Whoopee! It's 'Rentrée' Time

photo: cafe beer station, wagram

In various kinds of shade, the 'Beer Station' near the Etoile.

August - Count Your Last Days!

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 28. August 2000:- The end of August is marked by the return of Parisians, rested and relaxed after enduring two days of traffic jams encountered on the long and short routes home from their holidays.

While they still have this momentum, they plunge into the Paris - and French - season known simply as the 'rentrée.' This involves putting all of France's kids back into schools.

As many readers who are fond of France know, this is a country devoted to endless social progress.

During the period of the 'rentrée' - lasting up to six weeks - parents will come to grips with new school hours, eliminated school days and 'requests' from teachers to impoverish themselves in order to buy school supplies.

This period also coincides with the tax collector's demand for the final 'third' installment of income taxes for 1999. After over-blowing the holiday budget, after getting all the 'not-on-sale' school supplies, many residents are finding that their taxes have increased too.

This is mainly their own fault. It is a direct result of increasing prosperity. But the three shots coming all at once, can be a little hard to bear.

On top of all this, gasoline prices have gone through the roof. The government is awash with cash from tax collections, and a big tax-reductionphoto: seine quay, 25 august announcement is expected in the near future.

It better be soon and it better be big enough to count. Truckers, farmers and fishermen are nearing the end of their patience with the sky-high fuel prices. They are starting to grumble.

On last Thursday's club day - non-members on the no-service bank of the Seine.

About the weather - Paris had its 48 hours of 'dog-days' and the temperatures have returned to normal. The air-conditioning that most of Paris does not have, is no longer necessary.

Café Life

I have seen the guy around off and on for a long time. He usually wears a black top hat, jeans, a jean jacket and has very clean black shoes.

A lot of people wear jeans in Paris. Except for the top hat, he is not really unusual. He has another hat too, but I forget what kind it is. Clean black shoes are definitely rare.

He is tall and skinny and about 60 or 65, and his hair is kind of long and he has a pointy Van Dyke beard, going grey. He also has a piece of blue chiffon as a jaunty scarf. Most of the time when I see him, in a café or on the street, he has a small dog inside his jacket, with its head sticking out.

He was having a cola drink in the Bouquet last Saturday. I looked up when Madame called after him as he was going out the door. "Monsieur, you've forgotten your change!"

He glanced back from the street and told her to keep it until next time. It wasn't exactly 'change;' it was a fifty-franc note held in place on the bar by the cola bottle.

Madame asked Yannick 'what to do about it.' Yannick just shrugged.

I saw the guy get into a little Opel Corsa across the street, parked in front of the 'theatrical' book shop. I only realized he had a car the other day, when I saw him driving down the Rue Boulard. People who have cars in Paris, even if they are little, are not clochards.

He got out of the car and came back into the Bouquet. He had gone to get a cigarette. He seemed surprised that the fifty-franc note wasn't where he'd left it. "Where's my change? It's 17 from 50," he said.

A bit embarrassed, Madame put the sizeable tips-box on the bar, and made the change from it.

I thought, where the dog's head sticks out of his jacket, it could have a drink too if a dish of water - or beer! - was on the bar.

Monsieur Top-hat had lit his long American filter cigarette. "Are you an 'Auvergnate,'" hephoto: musee luxembourg demanded. 'From Brittany,' Madame responded. After a few more questions, a few more puffs of smoke, a few more replies, he left the café again.

The Luxembourg's own museum. Entry is from the Rue Vaugirard.

Outside the café he took the little dog out of his jacket with one hand and dropped it deftly on the sidewalk; keeping hold of its leash. The two of them then strolled all the way across to the other side of the Rue Boulard and got into the Corsa, and drove off in it together.

'Tourist Hell' Update

Readers seem to have evenly divided opinions about whether the Place du Tertre on Montmartre is a 'tourist hell' or not. Some said it is in summer, but not in winter. Others wrote to say they have found it enjoyable - and I presume they mean in winter too.

Others wrote to confirm what I suspected. You can stay in a hotel two blocks away from the Place du Tertre, on one of the nearby sloping streets of Montmartre, and be completely unaware of the 'hell' or 'paradise' just up the steps a bit.

This is yet more proof that Paris is what you make of it. It also is another indication that Paris is the sum of '100 villages' which are very close together.

Metropole's Services

Two new commercial services begin with Metropole Paris this week to offer their services or products to you. HighwayToHealth and Petanque America join Bookings to make your Paris experience more complete by being comfortably available online.

These firms are not advertisers in the traditional sense. Metropole only benefits from providing these links if you patronize the services or purchase the products offered.

All three of the firms involved have chosen Metropole Paris for much the same reasons as you've chosen to read it. For this reason there are no banners, logos or jiggly animations to overload the serenity of this magazine, while you search for its sillier parts.

HighwayToHealth

After planning your visit to Paris long in advance and then finally getting here, the worst thing to happen is catching some kind of 'bug.' HighwayToHealth has thought of you and has set up a service that allows you to seek medical aid almost as easily as if you were at home.

HighwayToHealth has set up a 'city health profile' for Paris, which gives you information about local health services, including the ability to make appointments for health care.

This is in addition to a full line of travel insurance, not just for Paris and France, but for the whole world. This is something you will want to take care of before you leave home, so check out all of the 'HighwayToHealth' services for travellers.

Petanque America

As you may have noted during a visit to Paris, the game of pétanque - or boules - can bephoto: boules in hand played anywhere, almost anytime, by nearly everybody. Any bit of ground can be used as a playing field - so all you need are the 'boules' to play with.

The regular ones are made out of metal. You can buy these in France, but they are a bit heavy to carry around in your baggage. 'Petanque America' imports the Obut boules from France and can ship them to you anywhere in the Americas.

Boules in the Luxembourg last Wednesday.

Petanque America's shop also has boules for children, plus books about the game in English. Let Petanque America do the heavy work for you while you train for games by watching the Olympics on TV.

Hotel Bookings

'Bookings' Paris hotel reservation service permits you to get a preview of hotels in Paris, to enable you to choose your Paris accommodations with ease, well in advance of your arrival. The best hotels in Paris are in high demand, so book as soon as you can.

The Café Metropole Club's 47th Meeting

Last Thursday's club meeting was attended by two brand new members from California and by one long-time member - who may not be coming to many meetings in the future, due to leaving the country. Voluntarily.

If you skipped Thursday's update, you missed the horrible 'day' faux-pas. The 'report' has now been fixed, thanks to several eagle-eyed readers - saving me the embarrassment of writing more abject 'excuse-me' emails.

The former 'Club News' in Monday's edition has been transformed into being a plain boilerplate page now known as 'About the Café Metropole Club.' This contains some things that regular readers and club members already know. New readers can look at the new 'About the Club' page, if they are interested in learning more about this magazine's free club for readers in Paris.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.35 - 30. Aug. 1999 - This week's Café Metropole columnphoto: sign, no bikes was headlined, 'The Movers.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Yo-Yo Tax Week.' This issue had two features, titled 'On the Rue de Mouffetard' and 'Paris, Nevada.' The 'Scene' column was headlined 'The Beginning of Fall 1999.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Guys in Skirts.' Oh?

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.34/35 - 31. August 1998 - This issue was done to cover the last two-week period of my annual holiday inphoto: theatre marionettes; luxembourg Spain, which I miss acutely these days. The Café Metropole column hinted at even more doziness with the title of: 'Life In the Tame Lane.' There was no 'Au Bistro' column at all. This issue had two features, titled 'The Truth About Spain' and 'One 6000 Km Round Trip.' There were only two new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Siesta's End.' Next week, right here; a real update.

Metropole Paris' Shutdown 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 economical move. If you aren't, you should be because it's short.

For those still with this, there really are only about 125 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 241 days have gone since New Year's 2000.
signature, regards, ric

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