Minuscule Holiday Issue

photo: cafe le bouquet

A neighborhood café, like hundreds of others in Paris.

All Done On Overtime

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 25. December 2000:- Up to and including yesterday, the weather has been beautiful in Paris with lots of bright winter sun on Christmas Eve to jolly along the hordes of last-minute shoppers.

Last night's TV-weather news dumped gloom on Christmas Day and then went out on a limb further than they ever dare to go, to predict rising temperatures and good weather for the New Years' weekend.

This morning, last night's forecast for Christmas Day is right on the money. Just before noon the light outside looks like sunset, without any sun. Out the door into the courtyard I decide it is a hat day and by the time I come out the door the second time, it is also a drizzle day.

Café Life

It is just before noon when I take my temporarily usual stroll along some residential streets and there are few others about and even less traffic. With réveillon at midnight and opening the presents - I guess this part of Paris is still sleeping it off.

Some pharmacies are open, and there's a line outside the boulangerie in Daguerre's market area. One of the two fruit places is tying to peddle its last-minute tangerines and pineapples and the seafood place is open, but not as mobbed as yesterday when it was under sustained assault.

So far all the cafés are closed, all seven of them. At the avenue I am relieved to see that the Rendez-Vous is open. Less interesting is the open McDo's and the Tabac next door.

There is quite a crowd at the bar in the Rendez-Vous and I see some familiar faces from the other cafés, including Jacquo fromphoto: bouquiniste, right bank Le Bouquet. Other faces are new and must be here because their regular places are closed. A lot of the people at the bar are drinking café, but some of the Bouquet crowd are into their usual Kirs.

Fairly typical pre-Christmas weather - here on the right bank.

As a concession to Christmas Eve, the Rendez-Vous closed last night at 19:00. I heard one of the waiters say he was going to nap if he could until midnight, then get up and do his réveillon. I don't see him today, but it's early.

There is little traffic on the avenue and just as few pedestrians. A fair number of empty bottles are stacked up around the green bottle-recycle tub; there will probably be a mountain of them before it gets emptied. It is grey and chilly and drizzly and everything looks closed further down towards Alésia.

In my street the boulangerie is open but has no line outside it. Just beyond, somebody has put a used Christmas tree on the sidewalk, surrounded by a thin pile of pine needles. Unusual - this sight is more common around the end of January.

Everything else is closed except my laundromat, which has no seasonal decor but is brightly lit as usual. Nobody is in it passing the time watching their laundry twirl around. A sign on the door says it is closing early today.

How the Other Half Lives

Via Email - from Sydney, Monday, 25. December 2000:- Merry Xmas! - It was 38 degrees C here yesterday so we sped over to a friend of Helen's for a Xmas glass of champers & lunch and a swim. Just what I needed. Talk to you when i get back from the Southern trek in about 10 days.


A Pile of Notes

This is going to have to substitute for this issue's lack of an 'Au Bistro' column, and similar lack of a new feature today.

This means that the Paris Web URLs that Dana Shaw sent in a month ago will wait a bit longer before being exposed for all to share. I suppose there is a small danger that some of the Web sites he has mentioned will have gone belly-up by the time I get around to them.

In case you are worried about TV-life in France, I managed to see a 1931 movie directed by Ernest Lubitsch titled 'Gentleman's Agreement' which was a black and white 'talkie' in English, with a very young Cary Cooper, Frederick March, Miriam Hopkins and Edward Everett Horton. Actually, this last actor doesn't look much different 70 years later.

The lack of an 'Au Bistro' column also means I don't need to run a recent photo of the Santé prison. After the beginning of the new year, French justice will have more difficulty throwing people who have yet to be charged with crimes, behind bars - but it is still easy enough this year.

On top of it, the judges declined to consider the poor wretch's appeal against 'preventative detention' until tomorrow - thus letting him have réveillon and Christmas in jail.

On the other hand, lawyers who have been striking on account of low compensation for handling the cases ofphoto: shellfish buyers, christmas eve the impoverished will go back to work tomorrow. All the cases they would have handled in the past couple of weeks have been shoved six months down the courts' calendars.

Christmas Eve shoppers are practically snatching up the lobsters.

Concorde's big wheel was to come down in January because it doesn't fit into the Ministry of Culture's idea of what is tasteful for the historic Place de la Concorde. A bunch of big names, including the world's oldest French rock-n-roll star, bought tickets to ride it in protest - and the ministry has apparently extended the gaudy wheel's life until summer.

Finally, Parker Brothers' famous depression-era board game has been updated with the new 'euro' currency. The game company thus makes a huge saving on its manufacture, since it can now outfit it with euro-norm fake cash, without printing different versions for each country.

Many of the properties on the game's board have also been changed. Some low-rent hotels have been dropped in favor of low-rent countries, like Albania, and the airport at Roissy has been substituted for the old Gare de l'Est. The new millennium isn't going to be like the old one.

Metropole's Services

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

You will benefit from patronizing 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 Christmas orange.

While the subject is at hand, I want to thak all readers and club members who have used the services or purchased the products from Metropole's affiliates.

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