Summer Arrives In Paris!

photo: cafe la tour maubourg

In summer's shade, the café La Tour-Maubourg,
near the Invalides.

Oh Joy! Oh Roadworks!

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 14. August 2000:- If you have just started, or are going to start your holiday in Paris soon, this week's good news is that summer seems to have settled on the city.

The TV-weather forecasters are being very cautious, and are predicting more unstable weather to come from the North Atlantic. But at the end of last week, I took off my winter underwear while in Metropole's editorial office and left the windows wide open to let in more warm air.

Some cranky Parisians were even saying it wasphoto: best day at ed's office too hot. These are those who usually wear short-sleeves all year round - and even find the 25-year-old government-ordained winter room temperature of 19. centigrade is too warm.

To reduce the natural air-conditioning, the editorial office requires an open window.

At Paris' present outside 'room temperatures,' you should make sure any red wines you order to drink in restaurants are chilled at bit. If the restaurant is air-conditioned, you'll probably have to wear a turtle-neck sweater - but the reds will probably be the right temperature: 16 to 19. C.

Walking around Paris without wearing a coat last week even gave me the feeling of being 'on holidays' too. So far, no 'sauna' effects detected. Oh, how sweet it is!

Peace In August

About a block away there is an elementary school full of high-pep kids and a block in the other direction there is a kindergarten. There's the couriers with their motorcycles up the block. But when August arrives, the noise from these stops. Right?

Right. The usual noises stop, or slow down. They are replaced by compressors and jackhammers, because the Rue Boulard needs to be resurfaced. This requires tearing up the old concrete gutters. Luckily this did not taken many weeks, and last week they squirted tar on it and then laid new asphalt over it, making it perfect for the roller folks.

Now they are doing the same thing to the Rue Mouton-Duvernet, but it is too far away to be bothersome. These are local, off-boulevard and off-avenue streets.

With Paris' general anti-auto attitude, I do not understand why these re-patched and over-patched side streets are being made into smooth drag-strips, which pass two schools - but I'm sure there's some plausible reason for it - such as August being too quiet.

New Souvenir Bonanza

Little posters have popped up in the métro, saying that the RATP has produced a new line of 'Métro' souvenirs, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Paris' favorite public transport system.

There are supposed to be 100 objects in all and these are on sale in some locations wherephoto: briquet metro lighter the RATP has its own boutiques, and at some other sales points - but not all over town. Not all sales points have a full selection either.

I selected the Galeries Lafayette for a look-see. After a really long time of looking around, and asking several people there, I finally found their small RATP souvenirs area.

One of the Métro's 'souvenir' lighters - larger than life-size. Only 10 francs.

The items range from 'M' pins to key-chains, from ashtrays and coffee mugs, to t-shirts. One t-shirt has a huge 'M' on it and another has the métro's map on it. Prices range from 10 francs to 100.

In case you choose the Galeries Lafayette as the place to get your métro souvenirs, enter by the doors on the Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin, and walk straight ahead. If you get as far as the escalators and the unmanned info-service booth, back up because you've passed it.

Visitors Mob Paris

Normally I only visit the Galeries Lafayette at Christmas time, to see the annual decoration installed under the big cupola, which is always huge and often very remarkable because it has the cupola's colored glass as a background.

Also at Christmas time, all of Paris department stores and other shops are full of shoppers; not all of whom are Parisians.

These winter peeks did not prepare me for the mob in this big department store on the Boulevard Haussmann on Friday. There was a kaleidoscope of all languages, with German and Spanish seeming to totally drown out French.

Gangs of ladies were clogging the area under the cupola, taking turns taking photos of each other. Nearly all the ground floor perfume booths were under assault. Others were sitting on the floor trying to figure out store maps.

The volume of visitors was matched by the volume of sound. The Spaniards among the shoppers must have felt right at home, even if their volume was higher than I ever remember it being in the big mercado on theRamblas in Barcelona.

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