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 aay 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.


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