It'll Be a Picnic

photo: brasserie en l'ile

What people do in Paris when they are not having a picnic.

With a Big Tablecloth

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 3. July 2000:- A couple of weeks ago, doing three issues in one week seemed pretty feasible and I made a plan for doing it. One of these 'plans' looks like a vertical storyboard, with a lot of after-thoughts.

The real 'after-thoughts' started when I was finishing issue 526 and trying to keep track of what I'd done for each issue. When I put the 'Bistro' column's photos in issue 527 it started to unravel, because they were supposed to go in issue 526.

Then when I got to the point when I should have written 'Bistro' for that issue, I couldn't facephoto: cafe tables going through more than a week's worth of newspapers. I 'spiked' the column and traded one of its photos for a not-so-interesting one in 'Café,' and that was that.

When it is the end of the year I tend to keep going on spontaneous combustion in my head, while my body is halfway out the door to wherever it thinks it is going to find a vacation.

Which brings me to this issue, which is 'doubled' with the numbers 527 and 528 so that we can resume the week-for-week co-ordination with issue 529, to end up the year with issue 552 being the last one.

As I probably mentioned last week - or maybe in 'Scene' this week! - getting real details for big Parisian events is often impossible until the day before or the day of the event itself.

Translation: at the time of writing this I know about as much as you do about Paris' plans for Thursday, 13. July, Bastille Day's eve; and the 'Incroyable Pique-Nique' on Bastille Day itself.

Bastille Day's 'L'Incroyable Picque-Nique'

On Friday, 14. July 2000, France is planning to have a picnic 1000 kilometres long. Its location will be the 'Méridienne Verte' - which is the same as the old Paris Meridian - but with the addition of trees planted early this year - thus 'verte.'

Nobody in the whole history of the world has staged a picnic before along the entire length on the Paris Meridian, so this will be a worldwide record-breaking 'first' which is considerably more important than any old 'Picnic of the Week.'

Apparently a person named Paul Chemetov dreamed this up as a '2000 In France' project, possibly while waiting for his morning toast to pop up. At least 300 'official' picnics have been plannedphoto: arago disc by cities, towns, villages and country-crossroad hamlets that are on or reasonably near the geographic line. Which, as we all know, stretches from Dunkirk to Prats-de-Mollo in the eastern Pyrenees near the border with Spain.

On Paris' meridian line - follow them through the city.

In the Paris region, starting in the north in the Oise, the first place that will have one is Bruyères-sur-Oise. Between it and the most southerly location at Boigneville in Essonne, there are about 45 other 'official' locations, excluding Paris.

Highlights will be a 'bal musette' at Montmorency in the Val-de-Oise, an 'impressionistic' picnic on the Ile-Saint-Denis and a 'mediaeval buffet' at Morangis in Essonne. Also in Essonne, Orly-Sud's terraces will be hosting a picnic for travellers - who can watch aircraft circling around waiting for landing permission - for the first time in 20 years.

In Paris a half-million are expected to attend the picnic at some 40 locations in the city, over 9.5 kilometres from north to south; in order: in the 18th, 9th, 2nd, 1st, 6th and 14th arrondissements.

A particular sign of the picnic will be its red and white checkered tablecloth, which is called 'Vichy' here. I assume the tablecloth is red and white, because this is what all the graphics I've seen are showing. The 'Vichy' part I'm not sure about because I've just read it.

If you don't think you'll be able to recognize the tablecloth, just go into any place selling groceries and look for a jar of 'Bonne Maman' jam. These all have red and white lids - except for the ones with blue and white lids.

Another thing you might notice about the tablecloth is it is 600 kilometres long. The reason it is not 1000 kilometres long is some clever person calculated the lengths of all the picnic tables, and 600,000 metres was their best guess.

In case you think this is all a big joke and is not really serious - in the country famous for the 'bonne bouffe' and the ever more popular 'slow food' - check out the organizer's Web site.

The biggest open areas for having a picnic on the line in Paris are the Luxembourg Gardens, the Observatory if it is open, and the Parc Montsouris. These three all on the left bank.

According to some stories, the fixing of the actual location of the meridian in Louis XIV's time, is a bit mysterious. But don't bother with this and don't pay any attention to the 'Sulpice' meridian line, 300 metres westwards, because this is all about a picnic.

Old Café Metropole Club 37th Session News

The 37th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' happened to have two high points last Thursday. New members arephoto: grandes boulevards always one and there were two of them who found their way to the café La Corona.


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