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 the Ramblas in Barcelona.

Some of the store's staff looked as if they were withstanding a hurricane; with more or less success. I tried to ask a supervisor if it was 'normal,' but she was too flustered to form a coherent answer.

She calmed down a bit when we got focused on the métro souvenirs, and she went to the trouble of showing me her favorite coffee mug. With a line drawing of the métro entrance at the Porte Dauphine on it, I think its price was 65 francs.

The reason you should use the doors on the Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin is because they were the closest exit for me. But if you like the liveliness of an animated street marché, you'll find paradise in Paris' department stores right now.

Aid for Metropole

The only word for Metropole's readers is fantastic. You know I am stuck here in Paris, strolling aroundphoto: city golf equipment and keeping an eye on things for you. You know this is the easy part, and sitting inside day and night writing it all down while everybody else is outside strolling around, is the hard part.

So sending me things like an anti-stress 'Reflexology Massage Ball' is highly appreciated. I have even had the time to try it out for 30 seconds, rolling it around in my hands. This will come in handy at 02:00 on Monday mornings.

I also have a golf set, which consists of one 3-iron and two golfballs. Needless to say, playing with these balls in my street is not a good idea because there is no proper fairway. The 'Reflexology Massage Ball' may be perfect for it. As soon as I get a couple of minutes to spare I'll be out there, shouting 'fore!'

Hotel Reservations In Paris

Some readers have written to comment positively about Metropole Paris' foray last week into the world of commerce, through its new link to 'Bookings' Paris hotel reservation service.

Suddenly, it appears as if other pure e-commerce Web sites have discovered it is difficult to stand alone - just as Metropole has found the same thing without any 'commerce' at all.

If the 'commerce' involves Paris services and French products - of real value to Metropole's readers - then more may appear here soon.

Commercial newcomers will be handled in the same fashion as 'Bookings' unobtrusive links, so none of us need worry about annoying banner-ads or any not-quite-ready jittering animations. Metropole has been around too long to start looking extra flashy now.

The Café Metropole Club's 45th Meeting

Last Thursday's club meeting was attended by three long-time, already signed-up members. If you haven't already, read the meeting's 'report.' You can do so now unless you are busy doing something else, like watching football on TV instead.

Last week, the former Monday 'Club News' was transformed into being an acutely boring page now known as 'About the Café Metropole Club.' This contains everything that regular readers and club members already know. New readers should look at the new 'About the Club' page. Doing it no more than once is not terribly boring.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.33 - 16. Aug. 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Two Cafés Less.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Boffo Turnout for Eclipse.' This issue had three features, titled 'The Eclipse In Paris, 'Sunshine On Montmartre' and a look at the 'Art Marché at Edgar Quinet.' The 'Scene' column had 'Thephoto: sign, rue bernard palissy Rentrée and 'Paris 2000'.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'The Eclipse Is Over.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.32/33 - 17. August 1998 - This issue was done to cover a two-week period during my annual holiday in Spain, which I no longer take but wish I did. 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.'

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

This countdown - has been suspended for the duration of August. If you are reading this, you will cheer this astute move. If you aren't, you won't notice the difference.

For those still with this, there really are only about 139 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really fussy 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 227 days have gone since New Year's 2000.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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