The 'Banda Municipale de Santiago
de Cuba'

photo: cafe le menhir

Brittany on your mind in Paris - 'Le Menhir'

Atlantic Coast Holidays

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 7. August 2000:- Last week's little mention of the musical events near or at La Villette brought an immediate question from the server-lady, Linda Thalman.

She wanted to know if the group called 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago' which I wrote would be appearing at yesterday's Kiosque à Musique was the same as 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba.'

"If so," she said, "I've got to be there!"

Regular readers might remember that Linda recently made a visit to Cuba. Apparently while there she spent a lot of time listening to Cuban music as well as drinking some of the local cocktails - mostly doing both at the same time, as well as dancing.

One of her favorite bands was the 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba,' and she didn't want to miss them if they were in Paris.

The next question involved the location of La Villette. The area occupied by the Cité des Sciences, the Cité de la Musique, the Grande Halle, the Géode and several other odds and ends - collectively known officially as the Parc de la Villette - is an area approximately 600photo: orchestra banda municipal de santiago de cuba metres wide by one kilometre long - from the métro at Porte de la Villette to the métro at Porte de Pantin.

'La Banda' - yesterday in Paris at La Villette.

The area is also bordered by the Canal Saint-Denis on the west and the Canal d'Ourcq slices right through the middle of it. These things are not hard to spot on a map.

To say the least, La Villette is a sizeable piece of Paris in the 19th arrondissement, at Paris' extreme northeast corner.

Yesterday's weather wasn't too disagreeable so I went out to La Villette again to see if Linda had found it and to hear her favorite Cuban sounds as made by the 'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba.'

The first thing I noticed is that the open-air 'Ciné l'Eté' is well-advertised - this continues until Sunday, 3. September; and starts every night except Monday about 22:00. The second thing I noticed was that the walk from the métro Porte de Pantin is long.

And long before I got to the canal I could hear the band. Cubans play loudly. Before I could see the band at the Kiosque à Musique, I saw the backs of a lot of people who were climbing the bridge over the canal. From the bridge, I saw that many more Cuban fans were gathered than for last week's free African-reggae concert.

The sun kept trying to come out, with some success, and the closely-packed crowd tried to dance. I guess this was successful too, but it was hard to see.

Linda found me wandering around in this mob of Cuban music fans, so the question of whether somebody from the outback regions of the Cadillac Ranch can find La Villette is answered with 'yes.'

'La Banda Municipale de Santiago de Cuba' is certainly worth travelling across Paris to hear, even if their show was free. Announced as a 'brass' band, it did have a fair amount of brass along with a large-sized portion of Cuban percussion. The only things missing were white sand, the gulf stream, rum and palms. I'm glad I went.

France's Atlantic Coast

Despite my theory that last Tuesday was Paris' one summer day this summer, the short-term forecast is for summer to continue in August.

July's pessimists have all jammed themselves onto the Côte d'Azur and on the crescent ofphoto: concorde fountain statue coast facing the Golfe de Lion for their holidays.

This has left plenty of room free on France's channel and Atlantic coasts. If you are undecided and want to have a holiday with some elbow-room, you should seriously consider France's western side.

One of the statues in Concorde's 'La Fontaine des Mers.'

The Atlantic is never so temperate as the Mediterranean because it is open sea; and a sea with more character because it has tides and big waves when it feels like it. Count on water temperatures three or four degrees below the Mediterranean's.

There are places with sand dunes. Most places also have fairly steady winds and TV has shown clips of surfers with the flying parachutes - is this the term? - having serious fun doing things if would have considered impossible if I had not seen them.

There are many fishing ports along the western coasts too. This translates into an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish nearly everywhere you go. In many places there are also attractive places to visit inland, which is easily accessible.

Despite oil-spill fears, there is little pollution you are likely to run into. Because of the area's disaster of a July, you can expect friendly service and perhaps even lower prices.

Paris' Summer Day

photo: model boat rental in tuileriesThis is featured in this issue as an article in which I claim last Tuesday was 'Summer In Paris.' Let's just say it was Paris' first truly summer-like day. I certainly hope there are more of them.

Without intending it, rivers, seas and boats are in this issue.

But because it was the first, nearly all of the photos in this issue - for the article, for this Café column and for the Au Bistro column - were all taken on Tuesday, 2. August. I have some spares too.

Hotel Reservations In Paris

It has come to my bank's attention that Metropole Paris should be making some money out of all this larking around Paris. An online hotel reservation group asked me if I could point readers to them. When they also said they could offer a direct link to their Paris hotels, I said okay.

If you need or want to reserve a hotel in Paris, give 'Bookings' a try. If it works out okay for you, it'll make my banker's happy.

The Café Metropole Club's 44th Meeting

Last Thursday's club meeting was attended by the club's secretary in person and one new member, Anthony Dainora, who said he visits Paris often. If you haven't already, read the meeting's 'report.' You can do so now unless you are busy doing something else, like reading the old but constantly updated stuff below instead.

Starting this week, Monday's 'Club News' has been banished to being a eternally boring page now known as 'About the Café Metropole Club.' This contains everything that regular readers and club members already know. If the 'club' ever features some new and exciting element, I will mention it here.

New readers should look at the new 'About the Club' page at least once. Doing it once is not terribly boring.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.32 - 9. Aug. 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'August Laziness Sets In.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'The Eclipse, Pots of Money and No Smoking.' This issue had no features at all, except one titled 'The Big Tour - Short Version.' Sheer laziness! The 'Scene' column had 'Eclipsogoggle! Is Here.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week wasphoto: plaque, l'avenir du proletariat captioned 'Digital Camera; Latest Model.' August in Paris is not a great month for being inventive.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.32/33 - 17. August 1998 - The Café Metropole column hinted at even more doziness with the title of: 'The Shortest 'Café' Column.' There was no 'Au Bistro' column at all. This issue had only one feature, titled 'Going Wrong In Normandy.' Something else was called 'Extra Photos From Back Then.' There only two new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Siesta In Trouble.' This issue was done to cover my annual holiday in Spain, which I no longer take but wish I did.

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

This countdown - let's just say its plug has been pulled for this month. If you are reading this, you will cheer this clever move. If you aren't, you won't notice the difference.

For those still with this, there really are only about 146 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really picky readers, this figure is correct. On account of this section being kind of turned off on account of August, you probably won't care that 220 days have gone since New Year's 2000.
signature, regards, ric

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