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 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 stumble over a rogue bump or pothole while proceeding along one of Paris' sometimes uneven sidewalks, 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 apparently simple game of pétanque - or 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 its local dirt.

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

'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 long history and a 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 14,334 Australian ballroom dancers got here for a dance marathon first. Reserve your accommodations now through 'Bookings' Paris hotel reservation service.

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

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's club meeting was more normal than other recent meetings because of the presence of the formerly absent secretary - who is not supposed to work until 6. January - but who turned up even though his leg is still in a cast.

Backup was again provided by Adrian 'I Love to Eat a Lot' Leeds, who attended the meeting as a regularphoto: illegally parked car of the week club member. A couple of new members signed up; and two members celebrated their first anniversary of club membership - a new 'first.'

Nothing unusual about this Paris car, other than it is the 'Illegally Parked Car of the Week.'

Stay abreast of your club's 'news' by reading the 'report' of the last meeting. Even though it was written by the club's secretary from his own notes, it may still seem to be somewhat fictional - but this is mere writer's 'license.'

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 28. December and your club's secretary expects to be present - still 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 slightly useful 'facts' 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 4.52 - 27. December 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Christmas Storm Where We Are.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Updates - Storm, Oil Spill.' This issue had fours sets of emails, titled 'Emails I - IV, from Linda and Cindy; from Meredith and Walt; Carolyn and Craig; from Toni, Markus and Paul; and from John and Philip. The Café Metropole Club got much deeper into its historical surprises with its12th Meeting - the 'Last of the Century.' Ha! The 'Scene I' column was dropped entirely in favor of the week's Scene II column, which was headlined 'Come One, Come All, Christmas '99' and it was completed by a 'Scene III' column called 'New Year 2000 Yipee!' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned '2000! Surreal!'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.52 - 28. December 1998 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'New, Hard 'Euro' To Hit Old Europe.' It may be 'hard' but it sure is slow. The 'Au Bistro' column was titled - with feeling, 'RATP Launches 'Clean' Buses,' a week after its rosy-smelling métro story. There were two 'Scene' columns, 'The Other Tour-Bus Company' and the 'Pre-Christmas Program VIII - New Year's '98. A few favorite photos were thrown in with a couple of favorite posters. There were also new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'The New 'Euro' Poor.'

Metropole's Final Countdown to 31. December 2000:

It is not only Parisians who 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. Signsphoto: sign, acces interdit aux chiens for the millennium change have quietly popped up here and there too. You also hear it on radio and on stage, and lately, see it on television.

For Paris' and Metropole's countdown, this leaves only about 6 measely days left to go in this century, in this Millennium. During this unique and ultimate countdown, you should know by now that 360 - somewhat crummy in the weather department - days have raced away since New Year's 2000. The 2nd Millennium, which has lasted 6 itty-bitty days less than 1000 years, is now nearly history. Get yourself ready to give it a big goodbye smooch on the kisser real soon. Adios 2nd millennium!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! Thanks for reading Metropole Paris for another year. Expect the first issue of the next millennium to be online about the time you wake up after New Years.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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