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photo: cafe la cour de rome

On Sunday near Saint-Lazare, a café dressed up with
nowhere to go.

Don't Stay Tuned

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 9. April 2001:- Now that the official day of 'spring' has been cashed in, just over a week ago, we return to the regular program of rain every 45 minutes. If I heard the TV-news right, the rain has already set a record going back 108 years.

Or was it 118 years? Was it for the first week of April, or since the beginning of the year? Whichever it was, is, you need a hat or an umbrella, maybe a raincoat, maybe a wetsuit. You need a love of rain too, because it's impossible to stay inside all the time.

Café Life

My First Paris Marathon

The TV-weather news people went all out last week to make Sunday's marathon a big success. From Wednesday on, each night's mini-range forecast invariably showed Sunday being a day with sunballs behind spacy clouds.

On Thursday or Friday I think the weather people might have shown the sunballs in front of the clouds. At any rate the clouds were individual puffs, so I got the impression that even if they blotted out the sun entirely, it would only be for minutes at a time.

I didn't fail to notice that both Saturday and Monday had Sunday bracketed with solid clouds, but I wanted to believe in Sunday's forecast. After all, it was the marathon's 25th birthday in Paris - and mine too.

The problem for this 'Internet Reporter for Paris' - how to effectively 'cover' a 42-kilometre race? This problem is faced with nearly every sporting event, except boules - which are seldom played in the rain and seldom before noon in any case.

Careful planning told me that the race would have to be covered from one spot, or two at the most. The first spot, I immediately chose as being in the Tuileries, on the raised part in front of the Jeu de Paume. There is a pretty good view of Concorde from there - enough to see the runners come out of the Champs-Elyséesphoto: from ils st louis, to ile de la cite and turn into the Rue de Rivoli.

Start-off time for the 'Handisports' people on wheels - 8:50, and 9:00 for the other 28,000-odd sportspeople. Estimated time to get to my lookout - 15 minutes.

On Sunday afternoon, the sky started to get lighter.

I figured out the time I would have to get there in advance of everybody else to be able to get clear photos, and from this, the time to set for the alarmclock. While setting the clock, I could hear rain falling outside in my courtyard like frozen peas. I added 90 minutes to the calculated time.

When the alarm went off I could still hear rain pinging off the bicycles, garbage cans and railings in the courtyard. The best place to 'cover' the marathon, I thought, might be in front of my TV.

When I turned it on, it was broadcasting raindrops on the TV camera lenses. The announcer said, 'excuse us for the slight technical failure to broadcast the beginning of the marathon.'

Except for some video errors, the rest of the marathon went pretty well from my viewpoint, which was both warm and dry. The winners of the marathon come from a country which is warm and dry, but I understand that they do some training where it can be cold, high and wet - perfect for a marathon in Paris.

Since some marathoners were expected to be a little less than four hours behind the top finishers, I went out to look for them under very grey skies. I saw two ex-marathoners, wrapped in silver cooking foil, a long way from the official route and looking lost.

If there is a law of averages, someday there will be a marathon in Paris in beautiful spring weather. There may have already been one. If it was recently, it might be a long time until the next one. The sun started to peek out around 15:00, but it was very feeble.

Remembering Hemingway

There are some people who can't get enough Paris and if it is a Paris with anything to do with Ernest Hemingway, then it is a double treat. In this issue you will find an excerpt from Robert F. Burgess' recently published book, 'Hemingway's Paris and Pamplona, Then and Now.'

As Mr. Burgess puts it, "My book focuses on his early and best years there, then later looks at what remains of his heritage today. The book was not written for academics - who know him inside out already - but for the reader who relishes the time and the events that led to himphoto: spring, rue bucherie doing what he did. Having been with him myself during his last Pamplona fiesta adds other new angles, especially photographically."

Spring makes a tentative appearance in the Rue de la Bucherie.

When you read his 'Echoes Along the Seine,' it will be obvious that Mr. Burgess knows about Paris too - and the Seine, and fishing. He is as dubious as I am about eating the fish, and was surprised to learn that a fishing contest and teaching kids how to do it were attractions at last September's 'Fêtes de la Seine.'

About the 'Fiat 500 of the Week'

Some doubts has been expressed about the honor I bestow on the Fiat 500's I happen to see running around the streets of Paris. Some people even claim they are not rare at all and deserve no fame.

One explanation for their existence is that when they were made - about 30 to 40 years ago - they were the only Fiats imported to France. Then I point out all that Fiats of that age were known as rustbuckets and Paris doesn't have a climate like southern Spain's.

Some people say that they were so cheap, that they've been hidden in air-conditioned garages for 20 to 30 years - and saved for road use today. Other people say they were made by the millions, so it's only some sort of 'law of averages' that some still exist in Paris.

These theories are all bushwah. While you do see some 30 or 40 year-old 2CV's on the streets, these are few and are supported by an extensive number of 2CV fanatics, who have hoarded spare parts and fix-it expertise.

All the other cars - the millions of Renaults, Peugeots, Simcas - have disappeared, leaving only some rare and hardy VW's - and the Fiat 500, which was rarer than a new Beetle was, and nowhere near as hardy.

When I think it over, the air-conditioned-garage theory seems like the only logical explanation for them.

Metropole Offers Its Photos

The offer of Metropole's large-format photos continues with a new photo / image page, which is included in this issue.

In general, one or two 'best' photos - or a cartoon - will be offered each week. Many of Metropole's weekly crop of other 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 marked a return to semi-chaos with exactly five members from Baton Rouge alone, which was a major 'first' of some sort. If jumbos-loads of visitors are arriving in Paris, they also got to the club despite 'Black Thursday II.'

Four other existing members put in appearances too. You should read the 'report' to find out how this meeting was bungled by the club's secretary, pretty much as usual on account of some new 'Zulu' Mardi Gras beads.

Keep up with your club's doings by checking the 'report' of the last meeting. It's details may seem more vague than usual and this was entirely the secretary's doing.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 12. April 2001. As is now sort of usual, this particular meeting will only happen once. If you miss it, it means you can try again a week later.

All readers and prospective club members can 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 and so on.

This page also contains vital 'facts' about this free club in Paris, which is the only one this magazine 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, drop by anyway. It's free.

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 travelphoto: fountain st michel 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.

Sunday's fans of the Saint-Michel fountain.

'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 5.15 - 10. April 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Socko Garden Dwarf Show.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Gnome Snatch At Bagatelle.' This issue had two features, titled '10,000 Minis On Display at Model Show' and 'A Bagatelle of Dwarfs - 2000 of Them!' The Café Metropole Club continued its 'Week's' honors in ernest with Brooklyn becoming 'City of the Week.' The club's weekly update on 9. March featured 'Starving In Paris.' Starving? The 'Scene' column's title was 'All the Stuff, From Soup to Nuts.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Don't Rush!'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.15 - 12. April 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'An Accidental Issue For a Change.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Folly in the Balkans.' This issue' had two features, 'Pierre Prins - The 'Forgotten' Impressionist' and 'Modest Boatworks Becomes 'Gare d'Eau.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'When in Paris, Do Morocco.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'No Film, No Camera.' No photo either.

The 'Count-Up' - Part 15

Metropole reader Bill Hilton, who lives somewhere in Texas, has suggested a new famous person who created a 'first' by visiting Paris. This provides a new date, much easier to figure out than the Roman one of Tuesday, 8. July 48 BC., which was celebrated for convenience on the same day in 1952 in Paris 2000 years later.

Bill Hilton writes, "The first person to fly First Class to Paris from the United States left Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York, on Friday, May 20, 1927. The terminus was Le Bourget in Paris, which was reached 33 hours and 30 minutes later. All of Paris was there to welcome him.

"His name - Charles A. Lindbergh."

This is all very fine and well, but 33 hours is more than a day and there is a several-hour time difference betweenphoto: hemingway plaque New York and Paris, so I don't really know - to the hour, to the minute - when this aviator - he was not a first-class passenger, he was driving! - landed in Paris, except I'm pretty sure it was nighttime.

The odd thing was, many other aviators were also arriving in Paris that year, and it was a regular thing for 'all of Paris' - including Ernest Hemingway - to go out to Le Bourget to greet them. Other than Lindbergh, few showed up, but the airport bar was kept open anyway.

This means the new countup starts from a nighttime in May of 1927. Believe it or not, I think it is about 9540 days, give or take 12 or 13 hours either way - which might make it 9539 or 9541 days.

Who's next?
signature, regards, ric

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