'Ed's Little Tours

photo: cafe denis papin, blois

The café Denis Papin, next to the street of stairs of
the same name in Blois.

A Famous-Person Sighting

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 26. March 2001:- The usual musings that are normally presented here as a sort of weather 'report' are unnecessary this week because last Wednesday I went down to the Loire to greet the arrival of spring, and you can read about this odyssey in this issue.

If you chose not to do so and are still planning to arrive in Paris within the next few hours, I suggest you outfit yourself with a hat, umbrella, raincoat and shoes more water-proof than sandals.

And if you have planned excursions on Paris' sparkling blue river Seine you should revise your wishes because its waters have risen so high that all river traffic - including cars, trucks and motorcycles - is temporarily out-of-order due to masses of dirt-clogged brown water. This also means that all excursion boats are not operating.

The rest of Paris is high even if it is not dry all the time.

Café Life

On Tour

During the course of normal Metropole production I seldom visit the exhibitions and shows mentioned in the weekly 'Scene' column, unless I get an invitation - and can take advantage of it.

But on my rare 'week-off,' if I have the luxury of having somebody to drag me through museums and galleries, I don't pass it up - usually for fear of being excommunicated.

Quite often, I get an advance taste of new exhibitions by seeing them featured on TV if I happen to be watching it at the right time. Sometimes these 'previews' are well-done, which often cannot be said of the exhibition posters.

Paul Signac

For example, if I had only the poster for the Signac show at the Grand Palais to go by, I would not have crossed the street for it. The TV presentation was brilliant, partly because Signac's more brilliant paintings were featured. This lifted the dry mention in 'Scene' out of the ordinary, and left me willing to be dragged to see the show.

Paul Signac was born four years after Georges Seurat, and because he follows him alphabetically, is not so well-known. Yet he met Seurat in 1884, and painted in a similar fashion. He alsophoto: empty bar lived a lot longer than Seurat and went on to have several styles, including mastering watercolors.

One of Paris' many bars - but closed for some reason.

Signac was also color-mad, to the point of following the theories of the Cercle Chromatique. While last fall's Méditerranée show featured the influence of the southern light on the Impressionists, Signac was the Impressionist who discovered Saint-Tropez and stayed to paint it - very brightly and often.

There is a lot of high-quality variety in his current one-man show, which I thought superior to the multiple big-name Méditerranée exhibition. Paul Signac is the real thing.

The Musée Guimet

The newly re-opened Musée Guimet, which features the arts of Asia, is a fine place inside. I mean its interior architecture is superior in finish and detail - which is not always the case - so the building is worth a visit for itself.

The TV preview bothered me. It looked as if there were too many items packed into it. As it has turned out, even through the museum is at least four floors high, there are too many items in it.

I think this is partly because a lot of Asian art is not monumental and a lot of it has a lotphoto: musee guimet, interior of detail. If only a few pieces at once, it is possible to absorb them - but here is a sort of fully-stocked department store of art.

Escalators, stairways - the Guimet museum has a variety of them.

The Guimet is not on the scale of the Louvre, but giving its contents a good look-over really needs several visits. It also probably means that the museum will become, if it isn't already, one of the world's references for art from Asia.

Balzac's Hideout In Passy

Honoré de Balzac was a public man in Paris and a demon of a writer in the privacy of his hide-away cabin in pastoral Passy. Besides not giving its address to anybody, the modest house was hidden by an apartment building - now gone - and it had a secret exit onto an alley running behind it.

The way it is now, there is a small courtyard in front and a garden to one side, and Balzac's writing room has a door directly to it. The exhibition 'Balzac dans ses murs' shows the writing room, also photographed by Robert Doisneau in 1986.

The writing room is nearly bare, so the real exhibition consists mostly of a display of 'La Comédie Humaine,' an opus including 2000 characters, and spanning a time period from the Révolution to end of the 'July monarchy' in 1848.

Plans, showing the relationships between major characters, are several metres long. In his spare time, Balzac wrote several other novels, some tales and plays, and in his last years was devoted to Mme Hanska. He died in 1850.

Photographs on display showed the alley behind the house, so this got a visit too, to find a couple of CRS guarding the rear of the Turkish Embassy. Otherwise, the alley was an original bit of old, pastoral Passy.

Barbara Gets A Bisou

Café Metropole Club members Shirley and Tony were looking for a place where they intended to have lunch on Saturday, on Friday evening, and they couldn't find it and chose another restaurant instead.

Despite gangs of serious-looking men-in-suits loitering about outside, and patrolling ladies too, they entered a likely place and got a serious up-and-down once-over from big men-in-black on the way in. Further in it turned out to be an ordinary restaurant and they got a table.

Shirley looked around at the other diners and realized one of them was Barbara Bush, who was easily recognized by her trademark pearls. Mrs Bush shared a table with other daughters of the Bush family.

Right here, in this somewhat nondescript back-street restaurant, hidden behind the Rue de Rivoli, were the former 'First Lady' of the United States of America, with one of her daughters and one of the recently-designated 'First Daughters' of the same country.

This explained all the black-suited people outside and in the entry of the establishment. But none were inside the dining area.

Thus the unthinkable happened - another diner, possibly Swedish, possibly out of his head with joy or wine - approached Mrs Bush and gave her a big two-cheek bisou. He did this more than once, untilphoto: lane behind balzac house, passy Mrs Bush told him to stop it, and then he gave club member Tony's cheek a pinch for good measure.

Meanwhile the suits outside did not bother looking in the restaurant's large windows and kept their eagle-eyes peeled for possible accidently passing terrorists and other common riff-raff.

The narrowest part of the alley behind Balzac's hideout in Passy.

Our club members were horrified and shocked, and much too embarrassed to do anything but watch this scene unfolding - which ended with the cook coming out of his kitchen and asking for an autograph which Mrs Bush graciously gave him.

Then the 'First Lady' group left the restaurant, and with ten suits in front, ten behind, plus a couple of Paris police cars as escorts, walked down the nighttime back-street to somewhere else in Paris.

Metropole Offers Its Photos

A few readers have responded to the initial offer of exclusive large-sized Metropole photos. To make this a bit more formal, a new photo / image page has been added to this issue.

In theory, one 'best' photo - or cartoon - will be offered each week. In practice, many of Metropole's weekly crop of photos will match the 'best' one for interest and quality. If these are not specifically 'offered,' it does not mean that they are not available.

As this project starts out it is doing so without impersonal 'Internet- robots' to handle the transaction. This means that the process depends on personal emails. This also makes sense because I've taken the photos with you in mind.

More details are on this week's 'Photo' page. Check it out. Any suggestions, advice and comments will be welcome.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's club meeting was flooded with 13 new members, which was a bit more than usual. I don't know why jumbo-loads of visitors are arriving in Paris at this time and I have no idea why many of them are coming to the club nearly straight from the airport.

One new member asked me to research the correct way to get the most direct RER line from the airport to the club and I'll get on this as soon as possible.

Two other existing members put in appearances too. You should read the 'report' to find out how this full-house meeting was noted by the club's secretary - if what the secretary does can be called 'notes.'

Keep up with this so-called note-taking by checking the 'report' of the last meeting. It's details may seem less detailed than usual and this was entirely the secretary's doing, with the members' help.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 29. March 2001. As is now normal, this particular meetings will only happen once. If you miss it, it means you are out of luck.

All readers and prospective club members may also wish to take a look at the antique but current version of 'About the Club,' which is useful for learning out about the club's reason-for-being, its meeting time and location.

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 or no reason in particular at all. If you do not fall into any these categories, pluck up your gall and come anyway.

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 make 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 a real benefit if you've signed up for them before you need them suddenly. I hope won't be the case but you can never tell.

'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 in your neighborhood to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. No particular expertise is necessary.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.13 - 27. March 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Winter Takes a Spring Break.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Multi-Demos In the City.' This issue had only one feature, titled 'A Kind Of 'Grand Tour.' The Café Metropole Club continued its usual nonsense with something boring called, 'No News' Is Not 'Good' News.' The< club's weekly update on 30. March featured 'New Members! New Members!' - which is not now, unusual. The 'Scene' column's title was 'Nuts and Bolts at Arts et Métiers.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'The Grand Tour Taxi.' If you missed last week's 'One Year Ago,' here is the URL for Issue 5.12 - 20. March 2000.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.13 - 29. March1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Terminal Drowsiness and Leadfingers.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'The Total Flopphoto: sign, jeanne d'arc, 1429 of the Euro.' This issue' had one feature too, titled 'Book Salon - SAGA: 13th Engraving and Print Show.' In an email Linda Thalman wrote about 'Les 'Intellos' On Parade.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'The Incredible 'Clovis' Boo-Boo.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'How You Spell Dunno?' If you missed last week's 'Two Years Ago,' here is the URL for Issue 4.12 - 22. March1999 - which really is another free service for readers who can never get enough of Metropole.

The 'Count-Up' - Part 13

Just before I went away to look for spring's arrival, one of Metropole's readers offered a new reference person for this 'count-up.' This is another American-type person, but one with the advantage of being related to the avid reader - which would kind of move the idea from the abstract to the particular - even though the server-lady Linda Thalman is still pushing for a European. To be precise, she's wants some unknown Roman from 52 BC.

While I wrap up some details concerning our new reference 'count-up' person, I also wish to extend an invitation to any relatives of Romans who may have visited Paris anytime in BC or long ago in AD. While I'm at it, this invitation is extended to all barbarians as well. You are forgiven for your ancestors' pillaging and sacking.

Metropole's postmillennial 'count-up' may be staggering a bit but it is carrying on. This widely popular feature, beloved by me and the server-lady - and now somebody else too - will overcome the current general indifference and go on to glory, I'm sure.

In the meantime, for us three diehard and truly unconditional 'count-up' fans, the current Day One of the now under-reconstruction 'Count-Up' is still Tuesday, 9. July 1776. As of today, it has been 82,165 days since the first American tourist had a continental breakfast without croissants near the Ecole Militaire in Paris.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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