France Plans 'Green Line

photo: cafe le rubis
Paris can look worse than this in winter; but not by much.

Yes, But How Long Is IT?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 30. November 1998:- Since you may be as humbugged about Christmas as I am, and glad to see I've got the subject stuffed into its own ghetto within the magazine, I need not mention it in this column - not in this issue.

Creeping up on us quickly, is the end of next year - the changeover from the 1900's to the 2000's. For some time it seemed as if Paris was floundering around for ideas and a few very odd flags were run up some very high flagpoles, producing only unenthusiastic salutes, from very tiny architect's sketchy stick-people.

But now there seems to be some 'modest proposals' emerging. One is to simply plant a line of trees along the 'Paris Meridian.' This is a line that was calculated by French math gurusphoto: boulevard haussmann in 1667 and until 1884 it was the 'zero' longitude. Then it moved to Greenwich, and France and Ireland moved their 'zeros' to it too in 1911.

You may not be ready, but the Boulevard Haussmann is ready for you.

The old one runs through Paris and I believe there are a series of markers nailed to the ground that you can follow if you run out of other walking tours. This line is exactly 2º20'14" east of Greenwich by the way.

The 'Méridienne Verte' plan involves more than Paris, for it is planned to run from Dunkirk to Barcelona, through 337 communities, 20 departments and eight regions. The trees are all supposed be all planted on 25. November 1999, on Sainte-Catherine's Day, with a fair amount of fanfare.

These will not be little bushes or saplings - these are supposed to be trees around 12 years old, each costing several thousand francs - and the whole line of them should show up clearly from Mars - if you have a powerful telescope and happen to be up there, of course.

I like this idea much better than the copycat idea second Tour Eiffel at Bercy.

Salon Nautique '98, Revisited

When I wrote the plug for the Salon Nautique last week, I thought that would be the end of it for me. I need to see big, shiny boats that I can't afford about as badly as I need a second swimming pool.

By coincidence more than anything else, Bernard Bouygues wrote to tell me that a friend alerted him to Metropole's 1996 coverage of his project, the 'France II Renaissance.' He said, "I want you to know that we are working like buffalos to make things go through and it is moving nicely ahead."

For those of you who will not hit all the hyperlinks above, the 'France II Renaissance' project can not be put into a nutshell because it involves a five-masted sailing ship - and you can buy a 'share' of it. This is not a common, everyday sort of offer, so before you poo-poo it, think it over - look it over - carefully.

38th Salon Nautique International de Paris
At Paris Expo, Paris 15. Métro: Porte de Versailles. From Saturday, 5. December to Monday, 14. December; from 10:00 to 19:00 daily. On 11. December, until 23:00 and closes at 17:00 on the last day. Entry: 60 francs; half fare, 30 francs.

Some Disappearing Cliches

'The Tocqueville Connection' takes a look this week at some 'vanishing symbols' of France. It saysphoto: putting up lights they are 'old,' but most are products of this century and of foreigner's imaginations.

The 'Gauloise' brand of cigarette is headed for extinction, cafés are on the way out, the baguette is a dead duck and the 'French' beret - actually Basque - is only seen in 1938 movies starring Jean Gabin. Do not worry, this is all according to the AFP - Agence France Press - and was probably written in their Washington bureau.

The current issue also contains three interesting book reviews; one about a Victor Hugo biography, another about an Englishman's conclusions after living 12 years in France, and two authors' assessment of French 'pseudoscience.' My conclusion: French 'pseudoscience' may or may not surpass the pseudoscience of other nationalities!

Horse Show - the 27th Edition Salon du Cheval, Poney et de l'Ane

Fancy horses, riders, riding competitions, judgement of animals and equipment displays. The big competitions seem to be over this past weekend, but the whole rest of the show is not.

Paris Expo - Porte de Versailles. To Saturday, 5. December. Daily from 10:00 to 19:00; to 22:00 on Tuesday, 1. December. Info. Tel.: 08 03 39 83 98

Miniature Architecture

I came upon the Gault shop at 39. avenue de l'Opéra by chance, as this is where I happened to come out of the area around the Marché Saint-Honoré. This shop, and anotherphoto: shop window gault on the rue de Rivoli, have these hand-made and hand-painted miniature houses and buildings - modelled on real buildings in Paris, Alsace and Provence.

Gault's show window, facing the Avenue de l'Opéra.

The interesting aspect to them is that you can order any building you want, for an extra fee. Even the models in the catalogue are not guaranteed to match their photos, as they are all hand-made - although I think I remember the lady in the shop saying they have a lower-priced mass-produced line.

If you can afford it; you can assemble a whole Provençal village, add some little matching people to it, and pretend to pick up a fresh baguette every morning. Dream on. Houses go up to 1700 francs, but you can get a Morris column for just 80 francs.

Boutiques Gault, 39. avenue de l'Opéra, Paris 2. Info. Fax. 33 1 42 97 47 40.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 2.48 - 1 December 1997 - Thiscount down Eiffel Tower issue featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'We Think Singing in the Métro is Fun' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Barbara - Another Funeral in Paris.' The issue had three feature articles, entitled 'Free Grapes Galore at Champerret,' 'Looking Around at Food, Sort Of - In the rue Lepic' and 'Alfa Wins Euro Car of the Year Award.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' again and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was subtitled, 'Keep Pouring,' which I don't think was about Beaujolais Nouveau.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 397 nights and days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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