Your Paris Magazine Turns Three

photo: la rotonde du marquise

The café La Rotonde du Marquise, near Arts and Métiers.

So Why Is This Man Laughing?

Paris:- Monday, 22. February 1999:- This issue marks the end of Metropole's third year of publication, and the beginning of its fourth. The first issue went online on Friday, 23. February 1996. It followed 80 or 90 'reports from Paris,' which appeared on Norman Barth's 'The Paris Pages' Web site in 1995.

The reason for creating 'Metropole Paris' was to give Norman a little bit of his life back, as I was bombarding him with Paris news as it happened. In late 1995, with the massive transport strikes in France, the bombardment was non-stop.

So the idea was to provide 'The Paris Pages' with regular weekly 'Metropole' features and news, as a magazine within the larger site - with daily updates only if absolutely necessary.

Why this did not happen and why 'Metropole' is independent today is 'a long and boring story' of no consequence now. 'The Paris Pages' continues to use current features from 'Metropole' and Norman and I are still pals.

In the boom-town that is the Web there are nearly no Web sites as old as 'The Paris Pages' and there are very few that have been continuously published as long as Metropole. Besides both of us being as stubborn as mules, there is another reason for this.

The reason is Paris. There are a great number of fascinating cities on this planet, but there is only one Paris. In a Texas sense, Paris has more.

Paris does not have more everything than every other city of course - rather it has more 'some' things and some of these things are extraordinary. Even the 'ordinary' things are different.

The size of Paris suggests it be a big, world-city; and this is what it probably looks like from a jetliner 10,000 metres up in the sky. From one metre above the surface - a smallphoto: shakespeare & company kid's height - Paris may be confusingly complex. From an adult's height, Paris is more like the '100 villages' it is sometimes called.

The end of last Wednesday's 'Big Tour' day; at Shakespeare in the dark.

Paris may not look like this if you've gotten stranded on one of the little divider-islands in the middle of the Champs-Elysées during the morning, noon or afternoon rush hours. But as soon as the 'green man' lights up again - look both ways before you leave the safety of the 'island' first! - you can scuttle to the sidewalk and zip into a sidestreet - et voilà - you are back in the 'village.'

With each 'village' having its own dozen or 25 stories, Paris is a never-ending source of marvels. Although this is fine with visitors, it can annoy Parisians, who might prefer a bit more peace and quiet and fewer 'marvels.'

All the same, considering what they have to put up with, Parisians are hardy, and they are as friendly as circumstances allow them to be.

Their manners may seem a bit strange, but you should consider they've been living here for 2,000 years - and unlike the short-term visitor, do not get to 'go home' to Chico California, Yamaguchi or Ceduna, in South Australia after five days and four nights. If you are as pleasant in Paris as you are at home, Parisians will seem to be downright jolly.

Before getting on with the fourth year on this beat, this issue contains a feature from each of the two other anniversary issues, plus one from Issue 1.01. They have been reformatted to suit the current layout, but their text is unchanged.

Thanks for visiting 'Metropole Paris.'

Tocqueville This Week

This week's 'The Tocqueville Connection' has its customary number of interesting articles and features. Instead of me pointing out to you what might be interesting to me, I suggest you decide what you want to see yourself.

Got a Big Question? Give BOL a Tryout

Some readers write to me to ask general questions such as 'What are the French really like?' This requires, of course, at least a book-length answer; if not a whole library of books. Even the French ask themselves the same question; and bookstores here are full of the answers.

A couple of weeks ago, European media giant, Bertelsmann, launched 'Books-On-Line' - or BOL for short - in France and Germany, with a great deal good intentions behind the effort.

Metropole's readers always get replies, evenif I can't supply a book-length answer in an email. If you have one of these short questions and you really want the long answer, then give BOL's online bookshop a try. You can expect that they will be offering the books you seek - in multiple languages.

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