Rattled in May

cafe at metro st michel
A café is a sunny café and this one is at métro Saint-Michel.

The Month of the Long Weekends

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 25. May 1998:- Somebody in authority decided that the month of May has to contain four-fifths of Europe's annual long weekends, so if you have to contact somebody over here you will know why we are a bit rattled.

I am not talking abut the 50 percent of the population which is in jail, mental institutions, doing deep-earth cave diving, or is single. I mean the poor wretches who have kids, wives, husbands, divorced girlfriends with children - everybody who has no handy and preferably free babysitter.

This is what they do to us. Say Thursday is one of these darn holidays. Some Europeans are clever and they get the 'bridge' on Friday - or 'pont' in French. This is fine, if your kids get it too. But suppose your working husband or wife doesn't. It means somebody looks after the kids and there's no long weekend for anybody.

A variant is to have the holiday on Tuesday, and the kids' teachers take Monday off, and for good measure, take the preceding Friday too.

Anyhow, May is a crazy month in Europe. A lot of people complain about it, but nobody knows exactly who is the high authority to whom the complaints should be directed. The result is, 'crazy' May comes around every year and the calendar being what it is, no two years are alike.

In this issue I sort of 'did' picnics - instead of markets - and bikes, as a way to get to where you might want to picnic. Last Wednesday was real picnic weather; Friday less so.

Thursday was a holiday and my kids got the 'pont' of Friday, and I thought I'd pretty well wrapped up the major part of the leg-work on the issue, so I could take them to Paris, and sneak in the photos of posters, cafés, bistros and other stuff on the side.

The bigger one has been in Paris a number of times, but the smaller model hasn't. The kid's play area in the Luxembourg Gardens is pretty nifty as these things go and I figured it would be a goodwilly in lux place to start. There's the pool there too, with the rental sailboats. If this didn't take all day, I thought we could see what was going on at Trocadéro too.

This thing got high marks for 17 seconds of riding, and eight minutes worth of anaylsis.

First change of plans: the little model was hijacked by a neighbor - to go for a picnic at the Tour Eiffel. Second change of plans: the temperature took a dump after Wednesday and Friday morning was chilly.

So it was on with the shirts and sweaters again - man, it had felt good to get them off after so long! - and only two of us to do my grand warm-weather tour.

All these - few - freezing kids in the Luxembourg didn't look too snappy when we arrived, but my bigger one good-naturedly took a shot at their kid's park for a whole 10 minutes and pronounced it first-class. His entry cost 14 francs and mine, 7.50 francs.

The reason he only stayed 10 minutes was because he wanted to do the rental sailboats lark. There was a fair breeze for it too. But when we got there, the management must have thought there was a hurricane warning out, and there were no boats to rent.

So I showed him the fountain, which does look pretty dead without the fall leaves in it. We got out of the park and I shot the OpenTour bus by chance and we tanked up on Belgian fastfood, which he praised outrageously, while telling me about all the special deals on offer.

Then we went up to the Mairie of the 5th by the Panthéon, for me to see if there were any dead bodies lying around. For me it was slim pickings in their brochure department, but he got caught up a mini-expo of kids' drawings. Then we went down to Maubert and the model shops there; up Saint-Germain to Saint-Michel, and took the métro to La Défense, and caught the train home.

The two of them traded stories afterwards and I think the Tour Eiffel's picnic got a higher score. May is a rotten month.

Neighborhood Party

For the second year running - er - this is the second time, and the second time mentionedfestival onze here - ah - the 'Festival Onze' is an arrondissement party, which runs from next Thursday, 28. May until Sunday, 7. June.

Just about every bar, dancehall, musician, singer, performer and all the good citizens, have a good, big party for the duration of the oddly-numbered week. Or is it a short fortnight?

Okay; so they've got everything: music, theatre, dance, street stuff, art stuff; stuff in bars, cafés, bistros, churches, cinemas, in the street, on TV - this year there are more than 200 'spectacles,' and hundreds shows put on by nearly a thousand 'artists.'

The festival actually kicks off on the evening of Wednesday, 27. May, at the Cirque d'Hiver with a show for the 50th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to the latest information, the Human Rights declaration has been turned into sort of a musical, named, 'Déclaration Universelle.' It will feature four musical parts, with 21 performers.

Altogether, 11 wild days and nights in the 11th arrondissement. Info. Tel.: 01 53 27 11 47.

21st Foire Saint-Germain

Although this is only the 21st modern version of a 'Foire' which firstfoire st germain tookplace in 1176, you shouldn't think there is a lot of moss growing on it.

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