Countdown To Heat On

photo: cafe le bizuth, st germain

Not all cafés in the Quartier Latin have heated terraces because students are impervious to cold.

Eagerly Awaited - Winter

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 2. October 2000:- Northwest winds are blowing through Paris and they are dragging rain-heavy clouds down from the North Atlantic with them. It is damp, chilly and past time for my central heating to be turned on.

Pigeons outside must feel the same way because they are tapping on my windows, trying to get in. How little they know.

My 'modern' 1906-style apartment is fully rigged for naturally air-conditioned heat-wave days in summer, but is a good substitute for a freezer when there are no heat-waves. During an average year in Paris there are 2.5 heat-wave days, but in 2000 there were none.

Year after year I put on winter woollies - sometimes in August! - for at least two weeks before the heat comes on. I wish I could remember when this is supposed to be. Judging by this year, my woollies might be worn out long before winter even arrives.

I remember last year, almost swooning in relief when I heard the pipes start to crackle and clank, as warm water caused them to flex after a summer's layoff.

photo: little red car of the week'Swooning' is a sappy word I wouldn't normally use, but last year was critical because I didn't know whether my radiators were just decor or whether they worked. They did, and the memory of it is making the waiting for heat harder this year.

This car may have been a star at the auto salon in Paris - in the 1950's.

You are supposed to understand that I am not moaning about this because my toes are blue. 'Between the lines' you are supposed to get the idea that, at least for today, the weather is in a November-mode.

From which you are also supposed to grasp that you should be fairly well-dressed if you want to be comfortable outside. As you go around Paris, you will find that there can be a vast difference between being out on the streets and being, for example, underground in the warm métro.

The same applies to the difference between being outside and being in museums or shops. Whatever you wear, it should be easy to take off. Heated museums usually have coat-checking facilities, but shops seldom do.

Most restaurants and many cafés set themselves up to be comfortable in chilly weather. Many outdoor café terraces are even heated, although I must say I've never really tried these out - to find out if they aren't like sitting around campfires; warm on one side and freezing on the other.

I see from the dateline that we are in October. Right at this moment my radiators are still in their summer slumber. I hope they wake up by tonight.

Café Life

Tuesday had weather that was so pleasant that it was impossible to stay inside and recuperate from doing Metropole's weekly issue. I walked down to Montparnasse, through the cemetery, because I wanted to see its moulin.

I didn't know the cemetery had one until I saw photos of it at the photo exhibition last week. There is no windmill part to it, but it certainly is a moulin. I don't know what its primary purpose is, but its sunny side is a good and tranquil place for sitting in the sun.

Since this spot was occupied I kept walking and took in some of the cemetery's interesting features. There is a map for the place if you really want to do a tour of its famous inhabitants' plots, but I just use it as an occasional shortcut.

Another thing I wanted to see was the Roger Pic photo expo at the Chemin du Montparnasse. Being Tuesday, it was closed but its courtyard was open, and it included photo blowups from the exhibition hanging above it.

The light was just right, the vine-covered artists' ateliers were just right, and the free 'closed' show was possibly just as good as the closed show inside the gallery. It was worth the walk.

By Wednesday, the weather had changed to leaden overcast, with more threat of rain than much of it getting close to the ground. Since I had been asked if I knew the curious umbrella shop run by Madame Gely on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, I went by it.

The shop is old and quaint and very tiny inside. With the threatening weather it was also full of serious clients for umbrellas, so I didn't bother barging in to ask a lot of silly questions.

The shop is located at 218. Boulevard Saint-Germain. If you think you might overlook it, it is right beside aphoto: gely umbrella shop colorful gas station. It has 'parapluies, ombrelles and cannes' - which are a great variety of walking sticks and canes.

After three or four clients are inside, there is plenty of standing room on the sidewalk outside. While I was there, several people arrived who already had umbrellas, which are handy for have for the outside waiting.

Possibly due to a fairly recent tax-break, a lot of ordinary building fronts are currently being renovated in Paris. It seems as if every street is encumbered with scaffolding constructions, including my own which has two jobs underway.

These add to the dodge-'em nature of strolling in Paris, and since a lot of the renovations are done by using high-pressure something, there is a lot of noise too and occasionally, small floods.

Café Life was not hectic last week. One fellow I see occasionally told me about going out to the Longchamp racetrack at five one morning, in the hopes of seeing the horses doing their morning exercises.

Last week, 'five in the morning' was still dark and the weather was filthy too. When he arrived at the track there was no one there except a security guard. The horses hadn't arrived yet, and the guard said some of them wouldn't even turn up until the morning of the race on Sunday.

We grizzled about the state of horse racing affairs in Paris, which seems to be slumping out of control. Longchamps is a beautiful 57-hectare racetrack layout in the Bois de Boulogne, and on a nice day when the horses are running it is one of the best places to spend an afternoon i Paris.

Continued on page 2...
Go to page : 1 - 2
In Metropole Paris
Latest Issue
2008 Issues
2007 | 2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003 | 2002
2001 | 2000 | 1999
1998 | 1997 | 1996
In Metropole Paris
About Metropole
About the Café Club
Links | Search Site
The Lodging Page
Paris Museums List
Metropole's 1996 Tours
Metropole's 2003 Tours
Support Metropole
Metropole's Books
Shop with Metropole
Metropole's Wine
metropole paris goodblogweek button
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini