The Millennium Horizon

photo: bercy village wine restos

Part of the old Bercy wine depot has been turned into
chic wine restaurants.

Needs a New '2000 In Paris' Column

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 6. September 1999:- This issue is dominated by sun, sex, Las Vegas - again! - Mouffetard - again! - and a big party. During it I pay visits to my dentist, meet visiting readers and crawl around Paris for the good of all and the RATP which has kindly furnished the transport system.

Obviously all of this can't fit in one issue, just like 11 million French kids can't fit in the schools for their 'Rentrée' today - but they will do it, and this week's Metropole 'fits in' itself. Somehow.

An example is 'Blues On the Seine' below. I caught it while cruising Paris looking for 'Les Fêtes de la Seine.' This party is four days long, but the activities on the Quai de la Gare are year-round, so the essay is on this page.

Metropole's New Web Address

Last week, on publication day, 'Metropole Paris' moved from a sub-basement of the Internet to its own new home, in its brand-new Dot-.Com domain. Either the move went okay and there were no glitches, or nobody has bothered to mention them.

Here then, for possibly unalert readers, is the new URL for 'Metropole Paris:' http://www.metropoleparis.comPlease 'bookmark' the new URL if you feel like it. If not, the old URL will continue to work - through the arcane magic of an item called 'redirect.'

The Dentist's Treasures

Last week my dentist opened up her door for my mouth's 'rentrée' and showed me into the waiting room. I had been in it a couple of times in mid-July, but hadn't really looked it over - I was in and out of it so quickly.

Last week I was nervous, so I gave it a tour. It is not a big waiting room, but looking it over took more than ten minutes. It has been made smaller by being a collection point for many mornings spent atphoto: view, allee aux cygnes the nearby Saturday fleamarket at Vanves. It looks like an antique dealer's small shop, with cabinets, standing lamps, picture frames, unmatched chairs, sofas and several glass display cases crammed full of a lot of 'collectibles.'

The Allée des Cygnes is on this island in the Seine.

In one display case, there is the top half of a skull on one side and the lower jaw is on the other side. Between are some old surgery tools and a lot of other odds and ends.

The mirror over the fireplace has a words-and-pictures travelogue about East Africa, along with some dental hints. Odd items are stashed behind an antique screen and piled up in every other corner.

Behind the miniature sofa where I decided to sit, I noticed a whole pile of big, round canisters, like three-reeler movie film cans, but with ventilation holes. They looked more industrial than antique, they appeared to be made of heavy-duty aluminum and to be fairly new.

The dentist's operating salon is much the same, with display cases full of those glass things with flowers or whatever they are, in them. There is barely room for the torture chair, and an antique desk on flimsy legs and a comfortable chair for sitting in while writing big cheques.

After trying to find my mouth's records amid the incredible disorder and making some molds, I mentioned the 'collection' and the odd containers.

Her eyes lit up. Ah! Yes, they were from the Vanves flea market. They were medical sterilization containers, made to French navy specifications.

A little one, she said, indicating the size of a catfood tin, costs about 500 francs, new. The ones she had - the size of a round case of catfood tins - priceless. The navy, having phased out a lot of its medical services, has gotten rid of them and they somehow ended up at Vanves fleamarket.

She said there was a doctor picking up stuff there too - knee-jerk hammers, unused and brand-new - and she was passing on some of her sterilization container collection to other dentists and colleagues.

Near the door, on the way out, she showed me another pile of the canisters that I hadn't noticed. She showed me how to open and close the ventilation slots. One big enough to steam-cook two good-sized trout, was worth about 3000 francs at a medical-supply place. She figured the vendor at Vanves paid about 10 francs a piece for most of them.

I must get down to Vanves when I have ten francs to spare for treasure, or 200 francs to get a gross of them.

Blues On the Seine

On Thursday, in stunningly beautiful weather, I was looking for the beginning of the Fêtes de la Seine at Bercy and across the river, along the Quai François Mauriac and the Quai de la Gare.

These are the quays at the foot of the Hyper-Grand Bibliothèque Nationale in the 13th arrondissement. In winter you'd put your collar up a little higher and not give them a second look.

You can't miss them from the Bercy side, because of the dark red Batofar,photo: blues cafe, quai de la gare an ex-lighthouse ship. 'Batofar' is a neat name because it is the only one in French which is spelled phonetically. Normally it would be 'Bateau-Phare.'

On the Quai de la Gare - with the Quai François Mauriac in the background.

The Batofar is getting a reputation as a good - or loud? - late-night dance joint. In all, there are eight or nine ships and barges tied up along these quays and nearly all of them are restaurants, dancing joints, or both.

Local neighbors are reported to be cmplaining of course. These must be late-night researchers in the big library, because there isn't much else around; not much to stop noise from travelling either.

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