Christmas Gaga In Paris

photo: cafe le panorama

Empty terrace means cold weather; customers are inside.

Call For Write-Ins

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 20. December 1999:- For all of you brave fans of the weather, I have disturbing news for you. Last Friday it started to rain seriously in Paris. 'Raining seriously' is continuous rain and it is rare here.

In an early version of 'Christmas events,' I had different dates for the start up of the Hôtel de Ville's skating rink and the 'Alpine Village' at Trocadéro. Result: no ice skating at the Hôtel de Ville last Wednesday, and pouring rain on Friday and Saturday.

The weather forecasts being what they are, I was hoping for a bit of peekaboo half-decent weather on one of these two days but they were washouts. The user manual for myphoto: palais chaillot outlook camera clearly states it may explode if it is exposed to water, so I have hesitated to risk rainy-day photos - especially of the 'Alpine Village' at Trocadéro.

Winter sport fans view Trocadéro's alpine view from the Palais Chaillot yesterday.

I also planned some night shots of Paris' holiday illuminations, but I am even less inclined to try these in the rain, in near freezing temperatures. I am disappointed, you are disappointed; but there it is.

I have been on the Champs-Elysées fairly often lately and each time I told myself to come back at night, to get a photo of its light decorations.

Whether raining or not, this may be now impossible. Annie Salmona, who was at the Café Metropole Club some weeks ago, sent me a night shot of the Champs-Elysées that I thought was a pretty good photo until I read her accompanying email.

The Champs-Elysées' original holiday decor involved wrapping the avenue's trees in colored gauze, with electric lights inside. However, this last autumn has been an exceedingly long one, and not all of the leaves had fallen from these trees before they were 'wrapped up.'

Then there were winds. And, as always, there is the ordinary but ceaseless Champs-Elysées traffic, which added a layer of pollution tophoto: winter village, trocadero the gauzy sacks. The city noticed it too - as well as other Metropole readers, plus Annie's sister in Paris - and has changed the decor since I was last there.

The 'ski runs' and the skating rink are surrounded by the marché's chalets.

So, here is where it is. Annie says her photo shows the Champs-Elysées' decorations in their original state, as she did the shot on the decorations' first night light-up.

On account of the rain I do not know what shape the decorations are in. With today being Monday I have no chance to 'catch up,' unless I add a 'dateless' update during the week. I have been hoisted by my own 'dateline' rule.

Therefore, the photo that open's this week's 'Scene II' - Christmas in Paris page, is by Annie Salmona and it was taken on Sunday, 28. November. I do not know if Annie used a tripod, but I do know she used a 35mm reflex camera - not one of these 'turn-night-to-day' digital jobs.

Yesterday, the winds changed direction, dropping the daily highs below the lows, but clearing the sky of clouds. All of this issue's photos are therefore from before the rain and from after it, except Annie's.

Party Time In the Artists' Ateliers

As you walk down streets in Paris that might seem to be lined with bourgeois-type apartment buildings, you might not realize that these respectable bourgeois fronts are hiding artists and artisan's ateliers in their inner courtyards.

This is the case with my building. I have no street door, but enter through a hall wide enough for a car, to a courtyard which is shared by my building and the one next door. On either side stacks of ateliers rise in facing towers, going up five or six flights.

Each time I go into my place on the ground floor, all these big windows overlook me. On Friday I got a chance to look out of one of them, on the fourth floor.

Around lunchtime, I needed a café so I went to Le Bouquet and ran into Dimitri who was impatiently waiting for the cook to do something to a big piece of beef.

I only meet Dimitri in the café, although I know he has one of the ateliers in my building. He restores old picture frames and he knows I've wanted to see this business, so while cooling his hungry heels he decided to invite me to a party in the atelier next to his.

He said the overflow from that party would fill up his place, so it was perfectly okay to invite me. I have bonjoured and bonsoired a lot of people for months without knowing who they are - and I thought this would be a chance to meet some of them.

This was the first party I've been to since February 1998 and I put on a good mood for it. After climbing up to the fourth floor I did not find Dimitri's door so I went in the one that was open.

This turned out to be the party itself, in a high-ceilinged atelier, full of food, drink, music, picture frames and a lot of people I had never seen before.

The hostess had never seen me either before. She came out to the hallphoto: courtyard ateliers with me and knocked on the next door, which she said was Dimitri's. Then she pounded on it. Then she kicked it, pounded on it and shouted, "Dimitri, wake up!" Nothing happened.

Being a busy lady, she gave up fast and invited me to her party and I went in an introduced myself to a lot of people who had never heard of the Internet, let alone the 'Internet Reporter for Paris.'

One of the two towers of ateliers in my courtyard. Each has a mezzanine inside.

It was a lovely party. Although there wasn't really enough room to dance, three couples managed to do it. I even waltzed around a bit with Lucile the sculptor because she was the only person there wearing very high-heeled red shoes, which made her the tallest person in the place.

Dimitri showed up and did some very fine Russian-style San Francisco dancing, which took up the room for two couples. Another couple did some modified tango, which made them very hungry and thirsty.

There never got to be enough guests to overflow into Dimitri's atelier next door. When other people began to leave, I left too because I am a bit out-of-party shape, even if the server-lady did give me some teeth-rattling dancing lessons on Bastille Day.

Down in the courtyard, I couldn't hear the party. I have heard others. They seem to have explosions about 02:00 before they go quiet, but they never bother me.

Christmas Where You Are

As a Metropole Paris reader, you live in one - at least! - of about 75 countries around the world. I would, and I think Metropole readers would too - like to hear about how you will pass the holiday 'chez vous.'

If you live in any of the many countries where Christmas is not a holiday, writing about your own Saturday, 25. December 1999 will be perfectly welcome. The idea is to share this day with all.

What I plan to do is put all of your emails about Christmas or the plain Saturday into one or more 'Emails from Readers' page or pages in the coming issue, which will go online on Monday, 27. December 1999.

Taking a minute to write a note will take no longer than arranging to send me an E-Christmas card, and I will prefer the email more than the card, because it can be shared by all.

To participate, please put 'My Christmas' in the email's 'subject' line.

I will want to run your name with your email contribution, but I will not publish your email address unless you specifically request it. And, as with all email correspondence to Metropole, your name and email address will not be given or sold to anyone else.

Putting in your home town is optional. If you do include it, it will not become the 'City of the Week' unless you are at next Thursday's Café Metropole Club meeting in Paris. I'm sorry to sound firm about this, but it is a firm 'notion' I have. Actually it is an unilateral and dictatorial decision.

Your email contributions should be short. But there is no maximum or minimum limit, so as authors it is up to you how much you write.

As your 'Ed,' I will edit your contributions, to make them fit Metropole's minimal standards. Thisphoto: snack kiosk, trocadero means that if you are not too sure of your English, I will fix it up - but without changing any of its meaning or adding any silly stuff of my own.

Snack kiosk at Trocadéro yesterday.

If you wish to write in any language other than English, you will have be your own contribution's 'Ed' and I will run it exactly as I receive it. Whatever language it is in, you should use the 'Latin-1' character set, which can reproduce most accents.

All these darn rules! For those who do not care for either Christmas or Saturday, you can write about Paris instead, because this is what brings us together.

Brush up your typing fingers. You have six days left to get your contributions in. These may be the issue's entire contents.

Café Metropole Club's 10th Session ReBop

The 10th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' ran off pretty successfully, with a Café Metropole Club sandwich to eat last Thursday. Read all about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

Metropole's Next Issue - This Year's Last One

Next Monday, 27. December, Metropole will appear online as usual. Other than the 'Christmas Where You Are' mentioned above, I am making no plans for this issue, so it may be a much reduced one.

The Café Metropole Club will have its regular meeting next Thursday. But I may save its Thursday 'report' until the regular issue's date if I decide to be partly 'on holiday.'

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a good one. Remember that it will be the - nominally - last one in this century, so make it count.

For those who do not celebrate Christmas, please consider the next issue one of 'winter hibernation.' It will be overfull of New Years events and possibly overfull of email messages from you. I do not intend to do much more than put it together.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.51 - 21. December 1998 - The Café Metropole column was titled by its perplexed 'Ed' - 'When In France.' 'Au Bistro' had 'A Rosy-Smelling Métro.' This issue had only one feature, entitled 'How Not to Dress Like a Bozo.' The issue also had 'Metropole's Pre-Christmas Program VII - Xmas '98.' The week's 'Scene' column headline was 'Goya in Lille.' count down Eiffel Tower There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Capital Gains Delicacies.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 2.51 - 22. December 1997 - The Café Metropole column still had the endlessly boring subject of the weather on its mind, in 'Don't Ask Me to Look Out the Window.' The 'Au Bistro' column was entitled 'Two Trials and a Nice Guy in Marseille.' This issue had two features, entitled 'Downtown Strolling Without Snow' and 'A Modest New Years' Proposal - 311 Year-Old Café.' Christmas futures continued with 'Noël Program III - Even More Opera, Ballet, Theatre, Concerts and Events.' There were four'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Greetings from Paris.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 12! even shorter and increasingly wintry days and cold nights to go in Paris and Ile-de-France until the really big year-end party explodes upon us. Note that tomorrow is the shortest day of the year and the longest night - use it wisely.

Thank you for reading Metropole in 1999. Merry Christmas to you all.
signature, regards, ric

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