Speedways for Roller Folks?

photo: reataurant la cocarde

The bistro 'La Cocarde,' in the Montorgueil area.

Blackouts At the Copshop

Paris:- Monday, 21. May 2001:- "Why not let pedestrians, bicyclists and roller folks use the speedways beside the Seine during the summer?" is an interesting question. Now that there are new faces in city hall, there may be an answer soon.

A proposal to do so has been put together by Denis Baupin, one of 'Les Verts' deputy mayors. The new mayor, Bertrand Delanoë is not against the idea, but says the consequences have to be studied by the arrondissement mayors concerned, and by the traffic authorities.

The plan is to close the speedways to normal traffic from mid-July to mid-August. On the right bank the closure would be from Concorde to the Pont d'Austerlitz and on the left, from the Musée d'Orsay to the Pont de l'Alma.

Put very simply, for several years Parisians have had a desire for peaceful access to the Seine. According to Le Parisien, the mayorphoto: deli kat, us snack cafe would also like to see swimming pools installed in the river - near the Grande Bibliothèque and at the Piscine Deligny's old location.

Automobilistas, who have recently had the experience of having the speedways closed on account of flooding in the river, are not too happy with the idea. On Sundays, there has been only one lane available between Concorde and the Louvre.

The 'Deli-Kat,' a French snack shop featuring American specialties.

The result has been worse traffic jams on Sundays than on normally busy weekdays. But unlike weekdays, nobody is forced for job reasons to take the routes along the Seine.

The next step is to consider closing the Seine's quays above the riverside speedways to traffic. But this is possibly too radical.

On weekends at least, there must be tens of thousands of unused parking slots at the business megapole of La Défense, which is directly linked to the city centre by the speedy métro line one.

Closing both the quays and the speedways in the city might force Sunday and summer drivers to abandon their cars, or park them out of town and use the métro and the RER. Quel horreur!

Blackouts at the Quai des Orfèvres

During the Seine's floods, Paris number one copshop suffered several blackouts due to its caves being flooded by the nearby river, leading to the blowing of its fuses.

The place doesn't just have old caves - dungeons? - but until recently part of its electricity was still 110 volts.

Number 36. Quai des Orfévres is owned by the Ministry of Justice, but rented to Paris' Préfecture of Police. The building is not new and its owner isn't keeping it up too well - making it a perfect subject for any crime novel set in 1935 or so.

There are no fire escapes. The building is classed as a historic monument, and you don't tack on ugly modern fire escapes. For this reason the whole building is simply ignored by the city's fire inspectors.

Police unions don't like the situation and every couple of years there is talk of moving to someplacephoto: cafe noir, rue l'argout modern, but the old place has so much history and is included in so many police novels, that the Police Judiciaire are reluctant to move.

The Café Noir is just off the Rue Montmartre, not far from Les Halles.

Another big problem is that the entire question of money passes through the filter of an eye-dropper of a central budget office, which is also charged with buying supplies. If a detective runs out of Bics or typing paper after November, he will likely buy his pens at a Tabac and beg the paper from an arrondissement's mairie.

The central buying, which also involves taking the lowest bids, can result in the police receiving a fleet of undercover cars, all painted one shade of light green.

Other detectives, fighting high-tech crime, often have to buy their own software. With Internet-related crime on the rise, one can hope there may be adaptable shareware available.

One story has it that printer ink is sucked out of superior's printers by means of confiscated junkies' needles - while at any given time 20 of the narco squad's 50 cars are out of commission, for lack of spare parts.

Due to the new law of presumption of innocence, police reports have to be made in six copies now. This year, the Police Judiciaire have already run out of their year's supply of paper clips.

Police unions are talking about this because public safety was a campaign issue, and they may be able to get some money and reforms with new management in place. It is also an issue the right wing thinks it can use safely - at no cost to itself - as a political irritant now that they are in opposition.

One thing is certain, the installation of new management at the city hall has coincided with a new boss at the Préfecture, and plans for increased public safety in Paris will be the subject of major policy initiatives to be made public after today's meeting of the new city council.

Mo' Better It Ain't

Parisians usually reserve their Sundays for goofing off, and this they were doing in abundance yesterday. Meanwhile, 15,000 seriously annoyed suburbanites sacrificed their Sunday to gather at the Tour Eiffel to protest against the latest plans for new air corridors for the airports at Roissy and Orly.

These have been proposed for two reasons. So many people around the world have been convinced that Paris and France are wonderful places to visit that there's a flight every 90 seconds during rush hours.

The other reason is that many people are totally bugged by this noise and pollution, but no third airport can be expected before 2015 - which is reasonably close to 'never.' Active planningphoto: jungle bike for a third one has been underway for seven years already.

This means that the civil aviation people are trying to dream up ways to funnel more air traffic into the existing airports, by proposing new flight paths.

Leopard-skinned bike, parked in front of an exotic restaurant in the Rue d'Argout.

Putting these into action will mean seriously annoying even more people than those already half deaf from the 720,000 flights registered in 1999. And this was, if you recall, a slow year - before the 'millennium-thing.'

However, those who will possibly be affected are protesting the plans of the air technicians. The way out for the government, is to call in 'Eurocontrol' which is an Europe-wide independent body that studies navigation possibilities.

Nobody has yet suggested that the UK be turned into an offshore airport, but everybody knows it is directly linked to Paris' métro by the quiet and rapid Eurostar trains.

Boring News

The news displayed here recently as 'Strike(s) of the Week' and 'May's Bridges' has been declared boring, and is hereby suspended. The next public holiday in France will be on Monday, 4. June, if we chose to omit mentioning Ascension because it is on Thursday, 24. May, which is nearly tomorrow already.

Internet Life

Metropole's Paris Fashion Tip

From his high viewpoint overlooking seven states and Knoxville near Rock City, Ron Smith has sent a flash alert concerning the Washington Post's fashion tips for men visiting Paris.

Your 'Ed' on the spot - in Paris, not DC - has checked it out. If you men follow the Washington Post's advice, you will be appropriately dressed for a formal visit to Singapore. The paper's 'Slob' version is also passé in Paris, but could be suitable for suburban shopping malls especially if they are located near Versailles.

As a selfless public service, Metropole has sacrificed its highly popular cartoon page in this issue to bring you the latest view from the street here, put together as a result of painstaking investigative journalism conducted in the Rue Daguerre on Sunday.

Some weeks ago the Washington Post offered its fashion tips for ladies planning visits to Paris, and Metropole responded in kind in issue 6.16, on another cartoon page 'borrowed' to aid vital fashion issues.

From reading 'between the lines,' I deduce that the Washington Post's readers are worrying about the possibility that they may bring an 'ugly American syndrome' with them to Paris, in the form of inappropriate apparel.

Frankly this is impossible - if the Washington Post's fashion tips are ignored - because the wholephoto: village voice books world is dressing in the 'American style' these days. Americans should be proud to have inflicted this 'syndrome' on us.

In addition to true American-style clothing, US books are welcomed by Parisians too.

The mistaken notion that American-inspired fashions will make 'visitors' stand out from natives can have its positive side - so long as you dress as if you are intending to have a big day out, at say, Rock City.

To paraphrase the Washington Post's latest advice, 'Rule No. 1 - Because Jean-Pierre can pull off the jeans-and-T-shirt look in Paris, it means you can too.' Men, if you want to 'blend in,' just dress like the boules players in the Luxembourg. 'Suave' they are not.

Note - Pickpockets in Paris and throughout Europe love to plunder bags and sacks carried on backs. If you wish to remain in possession of your valuables, only carry paper hankies in them. Note No. 2 - Paper hankies can be purchased in any shop displaying a sign that says 'Tabac.'

On a Roll, Again

This one is fully commercial as in capital Dot and capital Com but it's about rollers; Rolling around Paris is a very 'in' way to move around town right now. In case you aren't bringing yours, try out 'RollerNet, which I think has links to the Friday night roller rando folks - so it will tell you 'Friday night at 22:00' just about as regularly as the Café Metropole Club tells you it meets on Thursdays at 15:00, without rollers.

Still On the Road

If you like rolling but are into rubber, the Michelin people have cranked up their Web site - or created a new one - especially for travellers. This features maps, bits of their Guide Rouge and lots of other stuff about getting around in France without hitchhiking or riding the TGV rail whizzers.

Cannes Wrap-Up

Yesterday the Cannes Film Festival finished off with the naming of this year's award winners. The top prizes were split between two films, with the Palme d'Or going to Nanni Moretti's 'La Chambre du Fils.' All of the other top awards went to Michael Haneke's 'La Pianiste,' with Isabelle Huppert as top actress and Benoît Magimel as top actor.

Two American films split the director's award. Joel Cohen for 'The Man Who Wasn't There' and David Lynch for 'Mullholland Drive' got the prize, which should translate into golden palms.

Your Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankYou' here.

Guys at Work Were Discussing This...

Alan Pavlik means the 'guys' where he works. They are discussing the fact that they live in an automobile-crazed country overrun with lawyers looking for loose lawsuits and do-gooders doing their level best to make everything ultra-safe and no-fun.

A by-product of these 'discussions' involves the car called the Deux-Chevaux, which was only barely 'street-legal' in its heyday. Basically, if it was parked - far from playgrounds - it was okay to own one.

What the 'guys' are discussing exactly is the offer of some outfit to deliver a restored and certified 'Street-legal 2CV' right to your very own door.

In case you want one delivered to your driveway instead, I'm sure it can be arranged. To Alan, one big 'thankYou' for this URL.

I doubt if anybody cares, but where I work the 'guys' are not discussing anything because I'm the only one here, and if I start discussing things out loud the neighbors may think I've got something loose.

There being no further new 'URLs of the Week,' I suggest we adjourn this section and move on to what concerns us almost as much as eating, sleeping and that other thing - the weather.

The 'Official' Weather - 90% Sunny?

Last week I gave up my few pretensions of weather forecasting. From now on I'm going to let Météo France take the heat, or cold, or winds, rains, night, day and other atmospheric phenomena and let them take thephoto: aux 3 canettes, chez alexandre blame for being 500 kms off base.

Instead I will confine myself to 'looking out the window.' This is not perfect because what I see most clearly are the buildings opposite mine and the coin laundry.

No Italian flags, no pizza signs and no pizza on the menu - but with squid sizzling in garlic.

To get around this handicap, I have actually stepped outside - all the way down the block on Boulard - to where the sun is actually washing over the buildings along this street. Yes folks, on today's date at 19:19 Paris time, the sun is shining all over a 98.7% clear sky. It will do this until about 21:32.

Since it is only a month until summer this is a good time and place to remind you that the Fête de la Musique takes place in Paris on the day of the shortest night in the year, which will be Thursday, 21. June.

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