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Christmas Storm Where We Are

photo: le select

Late winter afternoon to spend in 1926 café.

Get Ready for New Years 99-2000

by Ric Erickson
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Paris:- Monday, 27. December 1999:- About 05:00 yesterday morning I woke up because I felt too warm. I opened the window, heard rain clattering into the courtyard and went back to sleep for a long time.

About an hour before, a cyclone had hit the coast of France at the tip of Brittany. It passed by Le Harve and Rouen and arrived in the Paris area around 7:00. The weather station at Orly airport clocked wind gusts of 172 kph.

As cranes and chimneys crumbled and roof tiles flew away, I slept through it all. See the report in this week's Au Bistro column.

Christmas Where You Are

A lot of the writing for this issue has been done by your responses to last week's call for 'Christmas Where You Are.' You will find all of these on the 'Christmas' emails pages. Up to yesterday, your emails totalled XX.

Christmas Where I Am

A windstorm whacked France and Paris during the night of Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning Radio France-Info said emergency services in Paris had been called more than 600 times, but there were no deaths and few injuries. These violent winds were to continue, the radio said.

The radio-news then rattled off an entire catalogue of natural disasters, coups d'etat, and strike news. I wished I hadn't turned the darn thing on. Christmas Eve's weather forecast for some brightness in Paris on Christmas Day, was a total mistake too.

I had my 'gala' Christmas breakfast and after it, opened my Christmas presents. This didn't take longphoto: waffle stand, montparnasse because there was only one - not even wrapped. In fact, it was a 'note-it' telling me to get a decent chair.

Get your Christmas waffles and American movies in Montparnasse.

The place where a part of my anatomy spends a lot of its time should be more comfortable than it is. My feet have been taken care of with decent shoes and reinforced with good-enough socks, but I have neglected the part that sits - for hours, days, weeks, and so on.

This has been my first Christmas right in Paris and I was curious to see how it would be. With the warnings about winds, I was a bit undecided about what to do or where to go.

The boulangerie on my street being open surprised me. Anticipating everything being closed for once, I got all necessary - and some unnecessary - supplies early on the 24th.

The first two cafés on the avenue were open, and across the avenue the McDo and the Tabac next to it were open too. The newspaper kiosk near the main métro entrance was open and it had a Saturday-Sunday edition of Libération, so I got it.

At the métro entrance I was still undecided. I had a café and noticed a fair number of people at tables having themselves something to eat, including the café's managers. Then I wandered down the avenue, to see what else might be open because I thought there would not be much.

This was about the time of the 'after' - after a very late breakfast or after a very early Christmas lunch - and some people looked they were taking strolls 'after.' Others were walking their dogs, or just walking. Nobody looked lost.

On the avenue, nearly all the Asian delicatessens were open, as well as some snack places. Towardsphoto: place tertre Alésia, the big café-tabac was closed and the marché near it too - although on the Rue Daguerre some of the merchants for fresh food had been closing down after the morning's trade.

Yesterday, after the storm; in the Place du Tertre on Montmartre.

Around Alésia, the big café-restaurants were open and seemed fairly full of diners. The church was open and the two big cinemas looked like they were going to open soon, for the first seance about 14:00. The Pizza-Hut was closed and so was another nearby McDo outlet.

Since there was quite a lot of wind puffing down the Avenue du Maine, I retraced my steps back up the Avenue Leclerc. There was an attempt at some rain at Alésia and the sky looked threatening, but it was not cold - somewhere about eight or 10 C.

I took one of the rues off the avenue. The Italian restaurant was closed, but the fancier restaurant next door was open and full of diners. The Asian delicatessen was open too, as well as the custom chocolate shop. After these, everything else was closed, all the way to the Avenue du Maine.

By this time I was up to regular walking speed; up in the 'keep-going' range. Two restaurants on the Avenue du Maine were open, but nothing else except one little shop, open for last-minute 'forget-me's.'

Turning at Gaité and going down it towards Edgar Quinet, all the peep-show places seemed open, but all restaurants were closed, except for a few sandwich and snack places. Glancing down side streets, I saw that all oriental restaurant signs were lit up.

All the cafés at the Edgar Quinet place were open, and I stopped in one I had been told was a 'Sunday' place, for when the local cafés where I live are closed.

Going down the Rue d'Odessa, most of its fast-food places were open, including one micro-grocery. At Montparnasse, people were coming out of one multiplex cinema and going in the next one, but there wasn't the usual chaos around the métro exit there.

On the boulevard, one cinema had all of its four big billboards featuring US films, all dubbed into French. The popcorn and crêpes stand was open. Then, up to Vavin, just about every place serving food and drink was open.

It must be, that not all people have 'traditional' Christmas fare at home with the family. Big city, Paris, and people go out instead - to give the dishwasher a rest.

Coupole, Select, Rotonde, Le Dôme, all were open. Traditional fare - or part of it - the Bar à Huitres was open too.

Members of the Café Metropole Club have been telling me that restaurants will be closed for New Years Eve. They wondr how they can pass up on this great 'night out.'


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