Les 'Intellos' On Parade

photo: rallye walking shoes

These boots were made for walkin' - a lot.

A Sunday Spent Looking For Clues

Email from Linda Thalman, via the Internet: Monday, 22. March 1999:-

Dear Ric,

Boullay-les-Troux:- You missed it again - the 46th annual 'Rallye dans Paris' on the 14th of March! You missed the most beautiful Sunday in Paris in months! You missed doing what you do every other day I guess. We could have used you on the team.

We started with coffee and croissants at the sports club in Cachan for registration at 8:15. Shortly after nine o'clock we were scouring the Cité Universitaire for clues to obscure questions and bizarre snippets of 'things' along the route: such as a finger from a statue, a roof top, a mosaic, a shop sign.

Avoiding joggers on the paths of the Parc Montsouris wasn't easy with our heads in reference books or looking behind trees and shrubs for the elusive objects.

The exact route we took is a blur by now, but I recall vividly being enchanted with the houses in what is only called 'Cité Floral' on my map. The Rues des Glycines, Iris, Volabilis, Liserons and the Square des Mimosasphoto: shoes right are in the triangle of Rue Auguste Lançon, Rue Boussingault and Rue Brillat-Savarin in the 13th arrondissement. Simply a delight. You should stop by to get a photo of the Bar Floral.

The 'avoiding joggers' stance.

The day was so glorious that we squandered our morning enjoying the bustling Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles before collapsing for a hurried sandwich at Place Paul-Verlaine around 13:30 and much behind schedule. My knees had yet to give out, but oh - my aching back!

The afternoon took us to the Place d'Italie, by the Gobelins and through the Square René-le-Gall - which is a park of about 30,000 square metres I'd never seen or heard of before. An oasis of calm and not a tourist in sight.

Almost forgot the lively Sunday street market on the Boulevard Auguste Blanqui between métro station Corvisart and the Place d'Italie. Since we were looking for historicalphoto: roofs clue facts and unusual roof lines, I didn't have time - or space in my backpack - for fresh strawberries, raspberries, cheeses galore, a rôti, or anything else. This is a market to check out when not on a Paris rallye.

This 'roofs' clue looks like a chimney-clue to me.

We were heading towards the end of the rallye and came upon the most ominous street in Paris I've ever seen - the Rue Jean-Dolent. This is where the sinister-looking Maison d'Arret de la Santé is located. Imposing high walls hid what looked like a medieval-looking aberration in the 14th arrondissement; a remand prison. What's the history to this place?

We scrambled to finish our questionnaire for the 17:30 deadline and then the team collectivelyphoto: shoes left collapsed in a brasserie at the Place Denfert- Rochereau. My 'wounded knees' of two years ago held up much better than expected and no blisters this year!

The 'truckin' along' step is quite different from the 'scramble.'

As usual, we were a motley crew of British, Brazilian, Canadian, Dutch, French, Italian and Americans. But we all speak French after a fashion fortunately, or we'd really have been in trouble. Without it, we couldn't use our reference works for the 'intello' clues, or communicate with each other

As I said, the day was perfect: blue sky all day, warm temperatures and good company - which meant we lost our concentration on winning the rallye. I'm pleased to say we came in honorably: in 28th place out of over a hundred teams.

We'll be back again next year!

Best regards,


Linda Thalman©1999

Welcome Back!

Bonjour Linda -

Paris:- Saturday, 29. March 1999:- In case you have forgotten, Linda Thalman watches over Metropole's server. She makes sure it keeps twirling around 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, so you can access it anytime and from anywhere.

Once a year she abandons this awesome task on a Sunday and she goes on a punishing 'street' rallye' in Paris - for fun! - and if itphoto: woman clue is not too 'punishing' she might write an Email about it for us. The last time she did so it appeared here as the Report From the 'Wounded Knee' Street Rallye.

The 'lady-clue,' also known as the 'woman' clue.

The contestants are given a 'route book' full of crummy copies of photos of obscure signs or crumbling chimney pots and if they manage to spot the originals, they 'prove' it by noting its address; as in '25 bis, Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles.'

Also, there are 'intello' questions to answer. Suchphoto: wall clue as, "Which famous French musician's mother-in-law's boyfriend lived in this house?" Or even easier, "In what year was the pump built that serves the houses in the Parc Floral?"

Competitors get points for answering these silly questions correctly. Also there are 'games' at the beginning, middle and end of the rallye - such as naming all of Paris' bridges in order, from upriver to downriver, or the other way around. This is considered an 'easy' game although there are 34 bridges, with more being added almost daily.

The extra-tricky 'wall' clue had more than a couple stumped.

Because contestants take all of this very seriously - one team wants to be first after all! - they do not do a lot of extra gawking about or take snapshots of each other; and I was unavailable to do it because I was here making the week's issue at the time.

For these reasons, this 'report' of this year's rallye is illustrated with a few of the so-called 'clues' and some symbolic photos I dreamed up - all of which is a way of saying, these are not Linda's legs in the photos - but you can 'imagine' they are if you are inclined to do so.

As far as the 'history' of the Maison d'Arret de la Santé is concerned, the French parliament is currently discussing the wisdom of locking up people for long periods beforephoto: shoes right they have been convicted of any crimes. For crooks this can be an advantage as they may have served their time before being convicted; but it is less useful to the innocent.

A 'classic' spot-the clue stance.

The prison was built in 1861 by Emile Vaudremer, of the 'Baltard' school. The way the prison looks is meant to be a deterrent to even 'thinking' about crime. It was the scene of a famous escape by helicopter some years ago. One of the charges later leveled at the escape team, was violating Paris' air space without a permit.

Regards, Ric

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