An Expo Too Soon

photo: le bouquet renovated

Since last Monday - Ed's renovated main café.

Zagato or King's Hot Rod?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 21. February 2000:- The weather is continuing its 'one day nice - one day not so nice' cycle as it has been doing for some time now. On the 'nice' days it is nearly spring-like.

Quite often Paris has no season known as 'spring,' so having a fake bit of it in February is more than welcome. It is something to try and remember around Easter, when the weather plays at being winter for the benefit all the Europeans who take a short break to visit Paris.

Usually, just before Easter and for a long time after, Paris has no weather 'season' at all. Not winter, not spring; it is some season nobody ever bothered to name because all anyone remembers about it is its rottenness.

The weather is not a perfect thing. It could play a trick and produce a perfect spring during the calendar section normally reserved for this season. I just do not remember it ever doing this; so don't get your hopes up.

Who Writes Metropole's 'Scene' Column Anyway?

I don't want to put 'Who Reads' in the headline above. I 'write' the darn thing, but last Wednesday I learned that I should start reading it carefully too.

The Ville de Paris has announced an exhibition called 'Liberté à la Une' - Freedom for the Front Page' and I put this item into last week's 'Scene' column, with the mention that it continues until 15. May.

Last Wednesday, I arranged to meet Allan Pangborn at métrophoto: brasserie en l'isle Grands Boulevards - ex-Rue Montmartre - with the idea of strolling down to the Bourse to see this expo. Oh surprise! When we got there, a guard told us the expo hadn't started yet.

Also caught in the act of renovation - the Brasserie En l'Isle. Photo: Allan Pangborn©2000

I neglected to look at its 'start' date. This exhibition begins today. But last Wednesday, with no other 'target' in mind, we were kind of at loose ends.

'Loose ends' produces no features for Metropole. Well, sometimes it does, but not last Wednesday. If you are at 'loose ends' in Paris anything can leap up in your path, just so long as you keep going.

We checked out a guns and hunting equipment shop near the Bourse and we visited the Bibliothèque Nationale in the Rue de Richelieu. This got us into the Passage de Beaujolais and from it into the garden of the Palais Royal.

All along the way, there were posters to see and shop windows to examine, and scenes to photograph. Coming out behind the Comédie Française, we decided to head east on the Rue Saint-Honoré, to do some shopping at the BHV.

Walking along this street is not the quickest way to get there, but walking was what we were doing instead of riding underground in the métro.

The north, east and south horizons were building up a big, thick-grey cloud show, but it held offphoto: interior old bouquet until we passed the Boulevard de Sébastopol. Allan said it was snowing, but it was just miniature ping-pong balls or white soot.

After coming out of the BHV without setting off all the shoplifter alarms, the sky looked blue-black, about 100 metres up, and ready to fall.

My own café, as it recently was.

Allan went one way on Rivoli and I took the métro back. When I climbed out of it there was a blizzard of falling slush, trying to pass itself off as snow. Total score for the excursion: no exhibitions, but 35 photos all the same - just from walking around a bit.

Enrico Wants a Zagato

Last Sunday I was spending the day the way I spend most Sundays - trying to put an issue of Metropole together. During the evening an email from Italy arrived. This is what it said:

"I was contacted by a person that visited the Retromobile exposition. He told me that there is for sale an old car that I'm interested in buying. Not being in Paris, for me it is hard to contact the vendor. His name is Christoph Grohe from Switzerland and his car is number 39. Can you tell me how to contact the person in charge or the vendor directly? Thank you very much, I'll be waiting for your reply. Enrico"

I had no particular intention to re-visit Rétromobile because I had already written about it for the issue. But the salon's organizers have no Web site or email address - 'because they are Rétro' - so I saw no way for Enrico to get what he was asking for without going there.photo: alfa zagato

As it turned out, Enrico's email wiggled in my head all week. On Friday I decided to give it a shot. What did I have? The name 'Grohe' and the number '39.'

Car number '39' was stored for 25 years; possibly in a barn.

A vendor? An exhibitor? Number 39; a stand-number, or what? When I got there I glanced at the exhibition's plan and cruised around all the stands with the number '39.' Nada total.

I was feeling not too well - some bug! - and was about to give up, but I decided to give the plan another look; for the name 'Grohe.'

Bingo! Stand 'C49.' All the way back, beyond the centre of the hall. On the stand, one of the other 'oldest cars,' a huge, gleaming, Maserati Quattroporte and a really beat and tired-looking red and yellow Alfa Zagato.

A German fellow - the 'mechanic' - on the stand told me the Zagato was number '39.' "Number 39 out of 120," he said. He showed me the interior and the tired-looking scene under the hood. He pointed out the dent in the roof and the dinged rear fender. He didn't say, "Never raced, never rallyed."

"Yes," he said, "The car had been discovered in a barn." Under a pile of hay? "Not exactly, but near enough."

I told Christoph Grohe about Enrico's email. He took this in without raising any eyebrows - it happens every day, anybody is a potential customer - and dug out a fact sheet about the Zagato.

With my mission more of less accomplished, I asked the German 'mechanic' to show me the Quattroporte. At one time, these were the world's fastest 'family' sedans - and in the case of this car, the 'family' was Spain's royal one.

The Maserati is a number 'two,' which for Maserati means number 'one' - of the second series of Quattroportes. A prototype, only one or two others like it were built. After Juan Carlos used it a bit, it went down to somebody else's garage in Marbella.

Not 'banker's hot rod,' but 'king's hot rod!'

Frua body, 40 cms extra long, made in 1973. Motor: V8 with 4700 ccm and 290 bhp@5500 rpm. Speed: 240 kph. Asking price: 380,000 francs. Dark metallic blue with '70's chrome trim. Interior: yellow leather. Spotless. Mint. Mileage unknown. Neverphoto: maserati quattroporte raced, never rallyed; unless Juan Carlos was a fast driver - which he was reported to be when younger.

The Maserati Quattroporte; more than 25 years old but cheaper than a tiny flat in Paris.

This is a very big jewel and makes new - and vastly more expensive - Mercs and BMWs look very boring. On top of it, the car is cheap - when you consider that it costs about the same as a 20 square-metre 'studette' in Paris.

And parking it in Paris would be no problem. With this kind of car you don't park it, you drive it. But Enrico still prefers the Zagato even if it is number '39.' With 3000 ccms less, it could top 200 kph.

Café Metropole Club's 19th Session

The 19th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' came off with its usual panache last Thursday.

Two new members from the state of Georgia signed up. Read all about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.08 - 22. February 1999 - The Café Metropole column was headlined: - 'Your Paris Magazine Turns Three.' 'Au Bistro' had 'Head-Count in France.' This issue had one feature, entitled 'A Good Day In a Good Way - Around Paris.' For Metropole's third or fourth birthday, the issue re-ran features from the same date in 1996, 1997 and 1998. This issue's 'Paris' Scene' had 'Latino Takes Over.' photo: green, red man There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Want Wine, Pizza?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.08 - 23. February 1998 - The Café Metropole column announced 'Fake Spring Surprises Paris Again.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Papon Was In the Resistance Too.' This issue had three features, entitled 'High and Wide in Trocadéro,' 'Looking for Elusive Facts in the Marais' and ''The Gare Saint-Lazare' On View At Orsay.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Fast Watch or Slow Time?'

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Even though readers are not asking for any countdown to the probable beginning of the next century and even more importantly, to the next millennium, this silly countdown continues mindlessly with the eighth issue of 2000 because once something silly like this is started it's nearly impossible to stop.

This new countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 51 days already gone. The official reason for doing this is to give the Tour Eiffel a new chance to 'get it right' - because so many count-down fans missed shouting 'Zéro' on Friday, 31. December 1999. The 'unofficial' reason will be revealed in due time.

There are about 315 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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