Dog Days To Come?

photo: terrace samaritaine

The rooftop terrace of the Samaritaine department
store at Pont Neuf.

Worrisome Pollution in Paris

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 2. August 1999:- France has been having a fantastic summer, according to the evening TV-weather lady and her occasional stand-in pal. To be precise, the skies have been mostly clear in Paris and daily temperatures are neighboring 30 C.

Each night the weather-lady clucks at the France-wide temperatures ranging from 26 to 32, and says, "But these don't quite add up to 'dog days.'" And adds, 'higher than seasonally normal.'

If you believe the TV-weather news, 'seasonally normal' for France is somewhere near the mean temperatephoto: old convertible for the ice ages. For me 25 C. is comfortable, 30 is warm and 'hot' starts after 35. 'Dog days' are when it is around 40 C. and humid, or without wind.

Neat little 'city' cars used to look like this one.

Elsewhere in France there are many local storms - mostly sudden and sometimes violent - cooked up by too much hot air. The other downside to the warm weather is air pollution in urban areas, including Paris.

The whole mass of air over the Pars area moves from northeast to southwest, so suburbanites in Essonne and Yvelines were stupefied last week to learn that pollution southwest of Paris was higher than in the city.

Equally astonishing, was the claim that it was partly the fault of the forest at Fountainebleau. Do you remember laughing when Ronald Reagan claimed many years ago that trees are heavy polluters? This seems to be the case.

This has gone on long enough, with weak winds, so the ozones or something are building up instead of being dispersed. This morning the whole Paris area has a Level 2 alert, which means all road traffic must roll at 20 kph under the posted speed limits. An expert said on TV last night that it is unknown if this measure will have a positive effect.

In Paris, municipal information panels post the latest news about the quality of the air. You can wait a good six minutes while watching one until it says, '5' maybe, followed by 'mediocre quality.' The other infos are about where to get gas masks and warnings not to leave your canary out of the balcony too long.

Last Wednesday I had a - what seemed long - tramp from Concorde through the Tuileries past the Louvre, to Pont Neuf. It was warm all right, but it may have seemed more so because of the heavy bag I was carrying.

At Pont Neuf, I went up to Samaritaine's rooftop terrace and had a cool drink. It is still free and semi-secret, with a priceless view. On top of it, it was less than crowded. The bar staff told me many Parisians show up at 18:00 to spend a cool hour there before it closes. The department store is open to 22:00 on Thursdays, but I'm not sure if the terrace stays open this late.

On Friday evening I had the chance for the first time to see the Friday night 'Roller Rando' launch itself from the Place de l'Italie. The night and the feel of the air reminded me of Spain but the roller people themselves were completely new.

Demonstrations in Paris that draw 20,000 marchers are considered to be fairly serious by the authorities, and can wreck traffic patterns for drivers for whole half-days.

So then, imagine 20,000 roller skaters taking a big tour of the city for three or four hours on Friday night. The way is cleared by no-nonsense moto-cops in front and all cross-traffic is blocked off for the twenty minutes it can take for the rolling herd to pass.

On top of it, the event finishes after the métro has stopped running, so there are a lot of people skating all over Paris late in the night of Friday-Saturday.

This is also a warning then - if you are out and about at this time, be careful crossing streets because oncoming rollers do not make much noise and usually do not have bike lights or license plates of any kind - and they can be coming on fast.

If you add the rollers to all of the cyclists, the lanes for them and the buses, the increasing popularity of all of them; the sum looks like less and less street area for cars. If it keeps up aphoto: velo taxi critical cross-over point will arrive, when motorists abandon their jalopies for big or little free-wheelers.

The massive sundial at the Place de la Concorde has been sort of a flop since the only people who can see it clearly are birds. All the same, Mayor Tiberi is persisting with the idea of closing most of the huge place to auto traffic.

If he pulls this off, I hope he expects the bike and roller people to show up at the Hôtel de Ville with dozens of petitions for closing less important thoroughfares. If he hasn't thought this through, he is going to get a surprise.

Right now, sitting at Concorde, there is a Vélo Taxi stand. Is this the future for Paris' transport? Walking, cycling, rollering, cyclecabs, the buses and Batobus. And of course, the good old métro goes everywhere - mostly on time and mostly all the time.

It is starting to look like regular cars have a dim future in Paris.

photo: cool poolBlue Lagoon - is a spare photo, taken a few weeks ago, that normally would have no place in Metropole. I put it in here for all the people who have been visiting Paris this past week, who might have been wishing they were elsewhere. Next year, 2000 if you dare, you can go elsewhere.

Next year, my neighborhood swimming pool will be open again. You know where I'll be.

Metropole's Summer Guide:- appeared in Issue 4.27 in the form of two extra pages in addition to the 'Scene' column. You can quickly get to these by hitting this link to the issue's home page, of by taping on All Past Issues at the top and bottom of most pages in Metropole.

This week's 'Scene' column has gotten a bit longer even after cutting out all the out-of-date events concerning Paris' Ottoman season - which is nearly over.

Over the past weeks I've found myself typing 'La Villette' a lot so I went out there and had a look around. Around midday not much was happening outside; but I added even more nighttime and weekend activities and put them into their own 'events' page, called 'A Multi-Theme Park.'

Doing this isn't handy from a 'events-calendar' point of view, but the 'Scene' page is far too long. This is a problem I'm going to sleep on in the hope that when I wake up I have a sensible solution to 'too many events' to fit in it.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 3.31 - 3. August 1998 - This issue featured - even less - Café Metropole - 'Don't Bring Your Laundry Here' and the 'Au Bistro' column had 'Siestas Are Good For You.' This issue had only one feature, entitled 'In the Jardin d'Acclimatation Wonderland.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Siesta School'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 152 more stupendously sunny and occasionally very hot Ile-de-France summer days to go until the next really big depressing weather front comes along..
signature, regards, ric

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