The Big Wind

Cafe, place Madeleine
A good place to keep an eye of the place de la Madeleine.

Métro Fever Strikes While Taking Reader On Tour

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 5. January 1998:- It is windy in France today. It has been very windy on the Atlantic coasts for more than a week; and there were gusts up to 180 kph over Saturday and Sunday.

TV-news has been showing shots of what eight-metre-high waves do when they hit the shore. Mayors of coastal towns have been warning residents and sight-seers to stay away from beaches and break-waters because being close to this kind of ocean activity can be dangerous - you could get sucked out to sea.

This weather does not only affect France. All Europe's western coasts are under attack by the wind and the sea. Channel ferries are either staying in port or having a hard time of it if they attempt to cross. Fishing boats from France have been lost with their crews.

Inland damage is heavy with lots of local flooding, and roads are dangerous because trees or parts of them are flying wildly about. This weather is killing people.

Paris is far enough from the nearest coast to be spared, but it is breezy all the same. It is not cold, but every once in a while a squall of heavy rain passes over.

Readers' Visit

On rare occasions Metropole readers not only come to Paris but they also attempt to meet the person responsible for this publication. This is so rare, in fact, that I try to make these meetings a success by attending them.

Professor Gordon Greb wrote in mid-November to comment about Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co. in the rue de l'Odéon. Then he wrote again in mid-December to ask if I could recommend a restaurant in which he could celebrate his and his wife's 47th wedding anniversary.

At the time I was thinking about the Procope so I suggested it. The good Professor got the reservation he wanted, and subsequently had a good anniversary party there. Much to my relief.

Professor Greb's bag is journalism and he is interested in the way it is done 'on the Web,' so he wanted to talk about this.

Last Tuesday I met him at his hotel and we were supposed to go off to the Café Charbon on Oberkampf Prof. Greb, Cafe Charbon for a chat. That morning, radio-news was saying that the unemployed were to have a demo at Bastille, so when I got to the hotel I suggested we go down there and 'do a little work.'

This is Professor Greb and the Café Charbon is behind him.

On the métro we were talking so much I wasn't paying proper attention to the tunnels and we ended up walking as far as it is possible under Bastille, and managed to hit every stairway with a dead escalator. After a long hike, we reached the surface right in front of the Opéra.

Expecting to see the huge place full of irate unemployed, I was surprised to see no crowd, and no traffic jam either and on top of it, the sun was shining. One of my few chances to be at a big event, and nothing.

While gloomily surveying the happy traffic, a fellow approached us and asked if we were looking for the demo. He said it had been there, but it had moved on towards the Gare de Lyon. While we were talking, other people came up, looking for the demo too.

Professor Greb and I got back into the métro and got lost for a while in the tunnels and found more dead escalators, and did the same thing when we made the change at République. By the time we got to the Café Charbon there was only about an hour left on my clock.

This went all too quickly, but I did learn that Professor Greb - before he was a Professor - might have been partly responsible for all the bad things you see and hear in movies and on TV these days. It was a good story about 'Freedom of Speech' and why there is more of it than we like sometimes.

Heading back, I inadvertently picked the wrong métro at République, and we had to make yet another change which involved a lot of stairs.

It's a good thing I don't have to write a paper about Paris for Professor Greb. I don't think I'd get high marks for finding my way around the métro, I'd get zero for the unemployed demo, and then on Friday, I simply got on a métro that was only headed 180 degrees from the direction I thought it was going.

Do I have métro fever?

Some Events

Musiciens des Rues de Paris has been on since 19. November and continues its run until Monday, 27. April. Street musicians Street Musicians are an occasional item of news, when they are getting busted for playing in certain public places; without a license or at the wrong time.

The regulations were brought in during the 19th century, because many of these musicians were foreigners and because some used political or social lyrics. Street musicians existed before the regulations, and this exhibition traces their history in Paris from the time of Henri IV.


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