...Continued from page 1

The actual availability of parking slots is therefore an invitation to rent a car if you are a visitor. This will let you return home and be able to announce that you successfully drove around the Etoile and survived.

However, keep in mind that the nature of Paris traffic changes in August. Because there is less of it, it can be faster. There are also other confused visitors driving around too. Finally, a lot of city roadworks are done in August - which can result in a number of surprise detours.

If you are still uncertain about trying to drive-it-yourself, sunrise in Paris is currently about 06:30. This is aphoto: electro pump for cars time when most of Paris is still asleep, including all the local drivers who haven't disappeared down the Autoroute du Soleil.

Fill Up With Juice

In case you take it into your head to rent an electric car - why the heck not? - you should know that there are several dispensers of electricity for cars around the city. These are located in some parking garages, but others are located on streets - with adjacent parking places. In these, you can park as long as it takes to juice up your car.

Put in your plastic, tap in your PIN code, lift the black cover, plug in and juice up.

Let the Good Times Roll

The previous two Friday night roller randos through the streets of Paris were canceled because of a dispute between the rando's organizers and the Prefecture of Police.

The Prefecture of Police had decreed in early July that the rando had to follow one of four pre-defined routes. In a face-saving measure, the decree was not withdrawn, but was amended to suit the demands of the roller folk and their spokesmen.

Once again, Pari-Roller and Sunday's Roller et Coquillages can propose their own itineraries to the police for authorization. Essentially, this compromise puts the situation back to were it was originally - but now there is also a 'decree' with an important amendment on the books.

To celebrate the resumption of the now-traditional Friday night roller rando, I went over to the Place Denfert-Rochereau at 22:15 to watch the horde arrive from the Boulevard Saint-Jacques and pass by, taking the tight corner into the Boulevard Arago.

If I had still been awake, I could have gone over to the Avenue du Maine later, to see the hard-core left-overs, returning from a wide-ranging Paris tour, on their way to the starting point at the Place d'Italie where they were expected to arrive at about 01:00.

There don't seem to have been any winners or losers in this affair. The police have a right to be concerned; and the randos' organizers called them off when there wouldn't be any police escort.

If you consider the illegal-parking anecdote above, then try to imagine between ten and 20,000 peoplephoto: friday night roller rando of all ages on rollerskates or in-line rollers, skating around together in the semi-darkness of a typical Friday night in Paris.

Some of the roller folks on Friday night - not stopping to pose.

If this were a crowd sitting down at an indoor concert, you would be inclined to say it is a lot of people. Now imagine Paris streets - some smooth, some cobbled; some uphill, some downhill and some flat; imagine Paris' orange-flavored night-time lighting.

Finally, imagine what Paris drivers may think of being held up on their urgent trips - while a crucial intersection is blocked for a half-hour by a goofball horde of roller crazies - some of whom do not even have driving licenses.

If I were the police, I'd say the whole thing is crazy and nuts and if I had the power of the Prefecture, I'd ban the thing on the grounds of public lunacy. In the area of public safety, it is somewhere around the level of jumping off high bridges with nothing but rubber-bands tied to your ankles.

In fact, I guess this is what the police may have thought too.

But given the threat of wildcat randos - plus the fact that the Paris police are now the most experienced in the world in the vital sub-specialty of escorting these roller randos - and add to it the fact that these randos are generating growing 'rando-tourism' - oh yes! - Paris has no choice but to remain the world's capital for the Friday night roller-rando.

Café Metropole Club's 42nd Session

Last Thursday's club meeting was attended by the club's secretary and one new member, Donna, who was not a visitor and who is not quite a resident. If you haven't already, read all about the meeting news. You can do so now unless you are busy doing something else, like reading the old stuff below instead.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.31 - 2. August 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Dog Days To Come?' The 'Auphoto: no parking, tow away, juice up Bistro' column was titled 'France Is Nearly Full Up.' Not this year! This issue had three features, titled 'The 10 Closest Boulangeries,' 'La Villette - A Multi-Theme Park' and 'The Friday Night Roller 'Rando'' The 'Scene' column had 'I Thought Paris Was Closed In August.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Pass the Teeth.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.31 - 3. August 1998 - The Café Metropole column hinted at dirt in paradise with the title of: 'Don't Bring Your Laundry Here.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Siestas Are Good For You.' This issue had one feature, titled 'In the Jardin d'Acclimatation Wonderland.' There four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Siesta School,' which was about a course that I failed to pass.

Metropole Paris' Nearly Solo Countdown to 31. December 2000:

This countdown has dropped into the doldrums again in France as most officials are now on holidays. Still, the 'Third Millennium' will be on Monday, I. January 2001 with or without them - but I cannot add more at this time because France is closed for 'les vacances.' This means we are within the 30 days of mid-summer limbo - having left the 20th century last December but not yet arrived in the 21st. Fear not; something should turn up within a month. If this idea gathers momentum, start getting ready for a repeat of last year's New Year's Eve, with all the trimmings.

There are only about 153 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really fussy readers, this figure is correct. On account of this section being revived due to a perk up of interest, 213 days have gone since New Year's 2000.
signature, regards, ric

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