Bigger Than My Head

photo: cafe le notre dame

Paris' blue contrasts with the warmth of an afternoon
apéro in a café.

Minimal Café Life

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 18. December 2000:- The weather got cooler during the week and this prompted the TV-weather news people to start talking about 'normal temperatures for this time of year.' However, last night they said these temperatures would be going up this week - back to 'slightly above normal' - into the 8 to 10 degree Celsius range.

The rain does stop briefly but keeps the clouds handy so it can resume any time without having to import completely new weather systems from the north or mid-Atlantic.

The server-lady Linda Thalman finally lost her cools with this situation and has written - plus telephoned! - to say she is going to send me postcards from some desert which is not all that far away.

She must be really desperate because the place she is mentioning is beside a warm sea, whichphoto: xmas tree I believe is full of very big sharks. No doubt there will be heated seaside swimming pools with nothing more dangerous in them than swizzle sticks with bits of tropical fruit shards speared on them.

But if you keep your nerve in Paris, a little rain several times a day is unlikely to be noticed much unless you have misjudged the season and find that your sandals are leaky.

Local merchants sponsored this Christmas tree, on my avenue.

If this is the case, just hold out for about two weeks until the winter sales start. These are the sales where poor Paris merchants try to unload all their soon to be out-of-fashion 2000-style winter clothing in order to make room for the incoming ultra-fashionable '2001' spring clothing.

Meanwhile - even though it's a bit late to mention it - all department stores and many, many other shops in Paris have gone over to a seven-day week - even forsaking Monday closing in my neighborhood - and some of the bigger shops are staying open late too.

Yesterday - Sunday - was the big rush as whole families mobbed downtown Paris, which was duly reported by last night's TV-news. A repeat of this is possible next Sunday too with last-minute desperation buyers fighting over whatever remains on the shelves.

Don't Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head

I was cruising along quite nicely with Metropole during the week - to the point of being fairly satisfied with the planned contents.

However my leg-in-a-cast rebelled against being propped against the floor while I was producing the issue. The result is neither of the 'Scene' columns have been updated yet, and there will be no 'Au Bistro' column at all for the second week in a row.

Okay, the 'news of the week' was President Jacques Chirac's TV-news stint, which dealt with fairly arcane constitutional issues of no interest to anybody but pundits, who have enjoyed themselves immensely with it.

There are some new items to be added to both 'Scene' columns - especially to the Christmas-New Years' one. I'll attempt to 'top up' both columns within the next day or two.

Eating stuff 'bigger than your head' does not apply to Christmas dinner. Go ahead! Have a good time! Merry Christmas.

Café Life

After You, Madame!

Even when you have health insurance in France, you have to do a little work to make it work. During my 'weekend' last Tuesday, I hobbled over to my local health centre to show them my collection of papers - gathered from two hospitals, a clinic, a couple of pharmacies and some other odd services my leg has commanded.

Because it was lunchtime there were only two people there before me. I sat down and let my leg lurch into the room. I probably looked like some 'Joe' off the street, taking a rest from collecting 10-franc pieces in a paper cup.

As the second of two ladies was having her turn discussing health paperwork, a very old lady arrived. She lookedphoto: window creche around and then pressed some door-security button. When nothing happened she asked me and my log of a leg if she needed to take a 'ticket.' 'No need,' I murmured.

Then an agitated lady arrived, holding a bundle of papers. She wanted to know about the 'ticket' too. She didn't sit down. She fidgeted around the place. Then she asked if she couldn't just deposit her papers ahead of us, because she was in a hurry.

The old lady said she was too old to wait long. The agitated women began to rant about the job she had to get back to in '30 minutes,' and how she and her important job paid for old ladies' health insurance - and presumably for characters like me with their legs sprawled all over the place.

A young fellow then came in and plopped down beside me just as my turn came up. I hobbled over to the reception desk but before I could sit down the agitated lady was shoving her papers past me. She hadn't seen that there was a paper-deposit box just inside the entry doors.

The lady on the desk looked at me and I nodded the agitated lady through. She had to sit down and babble a bit, so I returned to my former place to rest my leg.

When she finished, I asked the old lady if she wanted to go first and she accepted. When she was finished in a jiffy, I asked the young guy if he was in a hurry. He said he was, so he took his turn, which was rather longer because he was a first-timer.

But that was it. I had spent enough of my 'weekend' in this place. The lady at the desk said, "Now us!" By the time we had called in a super expert and found some new forms for me to fill in and bring back, there were five new people waiting. Lunch time was over, but I had a date for the next meeting.

Metropole's Services

The three wonderful firms listed below have chosen Metropole Paris for affiliate association. You - wonderful too! - have chosen to read Metropole, so you have something in common - even if you only look at the cartoons.

You will benefit from these affiliates, these firms benefit and any modest benefits for Metropole will help it to stay online and permit me to have an occasional extra café.

While I'm on the subject, I want to thank all readers and club members who have used the services or purchased the products from Metropole's affiliates.

Health Care In Paris

You have probably planned your trip to Paris long in advance. As unlikely as it is to happen, if you trip over a rogue speed bump while crossing one of Paris' sometimes bumpy streets, it doesn't have mean that your holiday will be spoiled.

A 'city health profile' for Paris has been created by HighwayToHealth, to give you information about local health care, including the ability to make appointments with doctors and for medical services.

For peace of mind, take a look at this before you leave home. See 'HighwayToHealth' for its health care for travellers. HighwayToHealth also offers travel insurance which - heaven forbid! - could turn out to be very handy in an emergency.

French Pétanque In America

The enjoyable but simple game of pétanque - orphoto: window santa boules - can be played anywhere, almost anytime - by just about everybody. Any handy dirt patch can be used as a playing field - as you probably know if you've seen the game played in Paris on local dirt.

Regulation French boules are made out of metal and are unbreakable in theory. These are available in France, but they are a bit heavy for casually hauling around in your luggage with 40 metric kilos of other Christmas gifts.

'Petanque America' imports France's quality Obut boules and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas.

The online shop also has books, containing the short list of rules for the game. It also has 'junior' boules for children. While you shop around for the less weighty but more expensive souvenirs of Paris, let Petanque America truck your boules home for you.

Online Paris Hotel Reservations

Don't wait until you get to Paris to book your hotel, only to learn that 24,334 rowdy Canadian farmers got here first for a 'toot' convention. Reserve your accommodations now through 'Bookings' Paris hotel reservation service.

Doing this will allow you to preview Paris' finer hotels and enable you to choose your lodgings with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Café Metropole Club's News and 'Quotes'

Last Thursday's club meeting was no more bizarroid than other meetings which have featured an absent secretary because his leg is still in a cast.

Backup was provided by Adrian 'I Love to Eat a Lot' Leeds who has furnished the basis for this week's 'Club Report.' The great photos were done by brand-new member, Alan Pavlik.

For medical reasons, the 'report' of the meeting appears in this issue for the first time. Although written by the club's secretary from Adrian's notes, it may still seem to be somewhat fictional. However 'local color,' of the purely fictional variety, has been omitted.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 21. December and your club's secretary expects to be present - with his cast - at the usual time and in the usual place.

New readers can also take a look at the current version of 'About the Club' to find out about the 'usual time and place.' This page also contains other mildly useful info about this free club in Paris, which is the only one this magazine has for all of its readers who happen to be readers or in Paris or both.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.51 - 20. December 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Christmas Gaga In Paris.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Champs-Elysées Changes Suits.' This issue had one feature, titled 'One Man's Gas Cap Is Another's' by Jerry Stopher. There was a photo thing of some sort called 'A Happy Santa, Speaks, Sings In English; Rolls Eyes In French.' The Café Metropole Club got much deeper into its culinary surprises with 'Food Events' Increase At Club' and the meeting's Update featured 'Record New 'Charter' Member Day.' The 'Scene I' column was headlined 'Overwhelmed by Events?' The week's Scene II column's headline was 'Come One, Come All, Christmas '99' and it was completed by a 'Scene III' column called '2000 In Paris and France.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Season's Greetings!'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.51 - 21. December 1998 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'When In France.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled - with feeling, 'A Rosy-Smelling Métro.' This issue had one manners feature titled, 'How Not to Dress Like a Bozo.' There were two 'Scene' columns, 'Goya in Lille' and the 'Pre-Christmas Program VII - Xmas '98. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Capital Gains Delicacies.'

Metropole's Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Parisians have begun to notice that the 21st Century begins on Monday, 1. January 2001, which is also the date coinciding with the beginning of the 3rd Millennium. Signs for the millenniumphoto: sign, sortie change have quietly popped up here and there - without any help from last year's '2000 In Paris' organizers.

For Paris' and Metropole's countdown, this leaves only about 13 swiftly passing and ever-shorter days left to go in this century, in this Millennium. During this unique and ultimate countdown, you probably don't realize or care that 353 - mostly rainy - days have sped away since New Year's 2000. The 2nd Millennium, which has lasted a measely 13 days less than 1000 years, is now nearly history. Get ready to give it a big goodbye kiss real soon.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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