Socko Dwarf Show

photo: terrace, cafe bagatelle garden

If garden dwarfs and gnomes turn you off, this is the Bagatelle's nifty outdoor terrace.

Even 'Kitsch' Has No City Limits

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. April 2000:- I am pretty sure the weather is interesting, but there isn't much we can do about it. No matter what I write here, there is going to be weather and no amount of forecasting is going to make it predictable.

I know what I say - that there will be snow for Easter in Paris. This is what I think because it has happened before - but it is not a prediction. Not mine, not the TV-weather lady's, not the government's France-Météo gurus.

In general, on average, Paris has mild weather all year. For the past winter, there may have been overnight below-zero temperatures, but there weren't many of them.

France is close to four sources of weather. The dominant one is in the mid-Atlantic and the Gulf-Streamphoto: entry line, bagatelle affects it a lot. When the mid-Atlantic 'high' isn't high enough, then the North Atlantic's 'low' - from the regions of Iceland and Greenland - takes over.

Waiting to enter Bagatelle; 'kitsch' devotees, dwarf fans, or simple sunlight fanciers?

If neither of these two are strong, then weather comes from the north, but from further east; from Scandinavia and Russia. Coming across the North European land mass, this weather is more extreme.

The fourth type of weather comes up from Africa, but it is usually held back by the stronger highs or lows in the Atlantic. The two extremes - from Russia or from Africa - are rare.

So, from winter to summer, Paris has a temperature range of about zero to 30 degrees centigrade. Although Paris can have a lot of clouds, not very much rain falls in its region.

The exceptions to the 'normal' are easy to figure out - below zero, over 30 degrees; very short periods of torrential rain, snow at Easter - but these are exceptions.

Today the weather in Paris is 'normal' and if I were the TV-weather lady I would grin and say it is, "Normalphoto: model steamboat for this time of year." High of 15 today with an overnight low of five degrees; general weather tendency until Thursday, from the northwest.

In this issue's two features, I have opened each with a short comment on the weather. I add this useless information in case you read Metropole all the time. If you do, you will be able to figure out that Paris has mild weather.

Model steamboat at the Salon de la Maquette on Wednesday.

I pay attention to the weather; but this is in order to figure out what I am going to do. Last week gave Paris the one beautiful day I was waiting for - to visit the garden-dwarfs on Friday at the Bagatelle park. It was worth waiting for.

'Guaranteed Bad Taste'

"Mauvais goût très sur" is the opinion of an anonymous French collector of dwarfs or gnomes, nains or zwergs. After seeing some of the 2000 dwarfs scattered around, inside and outside, at Bagatelle, I don't think 'bad taste' really sums it up.

Really cheap, mass-produced garden gnomes generally look really cheap and mass-produced. Bad taste, cubed. Some of these are obviously displayed at Bagatelle, but there are so many - other - gnomes that the stupid and 'bad taste' ones are easily overlooked. At least, they don't stick in the memory.

The better class of gnome has a history, evokes a story, has a personality. How this is so, I can't say. Butphoto: nain, topiary the people who put together Bagatelle's show must know their gnomes, because the displays are not merely collections of dwarfs, placed any old way.

Ousmane Sow's 'Little Big Horn' on the Pont des Arts last year was an African sculptor's personal view of a historical event in America. Seeing it certainly made you think, because it was made with a very different viewpoint - which changed the 'story' somewhat.

From Roman times, a modern 'topiary' gnome made entirely of plant matter - by the Barthélemy family.

The gnomes have a strange history because it is almost entirely imaginary, as well as going back thousands of years. What you may think of gnomes is your viewpoint, but gnomes have an extra dimension which is loaded with mystery.

If you think they are too 'kitsch' and pass up on the Bagatele show, you are going to miss out on one of life's more unusual experiences.

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