encyclopediac Opening Expo: "Tous les Savoirs du Monde."' Terence Harding wrote an Email, and this came out as 'The Short-Sighted and the Deaf.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 740 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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