Siestas Are Good For You

photo: cafe au pere tranquille
Later on this terrace will be sun-blasted if
it isn't rain-lashed instead.

NewsFlash! Free Parking In Paris. Not a Joke!

Paris:- Saturday, 1. August 1998:- Medical evidence made by the same doctors who present toothpaste on TV, is tending to show that siestas are really good for your health.

The siesta is being promoted as a simple and natural way to keep in good shape. It reinforces the digestion, prevents cardiac troubles, increases productivity, counters stress and is even a good cure for insomnia. Best of all, unlike toothpaste, it is free.

Take a look at how babies behave. The average baby wakes up to eat and then goes to sleep again until it gets hungry. Gradually it is able to eat more at once so it is able the stay awake longer, and this evolves into a day with three siestas, then two, then at about age five, one.

Trouble starts when siestas stop. Without a siesta it is almost impossible to force the kid to do his kindergarten homework. In grade school it becomes torture. This is the reason kids act as loony as they do.

Now some expects say the ideal siesta duration is fifteen minutes. Some extra experts even take little naps while waiting for red lights to turn green.

Scientific types who have studied the question say there are three official types of siesta. There is the 'flash' which lastsphoto: the sleeping man no more than five minutes. Then there is the 'relax' which is more than five minutes but no more than 30.

This is a true 'siesta' photo, showing how an expert does it.

Finally, there is the siesta 'royal,' which is more than 30 minutes and can be as much as two hours. There is also an 'emergency' siesta which you are supposed to take if you are in danger of passing out anyway.

Obviously, if you are an active type or have a boss who wishes you were more active, taking siestas might not be easy. But siestas can be learned like any other thing if you try hard enough.

If you can get to the stage when you can pull off a 'flash' siesta at will, then you are in siesta dreamland. But this is not a gift to be abused.

You should always be conscious of the difference between taking a uninterrupted series of 'flash' siestas and taking one solid 'royal' one.

In re-reading this, it is painfully clear that I forgot to take my siesta today.

New Rotten Weather Record Beats Old Record

If you've been in Paris since the end of the World Cup on 12. July or the final pop of Bastille Day on 14. July, you may have noticed that the sun don't shine here no more.

This has also been noticed by the weatherphoto: statue louis xvi boffins, who usually say something totally untrue like, "It's been a bit cooler than usual, but not abnormally so."

Well, this time they've counted the sun's rays and they've discovered that Paris has had the fewest in fifty years. For July, Paris clocked 140 hours of sunbeams, as opposed to a normal 240 hours' worth.

There were only 160 hours in 1980 - remember that year? - but in 1959 there were 352 hours, or about 11 hours and 30 minutes per day.

Louis XVI certainly knew about rotten weather too.

In this dimness were we cold? Not so, says the weatherman. If we had an average 22 degrees this July, this was only two degrees short of the normal for the north of France.

One Story Leads to Another Department

It starts off with, 'There's no reason to be more depressed in France than anywhere else.' However true this may be, France holds the world record for anti-depressant consumption.

This record could make other stressful countries depressed because France managed to raise its consumption by seven percent between 1991 and 1997.

It can do this because 11.3 percent of everybody over 18 has taken one or more types of psychotropes regularly, for periods of at least six months. With age this increases to about 18 percent.

French ladies take twice as much as men and control 70 percent of sales by themselves. It is thought that city doctors are under pressure from their patients to prescribe anti-depressants.

Since the doctors are incapable of saying 'no', the government is thinking of stepping in and cutting everybody's ration by 10 percent. How depressing!

Unhappy Fun Fairs

Europe is an odd place in the sense that regular events take place, that have an origin so old nobody can remember how they got started. I always wondered why big fun fairs were regularly held in big cities, and I still don't know why.

In Paris, an annual 'Fête Forain' in the Tuileries Gardens is in current operation. You know it is there, because it has a very tall ferris wheel - and you might have seen it when the Tour de France was shown making its final run to the Champs-Elysées.

'Fête Forain' means public party organized by the 'forains.' These used to be the merchants at regular fairs, but now the two words go together to mean a fun fair - with merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, and the modern flying, whizzing, roller-coaster rides, plus the shooting galleries and the cotton candy, or 'papa's beard' as it is called here.

In the spring, the Foire du Trône is installed on the 'Pelouse de Reuilly' and in the early fall the Fête à Neu-Neu usually camps in the Bois de Boulogne. In addition to the one in the Tuileries, there is the Fête Des Loges currently under way in the forest, just west of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Last spring, the Ville de Paris tried to suppress the Foire du Trône, or move it elsewhere, and the 'forains' did a lot of incoherent demonstrating. Now, it has been announced, thephoto: champs elysees, 31 july Fête à Neu-Neu has been refused permission to use either of two possible Bois de Boulogne sites.

Jully 31st shot of the Champs-Elysées, for those who can't have enough. Note the 50-50 weather.

The 'forains' do not seem to be well-organized as well as not being in agreement with each other. They suspect their official spokesman of trying to get a permanent license for his own amusement park.

The Tuileries crowd shut down their amplifiers at 20:00 in order to keep on the good side of city hall and the ones out in the forest of Saint-Germain are so far away that they seem to be out of sight.

None of this is earth-shaking news, except that city hall seems to be treating the 'forains' with a certain contempt. Despite the big flashy rides and the loud noise, most of the 'forain' people have pretty marginal livelihoods. Nobody seems to know what public opinion is or if it even has one.

Parking Metres Go On Holiday

Starting today, parking metres in residential areas of Paris will be turned off for the month of August. This will be mainly on streets where there are no shops, bus lines, or heavy traffic.

Largely unaffected will be the right bank arrondissements of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th and 10th. The measure, first tried in 1977, will see 111,000 free spots created out of a total of 145,000.

This means 34,000 will still be liable for parking fees. A yellow sticker on a parking metre means it is on vacation. The 'pervenches' who normally place tickets on cars are mostly on vacation too, and this appears to be the main reason for the measure.

Before you dash off on a wild parking spree, remember that August is also the month when all the roadworks get done and many streets become impassable. Some streets are also closed to motorized traffic to allow pedestrians to walk around like human beings for 30 days.

Special attention should be paid by night drivers as the Périphérique gets its annual overhaul, usually from 21:30 through to 06:00. It won't ever be entirely closed, but the southwest corner looks like it will be closed most often - for eight different periods during the month.

Eye Strain

Paris was flooded with the publicity of World Cup sponsors for the duration of the event and residents were treated to such novelties as the WWII German camouflage paint on the Tunisian bus.

What was a 30-day gag has turned into a nightmare as local bright sparks have begun to apply these ideas to transit vehicles, turning them into ugly, rolling billboards.

Métrobus, the RATP's spacephoto: village roof sales arm, took in an additional 40 million francs during the championships and they seem reluctant to give it up.

One of my neighbors is having a new roof installed. When finished, it will look as old as the rest of the place - on purpose.

The ads are placed on the bus or métro train with a special 'cling-film' that allows passengers to see out of the windows, and leaves no traces when removed from the bodywork.

The process is expensive, with the cost of the material and its application being as much as 140,000 francs for a bus and a half-million for an entire métro train.

More News?

I'm afraid not. But I am tempted by the story of the RATP expanding its bike rental business - planned for October - but for now, I'll just say the RATP is renting two bikes for the price of one during August.

Take care though. Their Métrobus people may have the idea to outfit the riders with yellow jerseys, with the name of some bank on them. Sort of like the 'sandwich' men you used to see about 478 years ago.

The Tour de France: An Online Sports Event

The Tour de France is the world's number one bike race by virtue of being the longest and hardest. This year's edition is the 85th and it started in Dublin. Not quite the same race finishes in Paris tomorrow.

To get an idea of it, check out VéloCity. These are the same people who brought us the Sports Café during the World Cup. It has all the news you want to know, and I suppose, quite a bit you wish you never heard of.

Both VéloCity and the Tour de France's official Web site sell various bicycle-related goods online, and if you feel like getting into the swing of things by doing it in French, then give 'Le Tour' a shot.

Metropole reader Ed Grant may possibly be a bike nut, so I asked him if he had any favorite Tour de France Web sites. He offered the following: Bicycling magazine and the comprehensive site of bike fan, 'kjtar.' This guy has everything except his own name here, and he even has t-shirts for sale and maybe a low-milage - never raced, certainly never rallied! - BMW 2002 tti as well. If you like this kind of '70's car, that is.

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