Chaos Surprises Parisians

photo: cafe de la paix, opera

On view from the terrace of the Café de la Paix:
the renovation of the facade of the Opéra.

And Possibly Everybody Else Too

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 7. June 1999:- Last week was another one of those typical Parisian periods when tragedy turned to farce, everything got turned upsidedown, a lot of people got out-of-joint and the weather was nothing to write home about.

Some of the stories of these events have been mentioned in the week's 'Au Bistro' column. If you read this first - late news is that the métro, buses and lines 'A' and 'B' of the RER will be halted today at 13:30, until 16:30, to allow RATP personnel to attend the funeral of their deceased colleague - but most likely this will be over by the time you see this.

Parisians can and do put up with just about anything, but when public transport stops it affects just about everybody. Last Wednesday's and Thursday's city transport shutdown turned a 'moveable feast' of a town into a shambles.

Just imagine everybody underground being on the surface and fightingphoto: rain on strike wednesday for sidewalk space with visitors - who have little idea of what's going on; thinking maybe 'it's normal' - and standing in very long lines waiting for one of the city's 15,000 taxis.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, we walked - sometimes in the rain.

Imagine arriving at Gare Saint-Lazare, in order to catch a train leaving from the Gare de Lyon five kilometres away - as the bird flies. As if birds could fly with suitcases.

The SNCF's personnel were not on strike so the RER trains operated by national railway crews were running fairly normally - line 'B' to the airport at Roissy was shut down, but the line 'C' to Orly was operating - and the suburban train lines poured almost their usual number of commuters into the city.

However, some of these realized they would have to cross Paris on arrival, so they tried to come in with their cars; and as the traffic-lady on Radio FIP said, "Ooh-la-la!"

Where I live, my local SNCF station master did not know if the ticket controllers were on duty, so I had to buy the more expensive fare to get to Saint-Lazare in the city on Wednesday.

On account of the extra number of passengers, the SNCF cut the length of the train in half - possibly thinking running more half-length trains was better than running the regular numbers of full-length trains.

Once in Paris, I wanted to verify all the fares for the different Paris tickets and combo-passes, but all the RATP info booths and ticket windows were shut. This issue contains a feature about a 'Paris One Day Tour,' and I think the ticket prices are correct, but am not certain. If some are higher, then not by much.

It does make a difference to sidewalk traffic when the métro is shut down. Around Saint-Lazare there seemed to be extra chaos because some of the traffic signal lights were not operating. I write 'seem to be' because pedestrians were not waiting for the 'green man' just as cars were not clearing intersections on time - thus throngs of people were intermingling with throngs of hot cars.

Intermittent rain, as it has all week, added to the fun. Odd - when the sun is shining nobody seems to have an umbrella but when the first drops of rain start to fall, suddenly almost everybody has one.

After it was over, on Friday, I went to east Paris to look at what might become the future editorial office. It was a gloomy day, not particularly suited for photographs. Wednesday's events andphoto: theatre edward 7 Friday's gloom accounts for some photos in this issue being from archives - so the sunny Batobus and the Longchamp photos were not shot during the week - making this one of the few issues to use 'stock' photos.

The whole area behind the Olympia has been renovated - here is the Théâtre Edward VII.

All the posters are from the week. On Saturday I was able to get a nearly complete set of European election posters - representing only the main parties - by walking 200 metres to my local Mairie.

The 'Café Metropole Club' is not shut down or closed this week; but there is no 'news' for it, so its feature does not appear in this issue. Readers are still writing to say they will come when it opens; I think I better consider selling tickets for it.

Last week's 'Faites de la Peinture sur les Champs-Elysées' sent me a list of the winners, without bothering to include my name in it. Of the three competitors under eight years old, one was from Paris, one from the Ile-de-France and one was from the Bordeaux area.

There were five categories altogether. For the nine to 12-year group, only one was from the Ile-de-France and the other two were from the country. In all, competitors came from 81 Departments and 10 other countries - with myself representing Canada and Ireland. Of the total of 19 prize-winners, only four are listed as Paris residents.

A selection of the best paintings will be on exhibit at the Mairie of the 8th arrondissement, 3. Rue de Lisbonne, from 6. September until 14. September.

The 'Faites de la Peinture sur les Champs-Elysées' is scheduled to take place again next year. The organizers have also announced that there will be a second edition in September 2000, which will be on the Seine quays, and it will be accepting 2000 applications from painters.

A Couple of URLs

Besides having their photos featured in this magazine, Paris' bars and cafés are having more and more events of their own - from exhibitions to concerts of all sorts. Find out what's happening by giving 'Les Zincs' a virtual visit or two.

La Bibliothèque du Film, also know as the BIFI has a new site devoted to French movie history, which is expected to be fully operational at the end of this year. Forphoto: press kiosk the moment, mainly of interest to researchers, 'Ciné-Sources' will be augmented by 'Ciné-Regards,' which will feature stills from or about the films.

For Rent - Flat In Paris:- Available from Friday, 16. July to Saturday, 24. July, inclusive. A 75 square-metre apartment with two bedrooms, which can accommodate four or five. Located in the Marais, 3rd floor, walkup; all mod. cons., bright with windows; near five métro lines and several bus stops. Rent for less than hotel rates; buy goodies and do own continental breakfast. For full info, contact Ms. Adrian Leeds. This is a private-private deal.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 3.23 - 8. June 1998 - This issue featured - Café Metropole - 'Cascades of Visitor Info' and the 'Au Bistro' column had 'How France Gets Ready for the World Cup.' This issue had one feature entitled 'Me and Monte McGee and Monte McGee's Dog.' Deveral readers wrote about picniking in Paris in 'eMails: Picnic Tools - Picnic Places.' 'Links for WC'98: Ready, Set - Duck!' was an service feature nobody asked for. There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was about 'Not In My Wineglass!' - which was pretty nearly one 'not' too many.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 208 more stormy, windy, rainy Ile-de-France pre-summer days to go until summer really happens.

signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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