'Winter' In Paris Confirmed

photo: le refuge, montmartre

Mystery midafternoon on Montmartre - before
the rain and snow.

Is Bigger Better?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 5. March 2001:- Why should you or I believe last night's TV-weather news lady? Simply because I spent some time experiencing last week's local forecast, which turned to be essentially correct.

On Wednesday up on the heights of Montmartre, there was fairly steady rain mixed with a little snow, a chilly wind, and the predicted low temperature. I had a damp nose on Wednesday.

By Friday, the part of the day I experienced had chilly winds pushing low temperaturesphoto: rue st rustique, montmartre around, with a more or less low overcast to keep optimism at bay. Again my nose was damp, and my hands were cold like they were on Wednesday.

This added up to 'classic' winter in Paris. This doesn't happen every year or all of the time, but last week it certainly was being forecasted fairly correctly.

The Rue Saint-Rustique, also deserted on Wednesday.

For this reason, when last night's TV-weather lady showed the coming week, with its wave of depressions coming at 36-hours intervals, I believed her. She also predicted average daytime highs of about 10 degrees for Paris, with another three or four degrees for the south of France.

The best part of the forecast is the rise in average daytime temperatures from five to ten degrees. This will be almost balmy even if there's some rain and little breezes. Make sure the terraces you pick for watching Paris pass are heated.

Café Life

Drôle de Temps

Coming back to my place last night after having a jolt of café, I passed a guy on the avenue who appeared to be talking into a phone, but I could see he didn't have one.

Around the corner in my street I saw a man ahead, moving a green garbage container from the sidewalk on my side to the other. As I passed he was coming back, mumbling.

No. He was making a comment on 'our times.' "Drôle de temps," is what I think I heard.

He had put out his garbage bin early, and then somebody had come along and moved it. He moved it back. This is the kind of thing that goes on all the time now that it is truly the 3rd millennium.

I don't know why he had to tell me this. To be neighborly, I told him I was thinking of the 'plague of the week.' To this, he lifted his hat and scratched his forehead. Then he smiled.

He is not alone in thinking that we are having a 'drôle de temps.' We are together in this.

Dimitri, At Ease

I had been standing at the bar in my 'Sunday' café a fair amount of time before I noticed that Dimitri was also at the bar, over on its other wing. He had already seen me, so he slid around the jam of Sunday drinkers at the angle where the two wings meet to join me.

Dimitri has been working hard on restoring two frames for the last three months. Both were finished about the same time and delivered - then they have had their 'corrections' - the cheques arrived and have been deposited, and Dimitri is a bit 'at liberty.'

Loose ends was more like it. He knows he still has all the jobs he put 'on hold' to do. But to work non-stop on big deals for three months - you don't just 'turn off' from this overnight and return to normal.

Being in this pre-de-stressed state is also bad for the health. Suddenly the throat is itchy, the nose is runny, and there is an all-over fatigue - the total 'blahs' in other words.

So I'm not surprised to see Dimitri today when I go out to my weekday café for a bracing jolt of café. He isphoto: sunday rouge, cafe rendezvous standing at the bar looking distracted, with his lonely half-full balloon of rouge. On top of everything else, he is quitting smoking - so he's is in the doldrums of a mood.

In Sunday's café, a tender balloon of rouge.

I try to remember the correct formula for getting through a pre-de-stressed state with a minimum of frittered-away time and money, and this is when I remember I can't remember the last time I pulled this off. It must have been in 1998, in August, but I'm not sure.

The few ideas I do have are so lame - 'Get lost In Trouville for a couple of days!' - that Dimitri leaves his glass as it is - half-full, and leaves.

Actually, all he has to do is somehow survive three days - ignoring all calls to do the work he put aside - until he leaves to go up north and see one of the important frames he just did, filled with a small painting by Rembrandt.

The Bigger the Better

On the terrace of the Parc de Bercy last Wednesday, Paris was having its winter and the light was lousy. There were a few other hardy people looking at 'Les Enfants du Monde' statutes.

Their arrangement is not much - they are standing in a line with a fair amount of space between them. I went on the grass and saw to my horror that it was the dreaded Ile-de-France hidden-muck ooze-grass.

This stuff gets in any grooves your shoes may have. Unless you have a lot of time and patience, it doesn't come out easily. If you forget it, it dries like the clay it is, and leaves hard dry clods of it all over your floors - but never on sidewalks before you get home.

A big, well-dressed man commented on the light. "Yes, it's a flat light," he said, letting me notice his gigantic Leicaflex camera.

"What are you using?" he wanted to know. "Canon? Minolta?"

"Olympus," I mumbled. He had the blackest, largest 35mm reflex camera I have ever seen - even larger than an old Nikon Photomic with a motor.

"It cost me over 26,000 francs," he said without me asking him. "That's over three thousand dollars in your money."

I thought, "In my money?" If I had of had the tiny Olympus with me - 900 francs! - or the Minox, I would have showed either of them to him. It was a flat light like he said, and no amount of size or money - mine, his - could have made it any different.

Metropole Offers Bigger

Following the main text of this issue's feature 'The Missing Utrillo' you will find an proposition to buy a copy of the opening photo taken for the feature.

For quite some time all photos taken for each week's edition have been shot and saved as 'high quality.' These photos are also large - much too large to show online in Metropole. Larger also looks better - a lot better.

I had hoped that Metropole's photos would be on offer last December, with all the usual Web rigamarole - forms, the card business, etc. - but the partner Web site has not come up with the necessary technical whatever.

For this reason, Metropole's photo sales will be simple and based on an 'honor' system. In this order - if you like it, you write to ask for it and I will send it to you as an email attachment, and then you send me the money.

To begin, the offer for this week concerns the photo that opens the Utrillo feature. I've seen the photo in its full size, so I know it is worth offering.

You can also enquire about any other photo you see on Metropole - including those in past issues. If it looks good when big, I'll tell you. If it doesn't, I'll tell you that it's not worth it.

All of the photos you see in Metropole are taken in the week prior to the issue's publication date. If you want recent, large photos of Paris for display on a computer screen near you, this is where you'll find them.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's club meeting was no more ordinary than any other, pretty much as usual. I'm beginning to think a truly 'unusual' meeting will be a solo one, but these are looking more and more unlikely.

Three totally new members individually signed the members' booklet. This was no 'record of the week,' but there were plenty of other significant ones, plus a huge yellow surprise.

Five existing members put in appearances too. You'll need to read the 'report' to find out how this meeting was handled by the club's secretary - if what the secretary does can be called 'handling.'

Keep up with this so-called 'handling' by checking the 'report' of the last meeting. It's details may seem about as scatty as usual and this is entirely the secretary's doing.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 8. March 2001. This may be a strike day, but I've lost my note on this long ago, and the strike may have been last week without anybody noticing it.

As is now regular, this particular meeting will only happen once. If you miss it, it means missed forever - which is a much longer miss than even short millenniums.

New readers and prospective club members may alsophoto: fiat 500 of the week take a look at the elderly but current version of 'About the Club,' which is useful for learning out about the club's reason, its meeting time and location.

This is - of course! - the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

This page also contains lesser but vital 'facts' about this free club in Paris, which is the only one 'Metropole Paris' has for all of its readers who are either Metropole Paris readers or Café Metropole Club members, or are in Paris for any reason. If you do not fall into any these categories, you'll probably miss this meeting forever.

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to readers and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has a reservation service for a selection of Paris hotels. Check out their offer and settle on your choice long before your arrival in France.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' as well as travel insurance for potential Paris visitors. These services will be only be a benefit if you've signed up for them before you need them suddenly - which I hope won't be the case.

'Petanque America' imports quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you from carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. No particular experience is necessary.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.10 - 6. March 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Elephants Enter Race.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'France Télécom's Jackpot.' This issue had one feature, titled 'The Big Moo In Paris - At the Salon Agriculture.' The Café Metropole Club commented on the 'Farmers On Rampage' arrival. This was not quite the same as the previous week's 'Demo of the Week,' but nearly. The club's weekly update on 9. March featured 'Solo At the Club,' which I imagine means what it says. The 'Scene' column's title was 'A Little Picnicphoto: sign, valadon ate here Coming Up.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Food Toon.' Food, food, toot!

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.10 - 8. March1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Coming Soon: Another Birthday!' What was this about? The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'French Tabloid.' Metropole's headlines used to be a lot shorter. This issue' had one feature titled, 'Looking Around for Arago's Markers.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Rare Chinese Ceramics.' Some headlines were pretty boring too. There were the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Astronomist, Not Astrologist!' No surpise caption either.

The 'Count-Up' That Used To Be

About Metropole's postmillennial 'count-up' that was suspended a couple of weeks ago - I know what's going on. Readersphoto: sign, 29 are actually reading this and imagining that I've painted myself into a hopeless corner with no exit. You are sitting back and calmly waiting to see how I get 'out of this one,' and cackling.

For those who are not actually cackling, you are no doubt sorry that this widely popular feature has lapsed due to an inexplicably high level of total indifference. All I can say about this is - it is not too late!

However, for the all cackling 'count-up' fans, regardless of how few you may be, the current Day One of the now suspended 'Count-Up' is still Tuesday, 9. July 1776. As of today, it has been 82,144 days since the first American tourist had a skimpy continental breakfast without freshly- squeezed orange juice in Paris.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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