Fake Spring Surprises Paris

Brasserie en l'Ile - Oasis
Now you can see clearly why it's called the 'Oasis.'

Vacationers Take to Mountains and the Seaside

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 16. February 1998:- We get this 'fake spring' about once every three years or even some times two out of three, at this time of year. I welcome it because what comes afterwards may be tough sledding.

It is cold at night, going down to just about freezing in the Ile-de-France. Daytime temperatures are getting close to 20 and I am wearing short-sleeved shirts. When I go out I put on my regular winter coat, which I usually wear all year round, except in August when I go to Spain.

I can't understand why some people seem to prefer year-round room temperatures of 16 and start to whine and snivel if by some miracle it gets to be 24. When it hits a comfortable 30 they wilt like second-rate weeds while I feel like I'm at home.

This doesn't mean that the temperature in this room where I am is anywhere near 30 right now. It is not too bad though; my feet aren't numb. For a change.

This household heating business in Europe is something I've never been able to understand. As time goes by, mankind is supposed to get smarter, and I would have thought that after living in houses for dozens of centuries people Champs-Elysees, should know that they do it not just to keep rain off their heads, but also to keep General Winter and his troops at bay. Outside the door.

Last Friday on the Champs-Elysées, alone with 150,000 other people.

But no. People will willingly go to warm climates on their holidays just to complain about the heat. If they don't complain, when they get home they turn the heating off and throw open all the windows.

If, at a dinner you've been invited to, you are trying to pull your pants down to your ankles or your socks up to your knees, these people will fix you with a beady stare - I call it 'pinwheel eyes' - and say, "It's a bit warm, isn't it? Shall I open the windows? The sleet looks so nice by the light of the streetlamp."

Of course I'm making this up. I've known those people for years and they stopped inviting me after the time I came with a hot water bottle. So I don't know what they do anymore - still beating their bloodless chests and braying, "This is my winter poloshirt; my summer one is much lighter; but I'd be wearing it tonight if it wasn't at the cleaners!"

No. I gave all that up a long time ago. While other people put on their fancy, frilly, see-through duds to go out to spend an evening in a refrigerator, I'm sitting safely at home. Wearing my lumberjack wool double-thick socks, a T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweater or two, hat, earmuffs, gloves and - oh! - I forgot, wearing a scarf - while sitting in front of a cozy TV set that is well warmed up from running all day, happily eating hot, with hot butter, popcorn.

Sometimes thinking about this, while the room temperature here plunges in unison with the outside temperature, helps. Most of the time it doesn't.

That is why, then, in the depths of midwinter, I welcome fake spring. Easter is not far off, and there's certain to be snow then.

10 Years at Paris' Bibliothèque Historique

At its Hôtel Lamoignon location for 10 years, the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, has been in place for less time than I've been in Paris. To visit it for the first time on its 10th anniversary, was pure chance - although I would have gotten to it sooner or later.

In 1870 Jules Cousin proposed the foundation of a historical library dedicated to the subject of Paris. Along with his proposal, he offered to donate 6000 volumes and an equal number of prints from his personal collection. His offer was accepted and he was appointed head of the library and he ran 10 years Bibliotheque Historique it until 1898, when it contained over 100,000 volumes.

When he died, the library left the Hôtel Carnavalet to move to the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau, while the prints stayed behind.

To mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary in its new home, the Bibliothèque Historique has mounted an exhibition, which covers the essential of its last 10 years of activity.

The library contains rare books, historical records of every sort and its collections are regularly augmented by new donations, in addition to the acquisitions it makes each year. Besides books, the library contains an important collection of photographs, including a recent collection of 400,000 negatives from France-Soir's archives.

Besides being a museum and a library, the Bibliothèque Historique also mounts regular exhibitions, and it publishes its own historical works.

The current 10-Year Exhibition is at 22. rue Malher, Paris 4. The exhibition continues until Sunday, 1. March. This is also the location of the Bibliothèque Historique's book shop, where works published by the library can be purchased. Hours for the exhibition are daily except Mondays, from 10:00 to 18:00 and from 12:00 to 19:00 on Sundays. Entry: 10 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 44 59 29 60.

This is just a few steps away from the Hôtel Lamoignon, at 24. rue Pavée, Paris 4. The requirements for using the library are fairly simple: you need a passport-type photo and a valid identity paper.

A card will be made out for you and each time you visit, you will be given a daily card, which you return when you leave. You then consult the information centre and when your turn comes you are assigned a seat and the assistance of a librarian. There are all sorts of rules and regulations, but if you are seriously hunting for some 'lost fact' these should not be bothersome.

Photocopies can be made of certain items, if the photocopy machine is 'in service.' Talking is frowned upon and telephones in the reading rooms are forbidden. Telefons - verboten! Probably the only place in Paris, besides the Bibliothèque Nationale. No food or drink is allowed.

The Bibliothèque Historique is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 until 18:00. The nearest métro is Saint-Paul on the rue de Rivoli, about three blocks away.

From Friday's The Toqueville Connection:

The lead story, 'Another Crises for France,' takes a look at the reactions to last week's murder of Claude Erignac, the regional prefect for Corsica. The prefect was killed as he walked from his car to a concert in the southern Corsican port of Ajaccio. He had no bodyguards. Corsica's modern nationalist violence erupted in 1975 and continues today. Most Corsicans are sick of it, but nobody seems to know how to bring it to an end.

For the complete report, see The Toqueville Connection. Friday's issue also features a review of 'Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, Régent of France' by Christine Pevitt. The Toqueville Connection's editor Catherine Antoine takes a look at it, and you should too. Philippe d'Orléans, never king, "took nothing seriously and dedicated himself to serious pursuits." Better than fiction.

International Salon de l'Agriculture

This is the salon to go to see a lot of what you eat while it is still alive. Once you've seen some of the cows and other animals you may decide to be a vegetarian. It is a very big annual salon and it features all sorts of regional specialties, and Parisians flock to it by the hundreds of thousands. Other activities, sometimes related to the outdoors, are on display.

At Paris-Expo, Porte de Versailles
From Sunday, 1. March until Sunday, 8. March. From 9:00 to 19:00 daily. Métro: Porte de Versailles. Info. Tel.: 01 49 09 60 00.

15th Banlieues Bleues

Banlieues BleuesNormally this would translate as 'Blues in the 'Burbs' but in this case it is the name of a long-running annual jazz festival, which will begin Friday, 27. February and runs through to Thursday, 9. April. There are 36 evening performances billed, featuring 53 bands, with 19 new creations. The info card I have for it says the festival will be playing in 16 different towns in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, so for this one, you should call the Info. Tel.: at 01 42 43 56 66 to get the full details.

150 Years of the Marine Nationale

The Musée de la Marine has just opened a new thematic space at the museum devoted to France's modern navy; ranging from the Gloire, launched in 1859, to the huge aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, launched in 1997.

France's Navy Museum is also celebrating its own 250th anniversary this year, and so there is a special exhibition for this as well.

Musée de la Marine
Palais de Chaillot, place du Trocadéro, Paris 16.
Daily, except Tuesdays; from 10:00 to 18:00.

18th Salon du Livre

Everything French or foreign publishers want you to see Salon du Livre is on view at this popular salon, including the latest multimedia products and a lot of other odds and ends, which include comics. Meet live authors, take part in literary discussions, or just talk about books. Guest country of honor this year is Brazil, and it is the first Latin American country to be invited.

This salon takes place from Friday, 20. March until Wednesday, 25. March. Monday, 23. March, is reserved for professionals. Location: at Paris-Expo - Porte de Versailles, in Hall One - all of it. Info. Tel.: 08 36 60 00 51 - warning: this is a toll number, costing twice as much as the Minitel. Organizer is Reed-OIP and their email address is livre@reed-oip.fr

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 2.07 - 17. February 1997 featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'X-perimental French Record Reviews' andcount-down eiffel 'Au Bistro' had - 'Movie and Music Awards for Charles Aznavor.' The articles in the issue were 'Looking Back at Retromobile Salon Is Like Looking at Starwars in a Mirror' - 'Place des Vosges Remains Unchanged After 350 Years' and 'CD Music Review: 'Zip Band's - Getting X-perimental Over U.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was History of Gué Automobiles.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 684 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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